Aiming for all organic production

Altia’s Swedish Aquavits are made in the organic certified O.P Anderson Distillery in Sundsvall, Sweden. The site is operated by Unimedic, Altia’s trusted partner. The goal is to make the production all organic.

At the beginning of 2017, Altia’s new Aquavit distillery, O.P. Anderson Distillery, was opened in Sundsvall, Sweden. The distillery is operated by Altia’s partner, Unimedic, who performs the key stages of production of the Swedish Aquavits sold by Altia.

“Unimedic is responsible for all daily operations, whereas Altia is responsible for the follow-up and development and has invested in the production equipment. The responsible people from Unimedic have visited Altia’s Rajamäki plant to observe and learn about Aquavit production,” says Stefan Mårtensson, Altia’s Operations Manager and contact person to Unimedic.

“We are building a long-term relationship, and with our know-how and experience we want to create pride in Altia’s products. Currently, we have three people from Unimedic working at the site, but we are planning on training more people to add flexibility,” states Plant Manager Staffan Nordensson, Altia’s contact person at Unimedic.

The aquavit production process at the distillery includes extraction and distillation of spices, blending of ingredients and maturation. From there, the Aquavit concentrates are delivered to Altia’s Rajamäki plant, where neutral ethanol and water are added. After a mild filtration, the product is finally bottled.

Organic products with handcrafted methods

The main reason for establishing the distillery was to ensure the continuity of the Swedish origin of Altia’s Swedish Aquavits. Aquavit is a traditional Nordic spiced spirit with a main taste of caraway or dill seeds. The distillery makes spice distillates and extracts and blends them to concentrated aquavits and other spiced spirits. Some of these are also matured in oak casks and vats for time periods that vary between a couple of months to several years.

All the products in the distillery are made with handcrafted methods from real spices, herbs and fruits. The main part of the production is organic, so the plant has an organic certification.

“This is not yet common in the drinks industry, especially in spirits production. There is a growing demand for organic food and the interest has spread to alcohol products too, and especially to organic wines. Now the interest has also continued to organic spirits,” says Jonas Odland, Altia’s Aquavit master blender.

The aim is to make the distillery production all organic using only organic ethanol, herbs, spices, and other ingredients.

“It is a challenge, since some of our ingredients and spices are not yet available in organic form or don’t yet fulfill our strict quality requirements. Fortunately, this is constantly improving. The more the consumers use organic products, the more such products will be available. And we want to be a part of increasing the availability,” Odland says.

Great interest throughout the region

The distillery was built by extending Unimedic’s current factory. It is located in a new building in the pharma factory area alongside Unimedic’s current operations.

“The space is about 1,000 square metres and filled with spices, brand new copper pot stills, oak vats, casks and other production equipment. It is possibly Altia’s best looking production site!” Odland exclaims.

According to Mårtensson, there is great interest in the distillery throughout the Sundsvall area.

“Everyone feels proud of being part of this, so the feedback has been very positive. People are happy that the cooperation is bringing new business into the area, even if it is happening on a smaller scale. There has, for example, been initial inquiries into organising tourist visits that combine a tour at the distillery.”