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Ryan Gavin, National Bar Manager for Rockpool Dining Group in Australia, visited Hernö Gin in October 2017 and experienced work in the distillery. He foraged. He distilled. He bottled. He tasted. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. And he did great. He also learned all that is worth knowing about Swedish fika before ending up doing special performances in three well-regarded cocktail bars in Umeå and Stockholm.

Ryan Gavin has achieved great success in several international cocktail competitions. World Class, Bacardi Capital Cocktail and 42 Below Cocktail World Cup are some of them. It was with great pleasure we welcomed this Aussie to our outback here in Dala, a small village in the UNESCO world heritage The High Coast, to let him experience the daily operations at the distillery located at an 18th-century farm.


Arriving from the airport in the morning Ryan got a flying start with a brief introduction from Johan Wester, Chief Intelligence Officer at Hernö Gin, and presentation of the team at Hernö Gin. Then he was being thrown into the production. Over the course of two days he took part of the bottling of 2,500 bottles of Hernö Gin. He also got insight in the distilling and other tasks related to the creation of a word-class gin made by hand.


Taking the risk to have to follow up his journey with a sugar detox once back at home, Ryan politely shared our daily moments of Swedish fika. We learned that the words ”Oh my goodness!” means that the chocolate mud cake tastes good and that a homemade cinnamon bun is considered heavenly on cinnamon bun day. As we didn’t know that before. We also explained to Ryan that a traditional Swedish fika must offer seven different treats and that you have to eat them in a special order. Always begin with the cinnamon bun!


United by a big passion for flavours and fragrances we did some tasting together with a line-up of all the different gins Hernö Gin has made so far. Ryan contributed with a special edition of Four Pillars gin in collaboration with Rockpool Bar & Grill. Lunch at Hotel Höga Kusten with an astonishing view where nature’s scenery took our breath away offered a treat of char and buttered chantarelles. Of course we also had a couple of beers together while experiencing the city of Härnösand by night.


During a tasting held by Hernö Gin Master distiller and founder Jon Hillgren with international guests, Ryan participated and did all the cocktails in our bar. A much appreciated feature during the evening and our guests, from a world leading paper company, were very excited about the unexpected special treatment.


In the morning the same day as Ryan left Dala to continue his trip further north, we went “bush walking” to use Ryan’s own words. We went foraging in the woods of Skule where Hernö Gin Cocktail Awards is held in August every year. Together we picked juniper berries for next year’s High Coast Terroir Gin which will be released for the competition 2018. The walk up the mountain and down again in light rain took three hours and was… Refreshing.


We waved off Ryan at the train station in Örnsköldsvik from where he continued to Umeå where Emil Åreng, Chief of First Impressions at Hernö Gin and Bar Manager at Open/Closed met up. In the evening Ryan made a guest shift at that very special deli that turns into a bar in the night together with Emil and his crew. The weekend Ryan spent in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, where he did special performances at the cocktail bars Haymarket and Tjoget treating their guests with Australian hospitality and tasty creations made by a highly professional bartender from downunder. We really do hope to meet this great guy again, hopefully already at Junipalooza in Melbourne this week.

Thanks to Rockpool Bar & Grill and Vanguard Luxury Brands, the exclusive distributor of Hernö Gin in Australia, that made Ryan Gavins visit in Sweden possible in collaboration with Hernö Gin.

Written 17 January 2018