Finlandia

Finlandia

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.

FinlandiaFinlandia 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 –

Easy Julep
Easy Julep

Easy Julep

Glass –

Highball

Ingredients –

40 ml Finlandia Vodka
40 ml Grapefruit Juice
3 Lime Wedges
20 ml Honey Syrup
1 dash Grenadine

Method –

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
Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta

Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta 

Ingredients –

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

Method – 

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.

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The Liquorists Vodka Trail Review

Last night was another installment into The Liquorists busy calendar, the vodka trail. Following the same concept of their Nominees & Spirited Ventures trails last month, we were to be enjoying 5 different vodka’s, 5 different vodka cocktails in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 different light bite appetizers. Sound daunting? Challenge accepted!

Finlandia Caiproska at Blackdog Ballroom

Starting the night in the Blackdog Ballroom in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, we gathered in the bar’s Ballroom, a quietly tucked away private member’s bar which is perfect for events like this. Mr Tom Sneesby would be our host for the evening as he explained a brief history on vodka, what The Liquorists are all about and why we had a shot of Finlandia in front of us. Finlandia is a perfect example of how a spirit can get better when mixed properly. Although nice on its own, the Finlandia Caiproska that came after brought this Finnish vodka more alive. A small bite to eat followed in the form of breaded chicken strips and chips and then we were hopping into a taxi to our next venue, 24 Bar & Grill.
Cariel Vodka was the choice of vodka at this newly re-branded bar (formerly Obsidian), and one of my personal favourites in the cocktail world, the Pornstar Martini, was made to perfection using Cariel’s vanilla flavour. Nestled at the end of the bar in their boothed seating, we enjoyed small pineapple and coriander salsa pastries to accompany the cocktail, as well as a shot of Cariel vodka to finish the visit off.

Pornstar Matini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar and Grill

Epernay was the next port of call, with the stunning champagne venue offering us Belevedere vodka to sip while French 76 cocktails were being hand crafted for our pleasure. Tom gave us a little history lesson on Belvedere, and mentioned that the building on the front of every bottle is the Polish presidential palace Belweder, with the vodka being named after it. From Poland to Sweden, Absolut vodka was next to showcase themselves at Hula, with a tiki cocktail being elaborately concocted while we munched on what I can only describe as a volcano of sweets – literally. Sherbert straws were on hand in our tiki drinks, while we drank amid a beach bar with hammocks and fire (no joke with the fire part!).
Our last bar for the night was in Manchester’s mecca when it comes to cocktails in the Northern Quarter – Socio Rehab. The French vodka Grey Goose was sipped, while Grey Goose le Fizz cocktails were brought over to us amid vegetable and meat toasties to warm the cockles of the rainy weather outside.

Grey Goose le Fizz at Socio Rehab

A great night was had, with a round of applause given to Tom by all  in attendance. And it truly was. My friend came with me last night as the trail was a great idea for an early Christmas present, and he’s now raring to go back to all 5 bars again, with Hula and Epernay his highlights. As for me, all 5 bars are favourites of mine for various reasons, but the Pornstar Martini with Cariel Vanilla vodka at 24 Bar & Grill would be the recommendation of the night, but this is coming from a guy who loves vanilla!

They’ll be more trails coming up in the near future, so keep an eye on The Liquorist’s website and Facebook page for more information

Click on my Links page for links to all the bars and brands mentioned in this article

 

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. 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.