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Bold experimentation in Sweden…
The first whisky distillery in Sweden was created in 2002 in the village of Mackmyra. The founders were determined that the spirit should be as Swedish as possible, so every ingredient was sourced within a 75 mile radius, with the exception of yeast, which comes from Rotebro in Stockholm County. Barley comes from Dalarna and Strömsta Manor in Enköping whilst peat is cut from a local bog near Österfärnebo. Ex-bourbon and sherry casks rest alongside unique Swedish oak vessels as they slowly age towards maturity in the disused Bodås Mine in Hofors.
The original Mackmyra distillery was built inside an old mill and power station, whilst a second premises was established in 2011 in a brand new structure that stands an impressive 7 storeys high. Using gravity to power internal processes, the new plant uses 45% less energy than the first. Today the original location has been renamed Lab Distillery and is used, among other things, to create Gin.
Mackmyra have earned a reputation for experimentation over the years with adventurous releases matured and finished in casks containing everything from Cherry Wine to Scotch Ale to Mulled Wine and Calvados. The driving force behind this incredible creativity is master blender Angela D’Orazio, who started with the company back in 2004.
A former brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and founder of the Swedish branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, D’Orazio is responsible for the blends and recipes produced within the organisation, as well as maintaining standards of quality and taking care of maturing whisky stocks. In 2019, her work was recognised with an induction into Whisky Magazine‘s prestigious Hall of Fame.
The most recent creation to come out of this rather magical Mackmyra whisky factory is inspired by Angela D’Orazio’s love of travel. Grönt Te (Green Tea) is a single malt whisky finished in unusually seasoned ex-sherry casks. Initially matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon, Oloroso and Swedish oak, the liquid is then transferred to casks seasoned by grain neutral spirit that was infused with Yame Sencha, Yame Gyokuro, Kaoribo Hojicha and Yame Matcha Shinobi green tea leaves from Japan and then blended with Oloroso sherry. The whisky is bottled at a drinking strength of 46.1% and sold at a recommended retail price of £60.
*Full Disclosure: I was sent this sample so that I might share my thoughts with you my readers. As always I will strive to give an honest and impartial view on the inherent quality of the spirit and the value for money it represents.
Smell: Very fresh. Floral and herbal. Fresh mint. Fresh cut grass. Saffron rice. Lemon & lime. Apple & pear. Barley flour & sawdust. Honey. Rum & raisin. Incredibly complex nose.
Taste: Honey arrival. Then a little oak before the green tea arrives. Tannin. Lemongrass. Mint. Kaffir lime leaves. Green apples. Vanilla. Peanut butter. Pepper and oaky spice on the finish.
Thoughts: When considering the cost of a bottle of whisky, it is often useful to compare it to similar products. That rather goes out the window in this case because I’m not sure there’s ever been another whisky quite like this one. £60 doesn’t seem unreasonable, however.
Balance is the key word here. Things could so easily have gotten out of hand with such a wide array of influences but the full orchestra of flavours have been kept in tune. On the nose the Green Tea dominates at first but settles down to share the spotlight with both spirit and oak, whilst the palate seems to offer harmony from the word go. The flavour junkie within me would love to see the tea influence dialled up but that would merely be to satisfy my own curiosity. In terms of taking such a bold concept and using it to create an interesting and enjoyable whisky, Mackmyra have just about nailed it. A unique and intriguing dram full of subtle complexities that should surprise and delight in equal measure.
*You can buy the whisky in this article from Master of Malt. Click here
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Visit the Mackmyra website here.