Brennevinsgrova: A fluid taste of northwestern Norway
TEXT: ÅSA H. AABERGE | PHOTOS: BRENNEVINSGROVA
When Harald Strømmegjerde took over the family farm, he established something quite contrary to his predecessors. His pursuit, still grounded in local traditions, turned out to be award-winning.
Deep in a valley, at the end of the fjord in the outskirts of Sykkylven, lies the distillery Brennevinsgrova, surrounded by the wild, steep landscape of the Sunnmøre Alps. Inspired by the regional surroundings, Harald Strømmgjerde founded Brennevinsgrova on the family farm in 2019. Two years on, the liquor has acquired notable awards for both its taste and its looks.
To date, Strømmegjerde makes five types of gin and five variations of aquavit at Brennevinsgrova. All products are based on and inspired by local ingredients, traditions and tastes. Water used in the Brennevinsgrova spirit comes from the glaciers in the surrounding Sunnmøre Alps, some gins are made with seaweed from nearby coastal village Herøy, and the aquavit contains potatoes from the area.
“I aim to use local flavours in the products, such as locally grown berries, fruit and herbs. Our bestseller, the Strawberry Pink gin, is made using raspberries and strawberries from Valldal, about an hour from here. Other liquors have locally sourced ingredients like blueberries, rhubarb, apples and chervil,” says Strømmegjerde.
The Brennevinsgrova products are local in every sense of the word. Earlier this autumn, a couple of Strømmegjerde’s friends showed up unannounced at the distillery door with 30 litres of blueberries picked in the mountains behind the farm.
“They offered me the berries to make blueberry gin. So, even if I do most of the work at Brennevinsgrova myself, I get both help and inspiration from people around me,” says Strømmegjerde.
The name Brennevinsgrova has local affiliations dating back hundreds of years. Brennevinsgrova directly translates from Norwegian to ‘liquor spring’. Although it is not, naturally, liquor that flows through the spring, it was a spot where, according to local history, people back in the day would have stopped to take a sip of an alcoholic beverage on their way home from the village. During wintertime, the spring never freezes, and it has therefore been a source for the locals to quench their thirst for centuries.
The small distillery has claimed notable awards in international competitions across the world. “This year, we won gold in London for gin and two silver medals for the bottle design. It feels good to know our products meet high-quality standards out in the world,” says a humble Strømmegjerde.
He is constantly aiming to further the brand and is currently working to bring back local, traditional techniques to create the first Brennevinsgrova whisky, made using turf sourced nearby and Norwegian malt and grains.
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