The new @FaerIsles distillery project has been introduced recently — but beyond the technical facts of the project there are more inspirational stories around producing spirits in the Northern archipelago.
In a talk with Dánial Hoydal, one of the co-founders of the new whisky distillery we want to understand a bit more about the why’s and whereabouts of starting this idea.
The Founders Club, which allows being part of the first whisky project in the Faroe Islands, is the initial element to build emotion and attention for the project — it is a first step for collecting some income and creating a unique experience and involvement for the first and founding members. For a small contribution anyone interested in the subject can invest (only until November 30!), receive the first collectors’ selection of whisky and gin and benefit from being a founding member of what is expected to be an exclusive and unique set-up.
The project is not yet opened for the actual crowd-funding of investments — this will happen later this year. Driven by the local spirit to develop new business, Faer Isles is aiming for international investments and international whisky enthusiasts to support the project. While it has gained attention in international journals for spirit and whisky (see article in Malt Advocate…) it is also an interesting topic for company programs and event planners: together with the extraordinary food scene in the Faroe Islands, the creation of natural-based special distillery products ads to the unique flavours of the islands.
The company is particularly interested in exploring the “nature” aspects of producing its spirits, it is not only the whisky they look into.
For example they do botanical research like exploring if barley can be grown in the islands (as it was once ago), what kind of edible herbs are available, how old traditions can help the mystery of producing a great quality of drink.
There are many edible herbs that can be used for the gin. We use Angelica, which is abundant on the islands and has a rich history on the islands as a source for vitamin C and D. The main ingredient of gin, juniper berries, also grow wild here, but they are scarce and fragile, so we are looking into growing the local type using hydroponics (= a method of growing plants without soil).
What turned out to work really well in taste is seaweed — on top this is available in endless quantity and already explored for commercial purposes. The Faer Isles founding team cooperates with TARI which is run by Agnas Mols Mortensen, PhD in Faroese seaweed. Together with them they have been harvesting and testing seaweed as a potential botanical element for gin. Tested were several types (there are around 800 around the islands) and they identified great potential in some of them —
in fact so much that we have chosen to make seaweed the signatory ingredient in our gin! As it might be known, seaweed is a very sustainable food, since it exists in abundance in our waters, and the harvesting does not disrupt the ecosystem.Environmental sustainability is very important to us. The Faroese nature is varied but some resources are limited and fragile.
In the future we also plan to use Faroese peat for making whisky malt. Peat was an extremely important resource for the Faroese up until around 70 years ago. Furthermore, we are investigating the original barley types that have been farmed here, the composition of the surface water etc. So we are really trying to tap into the opportunities provided by nature here and weave them into the concept of #finespirits.
A typical Faroese aspect brought into the project, is the “opnahjallur” — the traditional drying houses used for drying and fermenting fish and mutton — see the image in the top. We will build our storage houses just like these in order to utilize the optimal climate here for maturing whisky (strong, salty winds).
The founders of Faer Isles Distillery have more big plans lined up for the future, like creating a contemporary visitors centre for tastings and events. With a remarkable set of advisers — like Heini Zachariassen of Vivino — they will be able to add more value to a strongly growing food community in the Faroe Islands! What started with the Faroese Whisky Club on Facebook 12 years ago with now more than 1000 followers… (called Einmalt — which stands for both single malt and “united”) has now the potential to expand the local flavors of the Faroe Islands, ad another #unordinaryidea to the destination’s portfolio and make best use of local resources.
However: Faer Isles Whisky is not the only stakeholder distilling spirits in the Faroe Islands. Dism, the first spirits producer in the Faroe Islands had laid the ground for it— as initially the company had to produce in other countries due to the limitations in the Faroese legislation, which then has changed some years ago. They produce Baraldur (= juniper) gin, Eldvatn Vodka and a few types of aquavit with very good test results.
And last but not the least: Einar’s Distillery — founded by Einar Waag as part of the Føroya Bjór brewery, which was the first brewery on the islands (dating back to 1888) and is also the largest one. They produce gin, aquavit, vodka and also were due to have a first Faroe Islands Whisky ready by 2020.
Read more on www.faer.io