Mackmyra was born out of the question… ‘Why are there no whisky distilleries in Sweden?’. The subject arose in conversation when eight friends went on a skiing trip and shared a dram together. It struck them as odd that a country so blessed with crystal clear water, quality barley and an abundance of peat should be so devoid of the amber nectar and by the end of the evening they had resolved to do something about it. Within the year they had established their own company and soon they were constructing a distillery within an old mill and power station at Mackmyra, near the city of Gävle…
Their first single malt was released in February of 2006 and the brand has continued to flourish ever since. So much so, in 2011 a second distillery had to be built in order to cope with the increase in demand. The radical new design saw a decrease of 45% in the energy required to run it when compared with the original site. At 35 metres tall, raw ingredients must be fed in at the summit of the building and gravity does the rest. In short, grain is delivered to the top floor and new make spirit flows out at ground level.
As well as a core range that makes great use of local ingredients like peat, juniper twigs and Swedish oak, Mackmyra have produced their fair share of limited editions over the years, the latest of which is Vintersol.
Meaning ‘Winter Sun’, Vintersol takes the spirit of Mackmyra, rich in wintery spice and finishes it in casks that previously held Port produced at Quinta Do Vallado, one of the most famous Quintas in the Douro Valley.
Founded in 1716, Quinta Do Vallado was purchased by António Bernardo Ferreira in 1818. Upon his death the business passed to his son and his wife Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira. Widowed by 33 after her husband had squandered much of the family fortune, Antónia took complete control of the Quinta, aided by her administrator José da Silva Torres who would later become her second husband.
Her care and devotion to the working families that farmed her lands and vineyards earned her the affectionate nickname Ferreirinha (Little Ferreira) and she went on to campaign vigorously for better Government support of local viticulture as well as successfully battling, and surviving, the Phylloxera plague that wiped out many of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century. Today, Ferreirinha is considered a leader in the history of the Douro Valley, so much so that in 2004 there was a Portuguese TV show produced to tell a fictionalised version of her story.
Quinta Do Vallado remains in the Ferreira family today and continues to produce some of the most renowned Port in the world. It is this very finest of products that once inhabited the casks now used to finish the Mackmyra spirit and create the ‘Vintersol’ single malt.
*Full Disclosure: I was sent this sample for free so that I may review it and share some thoughts with my readers. As always, I will strive to give an honest and impartial view on its inherent quality.
Smell: Familiar Mackmyra nose with spicy oak notes to the fore. Cinnamon and ginger give a festive feel. Beyond that, the Port influence starts to make its presence felt with raspberry and blueberry notes. There’s also apple, honeycomb and vanilla.
Taste: Juicy dried prunes and figs before the wood brings lots of winter spice. Apple and pear, woody vanilla and splashes of raspberry and blackcurrant.
Value for Money: I would have no issue paying the asking price of £50. The spirit is perhaps a little lightweight for my preference but there is more than enough flavour to compensate.
An interesting idea, though I would perhaps have liked to see the Port influence take more of a starring role. As it stands, it feels like I caught only glimpses of the Portuguese sun as it fought to shine through the wintery Swedish clouds. A pleasant winter warmer, but falls a way short of brilliance.
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