GUIDE / HÖGA KUSTEN

”You have access to mountaintops and open seas wherever you go here”

MARIA ÅMAN
On world-class gin distilleries and world-heritage scenery
November 18, 2021

For the gin connoisseur, Swedish craft gin producer Hernö Gin should definitely ring a bell or two. Since its launch a decade ago, Hernö Gin has positioned itself as the world’s most awarded organic craft gin producer. Its singularity stems from the natural botanicals with inspiration from the Swedish High Coast’s nature and ingredients. Hernö gin head of communications Maria Åman, who was raised on the High Coast, knows the creative power that comes with the area’s dramatic and unique scenery.

— The High Coast of Sweden is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting the highest coastline in the world at approximately 286 metres above sea level. High mountains in combination with a beautiful archipelago characterize the region where steep cliffs meet the sea and its beauty is breathtaking. The region has become a popular destination for visitors seeking adventure, outdoor experiences and an uncrowded wonderland, she says.

Both Maria and Hernö Gin were born and bred in the city of Härnösand but are now expanding in many ways.

— This is the most exciting job ever. Never a dull moment in an entrepreneurially driven company where everything is possible and dreams do come true. Hernö Gin has developed from a small-scale gin producer to reach 30 international markets. Recently we opened Hernö Gin Bar in Stockholm, a hub for gin lovers that offers central gin experiences. The next big project is the building of a Hernö Gin concept hotel to be opened in 2023 in our hometown Härnösand, Maria explains.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of The High Coast: 

The people uniting and working hard together to develop the region. Together you can do wonders and the vibe that distinguishes the High Coast is that magic word: together. 

My favourite weekend routine: 

I’m trying to learn the art of taking it slow and enjoying a cup of coffee in bed instead of kickstarting my day. Inch by inch I’m getting there. Regardless of the weather, I like to spend time outdoors, going for a hike with friends and drinking coffee by the fire or just taking a long walk breathing fresh air and refreshing my mind.

My favourite excursion/Höga Kusten escape:

Starting at Friluftsbyn, a hub for outdoor life in Höga Kusten, I would climb Skuleberget for the breathtaking view. And for a Swedish fika or a waffle with cloudberry jam in the restaurant at the top. So well deserved after the effort. 

My favourite cultural spot:

Härnösands Theatre with no doubt. As a kid, I practised ballet and performed as a troll on a small stage here ( I was too clumsy to play the princess character). As a teenager, I created decor for our school performance which was set up at the large stage. Today I’m contributing to the cultural offerings in the region as a producer for Mittrevyn, one of the top revues in Sweden awarded with gold for the best sketch, monologue and local number in Sweden both 2019 and 2021. Härnösands Theatre is our home arena.

My favourite place for dining out:

Strandkaj Kök & Bar in Örnsköldsvik call themselves an unpretentious bistro but the food they serve — oh my! With inspiration from local products, farms and the nearby sea they create seasonal dishes of the highest quality with methods from the French kitchen. And for pairing food and drinks, follow the staff’s recommendations and you will be in heaven. 

My favourite breakfast place:

My kitchen at home. But, the breakfast served by Engströms Deli at the Business Breakfast in Härnösand is really something extra. And if you’re lucky they’re serving one of their well-known Semla (a traditional Swedish bun with whipped cream and almond paste) that Engströms Deli has taken to new heights. My tip: Go for the one with salty caramel or with saffron and lingonberries!

Engströms Deli’s famous salt and caramel semla.

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

The terrace at Hernö Gin. Looking out over the fields and taking in the tranquillity you have no other option than to slow down and be present in the meeting or the task without disturbance. Dala has a natural beauty inspiring to create. It is a blessed place where your mind can fly high.

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
Sandlund/Hossain creates and manufactures sustainable and well-made bags in leather with social development and the importance of caring for each other in mind. What especially makes my heartbeat, aside from the fact that their bags are so beautiful and well designed, is that when you buy a bag you support the social innovation project the Cow Founder Initiative. For every bag they sell, Sandlund/Hossain donate money to the project and buy calves for families in Bangladesh. The family can earn up to a year’s income from the meat at the end of the cow’s life, and Sandlund/Hossain get a traceable well-kept rawhide that will turn into leather.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

At the Ulvön Island in the High Coast archipelago, you will find a unique family-run hotel where you really can treat yourself and enjoy great food in the restaurant. Their individually designed rooms have windows letting plenty of natural light in and offering an amazing sea-view. This is a perfect getaway where you can let your body and mind relax as well as find adventure and activity close to nature and the open sea. I especially appreciate the cultural heritage and the old traditional fishing villages with picturesque little houses on the island.

Ulvön. Photography: Izabelle Nordfjell / hogakusten.se

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

Reaching the top of a mountain or the open sea always give me the greatest feeling of freedom and peace. You have access to this wherever you go here! But I would recommend the top of Getsvedjeberget where you will be rewarded with an amazing view and an open horizon from the cliff that is like the Norwegian Trolltunga in miniature.

My favorite place for fashion:

The handmade shoes from Docksta Sko is a must-have for me. Summertime my Gunilla slippers in soft red leather are my beloved friends for many years. Comfortable, sustainable and a perfect match for a relaxed and casual outfit. My next shoe from Docksta Sko will be their Brogue, a stylish and playful combination of dress shoes and slippers, for a well-dressed day at work.

Docksta Sko and the brogue model.

My favourite space for great design:

Nature’s own design in perfection you will find at Rotsidan, a four-kilometre long area along the sea in Barsta. After a short walk in the woods, you will reach this nature reserve characterized by cliffs polished by the sea for several thousand years. As a child, I spent hot summer days here with my family and a favourite activity for me and my brothers was to throw green and stinky seaweed on each other. If I should put a label of the type of the great design of Rotsidan I should choose cubism.

Photography: Michael Engman / hogakusten.se

My favourite example of tech innovation in The High Coast: 

One of the biggest challenges the world will be facing in the future is the production of food. 

World leaders in the field of aquaponics, Agtira develop cultivation methods and software support for the farming of fish and vegetables in urban environments. They are the first in the world to offer the cultivation of cucumbers in a supermarket for example. I’m proud to say that tech innovation from the High Coast and Härnösand is driving change with innovation that will play a key role in the development of sustainably produced food.

My favourite local media:

I just love the luxury of really high quality printed magazine and Magasin Höga Kusten is my first choice. A multiple awarded destination magazine filled with inspiration, guides and stories from The High Coast of Sweden.

The Instagram account @hogakusten is also great, filled with inspiration and the origin of The High Coast of Sweden.

My favourite thing at home: 

This is a tough choice between two things. I would say my espresso machine that adds luxury to my life every day. Or my large green painted cupboard, a recycling project where I brought an old and worn out wooden furniture back to life. Today it is a jewel in my home and holds my treasure of beautiful cups and glasses found at flea markets on the High Coast.

My favourite hidden gem: 

The small lake Klubbsjön, close to the wide sand beach Smitingen in Härnösand. A misty day it’s like stepping into a painting of John Bauer. Dreamlike, mysterious and like a fairytale.

Related