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New Norwegian distillery unveils first product

Oslo Håndverksdestilleri (OHD) is launching its first product, Marka – a Norwegian-style digestive bitter with dandelion, bog myrtle and angelica root, all of which are evocative of the Nordic forest.

OHD will be the first production distillery to open in Norway since 1927. Structural work has begun at the premises in the Bryn area of Oslo. Bespoke copper stills are due to arrive in a couple of months and the distillery is planned to open in June. Whilst the distillery is undergoing construction, Marka is being produced at nearby Ægir brewery where OHD’s head distiller, Dave Gardonio was formerly head brewer.

Scandinavian customs, foraging and the Nordic way of life all contribute to the philosophy of OHD. Marka takes its name from the vast, untouched Nordmarka forest surrounding Oslo; it doubles as a Nordic term for the ‘outdoors’.

Co-founder and partner in OHD, Marcin Miller comments: “Norway inspires with its pioneering spirit and breathtaking scenery. Our new distillery will aim to capture the culture and traditions of this special country in a profound way, initially with Marka, then with a Norwegian gin and an akevitt.”

The final blend comprises 16 botanicals; a mix of berries, leaves, flowers, roots and stems encompassing Nordic nature in its flavour. Once crafted, to mellow and marry the spices together, the spirit is rested in oak barrels for several months.

Ryan Chetiyawardana, AKA Mr Lyan, award-winning bartender and owner of White Lyan and Dandelyan, states: “I'm very excited to see Marka hit our shores; a potable bitters coming out of Oslo, using a wealth of indigenous, hand-foraged botanicals, including native angelica – Scandinavia's gift to the botanical brigade. Lovely earthy bitterness with great structure making it ideal neat and for mixing.”

According to Martin Tønder Smith, blender at OHD: “There have been many trips out to the woods during this process. We are proud to create a product that is based solely on locally-foraged ingredients. This is something completely different to the dark and heavy drink that most Norwegians associate with bitter.”

Key to the success of the project is Dave Gardonio, a graduate of Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and a trained biochemist, brewer and distiller. “Developing Marka was a mission statement for the future direction of the company and our passion. Having worked with spirits for some time, we wished to start our own distillery. We wanted to bring through what we loved into our own expressions.”

Marka is bottled (50cl) at 35% ABV with a UK RRP of £28.99. Contact

25 January 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor