The myth of the century: whisky is only for men

Enjoy a dram of Finnish rye whisky. Distilled by a woman.

It might sound crazy but whisky is not always distilled by bearded, soon-to-retire, and self-muttering males. It doesn't need to follow the medieval Scottish traditions and only be distilled on a rainy day, either. And whisky really does not need to mature in barrels for three hundred years.

Looks like the world is changing!

It really is about time we look in the mirror and admit that our view of the world surrounding whisky is a bit dusty.

Let's get some updates done. Mari Saarenpää, Kyrö's female whisky distiller can help us.

From a pharmaceutical factory to a whisky distillery

Mari Saarenpää doesn't match the stereotype of a whisky distiller.

She is a 36-year-old engineer who studied chemical engineering. As a mother of two children and two dogs, she spends her free time riding horses, hunting, and playing volleyball. She has a big sister who is exactly one minute older. They grew up and studied together in Alajärvi, Southern Ostrobothnia.

“Before I started working with Kyrö I was working at a pharmaceutical factory. Laboratory work has always been something I'm good at and I thought I could handle distilling, too.”

Mari has visited many whisky distilleries around the world, but she's yet to meet another female whisky distiller.

"Sometimes I hear suspicious comments about my job just because I'm a woman", she admits.

“But I know there are others. I've seen a few profiles in Instagram so I know I'm not the only one."

Mari didn't know anything about whisky when he started with Kyrö.

"Later on I've seen it as a good thing. I had the chance to create my own taste palate and my personal taste."

Rye whisky from Kyrö was the very first whisky Mari tasted. One could argue her first contact was quite special. Kyrö has a very unique way of making whisky. It combines different whisky production methods and is made from 100 percent Finnish rye. No other whisky is like that.

“Some liquids have tasted a bit flat after I tasted rye whisky from Kyrö. But I've also tasted some really nice and refreshing ones”, Mari admits.

“Kyrö sets the bar pretty high. I like the sweetness of the rye. It comes out in a really nice way.”

There is a whisky for everyone

Thanks to the world of advertising and movies, we seem to think whisky is only enjoyed by middle-aged men smoking cigars and throwing dollar bills in the air.

Mari shakes her head. Perhaps it's time to kill this myth. Do it while you enjoy a dram of Mari's favourite whiskies.

“Something smoky from Bunnahabhain or something light like Glenmorangie or The Macallan,” she lists a few of her favourites.

You don't need to know anything at all about whisky to be able to enjoy it. Good way to start is mixing a cocktail. Rye whisky has a strong flavour and it works really well in classic whisky cocktails like Whisky Sour or Old Fashioned. You could even try a Mint Julep using Finnish rye whisky.

“The world around whisky is full of clichés and stereotypes that you are sure to do better without knowing. Find things that taste good to you. That's enough.”

And it doesn't always have to be whisky in the glass.

"I love one cold cranberry long drink after sauna", this female whisky distiller admits.