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Whisky Reviews

Kyro Malt Rye Whisky


Kyro has become quite the poster child for Finland's whisky scene over the past decade - their unique 100% Finnish wholegrain rye whisky has become a must try for the anyone looking to get a handle on Nordic whisky - it certainly helps that the folks behind Kyro are unabashedly playful and maverick in the way they've brought Kyro up!

And all of that started in a Finnish sauna! 



Five friends - Miika, Mikko, Kalle, Miko and Jouni - were hanging in a sauna and drinking some American rye whisky when they began tossing around the idea of making a rye whisky in Finland. Given that rye is a common household ingredient in Finland - particularly rye bread - it seemed peculiar that no one in Finland had yet thought to make a rye whisky.

The idea stuck and the friends began searching for a home for their experiment. They went to Isokyrö when they had heard of a family farm put up for sale, however after taking a look at the place in person, the friends didn't feel it was suitable for their needs. Whilst they continued on their search, they happened to notice an old dairy factory that happened to be out of use and would eventually pick up the place, which sat along the River Kyrö.



Meanwhile, the other incredibly essential thing that had to be done was to begin distilling! When one of the friend's parents were out on a vacation, they would turn part of the house into a fermentation hall to attempt their first distillation - but alas they had no pot still! After spending the week preparing the distillers beer, they managed to get Finland's first craft whisky distillery to agree to let them use their pot still for distilling what would be Kyro's first batch of spirit. The pot still was hundreds of kilometers away and was available for them to use if they could transport the mash over themselves. 

With the first distillation, the guys needed feedback - Miika would smuggle a sample to The Whisky Show over in London and lets folks give it a try. With some encouraging feedback, they decided it was time to go all in. They had their old dairy factory set up and by 2014, were ready to go. After several rounds of distillation, the first batch of whisky was now in the barrels aging, but given that it would take some years before it would be ready, the friends decided to make some gin in the meantime - quite a common practice with up and coming whisky producers - their gin did pretty well! Since then, their Napue Gin, named after a nearby village to the distillery where a great battle was fought in 1714, has gone on to win Best Gin for Gin & Tonic in the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) and continues to be really popular.



Fun Fact: If, like me, you really like the typeface that Kyro uses, it's actually a specially made font for the distillery called Napue Sans, which was based on memorial engravings of the 1714 Battle of Napue that happened nearby the distillery!

Given the Finnish distillery's popularity, it might then be surprising to find out that Kyro's first flagship Malt Rye whisky was only launched in 2020 - up till that point, the distillery would only release numbered Pre-Release batches (there were 8 batches) up until the first core whisky bottling. These Pre-Releases helped fans get to know Kyro better, so that when the flagship expression was ready to be launched, Kyro was already in good standing. Besides their whisky and gins, Kyro also has a cream liqueur that I've also heard is pretty solid. Another interesting thing to note about the Finnish distillery is that it technically operates through a webshop in Germany, which served as a workaround considering that Finland has incredibly strict laws on alcohol promotion and marketing.

With all that said, let's give the Kyro Malt Rye Whisky a go!

It's 100% malted Finnish wholegrain rye, double pot-distilled, and then aged in fresh American white oak casks.


Kyro Malt Rye Whisky - Review


Tasting Notes

Colour: Gold

Aroma: Lots of bright notes of sawdust and pencil shavings. There’s a light bit of varnish as well. It’s quite peppery, heaps of nutmeg too, and then of course there’s the honey. At the base is abit more of cocoa, some dark chocolate and coffee grounds too. A little bit of apples hovering about.

Taste: Punchy! It’s giving honey, caramel, vanilla, nutmeg, black pepper, candied ginger. There’s a more prominent bit of apples and pears here. Some milk chocolate into the finish.

Finish: Medium length, fading out of honey, nutmeg and alittle bit of orchard fruits.


My Thoughts

All things considered, it’s a pretty decent flagship whisky for Kyro. Here you get quick and straightforward sense of Kyro’s rye-focused whiskies - brighter notes of fresh wood shavings, nutmeg, orchard fruits, milk chocolates and honey. It’s a good starting entry point for folks to get to know Kyro.

It’s definitely sufficiently distinctive with the forwardness of the spice and the chocolates - so it’s definitely a success on that front of being uniquely differentiated. I’d say it’s much more nutmeg-y and chocolate-y than Scotch or other world whiskies, and less toffee, baking spice and pastry notes compared to American ryes (which are also of course much more corn-heavy, here it’s 100% malted rye). Even American High Ryes don’t seem to give this chocolate-y note and tend to be less sweet than this.

It’s a potentially winning combination in my opinion and it keeps giving me spiced hot chocolate vibes the whole time. That said, more depth, richness and full bodied-ness would really take this to a whole other level.