Photo: Harahorn
Photo: Harahorn

Food & Drink

Harahorn gin – a Norwegian success story

From Grimstad to the US – and now onwards to the rest of the world, via SAS’ inflight service. Harahorn gin has conquered the world in record time.

Det Norske Brenneri may be a small-scale artisan distillery, but its products are making plenty of noise in the liquor world. The enterprise started under the name Puntervold/Agder Brenneri when the Norwegian production monopoly was dissolved in 2005. Six years later it changed to Det Norske Brenneri. 

Schnapps was on top of the agenda at the beginning, and in 2012 they also launched the first ever Norwegian single malt whisky. In fall 2015, the craft gin ­Harahorn, was released.Odd Johan Nelvik

“We spent over a year testing and testing, to find the perfect recipe,” says co-­founder Odd Johan Nelvik.

“The marriage of juniper and blueberry is the key to the taste that gives Harahorn such a distinctive Nordic note. It is a remarkably characterful gin.”

The recipe also includes orange peel, lemon, Grains of Paradise, dried nectarine skin – and rhubarb.

“Our distillery is in Grimstad on the southeast coast, where there used to be a factory that made rhubarb wine. We thought it would be great to continue that tradition, so we added a bit of rhubarb as well,” Nelvik adds.

When Harahorn was launched, the plaudits were quick in coming – in spring 2016, the gin won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The name Harahorn comes from a mountain in Hemsedal, Norway. Meanwhile, the logotype on the characteristic blue bottle, features a mythical creature – a hare with large horns on its head.

“The bottle sticks in the mind. The ­color, shape and logotype all make an impress­ion,” Nelvik says.

Harahorn is now available onboard SAS flights all around the world. Peter ­Lawrance, who is responsible for food, beverages and snacks at SAS, feels that the gin fits SAS perfectly.

“We want to be able to offer our passengers a unique onboard experience when it comes to gin, and our aim has always been to feature Scandinavian products in our range. Harahorn has a unique taste that goes well with the rest of our range of craft beverages, that we’re alone in offering on flights,” he says.

Meanwhile, the response from customers has been highly enthusiastic, too. 

“Within the first few weeks, many passengers got in touch to ask if they could buy a bottle to take home with them,” Lawrance says.

It’s a fantastic shop window for Harahorn to be included in the onboard range of beverages, but Nelvik thinks there’s an even more important aspect to consider:

“What’s really brilliant is the thought that people are sitting on a plane with a glass of Norwegian gin in front of them. It feels great to be contributing to the travel experience,” Nelvik says.

Despite their rapid success over the past year, the team believes in growing the business at a steady pace – it is, after all, a craft product, made on a small scale.

“We produce around 300 liters of gin in each batch, and we weigh all the ingredients and manage the column stills by hand. Artisanship is at the core of our business, which is why we want to continue this way – that is the foundation of our quality,” Nelvik says, adding “we’re never going to be the biggest gin in Scandinavia, let alone the world, but we do want to be the best.” 

Text: Andreas Alfredsson Grube

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