At Lyngen three daring founders produce liquor under the Northern lights. Madness? Not if you ask a medical doctor, a diver and a hairdresser with more determination than most.
A few years ago, a medical doctor, a diver and a hairdresser went to a cabin at Lyngen. Hans (the MD), Tor (the diver) and the hairdresser (Anne-Lise, married to Tor) started to talk about a mutual passion: Local food and drink. Even though they had diverse backgrounds they agreed on one thing: the lack of local, alcoholic beverages to serve the rapidly growing Northern lights tourists. So why not be the ones to start?
Inspired by the Scottish
Hans, the owner of an adventure company, had recently been to Scotland and noticed how the magic landscape resembled many places in Norway. The mountains, the fjords, the rivers and the people with their dark sense of humor and warm feelings for their homeland. But there was one very noticeable difference: Scotland had whisky. Could Norway also have whisky? And it was at this point during the conversation that Hans introduced the idea of establishing an Arctic distillery.
Tor initially suspected that the good doctor had been experimenting with some medicines from his medical cabinet. Having a business background, he started to check numbers, statistics, the laws and other hard facts related to establishing a legal distillery in one of the world´s most legislated countries. Maybe the idea wasn´t so crazy after all? After lengthy discussions with his wife he went to visit Hans one evening to announce that he was quitting his job. Let´s do it, he said. – Are you in?
It took Hans a micro-second to answer yes.
Financial input from Innovation Norway
With financial help from Innovation Norway the team first went on a field trip to the Scottish island Islay to learn. Here they met up with one of Hans´ contacts, Colin Houston, from the Scottish Highland. Tor and Colin discovered they had a lot in common, maybe even a little too much: Fast cars, fast boats, diving, skiing and all kinds of other adventures with an element of danger – all personality traits that could come in handy in a gamble like this. Colin is the kind of guy that seems to know everyone that matters. During their stay on the Scottish island the group visited eight distilleries in three days and had productive conversations with the management. Based on feedbacks they decided to build a combined visitor and distillery in arctic Lyngen.
Inspired by the Aurora Borealis
Anne-Lise, who is a creative entrepreneur and business owner, came up with the name AuroraSpirit. The name is of course inspired by the Northern lights. Hans suggested the name “Bivrost”, a name used in old Norse for Northern lights. This has resulted in Bivrost Gin, Bivrost Vodka and Bivrost Aquavit. In the old days, Norwegians believed the Northern lights were the bridge between heaven and earth, guarded by the feared god, Heimdallr.
In the spring of 2015 the planning of the world´s northernmost distillery started. All the necessary equipment for production was ordered and the foundations were put in place in December the same year. Thanks to competent consultants, architects, entrepreneurs, Innovation Norway and a very helpful local council at Lyngen, the world´s northernmost distillery opened in the summer of 2016. Here AuroraSpirit has started to produce one of the cleanest liquor products in the world. The brand is already officially registered as an alcoholic brand in the EU. And at the distillery´s spectacular visitor center guests can learn both about arctic culture and about production of alcohol under the Northern lights.
The changes in the travel markets have been enormous in the last few years, and the trends both internationally and nationally indicate that locally produced food and drink will be sustainable investments. So maybe they weren´t so crazy after all – the medical doctor, the diver and the hairdresser?
Aurora Spirit was present with us at Palmer at this years Gin-festival, 8th and 9th of june. Their products were very popular, and they also recieved high marks from one of the most important Norwegian magazines for spirits and alcohol beverages Aperitif. Of 19 Norwegian Gin varieties tested, their Bivrost Gin won first place with 87 points!