In 1906, Juho Ojaluoma, at only 16 years old, fled Seinäjoki, Finland for America in search of a better life. With only the clothes on his back he purchased a ticket on a steamer out of Helsinki headed for New York City.
Upon arriving at Ellis Island, like so many immigrants, he was forced to change his name. Juho easily translated to John. But Ojaluoma was a different story. Reminiscing about his homeland he chose “Koski” as his last name. But why “Koski”? (We'll revisit this later.)
John Koski, as he was now known, quickly learned that the US Government was giving away land in Montana. In 1910 he was awarded 160 acres of farmland outside of Great Falls, Montana. He quickly packed up and headed West.
On his way West, John met Aino Palvalin and they were married in Minnesota. John and Aino Koski raised 4 girls in a small log home on the prairie in Montana.
It was John and Aino’s wish that the land forever be kept in the family.
Today, 111 years since they began working the land, the 4th Generation is now embarking on keeping their dream alive. One of their great-grandsons, Joel Almeida has launched Karhu Koski Distillery on land that has remained relatively unused and undisturbed.
In honor of his Great-Grandfather and his Finnish heritage, Joel has named the distillery: Karhu Koski. Karhu means "Bear" Finnish and Koski means "Rapids" in Finnish. "Bear Rapids" is the name of the family farm Juho Ojaluoma (John Koski) fled in 1906.
Karhu Koski Distillery will feature Small Batch Crafted Spirits in the heart of Big Sky Country Montana.