New Spirits Brand:
High Coast Whisky
Jul 14, 2020
by Luke Dubois
Situated on the banks of the mighty Ångerman River in Sweden, lies one of the world’s northernmost distilleries. This is High Coast Distillery. For the last decade, master distiller Roger Melander and Quality manager Lars Karlsson have been hard at work perfecting the craft of creating exceptional single malt whisky. They have also developed a close working relationship with Sweden’s best (and last!) cooper, Johan Thorslund. They regularly are involved in researching and testing various wood types and different char levels all in search of the perfect recipe.
The distillery has come a long way since their early days. Founded in 2010 on the site of a former box factory turned power station, originally the distillery kept the name “Box”. With expansion came a rebrand in 2018, and now the company is known as High Coast Distillery; an homage to their pristine northern location, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000. Their product distribution is finally beginning to reach the U.S. and whisky enthusiasts across the country have a reason to celebrate. So—”Skal”—how to say “cheers” in Swedish.
At first, Melander and co. began distilling with two pot stills and three washbacks, aiming for about 90,000 liters (~24,000 gal) of pure alcohol annually. In the summer of 2018, High Coast expanded their capacity to about 350,000 liters, (~93,000 gal) with current production at around 200,000 liters (~53,000 gal). Melander’s three-strong production team distills seven days a week – on average one or two batches per day – following two new-make recipes: unpeated and heavily peated. These are now available commercially as Älv, Hav, and Dálvve.
Few distilleries can boast of their locations creating the perfect conditions for whisky making. Not so with High Coast. The temperature variation of their warehouses varies from 30° below zero during winter, to highs of 70° in the summer. This wide range of temperatures gives the whiskies more character than you would typically find, and accelerates the casking process. The cold water from the Ångerman River creates an incredibly cold distillate; created with double-filtered spring fed lake water from water from Lake Bålsjön, a lake that is known for its good, clean and unusually soft water.
The unique natural environment of Sweden is not the only hidden strength of High Coast Distillery. The highest attention to detail and a meticulous blending process are the finishing touches before a batch is deemed ready for consumption. The mastery of their processes, from distillation, to maturation and blending, take place at what they affectionately call “the Nordic pace,” meaning that they take their time to get it right, even if it means a lower profit margin. It is this dedication to quality that really sets High Coast apart, and it all comes through when you sip. Look for their whisky at a liquor store near you today!
“Älv is the Swedish word for River.
Outside our front door runs the beautiful river Ångermanälven, the heart of the High Coast region and essential to our distillery. We are able to make such elegant whisky thanks to the naturally cold, crystal clear water sourced from the river.”
“Hav is the Swedish word for Sea.
In the majestic landscape of a world heritage site, High Coast Distillery is located where the beautiful river Ångermanälven merges into the sea. Here, the river is just about to reach the coast and slowly disappear out into the world, just like our single malt whisky.”
“Dálvve means winter in southern Sami.
Dálvve The Signature Malt is something of a milestone in our distillery history. When it was presented in November 2016, it was our first ongoing product that stepped into the whisky world. Matured on average for five years in first fill bourbon barrels, medium smoky style at 46% ABV, light yet tasteful, it immediately became a success. Dálvve also has a sherry matured sister in a limited release.”
“Dálvve means winter in southern Sami. With Spanish Oak Influence, Dálvve was enhanced with the rich flavors from Jerez. A deeper, darker whisky where the light smoky bourbon notes of Dálvve join company with sherry matured casks.”