Large distillation apparatus cuts climate footprint in half: EU support sends Bornholm's passionate gin distiller towards more growth

Investment grant from the EU project Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm gives master distiller Henrik Nerst the opportunity for more growth and sustainability. 

  • Opdateret 18. august 2023

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High demand and working weeks of over 70 hours. Too much time spent on production and operation and too little time for sales and development. And ambitions for sustainable production that looked more black than green.

This was the situation for Bornholm's passionate gin master distiller Henrik Nerst a year ago. His gin products from the micro-distillery Wild Distillery Bornholm in Aakirkeby had become so popular that he found himself at the distillation apparatus seven days a week with little room for his ambitions for growth, more sustainable operations, and more time with his family.

The solution was found in collaboration with the EU project Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm that helps the island's companies develop new, green business models. He received an investment grant of EUR 50,000 from the project for a new, large distillation apparatus and thus a shortcut to a more rational and green production.

The new apparatus can produce nine times more than the old one and is deliberately oversized, the busy gin distiller explains:

"Now we can make do with distilling only in the winter. This gives me the opportunity to take more part in sales and marketing. At the same time, I can use the surplus heat to heat the buildings and the climate footprint is half of what it was before.”

With the apparatus, Henrik Nerst has achieved his goals: A green and sustainable solution, a less stressful working day – and growth.

"The support and the project for the new apparatus have accelerated our development by up to five years," Henrik Nerst estimates.

In the project Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm, there is increasing interest in investment subsidies, project manager Sara Bach from Gate 21, who runs the project, says:

"The prerequisite for subsidies is that it provides green savings and leads to growth. You can get up to EUR 50,000 and we have supported three companies. Further four companies are expected to receive support before the project stops at the end of 2022.”

The interest for green transition and circular economy is generally high among Bornholm’s SMEs. 55 companies have either implemented or are in the process of implementing a green business model from the Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm project and in the fall, 10 companies will add a course on dynamic climate accounts to their business model.

Sara Bach explains:

"Our companies are busy with day-to-day operations, and therefore, green and sustainable issues have a lower priority. The green efforts and development can seem like a big mouthful because they don't know where to start and what makes the biggest difference. With us, they get a direction, an overview, and a concrete plan. And they experience that real investments in green transition can result in resource savings.”

Henrik Nerst fra Wild Distillery Bornholm

Master distiller Henrik Nerst is usually engaged in distilling, sales, tours, and tastings for over 70 hours a week. With a new, huge distilling plant – purchased with EU support – he is looking forward to being able to make more profit to create growth in his company, Wild Distillery Bornholm. Photo: Rostra Kommunikation

Massive growth from day one

Originally, Henrik Nerst was trained as a sommelier and has managed a restaurant on Bornholm for several years. He sold the restaurant in 2018 and shortly after founded Wild Distillery Bornholm. Today, he enjoys respect as a passionate and perfectionist master distiller.

From day one, Henrik Nerst has focused on growth and with great success. Already in the third year of production – in 2021 – the turnover was doubled. Today, Aakirkeby’s gin entrepreneur
has five full-time and part-time employees – and a need for a steady production.

“An almost exponential growth is demanding,” Henrik Nerst says and explains further: “That is why it is important that we get a surplus in the capacity with the new distillation apparatus, so we control the business ourselves instead of being controlled by the customers’ demand.”

Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm contributes to Bornholm’s Bright Green Island strategy, which aims to make the island CO2-neutral in 2025 and waste-free in 2032. If all 55 companies that have taken part in the project implement the energy efforts from their green business models, it will overall provide an annual saving of over 1,355 tons of CO2. In the same way, companies can save approx. 2,500 tons of materials per year.

Project manager Sara Bach, Gate21:

“Together with our partners, we are contributing to the green wave on Bornholm, and it is not difficult to get companies on board. They want to be a part of the green wave – partly to create growth and support Bornholm's development, and partly because they want to leave behind a better world for their grandchildren.”

In Aakirkeby, Henrik Nerst has a bright green look into the future:

“We have quietly brought a sustainable concept into the business – with great help from Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm. We save on electricity and drive an electric car, we unify our purchases, and the new distillation apparatus ensures sustainable growth. Wild Distillery Bornholm is not going to save the world alone, but we are contributing.”

Henrik Nerst fra Wild Distillery Bornholm

Master distiller Henrik Nerst is uncompromising when it comes to developing the perfect gin. Currently, he produces 11 gin varieties, two of which are distilled from locally collected juniper berries. Photo: Rostra Kommunikation

FACTS About Bæredygtig Bundlinje Bornholm

The project promotes a green transition and circular economy among small and medium-sized companies on Bornholm. The objective is to increase energy and resource efficiency in 50 SMEs through the development of green business models.
Gate 21 is the operator of the project in partnership with Business Centre Bornholm, BOFA, Bornholm's Regional Municipality, Destination Bornholm, BEOF and the Centre for Regional and Tourism Research.
The project began in November 2017 and ends ultimo 2022.
The Danish Board of Business Development has extended the project in both 2020 and 2021 with additional funding from the EU’s Regional Development Fund to be able to support even more companies’ green business development. In total, the project is supported with DKK 9.6 million from the Regional Development Fund.

Read more about the project in The Danish Business Authority’s project database (in Danish)

FACTS About EU’s Regional Development Fund 

From 2014-2020, the EU's Regional Development Fund, Social Fund and Danish partners invested DKK 1 billion each year in activities to create growth and employment throughout the country.
The Regional Development Fund programme for 2014-2020 targeted better growth conditions for small and medium-sized companies that play an important role in creating growth and new jobs in Denmark.

Therefore, the EU’s Regional Development Fund co-financed projects, which should:

  • Strengthen companies' ability to innovate
  • Prepare growth plans for the companies 
  • Help the companies become more resource efficient
  • Support sustainable, green urban development in municipalities with cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants