Saturday, April 4, 2015

Kyrö Distillery Company: where the Rye evolves


20150328102352-IMG_3105_small-2When you drive to Isokyrö you know you are at the countryside. The vast fields accompany the more or less lonely road more often than random forests. This is the are where the fields (almost) reach the horizon, people are proud and their shoulders fit in only because they built their houses and doors big. It is the Pohjanmaa and you can check the map for the exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/H6WLd
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What is the Kyrö Distillery Company? You can read about them from their web site ( http://www.kyrodistillery.com/ ) but put in short: they are a fresh company (founded 2013/2014, started their production 2014) who are producing 100% pure Finnish single malt rye whisky. At this point it is on the new make level, but 2017 the first three years old Rye whisky will see the sunrise. They are in a good competition spot since there isn’t that much production of the pure 100% rye malt whisky. Usually 51% of the rye is enough to call it a rye and distilleries tend to use that option. The Rye is hard to work with, but if you go through the pain and wait you will get amazing results. KDC also produces two main varieties of Gin, which are remarkable good and tasty.  My recent blog post about Verso can be read here: http://savuista.blogspot.fi/2015/03/kyro-verso-young-distill-growing-its.html
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But first, let’s get back in time to the year 1714. KDC’s first Gin was named Napue, which is the name of the village where the distillery is located. It is also the place, where a big historical event happened 301 years ago: the battle of Storkyro, or the battle of Napue. The Russian’s had fought their way to almost west side of the Finland. Finland was part of Sweden in those days, but all those great victories Swedish had during their 30 year war did not help anymore. Since the defeat in Poltava they had been retreating. And despite that the majority of Swedish force was made of tough Finns the Russians were victorious on the battle and thus on the big war. It was a sad day to the region, since Russians burned down the village and it’s nearby buildings and majority of men were killed during the fight and in the aftermath. The story following the battle is tragic and sad, if you are interested about that history please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Storkyro. The events burned deep into soul of these people. The memorial was finally built 1920 – just a few years after Finland gained it’s independence.
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20150328101704-IMG_3092_small The Napue suspension bridge is the oldest one in Finland that is still in use. It was constructed 1909-1910.
20150328101842-IMG_3096_small-2 The distillery as viewed from the suspension bridge. It is on the left behind one more modern house.
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The distillery itself has also some historical merits by itself. It was built as a  cooperative dairy in 1908. The dairy produced a famous everyday Finnish cheese Oltermanni for over a couple of decades – revealing the origin the name of the road leading there. The building is beautiful and has remained a lots of it’s old fashioned facet.
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The interior of the building are more or less renovated – and the work goes on. The rye they grind is one of the best I’ve tasted: very strong and there is a strong sense of a threshing barn in them. The aim is to use more local rye in the future, which would be a great chapter to the tale.
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The production facilities are compact and after cutting off heads and tails they produce roughly 300 liters of new make in one batch (200 liters of pure alcohol).
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20150328105514-IMG_3176_small New mash in production. The mashing and fermenting takes six days to complete, due to low temperature and careful process which provides more taste than the haste.
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The maturation is done in a small new oak casks to accelerate the process. Once the new storage areas are completed, they can provide even a better and more stable environment for the whisky to gain it’s final form.
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20150328111855-IMG_3243_small Current warehouse.
20150328111347-IMG_3229_small The next warehouse, at this point a bit of work is required before casks can be rolled in.
20150328111551-IMG_3234_small The next next warehouse, that is going to require a few more hours before it is ready.
20150328113638-IMG_3283_small The bottling is done by hand at this point. Demonstrated with a empty bottle.
20150328113723-IMG_3287_small It is all handcraft work.
20150328113738-IMG_3289_small The bottle would be ready for labeling. All labels have been numbered earlier by hand.
20150328113743-IMG_3290_small ..and it would be ready to shop out.
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There are much more to tell about the RyeRye and crazy Finns who like to think Rye out of the box. I really appreciate their style, attitude and effort they put in their work. While I am a big fan of smoky drams, KDC rye is interesting and captivating. It is strong and tasty (some batches are better than others) and produces a long finish. It is not subtle, but does things on the rough cut way. Both Rye whisky and their Gin provide themes and tastes of Finland: the nature and the toughness. These are not for somebody who want their experiences to be gentle, smooth and indifferent. The rye is good. I will continue to blog about the Distillery and their drams on the later date: it is amazing how much inspiration one visit there can generate. Kippis!
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