Single Malt Whisky from Finland
Finland is known to most people as “The land of a thousand lakes”. Bordered to Sweden in the west, Norway in the North and Russia in the east, Finland impresses it’s visitors with a stunning nature. But who would expect a Whisky Distillery?
I visited Finland in December for the WFC2015 in Tampere and grasped the opportunity to visit Teerenpeli Distillery in Lahti.
Teerenpeli Distillery caught my attention when I was reading Ian Buxton’s book “101 World Whiskies to try Before You Die” and so wasn’t new to me. I’ve created some questions for Whisky-Quiz about them already in summer 2014 and in October 2015 I tasted my first Teerenpeli Single Malt during The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show in London and what can I tell: It is a really sophisticated Malt! During the show I had the tremendous privilege of tasting their whole range! I personally most liked the Rasi – a Moscatel finished Single Malt.
Family owned Teerenpeli Distillery was founded in 2002 by Anssi Pyysing and is located in the basement of Restaurant Taivaanranta.
In 1994 Anssi started with the Restaurant Teerenpeli in Lahti and in 1995 he expanded his business by starting a brewery. The brewery became a story of success and they asked their self what else could be made out of the exceptional barley from their region.
What do you guess was the answer? Anssi who was a Whisky enthusiast decided to make Whisky. Not any Whisky! He wanted to make high quality Scottish style Single Malt. Before starting with distilling they imported casks of whisky from Scotland which where finished and bottled in Finland.
Anssi went to Scotland in order to learn the stuff. The story reminds me a bit of Masataka Taketsuru, the father of Japanese Whisky, who went to Scotland in 1918 for the same purpose. The difference with Anssi is that he was not a young boy just believing in his dream. Rather he was the experienced business man who had a precise plan combined with a vision.
In Scotland he had met William Meikle, a former manager at Glen Ord. Together they designed the distillery which should be installed in the basement of the restaurant in Lahti. Not an usual place for a Single Malt distillery.
Pot Stills made by Forsyths
If you plan to built a Scottish style Single Malt Distillery, where would you buy the needed Pot Stills from. For Anssi and his team the stills had to come from Scotland and of course not any Scottisch coppersmith. They decided to go to Rothes and talk to Richard Forsyth of famous Forsyths coppersmiths.
When they explained their plans to Richard Forsyth, the coppersmith explained that he wasn’t able to produce such small stills. Forsyth’s model range didn’t contain smaller pot stills at this time. He offered the Finnish newcomer double-sized stills for the same price. But Anssi had to decline this offer, appealing as it was, because there was no chance to get them downstairs into the basement of the restaurant.
Whisky made in Finland
The meaning of the word Teerenpeli is “flirtation” in English. But you can find a translation that means ‘black grouse’ as well. Anssy explained that it was indeed the meaning when they started with the restaurant and you can still find it in the logo which shows a bird.
The production at Teerenpeli starts with milling. The malt comes from Viking Malt, the leading malting company in Finland. The sacks of malt are lifted by hand to fill the malt into the mill. The mash tun was delivered together with the stills from Forsyth’s.
The first fermentation vessel that was installed was included in the original set of distilling equipment by Forsyth’s. It is round and has the exact capacity to receive one mash tun load. In order to create a nearly continuous distillation process Anssy installed additional wash backs made of stainless steel. Teerenpeli has a capacity of 40.000 litres annually.
The New Distillery – Teerenpeli II
In November 2015 a new distillery opened on the site of Teerenpeli brewery. With a wash still which is twice as large as the old one and two spirit stills that are exact copies of the original, Teerenpeli expanded it’s capacity to 160.000 litres annually. With copying the spirit stills they hope that the character of the new make will not change. The heating source for the new distillery are wood pellets and helps sustain Lahti’s regional economy.
The original distillery will continue to produce and will be used for special production.
Over the past 13 years the Team of Teerenpeli distillery refined their skills in making whisky. They where experimenting a lot about warehousing and other stuff. For a long time very small quantities of their bottles where available.
For me this displays that Anssy and his team are serious about making high quality whisky. With the new distillery and the confidence that they know their job, Teerenpeli starts expanding their international market efforts and I am looking forward in seeing their range of whiskies in whisky stores.
Traditional craftmanship – top Whisky
Teerenpeli is a distillery that produces it’s Single Malt in a very traditional Scottish style. This can be appreciated immediately with the first sip. No colouring and no chill-filtration. This is a true malt whisky and you can feel the confidence of the Teerenpeli team to create a top single malt – high quality stuff!
There are some reviews already in the internet like one from Ralfy who reviewed the 8 YO.