Whiskey made from desalinated Arctic sea water, matured under the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights will soon be on sale at the Norwegian Wine Monopoly.
In 2013 a group of six enthusiastic amateurs established the world’s first Arctic whiskey distillery on the tiny island of Myken 32 km off the coast of far-northern Norway.
Roar Larsen with years of passion for whiskey purchased an old fish factory to house the distillery and applied for a distillation permit after he quit his day job as the chief scientist at Trondheim’s prestigious Sintef institute.
The very special energy of the blurred and almost displaced Myken far into the sea just north of the polar circle has fueled a new life and touch – and strength – in the form of spirits. It began with gin; Myken Arctic Gin is already on sale, and soon also Arctic whisky.
Myken is Norway’s only dedicated whiskey distillery, and also the world’s northernmost and first Arctic whiskey distillery. “We believe we have a unique opportunity to be recognized in the market as the first whisky distillery in the Arctic,” Larsen told Norway’s NRK news channel.
Jan Hellstrøm and his wife together with five other couples with more or less loose ties to the island community are enthusiastic ambassadors to Myken. They founded the distillery together. “Safety, optimism and enthusiasm are what characterize people on Myken,” says Jan Hellstrøm. “We fell immediately in love with the unique atmosphere on the island,” adds Kjerstin Hellstrøm.
The ocean waves are almost washing over the distillery and the warehouse. The enthusiasts believe this is going to be noticeable in the finished product. The distillery uses desalinated sea water straight from the Vestfjorden. The ocean itself delivers plenty of cooling water for optimal processing
So far, the distillery has only used unsmoked malt of barley (light German Pilsner malt), but is now experimenting with other types of cereals and not least smoked malt. So far, they buy the smoked malt (35 ppm) since it gives a more controlled smoke character to the distillate than if it was smoked on a small scale with, for example, local peat.
However, the desire is to use Norwegian malt, but Norwegian malt is protein rich of so-called sixth grade. For whiskey production, the two-grade structure with its lower protein content is preferable, but it is not cultivated in Norway, except at the experimental farm at Tjøtta in Nordland. From next year, in cooperation with Innovation Norway, they will therefore attempt to cultivate their own malt. This might create ripple effects for beer breweries which are increasingly looking for local produce.
The World’s First Arctic Single Malt Whisky Distillery, compiled by Admin
Group picture: Jan Hellstrøm, Trude Tokle, Roger Melander (Box Whisky), Trygve Lunheim og Helge Eriksen