Cocktail Recipes with Kalevala Distillery

Kalevala gin

Kalevala Distillery is a small family-owned distillery based in Finnish-Karelia. The distillery produces a selection of gins, rum and vodka. They are certified organic, meaning they only use organically grown ingredients, which are free from any additives or harmful chemicals.

The name of the distillery is based on the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala, a significant work of Finnish literature. It combines folklore and mythology, and the events of this incredible story took place in Karelia, very close to the distillery. I can’t even begin to explain The Kalevala as it is both mad and magical and consists of many dramas. But I can certainly tell you more about Kalevala Distillery and their products!

Kalevala Distillery

Moritz, the master distiller, grew up in Germany, but after many visits to his mother’s house in Karelia, he became very interested in the country and the Finnish culture. However, he wasn’t quite ready to settle in Finland just yet and ended up in the UK studying chemical engineering, after which he returned to Finland and built a small distillery in the barn at his childhood home. Finally, in 2014 he was ready to officially open the distillery and start distilling Kalevala Gin.

The distillery has since become certified organic, using only organically grown ingredients. Their vision is to be a leading example of how smaller businesses can still have a big impact on the world through sustainability. Kalevala Distillery joined the North Karelian Biosphere Reserve in 2020. They see it as an opportunity to learn from and share knowledge with other like-minded businesses, whilst continuing to make a positive impact on the world we live in. The North Karelian Biosphere Reserve is one of 714 biosphere reserves in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve network.

Over the years, the distillery has grown, their equipment has been upgraded a few times, and distribution has expanded across Europe.

Kalevala distillery
Credit: Kalevala Distillery

Kalevala Gin

Moritz has created a beautiful juniper-forward gin, Kalevala London Dry, or White Label Gin, as they also call it. Parts of the recipe are kept secret, but they do reveal some of their wonderful organic ingredients, including mint, sea buckthorn, raspberry leaf, rosemary and rose bud. The gin really embodies the Finnish nature. It is a classic London Dry with a savoury yet fresh flavour profile. It works well in a Dry Martini. If you like Gin Mare, you should try this.

Kalevala G&T is lovely served with premium tonic water and garnished with grapefruit peel. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using mango peel instead. Mango has high levels of pinene, which can also be found in juniper and rosemary.

They have also released a navy-strength gin (or Blue Label Gin), which is distilled at 50.9% ABV. It has all the same botanicals, with added Jerusalem artichoke. Kalevala Navy Strength Gin is strong, but sweet (like many Finns?). I like it, but you can taste the artichoke, so you really need to consider your recipes a bit more. I like artichokes but I understand it can be an acquired taste. Try it in a Negroni with Cynar.

Kalevala barrel aged gin
Credit: Kalevala Distillery

Kalevala Barrel Aged Gin, 40.9% ABV, is an annual limited-edition release, which means there will be unique vintages based on the origin of each cask. I tried the 2020 Vintage, in which the distillery filled five barrels with a mix of both Kalevala gins – about 1000 litres of a blend of London Dry and their Blue Label Gin. Three of the barrels were previously used for their first 2019 Vintage. The other two are Australian rum casks. Each release will use different types of casks and the number of casks may also vary.

The juniper is clearly present on both the palate and the nose. The nose is fresh with something citrusy like pink grapefruit and lime. The palate is full of juniper, pine and rosemary with peppery spice, together with something sweeter, slightly tropical. I happily sip this neat.

Interested in learning more about aged gin? See my previous article Barrel-Aged Gin Explained

Runoi Rum by Kalevala Distillery

Runoi Rum, 38.8% ABV, is made using five- to eight-year-old rums from Barbados and the Dominican Republic. These rums are blended at the distillery in Finland, pure water is added from the nearby well and then it is further matured in a combination of French Limousine oak casks and Australian rum barrels.

This rum is very nice sipped neat or on the rocks, but it works well in many cocktails. The nose is filled with foam banana sweets, Haribo eggs and fresh pineapple. On the palate you can find caramel sweetness, mango, pink lady apples and more Haribo sweets. Although this may sound like the rum is sickly sweet, it actually is not that sweet at all, which makes it very pleasant to sip on its own as well.

Runoi Rum by Kalevala Distillery


Jungle Bird

45ml Runoi Rum

15ml Campari

45ml Fresh pineapple juice

15ml Fresh lime juice

15ml Demerara sugar syrup

Maraschino cherry for garnish

Shake all ingredients well with ice. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with a pineapple slice and a cherry.

Jungle Bird
Runoi Rum cocktail

Elderflower & Passion Fruit G&T

50ml Kalevala Gin

15ml Elderflower syrup or liqueur

Premium tonic (I used Doctor Polidori Dry Tonic)

1 Passion fruit

Add all but tonic into an ice-filled tumbler. Give it a stir, add more ice if needed and top up with tonic water.

Kalevala G&T

Lemon Balm Gin Sour

40ml Kalevala Blue Label

20ml Green Chartreuse

20ml Fresh lemon juice

20ml Lemon balm syrup

Egg white

Angostura Bitters

Measure all but bitters and dry shake, add ice and shake again. Strain over ice, add in a few drops of bitters and garnish with a sprig of lemon balm.

Lemon Balm Gin Sour
Kalevala Blue Label sour

Limoncello Spritz

25ml Kalevala Gin

35ml Limoncello

15ml Yellow Chartreuse (optional)

20ml Fresh lemon juice

Fresh thyme

Soda water

Muddle some thyme together with the gin in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Measure all but soda and shake well with ice. Yellow Chartreuse is optional, but I like how it complements the limoncello, bringing more herbal notes to the cocktail.

Double strain into a cocktail glass, ice optional, and garnish with extra thyme.

Kalevala Gin cocktail

Gin & Strawberry

50ml Kalevala Gin

15ml Lemon juice

25ml Strawberry & Mint Syrup

Soda water (or Prosecco if you’re feeling fancy)

Shake all but soda well with ice and strain into an ice-filled tumbler. Top up with soda water. Alternatively, strain into a cocktail glass without ice and top up with Prosecco.

* To make the syrup, simply add sugar, water and strawberries to a saucepan. Muddle the berries to release their flavour. Keep stirring on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the liquid boil. Add mint and take off the heat. Cover with a lid and leave to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Strain and store in the fridge.

** Skip the soda and add ice and egg white to create a sour. Make sure to dry shake first before shaking with ice for better foam.

Strawberry and mint cocktail
Kalevala London Dry Gin

Elderflower French 75

35ml Kalevala Barrel-Aged Gin
20ml The Starlino elderflower (or replace with St Germain)

Shake the gin and elderflower together with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and top up with Prosecco.

Kalevala Barrel-Aged Gin Cocktail

Strawberry Negroni

25ml Kalevala Barrel-Aged Gin

20ml Campari

15ml Sweet Vermouth

10ml Strawberry & Mint Syrup

Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Negroni straight up

Have you tried any of the gins from Kalevala Distillery? What do you think of their Runoi Rum?

Disclaimer: In paid collaboration with Kalevala Distillery. 

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