Finland is known for building some of the worlds biggest cruise ships, phone giants Nokia and a vodka that has a presence in many a bar – Finlandia. But how did this rather well-know vodka come about? Compared to other rivals, it’s a rather secretive brand, and not one that many know a fact or two about. So without further-a-do, let’s demystify this Finnish name.
Finland has itself a 400 year old distilling tradition, and in 1970, one of its first commercial vodka brands Finlandia was launched in Scandinavia, with the US following a year later, from the Altia Corporation distillery in the small Finnish village of Koskenkorva. To create such a varied range, Finlandia uses the very best that Finland has to offer. The pure glacial spring water, filtered through deposits of moraine sand formed during the Ice Age, is the core of Finlandia. The natural spring in Rajamäki, close to the Finnish capital of Helsinki, was the reason for founding a distillery there in 1888.
Before bottling, all spirit producers need to filter their water supply to a certain extent. While other vodka brands use demineralisation, deionisation, UV treatment as well as reverse-osmosis treatment to treat the water, Finlandia use only simple mechanical filtration to remove the tiny ‘sand- like’ grains in the glacial spring water. The important minerals, that give Finlandia its recognisable character, remain in the water.
Finlandia also uses six-row barley, native to Finland and cultivated by selected Finnish farmers. Finland’s cold winters cleanse the earth and remove impurities, but also leave the growing season very short. But thanks to the Midnight Sun, which provides long days and white nights, the six-row barley grows optimally for spirit making. The six-row barley is one of the most expensive grains, due to its high starch content and short growing season. The starch is the source of sugar, which is pivotal in the fermentation process.
Finlandia is produced with one of the most sophisticated distillation processes in the world, resulting in no necessary filtration. It uses seven column stills, approximately 25 metres high, which use a unique and very expensive multi-pressure system. The six-row barley spirit is distilled in a continuous process through more than 200 distillation stages. During the distillation, all impurities are removed, including fusel alcohols and oils, which make the vodka heavy and grainy in taste. The whole process yields no leftovers as virtually everything is either recycled or converted into side products and sold to other industries. The distilled alcohol is then transported to the Rajamäki production plant where it is bottled.
So how does it fare? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –
Finlandia – 40%
A distinct nose of barley, with an incredibly smooth offering on the palate. Produces a gradual warmth, with a thick texture of barley creating a very long finish with burst of freshness as you breath in.
Finlandia Grapefruit – 37.5%
Fresh, rich and ripe grapefruit upon the nose, with a slight sweetness underlining. Light yet ripe on the palate, with a natural sweetness offering a long, floral and soft finish.
Finlandia Mango – 37.5%
Light, fresh notes of mango upon the nose, with a slight aciditiy but a natural sweetness coming through. Soft with a smooth texture on the palate, with a subtle, floral mango flavour, offering an elegant, zesty finish. Long.
Some great vodka’s to be sipped, but also versatile enough for one of these –
40 ml Finlandia Vodka
40 ml Grapefruit Juice
3 Lime Wedges
20 ml Honey Syrup
1 dash Grenadine
Muddle the lime wedges and honey syrup in the base of a shaker. Add Finlandia, grapefruit juice and grenadine. Shake and fine strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Or perhaps add Finlandia to this tasty dish –
Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta
50 g pasta, cooked al dente
70 g chorizo, cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated garlic
350 ml cream
75 ml Finlandia Vodka Classic
2 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp black olives
1 tbsp capers
150 g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan to garnish
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic. Pour the cream, Finlandia Vodka Classic, and tomato purée into the saucepan. Allow to simmer for 10 min. Add cooked pasta, chorizo, black olives, and capers. Finally, add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook for 1-2 min. until they are soft. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan.
Who would have thought of having vodka WITHIN a food dish! The Finlandia range now boasts a variety of flavours including cranberry, mango, lime, red berry, wild berries, grapefruit, tangerine and blackcurrant, all housed within a ‘Glacial Ice’ design by Finnish designer Harri Koskinen and Kenneth Hirst of Hirst Pacific Ltd, New York. Well worth having a bottle within your drinks cabinet, and although it’s not a brand that shouts out with marketing like the others do, it’s a little gem that is worth some appreciation if you come across it.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.