First a little bit about Mackmyra…
How did it start? Eight friends met up at a mountain lodge in the spring of 1998. Each had taken along a bottle of malt whisky for the host; the topic of conversation was obvious. How do you make whisky? And why isn’t there a Swedish one? The question led them to start exploring the possibilities of making their own Swedish whisky.
By 1999 The company was founded and they were distilling various different test recipes.
By 2002 their main distillery had been built and by 2006 their first bottlings had been made, with their first major bottling coming out in 2008 and 2010.
In 2011 the company floated on the Swedish stock market and built a new distillery called Gravitation which uses gravity to power many of the internal processes within it making it very advanced and eco friendly.
In 2012 they carried on going from strength to strength and were named IWSC European Spirit Producer of the Year and Wizards of Whisky European Distiller of the Year.
Mackmyra uses locally-sourced barley for distillation, ages some of its spirit in Swedish oak as well as sherry & bourbon casks and bottles everything at natural colour; no caramel colouring. They love experimenting, and seemingly have a lot more freedom than Scotch. Some of their warehousing facilities include the disused Bodås Mine, very cool.
Now on to the whiskies. I’ve been lucky to receive many of their rarer single cask single malts, so let’s take a look…
Info: Made using all sorts of small 30L casks including Swedish Oak, American Oak, 1st fill Sherry and 1st fill Bourbon. Released June 2014, 1600 bottles. 46.4%
Colour: Autumn gold, slight red tints.
Nose: The nose swirls around from one thing to another… there’s a touch of salt, berries that range from your hearty autumn berries to a sharp summer berries, vanilla, cream and some spices and oak.
Palate: Similar to the nose the thick palate swirls around going from one thing to another. It starts off quite sharp then heads to spicy and then buttery. There’s a base of berries and fruit. Hints of smoke.
Finish: Continuing from the palate the long finish starts quite tart / sharp, then turns towards heathery honey, berries and malt.
Thoughts: This malt really jumps around, going from sharp to salty to buttery and back. It’s enjoyable but I’m keen to see what else is in the series, I want more sweetness I think.
Info: Aged in Swedish Oak with a Cloudberry Wine cask finish. Released December 2013, 1550 bottles – 49.8%.
Colour: As the name suggests, a beautiful amber colour.
Nose: A maturation warehouse with oak smells lingering which quickly moves on to a fairly sweet and sharp squashed berry tone.
Palate: Very thick and upfront with the macerated berry nature coming forward nicely along with the spicy red wine tones all backed with a slight bread dough nature and butter.
Finish: Gently warming, quite fresh at first with the deeper spiced herbs and autumn fruit backdrop following it up. Smoky hints.
Thoughts: The berries have upped the sweetness a little, but there’s still a fair tart nature to this with a slightly sour end. Enjoyably fun to find something rather different to your standard Scotch whisky.
Info: Finished in ex wild raspberry wine casks, ex loganberry & blueberry wine casks, Swedish Oak & Bordeaux wine casks. Released December 2013, 1550 bottles – 48.3%.
Colour: Clear golden with reddish tints.
Nose: Fairly malty with lots of squashed berries and herby spices.
Palate: Sweeter and more buttery than the reviews above, it’s thick with a liquorice malt backdrop and ripe berry fruits, light spices.
Finish: Rich and long, not as sweet as the palate, slight tannins probably from the casks rather than the fruits, slightly dry.
Thoughts: Once again a fascinatingly interesting whisky that shows off what can be done when you can think outside the box and experiment. Easily drinkable at these slightly higher ABVs.
Info: Matured in a combination of American and Swedish oak, sherry and bourbon, and then finished in casks that have contained Swedish wine made from birch sap. Released May 2014 – 46.1%
Colour: Late summer sun. Medium golden.
Nose: A powerful nose that shows more influence from the wine finish than the malt… which is quite different / novel. It’s light, sweet, buttery with a malt back tone. A slight mintiness. Spirited.
Palate: Quite buttery and very easy on the palate, there’s a breakfast cereal nature at first before the other sweet and thick flavours turn up. There’s a slight grassy nature. It’s floral and tangy, buttery and very thick.
Finish: Very smooth, with hints of coffee amongst the fading sweetness.
Thoughts: It’s light and sweetly different. Is it like the midnight sun? I’m not sure. There’s enough depth to it that means it will work just fine into the late evening, so maybe!
Info: Finished in French Bordeaux casks, glühwine (mulled wine) casks and sherry casks – this is a grownup alternative to other traditional winter drinks. Released December 2013 – 46.1%.
Colour: Classic golden.
Nose: Sweet and gentle with Christmas spices giving it a relaxing warmth. There’s fruit, both winter berries and dried, along with butterscotch. Red wine poached pears. Really good stuff.
Palate: Lovely and easy with sweet spiced butter notes followed by stewed apples with cinnamon and vanilla custard. Packed full of wintery flavours… there’s fruits, spiced orange peel, boozy christmas cake, chocolate caramels and other such goodies that keep you happy. Very faintly fizzy on your tongue.
Finish: Beautifully warm easy lingering sweet spice that carries on for ages, it’s just what you need for a winters evening. Slight pine notes. A little dry at the end.
Thoughts: Wonderful stuff, it really works for me… Christmas in a bottle, and being my favourite time of year, I can see this becoming a favourite malt for me!
Info: Best picture I could find on the net I’m afraid! Mackmyra collaborated with the Ægir Brewery in Norway. Ægir matured their scotch ale called Lindisfarne in oak barrels and then sent them over to Mackmyra who finished a batch of their whisky in them creating Ægirs Bior. Mackmyra in turn sent a few used whisky barrels back to Ægir who matured one of their beers in these barrels for three months creating a beer called Ægir Gævle. Exclusive to Norway, released December 2013, 1000 bottles – 46.1%.
Colour: Light pale straw yellow.
Nose: A really sweet candy malt nose, surprisingly fruity, vanilla and beer tones. Merest hints of smoke. A nice full on hearty nose.
Palate: Thick, creamy, really sweet with candied peel, and slight undertones of liquorice.
Finish: Long and slightly spicy; it’s thick and deep, quit oaky which hides the sweetness.
Thoughts: Great fun this whisky, it’s tasty and moreish, quite special.
Info: The only smoky single malt whiskey made with Swedish ingredients; they smoke their own malt with Swedish peat topped with juniper twigs – it combines with smooth vanilla flavours and toasted oak. Ordinary Bottling, Released September 2013, 46.1%.
Colour: Light straw.
Nose: Oo, what an instanty fantastic nose, quite similar to something you might find from an Islay whisky. Robust and lightly smokey but also with a slight meaty background note, bacon maybe. After a while lighter spiced fruit notes come out, maybe helped along by the juniper.
Palate: Easier on the palate than the nose might indicate, it covers your palate in soft lightly peated mossy notes, again reminiscent of an Islay whisky, but obviously not, it’s more caramelly than most of them.
Finish: It’s slightly more subtle than I expected, but it’s long, soft, sweet and gently smoky.
Thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect, it’s better than I imagined however, very enjoyable fruity smoky whisky! There’s hints of Islay about it, but it’s its own thing for sure.
Extras: There’s a great review on this whisky that talks about it in more depth than I have here at WhiskyBlogg: http://www.whiskyblogg.se/?p=7008 (use Google translate).
Overall Thoughts: All the whiskies seem to represent what fun the guys must have had setting this distillery up and experimenting with interesting new flavours and recipes. I liked the Ægirs Bior quit a lot, and Midnattssol is deliciously thick and easy on the palate. Svensk Rök was unexpectedly good too…. but really the star of the show for me was easily the Mackmyra Midvinter. I’m a big fan of Christmas, all things spiced (I love hot spiced cider for example), and this dram just work beautifully well for me, I hope they produce it for many more years to come as I can see it could be a staple for me during the dark months of winter… now, how to get it imported into the UK!
Thanks to Mackmyra for all the samples!