Tap Room furniture are from local carpenters; glass bottles are custom made by order. Photos: Sara Riihiaho

Tourist in the distillery

The story of Ägräs began in the former plow factory in Fiskars Village, Finland, where wild herbs and berries were utilized in Rekola brewery. The dream of having an own distillery finally came true. When Nordic flavors were booming, the trend had to be joined.

Text: Suvi Heino

After a successful crowd funding campaign, there was no need to skimp on the distillery machinery. ”We could afford an automatization, which tripled the production capacity”, says Susanna Kankare, the CEO of Ägräs Distillery. Success required a thoughtful brand, accentuating wild herbs and design. A global innovation agency PACKLAB was chosen to hone the brand. The name Ägräs stems from the Finnish mythology.

A small sample of raw material masses. In the background is the art pieces of Katja Öhrnberg in the art sales exhibition in the Tap Room.

Distillery tourism added to the travel portfolio

The new distillery is now fully operating next to the brewery. Tap Room, the tasting room, is located behind a glass wall. It combines the local knowhow from furniture design to communication and marketing. A changing art exhibition presents the art of a local cooperative Onoma.

“Last summer we trained 20 wild herb pickers. Additionally, a domestic wild herb merchant delivers the juniper berries from the North”, Kankare explains. The production demands hundreds of kilograms of raw materials from the nature.

”We take advantage of Fiskars’ history and structures that bring great visitor flows every year”, Kankare says. Ägräs adds distillery tourism to the Fiskars travel portfolio. It offers workshop visits, local history, flavors and workshop combinations of tastings and program packages. As a homecoming gift one can forge a cheese knife at smith’s or blow an own glass in the glass cabin. There are plenty of options.

Master Distiller Tomi Purhonen and CEO Susanna Kankare check the quality.

Innovation from the herbs

The innovator of many products is the Master Distiller Tomi Purhonen, who has a strong knowledge in the wild herbs, the key components of Ägräs brand. Purhonen trusts in the rich and strong tastes. “The basis is the health effects of the herbs. From there I look for the flavors.” His favorite herb is the stomach friendly angelica, which is used in many of Ägräs’ products. Purhonen does not settle for obvious flavor solutions. At times, he replaces pepper with wild angelica, a plant often considered a burden in the garden. To another product, the same herb brings a hint of licorice flavor.

Thanks to the strong growth and internationalization Ägräs initiated a new crowd funding campaign in Spring. After only three weeks, over 70 per cent had been collected of the targeted 350 000 euros. There is a demand for clean raw materials. The world is waiting for the Nordic hit products. ”It is our benefit to be Nordic.”

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