Monday, December 12, 2016

Interview with Sall Whisky

Out in the middle of nowhere lies a small village called Sall. I think it’s fair to say that nothing much is going on out there, and the 229 people living in Sall, are busy living their everyday life, just like the rest of us. 
Or so I thought, because something unique is emerging on the horizon, and is rising up from the dark Danish soil.

A while back I was noticing that a new Danish craft distillery was launching a local ambassador campaign, to raise money for their whisky distillery. Being a Dane and a whisky fan, you can imagine that this really caught my attention. Then I realized that Sall Whisky are located only 19 miles away from my hometown, which almost make us neighbors, and results in the very first whisky distillery in East of Jutland, Denmark. 

If I wasn’t already thrilled about a new Danish whisky Distillery, I defiantly was now. So I decided to mail the guys a Sall Whisky, to learn about their Distillery and their campaign, and I have to say, that their project was showing real potential and true passion. 

Those guys are not fooling around. They are going to handle everything from malting to distilling, using their own local grown barley, and following the old traditions, by floor malting their barley.

Now, Sall Whisky has finally launched their crowdfunding campaign to raise the remaining funds for their distillery, and that’s why we invited Snævar Njáll Albertsson from Sall Whisky, to have a chat about their upcoming whisky distillery and their vision behind Sall Whisky.


1. Please tell us about the vision behind Sall Whisky, and a bit about you 7 guys behind Sall Whisky.

Our aim is to create a local whisky. A whisky that has been created using barley from one field here close to the distillery. We want to learn everything in every process. This is why we even sow our own barley. To us tradition is something that we want to honor, but we're also new in the game and therefore we aim to innovate. We want to be open and bring together distilleries in Denmark and Scandinavia. We want to engage in our local community and we want to facilitate cultural events here for the locals. They've given us so much support. We're a bunch of young-ish guys and we come from many different backgrounds. We have a geologist, a farmer, a musician (actually 4 out of 7 play instruments...!) archeologists and a sales trainer.

2. What style of whisky are you going to produce, and what kind of casks are you planning on maturing your whisky in?
Furthermore, are you planning to store the barrels for maturation on site or elsewhere, like e.g. close to the sea, so the environment can work its magic?

We'll be producing two classics. A single malt and a peated single malt, both matured in ex-bourbon casks. We look at it as a bit of a test. If we can do that, then we can also experiment and create other interesting whisky's. We'll be storing a bit of the whisky onsite and also on different locations within out municipality. We're very interested in seeing how the Danish weather will affect the maturation. But we're open to experimenting, and we have a couple of crazy idea that we're going to keep secret for a little while..... ;)

3. What kind of still will you be using and what kind of barley? Furthermore, we know that you guys are planning on floor malting, why did you choose to do so? 

We're using pot stills, alembic style. We're convinced that these are just so much better for whisky production than column stills, although it's a more of a hassle in different ways. But it's worth it! Regarding floor malting, yes this is really an ambition for us for various reasons. We don't see the point in sending the barley miles away to be malted and then returned if we can do it ourselves. Floor malting also allows the weather and climate to have a say in the production. No batches are a like because of different temperatures. Sometimes it's OK to lose control. A product can become so predictable when one tries to control each and every tiny process in the production. With floor malting the malt will be different with each batch. That's exciting!

4. We have been following your guy’s adventure closely. One thing that strikes us is that Sall whisky seems very committed and engaged in the local community. You have previously launched a local brand ambassador campaign, and you grow your own local barley. Is the local community something that is close to your heart and why?

Completely. I think we matter to our community and vice versa. Their support matters a lot to us. It matters to them that we want to create a distillery, to use local products, to create a platform for culture, to create jobs in the community and maybe even draw new inhabitants to our region. There's a lot of passion here. We only have about 200 inhabitants, but we have a little school here and a senior home and so many of the people here come together and volunteer when help is needed. It truly is a strong community.

5. You are in the middle of your crowdfunding campaign, to raise money for your new distillery, please tell us about the campaign and the vision behind it. Furthermore, please tell us a bit about, what kinds of benefits and items people can "buy" through you campaign, and where they can find it? Last but not least, why did you chose crowdfunding, instead of selling e.g. private casks or non-matured distilled beverage, like other new craft distillers have done?

One thing is that we still needed to cover 30% of the budget, but we also felt that it would be cool to democratize this project a little bit, and create something that we could do together with people who sympathize with our project. So it's a cool way to let people participate, and there's so many who've gotten in touch and have been excited about contributing. It's crazy that we're so close to the goal now...! Unbelievable. Well, it’s possible to support us with small donations, or you can support with x amount of dollars and for example receive a t-shirt, a tote bag, a voucher for our first whisky, become a distiller for a day, a certificate for a full cask or 1/8 of a cask. So there are many ways to support. One in the group once ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and we decided to try it out, even though we know that many distilleries fail to reach their goal. Maybe our story matters to people :)

We like to thanks Snævar for taking the time to talk to us.

Remember to check out Sall Whisky’s crowdfounding campaign here

To learn more about Sall Whisky, visit their webpage here

Cheers, Hasse Berg

(All photos by Sall Whisky. Used here with permission)