April 15, 2014

Finns to distill rare rye whisky

A group of friends founded a rye whisky distillery in an old dairy in western Finland.
A group of friends founded a rye whisky distillery in an old dairy in western Finland.

Kyrö Distillery Company has established a world-wide rarity in Isokyrö, western Finland: a rye whisky distillery. The company aims to reinvent the possibilities offered by whiskey as well as to enter international markets as swiftly as possible.

“We will make a pure 100 per cent rye whisky,” says CEO, Miika Lipiäinen. “There are a few such producers in existence but, as far as we know, none have it as their main product.”

Lipiäinen founded Kyrö Distillery Company with his friends in late 2012. The distillery, located just across the river from the home of one of its founders, was established in a former dairy used for storing old cars. The company is now owned by five shareholders and employs a full-time distiller.

According to EU legislation, a beverage must age for three years to officially become a whisky. Thus, Kyrö Distillery’s first official rye whisky batch will not be available until 2017, but its first product called “Juuri” (‘Root’) –  a rye distillate ageing to become whisky – is coming out already this spring and can already be consumed for instance in cocktails.

“We aim to completely reinvent the possibilities offered by whisky and the targeted consumer groups, Lipiäinen explains. “Whisky has not been very popular in cocktails, but rye whisky is excellent precisely for that purpose. That is why we are going to open an Isokyrö-style pop-up restaurant in Helsinki in late April to promote this new approach.”

The company also has clear-cut plans for entry into the international market, aiming boldly at global metropolises such as London, Berlin, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Preliminary contacts have already been established.

According to Lipiäinen, Londoners are known to appreciate good whisky whereas Berlin is like the Ostrobothnian startup company itself: happy to break traditions and open to all things new. Tokyo and Hong Kong are the whisky capitals of Asia.

“First we aim to have our rye whisky on offer in selected cocktail bars in these cities,” says Lipiäinen. ” From there we can start to build brand awareness. The plans at this time are still rather sketchy, but our internationalisation project will take off within six months. The Finnish market will not be enough for us.”


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