Finnish liquid gold: Kyrö Distillery’s award-winning whisky journey
Co-founder of Kyrö Distillery Company Miika Lipiäinen pours a glass of the heritage behind the Finnish rye whisky haven in Isokyrö, blending tradition, innovation, and community spirit.
Amidst the serene landscapes of the Ostrobothnian region in North-Western Finland, one can find an old dairy in the town of Isokyrö, standing next to the Kyrö river. This is the heart of Kyrö Distillery Company, a Finnish all-rye distillery founded in 2012 by Miika Salmi Lipiäinen, Jouni Ritola, Miko Heinilä, Kalle Valkonen and Mikko Koskinen.
Throughout the years, Kyrö has been earning recognition for its dedication to quality, new-thinking and its mission to change the whisky scene for the better. As important as a sauna is to the Finnish people, it is naturally part of the founding story of Kyrö Distillery.
The idea of making whisky by using Finnish rye launched the group on a journey that would forever change the landscape of Finnish distillation. The road was not going to be easy and taking this leap required a shared vision and love for rye.
So, how did five guys in a sauna turn into an award-winning all-rye distillery by the name Kyrö? The answer is clear: by dreaming and daring.
Honing in on heritage
The town of Isokyrö has a rich history, and cherishing the local traditions, environment and most of all the community of people was and has ever since been the core of Kyrö. With little experience in distillation, the friends started the process by researching and experimenting on the rye in order to find the best methods for their whisky making.
What united our five founders through the years was on top the passion for rye, also the devotion for the Finnish heritage and respecting local traditions, ingredients and craftsmanship.
The rye itself is a unique grain, which requires finding the right methods for distilling whisky out of it. The unique and distinct rye flavour, which stems from the harsh Northern weather conditions, became a clear cornerstone of Kyrö’s whiskies.
In order to create a truly astonishing rye whisky, the founders knew they had to master all aspects of the whole distillation process; from malting the rye to fermentation, distillation and cask ageing. Shining copper pot stills are cultivating and crafting rye-based wonders with their traditional touch.
Whisky maturation is a form of art, and within Kyrö’s beautiful barrel warehouses made of wood and concrete, time works its whisky magic. The barrels cradle the spirit infusing it with flavours. What gives the rye whisky its full flavour on a broader spectrum is the combination of American and Scottish ways of making whisky, where working based on the grain meets pot distillation. The goal of getting maximum taste out of the grain is reached by malting the rye and including all the solids throughout the distillation process.
And the result of it all? A beautiful 100 percent malted rye whisky that encapsulated the essence of Finnish culture, nature and the spirit of its people.
Kyrö is a dogma breaking distillery, focused on true openness of flavour where everyone’s experience is equal. Although Kyrö Distillery is among the younger whisky distilleries, the immaculate portfolio of 100 percent-rye products have already been awarded and won various international whisky competitions.
Most recently Kyrö won three stars at the 2023 Great Taste awards for its Kyrö Malt, which is the highest accolade in the competition. Likewise, it has scored ‘Gold Outstanding’ with an impressive 98/100 points at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC). The full Kyrö product range, which also includes gins and a dairy cream, is admired and valued as a guarantee of quality and exceptional character globally.
This autumn, Kyrö is reaching a new milestone by launching its core range of whiskies, consisting of four varieties in 700ml bottles. The collection includes both the familiarly beloved Kyrö Malt and alder-smoked Kyrö Wood Smoke, as well as the new nutty and sweet Kyrö Oloroso and earthy Kyrö Peat Smoke. This core range presents the wonderful versatility of the rye grain and offers high-quality whisky with tasteful characteristics for everyone to find their own favourite.
Leaving a positive impact
On top of making beautiful rye spirits, Kyrö’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability is a common theme that runs through the whole operation. From sourcing local ingredients to fully running the distillery on local food waste biogas and supporting the region, Kyrö’s ethos is demonstrating the founders’ deep connection to the community and their desire to leave a positive impact on the whisky industry. That said, what sets Kyrö’s whisky apart is not solely its impeccable craftsmanship or the awards won; it’s the way of capturing the Finnish culture and Kyrö values in every sip. Kyrö’s whole portfolio offers a journey through Finland’s nature, from mist-covered lakes and whispering forests to robust rye fields and blooming gardens.
Kyrö Distillery’s story is a rye-filled journey marked by trials and triumphs, showing years of hard work, passion and respect for the Finnish heritage. So far Finland has been known for being the land of thousand lakes, but perhaps the future unfolds something further that presents the Finnish nature, craftsmanship and values – namely the liquid gold of Kyrö.
About the author
Miika Lipiäinen founded Kyrö Distillery Company with four of his friends in 2012 after they went into the sauna with a bottle of rye whisky and came out thinking that there’s a “Finnish all-rye distillery” -shaped hole in the universe. Kyrö started production in 2014 after various twists and turns and saw their rye-based gin take off in 2015, then released their first standard rye malt whisky expression in 2020 and . In addition to his job at Kyrö, Miika is an avid fan of sci-fi, drumming and Arsenal.