A Celebration of Polar Exploration: Fram Whisky

Back to news

The extraordinary life of Fridjtof Nansen celebrated with a limited-edition whisky 

The Fram expedition of 1893-96 was an attempt to reach the North Pole by harnessing the natural current of the Arctic ocean, led by Norwegian polar explorer hero Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen took his ship, Fram (which translates as Forward in English), froze her into the ice and waited for the drift to carry them towards the pole. However, impatient with the slow speed and erratic nature of the journey, Nansen and his companion, Hjalmar Johansen, left the ship after 18 months with a team of dog sleds and set off for the North Pole. Although they did not make it all the way, they succeeded in setting a new record by reaching the latitude of 86°14′N. The expedition is widely considered to mark the start of the great age of heroic polar exploration, inspiring those explorers who later went on to make it to the North and South poles.  

In later years, Nansen became a statesman, advocating for the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway. Following the 1905 independence referendum, Nansen was sent to Copenhagen to ask the Danish Prince Carl to become King. Upon his acceptance, he became King Haakon VII, the first king of an independent Norway since 1319. Although Nansen then declined a position in the Norwegian government, he continued to use his power and skills in international politics. Following the First World War, he advocated on behalf of displaced persons, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. Continuing this work, he realised that a lack of documentation was a large problem for refugees, and introduced a proof of identity which became known as the “Nansen Passport”. Over 450,000 people lacking documents were issued so-called “Nansen Passports” by the Nansen International Office for Refugees between 1922 and 1938, resulting in the office also being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize following Nansen’s death.  

Fridtjoft Nansen

Nordic Whisky

Creating a whisky to celebrate all that Nansen achieved requires quality and authentic Norwegian craftmanship. Although the spirit may have seemed foreign to Norway in Nansen’s time, much has changed since the turn of the 21st century: Nordic whisky has grown from a niche interest to a self-aware whisky region, with over 55 distilleries existing today. This encompasses a massive geographical range, spanning from the windswept Atlantic islands of Iceland and Faroe, to the Danish Stauning Distillery just 100km from the German border and the far northern Aurora Spirit in the Norwegian Arctic. Nordic whisky distilleries are typically characterised by an interest in old varieties of Nordic raw materials, great innovation in production techniques and the region’s general passion for sustainability, with many organic and “green” whiskies being produced.  

The world’s most northernly distillery, up in Arctic Norway- where could better be suited to make a whisky inspired an arctic explorer? Aurora Spirit has made waves in the whisky world since their founding in 2014. With no background in whisky, founder Tor Christensen and his co-founders decided to visit Scotland and a number of well-established and emerging distilleries on Islay and in Speyside. They became more inspired with each visit and gathered a wealth of knowledge to take home to Norway. Currently, while their core range of aged whiskies are in development, they have become best known for their Bivrost range of whiskies. Exploring the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology through whisky, these have since become popular collectors’ items.  

Fram- the whisky

Fram is a celebratory collaboration between Aurora Spirit, Fridtjof Nansen’s great-grandson Nicolai and Norwegian explorer Asle T. Johansen. So, Nansen and Johansen are back in business- two iconic surnames connected with the Fram expedition and now the Fram whisky. 


Aurora Spirits General Manager Tor Petter W. Christensen said: 

"This will be a special bottle for several reasons. Fram Whisky is produced with Nordic barley and glacial water from the Lyngen Alps. This is again stored in a small oak barrel, where we have added pieces of wood from Nansen's polar ship, FRAM. Through this process we have added flavour to the whisky from the schooner itself."   

Tor Petter W. Christensen

The wood used came from the carpenter’s stock and would have been used for repairs, of which there were likely many in the tough arctic conditions. The ship, built by Scottish-Norwegian shipwright Colin Archer, is thought to have been made of natural Greenheart wood, which is highly flexible and popular for use in the maritime environment. Tasting notes from the Fram release mention the hint of something maritime- those who open a bottle of this very special whisky will have to make up their minds if this could come from Fram herself.  

Celebrating the achievements of Nansen and in keeping with his spirit, 100% of the proceeds from the auction of Fram will go to the charity Norewegian Aid (Norsk Nødhjelp in Norwegian), including Whisky Auctioneer’s fee. We are extremely excited to bring these historic and totally unique bottles to auction and hope our followers will look forward to bidding generously on them.