Finnish spirit Gustav celebrated in Hong Kong

Gustav is the name of Finnish premium range of spirits, produced by Finland’s oldest alcohol producer still in production, Lignell & Piispanen. Gustav reflects both Gustav III (the late Swedish King) and Gustav Ranin. So, today the Finnish distillery represents and arctic legacy that dates back 160 years.

On 2 November, this Finnish distillery had invited to the Hong Kong Pop-up bar, featuring three Nordic Gustav cocktails held at VEA Restaurant & Lounge. D’Evenitif Co. Ltd. (representative of Nordic food and beverages) hosted the event where master mixologist Antonio Lai had created three Gustav Nordic cocktails. These were served during the whole evening together with canapés prepared by Michelin Chef Vicky Cheng.

Mr Jari Sinkari, Consul-General of Finland in Hong Kong and Macau; and Mr Joakim Ladeborn, Acting Consul-General of Sweden in Hong Kong, honoured the event with their attendance in promoting the Nordic culinary culture together.

It was an evening where the Gustav cocktails were raised in a toast for new friendships and the Hong Kong-Finland culinary exchange.

Gustav Ranin’s legacy lives on in Lignell & Piispanen’s business. Ever since the day he took on the king’s distillery, from generation to generation, from father to son, they have learned through experience and increased their knowledge with the goal of creating the world’s finest liqueurs, vodkas and wines from Mother Nature’s arctic splendour.

Mr Harri Nylund tells ScandAsia more about the background of Lignell & Piispanen: “It is an auxiliary company name for Oy Gust. Ranin which is Finnish family company founded already in 1852 by Gustav Ranin. Gustav Ranin was my grand-grand-grand-grand-father and the owners of the company are now in fifth and sixth generation, me included. Oy Gust. Ranin started distilling in 1859 when the company bought the Swedish Crown distillery from Kuopio. Crown Distillery was founded by Gustav III so the brand name Gustav reflects both Gustav III and Gustav Ranin. Gustav is our premium range which includes 6 different berry liqueurs and 3 vodkas.”

If any reader is not familiar with the Gustav brand it is not surprising: “Though we’ve been a spirit business for more than 150 years Gustav brand was launched in spring 2013. It was launched for export markets only and only in past 1,5 years we have sold Gustav also in domestic sales.”

So far, they have more than 20 export countries, of which five are in Asia China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore) and the rest mainly in Europe. They also export some quantities to South America.

Harri agrees that high quality Nordic artisan distilleries have become a trend: “Definitely. This can especially be seen in Finland and Sweden. We have many new handcraft distilleries here and one reason for that could be the botanicals. We have good and wide range of wild botanicals and berries what can be used in the production. Nature is clean as well as the water which is a good base for the spirit production.”

For the Finnish distillery, the use of arctic berries is both a steadfast principle and a precious privilege, handpicked from nearby forests.

The positioning of Lignell & Piispanen’s products differs from market to market: “Segments are very much different in different areas/countries. In the Nordics we are mainly focusing to the wide crowd, due to the fact that the spirits we produce are highly popular here. Elsewhere, especially in Asia and South Europe we are focusing more to a niche segment. I would also say that berry liqueurs are more niche-focused while vodkas are more for a wide segment. But our offering is definitely Premium what comes to packaging, design and ingredients, berries and botanicals we use.”

D’Evenitif Co Ltd. in Hong Kong helps a selection of premium Nordic food and beverage companies, such as Lignell & Piispanen and several distilleries and manufacturers, in their marketing and distribution in Greater China regions and Southeast Asia.

“We believe in connecting the Nordic culinary culture and their handcrafting excellence, adding value to the highly demanding F&B industry in Asia. We started our Nordic F&B journey working with a small family-owned Finnish distillery in Ranua, Finland and they’re now exporting to Hong Kong, selling at City’Super and some of the top hotels in Hong Kong,” replies Annie Wang, Director and Founder.

And the main reason for focusing on products from this region in the world? “We believe in the Nordics! It’s the quality the products have, combined with the honesty and transparency of the people behind these companies, brands and products that deserve to be known to Asia. Not only are we representing the products, but the people who have worked hard and long to build up what they have, no matter whether it’s a big or a small team. It’s their passion that we are blessed to work with,” she continued.

D’Evenitif has also partnered up with Food from Finland: “In Hong Kong, we have been recognised as their permanent partner in their global network, keeping them updated on the latest news of the Finnish manufactures in this part of the area, and looking after their suppliers that visit Hong Kong under the Food from Finland brand.”

“We focus a lot on B2B, and the retail market through reputable retailers such as City’Super and small-scale ‘retail’ fairs through which we introduce the products and tastings. Yet, 5-6 starred hotels, top restaurants, bars, chefs and sommeliers are those we principally work with.

Photos: Lignell & Piispanen

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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