Text and photos by Violetta Teetor
Helsinki Distilling Company may not be big, but they’re uncompromising when it comes to quality. The old power station at one end of the Teurastamo district where the old abattoir used to be housed, pumps out as much punch today as it did in the days when it was used for lighting and heating. Nowadays it’s a full-blown distillery complete with restaurant and bar.
With a capacity of generating over 2000 bottles of booze per week, Helsinki Distilling Company prides itself on the fact that it produces London-style Helsinki Dry Gin and is the very first whiskey maker in this city after prohibition ended. The uniqueness of all their products is the fresh, pure taste of Finnish water. Combine this with distinctive flavours of Finnish rye and barley, berries from the forests and fells of Lapland, and herbs and spices grown locally, put it in the hands of Head Distiller Mikko Mykkänen with partners Kai Kilpinen and Séamus Holohan and you’re left with a winning formula. In fact, the entire team at HDC= and Tislaamo Bar and Restaurant are as enthusiastic about their products as they are of their company.
Our guide Marietta is a delightful lady whose knowledge of the history of distilling in Finland as well as the intricacies of the methods and blends which they manufacture, takes us through a 45-minute tour of the place where the action happens. This is followed by a tasting of 4 of their products. No sugary, cloying, stick-to-the-roof-of-the-mouth long drink in their Helsinki Long Drink. This is a refreshing mix of their herby gin and pink grapefruit that could well be your choice at the end of a long week. The colour alone lifts the mood. Helsinki Dry Gin digs deep into the Finnish forest to bring you slightly tart Arctic lingonberry perfectly blended with the quintessential juniper and other herbs and stuff for you to discover. Helsingfors Fiskehamns Akvavit, a nod to the popular Swedish liquor, is again handcrafted with enough caraway seed to give it that distinguishing taste. I’m told Finland is the biggest caraway seed exporter in the world. Go figure.
Guided tours of the distillery with a tasting afterwards need not be booked if there are only a few of you and take place weekly on Fridays and Saturdays at 6 pm. Tislaamo Restaurant is open from 5 pm from Wednesdays to Saturdays.