How far do you go to answer a question? Mackmyra Tasting – 27th September 2019
How far do you go to answer a question?
Mackmyra Tasting – 27th September 2019
So how far will you go to answer a question? Back in 1998 – the same year Alison and I started The Wee Dram – a group of eight Swedish friends got together for a weekend of Skiing, and during the course of an evening, which included a Dram or two, the question was asked “Why don’t we make Malt Whisky in Sweden ? “No obvious answer, so the friends got together and started to make their own. And on 27th September we gathered to see how good the answer was along with the help of Mackmyra Brand Ambassador Alex Johnson.
Back in the late nineties (doesn’t that sound a long time ago?) a new distillery was a rarity so much of the development, and work, was carried out by the 8. Also the alcohol business was tightly controlled by the government, up until the early nineties only the state could make alcohol – they still are in total control of all retail. First off, there was no one in Sweden to make a still – answer build your own. The original still was a copy of an old Swedish still found in a museum, this is a common theme for Mackmyra they want to make their whisky Swedish – they don’t just want Scotch made in Sweden. They use Swedish ingredients as much as possible including Swedish Oak for maturation, 98% of the barley used is grown within 50 miles of the distillery – even the yeast is Swedish.
The first distillery was a disused mill in the village of Mackmyra Bruk about an hours drive East from Stockholm. The owners renovated it themselves. They first made spirit in 1999. In 2002 they added proper stills from Forsyth’s in Rothes. In 2004 they needed more warehouse space, so they started using an old iron ore mine, the Bodas Mine, still their prime warehousing. The whisky is 50 meters below the surface which is excellent for maturing the whisky as the temperature is between 7 and -10 degrees. In 2011 they moved to the new purpose-built Gravity Distillery. As the name suggests they work from top down, it is a 35-meter-tall building and is the world’s most climate-smart distillery.
Mack – 40% – A recent addition to the range and an entry level whisky. Only 5 years old, does contain colouring – fresh and fruity. Excellent for mixing.
Brukswhisky – 41.4% – Matured mainly in first fill ex-bourbon casks (80%), but they use a bit of Swedish oak and Oloroso ex-sherry butt matured whisky. I love the bottle as it has pictures that depict the history of Mackmyra whisky. The nose and taste is butterscotch with citrus fruits – apples and pears.
Svens Ek – 46.1% – Unchilfilltered, at least 10% of the whisky for this bottling is matured for at least 18 month in fresh Swedish Oak casks. The other casks used are all ex-bourbon. A spicy whisky, from the Swedish oak, lots of flavour again a lot of citrus fruits.
Svensk Rok – 46.1% – Unchilfilltered. Rok is Swedish for Smoke, the origin of the word is the same as reek, so the name translates to Swedish Smoky whisky. They use their own malting floor to malt the barley used for this expression. The peat they use is from a bog 2 miles from the distillery. They also use some twigs from Juniper bushes on the peat fire which give a different spicy character to the barley. Casks used are American oak ex- bourbon, Swedish Oak, and casks saturated with Oloroso. Cask sizes from 30-128 litres small casks which impart more flavor. A sweet smoky aroma, a lot of spice in the taste – complex.
These first four whiskies are the core range – we then sampled some rarer whisky.
Intelligens – 46.1%. Macmyra rent some office space, in the same building is the Swedish Office for Microsoft. So one day while talking round the water cooler, it was decided to use Artificial Intelligence to produce a bottling. So data on likes and dislikes taken from all the employees was fed into the Algorithm and this is the result, the first whisky produced using AI. It is clinically clean, fresh with lighter more subtle fruity notes.
Vintersol – 46.1%. The name translates to Winter Sun. This is the second batch, 80% of the whisky has been finished for two years in Port Pipes, bringing the Portuguese Sun to a Swedish winter. The result is rich berries, blackberry, raspberries and black cherry.
Reserve Cask 54.7%. A big part of Mackmyra’s business is selling casks of whisky. These are typically 30 litre casks, small but better for individuals and small groups. The sample we tried had spent 4 years in an ex-bourbon cask and one and a half years in 30 litre Oloroso cask. a lot of sherry influence, rich dried fruit – interested? Drop us a line.
Moment Fjallmark – 42%. The Moment range is from the best exclusive casks specially chosen by the Master Blender Angela D’Orazio. The Fjallmark is a limited release – only 4200 bottles – which has been matured in casks that have held Swedish Cloudberry Wine. Cloudberries are grown at altitude in the mountains, and are very sought after. They also use Oloroso and Pedro Ximenex sherry casks, the whisky is between 8 and 13 years old. They get a slight smoky flavor into the spirit by making it as the next batch after using peated barley – without cleaning the equipment- so some smoky flavor remains. A rich, deep whisky, vanilla, toffee, fudge and dark chocolate.
A very informative evening with some unusual, and exceptional whiskies – a big thank you to Alex.