by Violetta Teetor
It took the best part of an hour to get from Helsinki to Altia’s Rajamäki bottling and manufacturing plant but it was well worth the trek. We were greeted by the following, “You are very special”. It came from the mouth of Juha Kahima who had a broad smile, even more than usual since it was his last day of work. After 29 years as a chemist and quality controller, he could finally stop setting the alarm clock.
We were given a lecture on what Altia does at this factory where they not only bottle wine from all over the world but also put it in bag-in-box. The wine arrives at the harbour in 26 000 litre plastic bags and is then transported to Rajamäki. They also produce their own liquor using Finnish barley and ground water protected by Altia who owns the land from whence it comes. The famous Koskenkorva, clear Finnish-type hooch, is made in the eponymous town where Martti Koskenkorva’s family and others first started distilling it. The land for the Altia distillery was bought from Martti but today it is bottled at this plant. Several other alcohol products are made from scratch on the premises including Scandinavia’s version of mulled wine called Blossa, a surprise to many since most people think it’s made in Sweden. They may have a point since the recipe and brand come from across the waters and the Master Blender is in the employ of Altia Sweden but in effect it’s blended and bottled at the Rajamäki plant.
Lunch was served at Altia’s headquarters in Ruoholahti where we were treated to a tasting of their Finland 100 Years products including champagne, white and red wine and a special version of Jaloviina, a cut brandy which has been aged in Finnish oak for six months, and cumin-flavoured Koskenkorva. We were assured of the fact that no trees were cut to manufacture the casks. On departing, we were each given a bottle of True Colours Cava, a great way to end this sunny spring day.