Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery

Dánial Hoydal is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience and one of the Co-Founders of Faer Isles Distillery in the Faroe Islands. At Inside the Cask, we have been keeping an eye on this whisky distillery, their crowdfunding efforts funded by enthusiasts from all over the world and the overall project since early 2020 – for reference here is our previous post: One to Watch Out for: Faer Isles Distillery. Dánial was kind enough to agree to my invite and to spare some time to talk with Inside the Cask.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery
Bjarni Lamhauge, Bogi Karbech Mouritsen and Dánial Hoydal from Faer Isles Distillery

Inside the Cask: Hi Danial, you are the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Faer Isles Distillery in the Faroe Islands. However how did it all start for you? Where did the interest in drinks, and more specifically on whisky come from?

I started the company together with my business partner, Bogi Mouritsen. We are long-time whisky enthusiast and founded the first whisky appreciation society on the Faroe Islands, Einmalt. Every time we visited distilleries in Scotland, we were told that Scotland had the ideal climate to mature whisky (high humidity, stable year-round temperature, salty wind). The Faroe Islands have more of all that, and since 60-80% of the flavour of whisky comes from maturation, it ignited our business idea: We wanted to use the ancient-old method of preserving and maturing food that exists on the islands, using traditional “opnahjallur” drying-houses to store and mature the whisky.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery

Inside the Cask: Most people will have no idea of the work and preparation involved in setting up a distillery. Where do you start and what kind of people can help you along the way? What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own distillery?

In the Nordic countries there is no century-old tradition for distilling whisky like in Scotland and Ireland. So most whisky distillery start-ups are started by enthusiast like us. Even if several of us were amateur distillers and brewers, we had to compensate for our lack of production experience by using outside consultants. We also quickly established an Advisory Board of experts within different fields of expertise that we were lacking.

My advice is: don’t think you can do everything yourself.

Whisky is so complicated that if you want to make a top-quality product, you have to work with experts. But make sure you make a unique product that reflects your passion and provenance.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery
The warehouses will be built similar to the “opnahjallur” – the old Faroese traditional food drying houses with wooden slats for maximum exposure to the salty wind.

Inside the Cask: Can you tell us more about Faer Isles Distillery? Have you start producing whisky yet?

Although this project is definitely based on a whisky passion, from day 1 we said that we did not only want to make whisky. We wanted to create spirits that reflect the culinary culture and nature on the Faroe Islands – Faroe Islands in a bottle. So we’ve had a gin, an aquavit and a vodka on the market for almost 2 years now. Our whisky stills were much delayed due to Covid-19, but we started producing earlier this year (in 2023) and expect our first release in 2026.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery

Inside the cask: What opportunities are there for people interested in investing in your business and/or buying casks of whisky from the Faroe Islands?

We did a round of crowdfunding in 2021 and now have 657 shareholders from 24 countries. We’ve just started round 2, so shares can be acquired via our website www.faer.fo In order to finance the coming 2.5 years of high production costs, we put 80 casks up for sales. They were sold out quickly, so we’ve now created a waiting list on our website, where people can sign up and get notice, when we will offer more casks.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery

Inside the Cask: Whisky remains a large and popular drinks category globally. Any up and coming trends or brands to watch out for in the category? What can you tell us about the opportunities for world whiskies including those from the Faroe Islands?

The South-East Asian market is growing massively, buying up a lot of – particularly Scotch – whisky. This creates an opening for world whiskies in the market.

In general, world whiskies from new destinations are in high demand.

We’ve seen huge demand for whiskies from places like Finland or Taiwan. So we’re very exited about releasing our product on the global market in a few years.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery
Dánial getting ready for a tasting as part of the distillery guided tour

Inside the Cask: Can you tell us more about your personal background? What else are you passionate about?

I have a background in marketing, communications and business development. I’ve been a part of several start-ups, so the whole idea of creating something new and unique is really my driver. I’m on the board of several other start-ups and am a mentor for others. But I also write children’s books and do fitness and cycling.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery
All hands on deck to get the warehouses finished!

Inside the Cask: What would be your advice for anyone else wanting to work in the drinks industry?

The drinks business is so big and diverse that there is probably something for everyone. Find out what your passion is: is it the production, is it appreciation and flavours, is it the commercialization…? And decide if you want to build something new or learn from the experienced by joining a bigger company.

Inside the Cask: What surprised you most about working in the drinks industry?

The camaraderie – particularly in the whisky business.

I’ve worked in many other industries, where there is fierce competition and everyone is very protective about their trade secrets. But probably due to the huge demand for whisky and long tradition of cooperation, we’ve only experienced open doors, when we have contacted other whisky distilleries and ask for help or an opportunity to visit.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery

Inside the Cask: What is the favourite part of your job? Anything that you would like to share that not many people would know about you? 

Product and flavour development. I’m absolutely fascinated by the methodology and complexity of it and how it is a skill that can be developed and used. Both professionally and personally it is a part that gives me great joy.

Dánial Hoydal Faer Isles Distillery
A traditional ‘opnahjallur’

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