Distilleries are a rare find in Norway which has mainly two reasons. On the one hand there are many restrictions from the Norwegian government and on the other hand there are high fees and taxes to pay. Just a few examples to underline the strict Norwegian policy regarding alcohol – it isn’t allowed to sell alcohol with a level above 4,7% in normal supermarkets. Those have to be supplied in specific stores with a certain license. Besides that it is forbidden to sell alcohol after 8 pm and before 8 am as well as on Sundays and public holidays. It’s also forbidden to publish advertisement about alcohol in Norway. So as you can imagine – it’s a pretty tough business to produce and market alcohol in Norway.
So I was on the one hand happy that I found a distillery in general and on the other hand that it was the northernmost of all. It took just 2 hours of a drive from Tromsö. My intention was to join a guided tour in the afternoon, but when I entered the distillery and asked for a tour the brewmaster himself showed me around immediately. Once again I experienced the enormous friendliness of Norwegian people towards guests and was happy about the private tour.
So the „Aurora Distillery“ was found in 2016 and this year (end of 2019) the revelation of the first whiskey will take place, which has at least to store for 3 years. In the meantime they have focussed on Gin, Vodka and Akvavit – and that very well! Their Gin won double gold in San Francisco at the world spirit competition. And after tasting it it’s quite obvious why! It’s full of flavor and has a mild taste. It reveals a lot of aromas when you smell it before and taste in on the tongue afterwards. All of their products are based on local herbs, roots, berries and melted glacier water, which comes directly from the Lingen Alps. These alps are located around the distillery and don’t just give a pure taste to the products, it also frames the distillery in a stunning scenery.
Generally the distillery, the name of itself and the name of the products is very close to this northern area. It’s not just the northernmost distillery in the world, the name „aurora“ also refers to the Northern Lights. The brand named „Bivrost“ consists of two ancient norse words: “Biv”, which means “Shaking” and “Rost”, which means “Road” or “Path”. It is considered to be the viking word for describing the Northern lights. They thought it was a magical bridge between earth and heaven. Also the bottom of the bottles do have the shape of the highest peak of the Lingen Alps. And the distillery itself is designed in a nordic design as well. They have used elements of the vikings and a lot of wooden furniture. Everything connects with this stunning place and the ancient times. Even the distillery is named after a myths of the Vikings and is called „Gerdr“. Odeons chair and sword is placed right next to it.
However, lets talk about the products – For the Gin, Wodka and Akvavit Bivrost is buying spirit made at other distilleries as a base. The final distillation and the adding of certain flavors is made at their place. For the final distillation they are adding up to 23 spices to the Gin and cumin plus some other aromas for the Akvavit. Some of the Akvavit are maturing in cherry casks, which cause an even more interesting flavor.
The whiskey is made of washed mash which is usually used for the production of beer. 1200 liters of that wash will be added to the distillery, heated up so that it starts vaporing. It vapors it’s way through the 14 levels of the colonne, which acts like a booster for the whiskey. In the condenser the vapor turns into a liquid state again and the spirit is created. It divides itself into the head, heart and tail. The head and the tail are side products and not possible to be used as whiskey. It’s just the heart which consists the precious whiskey. That stores in cherry casks for at least 3 years., which are located in former NATO bunkers right next to the distillery.
There are not just those bunkers and other buildings belonging to the former NATO, but also lovely cabins! They belong to the distillery as well. They are either located directly at the waterfront or a bit further up in the hills. It’s possible to catch a stunning view of the breathtaking surroundings from all of them! They are designed in a very modern and clean way as there is no reason to draw the attention from the view.
All in all it was a fantastic afternoon and I can’t be grateful enough for the time Gjermund spent to show me around. He was so supportive and understanding for all the questions I had. I highly (! – and I can’t use enough of those) recommend a visit and a guided tour of this place. And if northern Norway isn’t on your bucket list for the next years, you should at least try their price winning Gin – it’s worth it!!!