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Mackmyra distillery was conceived, like so many other good ideas, over a dram. In 2001 eight friends from the Royal Institute for Technology in Stockholm met on a skiing trip, each of them by sheer coincidence taking a bottle of whisky along. The topic of conversation naturally turned to the lack of a whisky industry in their homeland, despite the country appearing to be generously equipped with all one could possibly need for such an undertaking.
Within a year, they had registered a company and extensive planning eventually led to the acquisition in 2002 of an old mill in the village of Mackmyra, outside the city of Gävle. The first Mackmyra whisky was released in 2006 and in 2011, work began on a second distillery in order to bolster the sites production capabilities.
Mackmyra prides itself on the use of local ingredients, with their water coming from a local Esker and Peat cut from the bog at nearby Osterfarnebo. Barley is grown on Swedish land and a large proportion of the spirit is matured in Swedish oak.
The core of the Mackmyra range consists of Brukswhisky, Svensk Ek and Svensk Rök but they also produce limited releases and bottle a white spirit known as ‘Vit Hund’ (White Dog).
*Full Disclosure: I was sent these samples by Alex Johnson of Mackmyra. As always, I will try to remain as impartial as possible in my reviews.
White Dog is a name traditionally used in the US for the clear spirit that comes off a still, only after several years in oak casks does it become the golden liquid we know as whisk(e)y. Vit Hund is the Mackmyra equivalent, a clear spirit made from malted barley that will become whisky after three years in wood. Bottled at 46.1%, a 50cl bottle of Vit Hund will cost around £35.
Smell: Malt & Cereal, Grass, Honey & Berries.
Taste: Blackcurrant, Berries, Bread, Honey & Pepper.
Thoughts: A bottle of this stuff isn’t particularly expensive (although it also isn’t a full size bottle, annoyingly). At roughly the same price as many single malts, however, I do wonder quite what the appeal would be.
Sampling New Make can often be a fascinating peek behind the scenes of a single malt but I’m not sure what I’d do with 50cl of the stuff. Sure it could be used in cocktails or drank with a mixer but wouldn’t there be other options better suited. Such bottles can make interesting conversation pieces, I suppose and it would be nice to bring it out with guests to give them an experience they maybe haven’t had before but I can’t see it being something I’d pull from the cabinet on a regular basis.
Having said that, Vit Hund is one of the more drinkable examples I’ve come across which may well be testament to the quality of the spirit being produced at Mackmyra.
Introduced in 2010, Brukswhisky is matured predominantly in bourbon barrels with a small amount of ex-sherry wood thrown into the mix. Bottled at 41.4% abv, it is available in the UK for around £40.
Smell: Lots of Vanilla, Lemon Meringue, White Chocolate, Cream, Grain & Straw.
Taste: Vanilla, Cream, Caramel, Pepper & Spice.
Thoughts: Brukswhisky seems to have been introduced as a new entry-point to the Mackmyra range. As such, it’s lower strength than other bottlings but comes at the reasonable price of £40. It perhaps lacks the depth and character of Svensk Ek or Rok but it’s a pleasantly light dram that serves as a gentle introduction to the whisky of Mackmyra. I also have a suspicion it might work well in a soda highball.
‘Skördetid’ is the latest of Mackmyra’s Seasonal releases. Meaning ‘Harvest Time’ in Swedish, the whisky is the result of a collaboration with Italian wine producer Masi that sees the single malt finished for six months in Amarone wine casks. Bottled at 46.1%, Skördetid retails in the UK for around £70.
Smell: Berries, Caramel, Nut, Vanilla, Fudge, Raisins and Cinnamon.
Taste: Vanilla, Grapes, Berries, Caramel, Oak Spice, Dark Chocolate and Marizipan. Satisfying long finish.
Thoughts: A bottle should be available in the UK for around £70 – £75. That isn’t particularly cheap, especially assuming the whisky isn’t particularly old. That said, the quality is high.
It’s an intriguing whisky that takes its time to open up, but when it does, it reveals many layers and some unusual flavours. I also suspect it could become more rewarding the better you get to know it as it seemed to evolve with each sip. Interesting, if a little costly.
*If any of the drams reviewed in this article have caught your eye, you can buy them from Master of Malt.
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