• Laura Hujanen

Discerning clients set a welcome challenge for distilleries like Lignell & Piispanen

According to the interviews Drink Nordic team did with local bartenders around the Nordics, the customers have started to demand and understand quality of the alcohol products more and more during the past five years. This is evident in larger cities but also in smaller towns. Discerning clientele has driven also distilleries to take their product development to the next level. We interviewed the product design team of Lignell & Piispanen to find out how they have embraced this challenge.

Sponsored partnership with Lignell & Piispanen

Photo credit in this article: Lignell & Piispanen


Lignell & Piispanen is a Finnish family owned alcohol producer founded in 1852. Gustav Ranin was the founder who also began importing quality whiskies and cognacs. He is the great great great grandfather of the current COO Harri Nylund. They still have products available that were launched in the 19th century but are not afraid to create modern spirits.


Eeva Koivisto is in charge of the product development with assistance from Heidi Nylund. Mika Mönkkönen is the Master Distiller of the company. They try to use Finnish and Nordic ingredients in their products as much as possible.


According to the trio, the long history of the company sets a good foundation for creative spirits. They can rely on the quality of ingredients thanks to long collaborations with suppliers and partners. Also majority of the staff has served in the company for a long time.

– Choosing the right ingredients and suppliers is extremely important when creating products for discerning clients. We use genuine extracts that have been manufactured by us from real berries and other ingredients. We also distill ingredients from the nature with our aroma distiller.


Eeva Koivisto and Mika Mönkkönen

Change in preferences


The team has also noticed the change in preferences clients have nowadays.

– People want lighter products for festive moments and also products that they can solemnize weekdays.

Noticing the change is one thing, but reacting to it is another matter. Koivisto, Nylund and Mönkkönen have truly listened to customers’ needs.

– We have for example decreased the alcohol and sugar contents in liqueurs and created spiced spirits with lower abvs. We have also combined unusual flavours - for example bitter pink grapefruit in a liqueur.


Testing, testing, testing


The process of designing a new product has many steps. The idea of a new product might come from customers, partners or within their own organization.

– Once we have taken an idea into development, features that we want highlight in the product are specified. It might be an unique smell, flavour, colour etc depending on the product group and target group. After that we define when we want to launch the product, how it is packaged and what does it cost.

When the overall idea is composed, it is time to immerse into the vast world of ingredients.

– When we have decided which ingredients we would like to use, we go through things like pricing, availability and suitability. The chosen ingredients get tested. We try different methods to extract the best flavour from each of them.

Finally the actual recipe for the product starts to take shape. The different versions of recipes get tested in a laboratory throuhgout the process.

– We evaluate different versions of the product with sales and marketing team. The recipe that suits the original idea the best continues to production. With the production team we go through the manufacturing. Together with the packaging department we define the things that need to be addressed during bottling.


Finnish and Nordic ingredients are used by Lignell & Piispanen whenever possible.

Trending in 2020


Despite Lignell & Piispanen having almost 200 years of history in spirit production, the company has not got stuck in the past. The product development team is well aware of the current and future trends and is excited to create new products.

– The trend of functional beverages and foods is showing in the alcohol business also when it comes to choosing ingredients like local berries and herbs.

– Also products like Hard Seltzer are gaining popularity. Ready to drink -products are still on trend, especially with floral flavours and exotic fruits.

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© 2019 by Drink Nordic. All photos by Laura Hujanen unless stated otherwise.