If you've tasted any premium alcohol in Finland, the chances are it's infused with the Arctic nature. While production quality is taken for granted, it's the organic berries, herbs and wildflowers that add a special essence to many Finnish drinks.
In the town of Kuopio, drinks manufacturer Lignell & Piispanen has been hand picking berries in the forest since the 1850s to make their signature range of berry liquors. The fresh local water adds to the purity of the product. "Clean, pure, natural high-quality ingredients with the local know-how is the key to the success," explains managing director Harri Nylund.
"Finland has the purest and cleanest water in the world. We are the country of thousands of lakes, and Finnish people respect nature and its cleanliness," says Nylund.
Another small batch producer making good use of the natural ingredients around them is award-winning Kyrö Distillery. Their gin is blended with meadowsweet, sea buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves. And the end product is "herbal and sweet with essential oils of meadowsweet and gentle citrus on the nose... ending with notes of pepper or rye on the tongue" according to the master distillers.
Finnish craft products are finding new export markets all the time. Hartwall's gin long drink, which first gained popularity during the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, is now being exported to Sweden with great success. And small-batch Mallaskoski brewery will soon start sending its Panda beer to China.
Innovation in the Finnish drinks industry never stops. Whether they're young enterprises like Helsinki Distilling Company, whose pink grapefruit twist on the traditional long drink has found new audiences and export opportunities in Denmark; or a distilling giant like Altia which produces the world-famous Finlandia vodka in a range of flavours inspired by Finland - like cranberry and raspberry - or more exotic tastes like mango, coconut and tangerine.
As customers place increasing value on original, clean, organic products - and as new taste trends emerge - Finnish companies are well prepared with their exquisite offering.