August 14, 2022

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The mysterious Stig Bareksten has dumped billion-dollar companies like Pernod Ricard and Diageo

The mysterious Stig Bareksten has dumped billion-dollar companies like Pernod Ricard and Diageo

This article was first published in Finansavisen Saturday.

It’s probably an advantage that we don’t come from the industry, says Hans-Peter Ekeland.

He’s talking about the liquor industry. The company is called OSS Craft Distillery and one of the brands is Bareksten Spirits. What began little by little seven years ago in Bergen has become the true story of Espen Askelade. Bareksten is now said to be the world’s most recognized alcoholic beverage brand with over 70 awards. In London, they recently escaped with a number of wins such as Gin Of The Year and the most generous award, The Spirit Of The Year. The competition included 2,500 different spirits products such as whiskey, vodka and tequila. 770 of them are gin, and here Bariksten gets 98 out of 100 points.

– As far as we know, this has never happened before, says Ekeland.

Artist: Stig Bareksten is described as an artist in the same way as Odd Nerdrum. Photo: US Craft Distillery

Bareksten has won a total of double gold medals four times in what is referred to as a type of unofficial world championship: the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. All 43 judges thought Bariksten represented gold. Gives the highest double gold filtration.

We made a mostly clean table, but we’ve never cleaned it like in London this year. Eliminating all 2,500 competitors in all categories of alcoholic beverages is quite raw. We, a few Norwegians who live across the runway in Flesland, have hit multibillion-dollar international groups like Pernod Ricard and Diageo, says Morten Dale.

As an adventure character: Stig Bareksten retains mystery, Old Norse and a bit of fear and darkness.  Photo: US Craft Distillery

As an adventure character: Stig Bareksten retains mystery, Old Norse and a bit of fear and darkness. Photo: US Craft Distillery

Background on finance and oil

It must be certain that Eikeland and Dale are not from the industry. Dell has a background in finance and has worked, among other things, in brokerage houses with raising capital.

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He also helped establish 7 Fjell Brewery in Bergen. Eikeland has a background in oil and gas, worked abroad and in parallel was an investor. He was also one of the founders of the AGR group and took it on the stock exchange in his time.

Eikeland also bought half of Låsservice in Bergen, which Assa Abloy acquired again a few years later. After Herman Friele, Eikeland is the second largest owner of 7 Fjell Bryggeri and the largest shareholder in Bareksten.

No industry background: Founders Morten Dalen (left) and Hans-Peter Ekeland have backgrounds.  Finance and oil.  Photo: Photo: Hilde Oreld / Finansavisen

No industry background: Founders Morten Dalen (left) and Hans-Peter Ekeland have backgrounds. Finance and oil. picture: Photo: Hilda Aurild/Finansavisen

– We’ve seen that there is a clear trend in the market for more than beer, and that gin is growing exponentially. In Norway, the market has doubled since 2019, and worldwide, the Craft Spirit market will nearly double from $15 billion last year to $115 billion in 2030, Eikeland says.

Bareksten now accounts for half of the total Norwegian produced gin sold at Vinmonopolet. Det Norske Brenneri is the second largest with just under 30 percent of the market, and Anora (formerly Arcus) has a share of just over two percent.

– What’s the story?

—We started in 2015 and worked for nearly two years with branding, design, communication, and storytelling before we bought equipment and started production, says Dell.

When this was clear, they contacted Stig Bareksten, one of the world’s most famous distilleries, which has won awards all over the world. The former Norwegian Bartenders Champion has worked with popular brands such as The Macallan Whiskey and The Famous Grouse. Bareksten is now the head of the distillery and general manager of Oss Craft.

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– Stig finds inspiration very local. The roadside weed picks around the distillery and the flowers are from the cherry trees around Lille Longardsvanet. Ekeland says 18 of the 26 herbs are harvested locally.

Character: lime peeling.  The veneer is used in Bareksten Botanical Gin.  Photo: Hilda Aurild/Finansavisen

Character: lime peeling. The veneer is used in Bareksten Botanical Gin. Photo: Hilda Aurild/Finansavisen

Betting heavily on exports

In the distillery sits a young man peeling lime. Lime husk is used in the production of Bareksten Botanical Gin.

– Stig is up in the middle of the night and has a small distillery at home. He wakes up at night and only Should Try a new idea with some herbs. A few days after signing the employment contract, Peter called and told him why he should have such a device. He’s a true artist, just like Odd Nerdrum, says Dale.

– Stig looks like a dark man in the woods who comes from “The Lord of the Rings”. All foreigners love this look. Here we are not driving fjords, mountains and blonde ladies. Ekland continues that the Old Norse language, dark and mysterious, is intriguing.

– Do you sell abroad?

About half of the exports. The most growing markets are Italy, Germany and Switzerland. We’re on Amazon in Germany and we’re off. Now we will be testing Amazon in the UK as well, and in total we have an international team of four employees.

He had a condition before work: Stig Bareksten had to have a small distillery at home, so that he could immediately try out his ideas.  Photo: US Craft Distillery

He had a condition before work: Stig Bareksten had to have a small distillery at home, so that he could immediately try out his ideas. Photo: US Craft Distillery

The company had sales of about NOK 30 million last year and expects to invest between NOK 10 and 15 million this year. So far this year, growth has been more than 60 percent. The bottom line has been positive for several years.

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To date, the company has raised 60 million NOK in equity since its inception. They are now considering raising up to an additional NOK 50 million to invest in new premises, strengthening the organization and have fully automated filling and packaging lines in place to meet the increasing demand.

We focus on profit growth while controlling liquidity. With the growth we’re enjoying now, Dell says, we’re considering further strengthening the company’s capital base.

Restricted: Bareksten is said to be the world's most awarded alcoholic beverage brand with over 70 awards.  Photo: Photo: Hilde Oreld / Finansavisen

Restricted: Bareksten is said to be the world’s most awarded alcoholic beverage brand with over 70 awards. picture: Photo: Hilda Aurild/Finansavisen

– What are your ambitions?

– It’s hard to say, because if it loosens up first in a market, as in a new country or country in the United States, it’s very off. Within two to three years, our turnover should be between 300 and 500 million NOK. The ambition is to do better than last month every month. We have control over the downside. The former financier continues that the upside can be massive, adding:

– After taste and design are in place, it’s only about distribution.

Bareksten Botanical Gin can be found in hotels such as The Hub, The Thief, and the Grand Hotel. Or with “everyone,” says Dale.

Gin has also been featured in some of the world’s most famous restaurants and hotels such as Noma, Nobu and Gordon Ramsey, and the bottles have won numerous design awards.