Drug release from a new type of matrix material consisting of partially fibrillated microcrystalline cellulose was investigated. A mechanical treatment of novel AaltoCell™ cellulose microcrystals caused partial opening of the nanofibrillary structure of the cellulose particles and entanglement of individual particles led into formation of an elastic network of microcrystalline cellulose. The rheological properties of the stable hydrogel-like materials were characterised by shear rheometry. Model compounds metronidazole and lysozyme were successfully employed in drug release experiments carried out by delignified (bleached) and lignin-containing matrices. The viscosity as well as the lignin-content played a role in the release dynamics of the drugs. Microcrystalline AaltoCell™ was proven as high-performing material for diffusion controlled release of the chosen model compounds and can be seen as a safe and economical alternative for novel matrix materials such as nanocellulose or cellulose derivatives.