Discover the world’s best gin: Hernö Gin from Sweden

Hernö Gin is the most awarded craft gin producer in the world. The founder and team are proud pioneers who started the first gin distillery in Sweden back in 2011, making it also the northernmost gin distillery in the world! With a total focus on quality, they utilise and are inspired by the nature of Sweden that surrounds them.

We have tried it ourselves and can personally vouch for its delicious flavour, and we love the brand story and mission that makes Hernö Gin so special and at the forefront of premium gin culture.

For National Gin & Tonic day, we share an interview with the founder of Hernö Gin, Jon Hillgren, who followed his dream after working in a bar in London and being inspired by the growing gin scene. Jon tells us about the brand’s connection with Sweden, their plans to open the first Hernö Gin Bar, a new concept hotel, and how he plans to make Härnösand an international destination for gin experiences – which we can’t wait to try!

What is a typical day like for you Jon, as founder of Hernö Gin?

I’m starting my day unwinding on winding roads in Dala in Sweden. A short early morning jog in beautiful nature is the best way to relax. Also, this is the best moment of the day to be creative and let my thoughts wander, to get new ideas and find solutions.

My workday is quite busy, and I combine a tight schedule with meetings and decisions to make, with hands-on work in the distillery every now and then. This summer we will be opening Hernö Gin Bar in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and on top of that we’re starting to build Hernö Gin Hotel in our hometown Härnösand. So… “variation” is a word that sums up my workday.
“Family” is the most important word that describes my personal time.

Founder Jon Hillgren in the distillery. Image © Hernö Gin

What part does your Sweden location and heritage play in the brand and product to make it unique? 

Location, culture and the nature in Dala and world heritage area of The High Coast of Sweden is very closely associated with our brand since the start.

Hernö Gin is an organic handcrafted gin, created with inspiration from the nature and with water from our own well, filtered through layers of bedrock and earth shaped during the Ice age.

Lingonberry and meadowsweet are two botanicals, representing our region, that sets a unique tone in our gins. And if you want to experience Hernö Gin with all your senses, the distillery in Dala is the best place to do so.

Hernö Gin is an organic handcrafted gin, created with inspiration from the nature and with water from our own well.

The beautiful nature, the peaceful surroundings, the aromas from the botanicals in the distillery, the people… I could go on for ever… But all this is part of our brand and our story.

Inside the distillery where tours and tastings are available. Image © Hernö Gin

Gin has seen an explosion in popularity in the UK over the last 10 years, is it the same in Sweden? What is the ‘gin scene’ like in Sweden?   

It is with great joy that I follow the development and growth in the gin industry. Both here in Sweden and all over the world, we see more and more new distilleries pop up. Driven entrepreneurs and great gin makers that create artisan gin with true dedication.

Gin is a passion for me and it’s remarkable to see the creativity which is flourishing in the industry. Learning from others is taking us further.

Gin is a passion for me and it’s remarkable to see the creativity which is flourishing in the industry.

You are opening your first gin bar in Stockholm this summer which is very exciting! Will we see more of these in Sweden or around the world?

Right now we’re focusing on Hernö Gin Bar in Stockholm and creating a world class gin cocktail bar in the capital of Sweden.

But who knows what the future will bring…

Please tell us more about the inspiration behind the new Hernö Gin concept hotel – we can’t wait to visit and stay there! 

Entering Hernö Gin Hotel in the future you will experience Hernö Gin from the very first sight to the small details. It will be an experience in parity with our brand and we want our future guests to feel the spirit of Hernö Gin all through their stay.

The hotel is an investment aiming to offer our guests a greater experience of our products and the visit at the distillery. It is also an important step towards our long term goal to develop Hernö Gin and Härnösand as an international destination for gin experiences.

(The project is in progress and the hotel will be ready in 2022–2023.)

The High Coast of Sweden seems like a little-known destination, particularly to British tourists, what would you recommend there if we come and visit? 

I’d say welcome to Hernö Gin, of course. And just 30 minutes by car from the distillery we have a beautiful waterfall, Västanåfallet, worth paying a visit. Our closest town, Härnösand, is a small picturesque town with very old quarters called Östanbäcken that you must visit.

We have a vast beach, Smitingen, not far from the centre of the town, where you can also visit the caves if you’re adventurous. And if you continue north to the mountain Skuleberget you enter a beautiful region with dramatic nature where the land is still elevating after the ice age 11,000 years ago. 

We have a vast beach, Smitingen, where you can also visit the caves if you’re adventurous.

Look out for our new article about the High Coast of Sweden region – coming soon! Follow us on social media for updates.

Hernö Gin building in the snow in Dala, Sweden. Image © Hernö Gin

After the hotel, what else is on your wishlist – any other ideas in the pipeline?

We have some ideas of course, but nothing I can tell you about right now. Stay tuned in our social media channels to not miss out!

What is your best tip or advice to anyone thinking of following their dream like you did?

Believe in yourself, you have the ability to make it. Dare. And don’t hesitate to ask for help on the way.

Delicious Old Tom Gin, just one of their many gins available, is super smooth with a light sweetness and botanical notes. Image © Hernö Gin

Let us know what you think if you’ve tried Hernö Gin, or other gins from the Nordic region that you rate, and if you can’t wait to visit the new gin bar and hotel like us!

Interview by Claire Minnis. All images © Hernö Gin

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