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The Final Season
After an impressive 17 years, Mackmyra have decided to bring their Seasons series to a close. Released twice a year, the Seasons range produced some incredibly creative whiskies that were inspired by the changing seasons of Mackmyra’s Swedish homeland.
Bringing the series to a close is a single malt whisky that aged in a variety of casks, including French Limousin oak that previously held cognac from the renowned cognac house Ferrand. The Limousin district in the heart of France is well known for the quality of its oak forest and the casks made from its wood are some of the best in the world.
To bring the whisky to life, Mackmyra worked with Maison Ferrand, a producer of fine spirits with a long and proud history. The origins of the business started with a succession of men named Elie Ferrand. Elie I was born in 1630. In total, ten generations held the name as the family shaped the landscape of Grande Champagne but it was arguably Elie VIII who left the biggest mark.
Over 88 years, Elie VIII lived life to the fullest. He had a great interest in nature, going so far as to build his own zoo. His love for the vineyards, meanwhile, coupled with a great passion for cognac, drove him to constantly explore new methods and techniques in production. Under his guidance the family business managed to conquer the phylloxera pandemic that saw many of France’s vineyards decimated. Over 15 years, the country lost more than half of its distilleries but Ferrand remained and soon it had developed a reputation for producing the best cognac in the world.
The Ferrand line came to an end with Mademoiselle Henriette Ranson-Ferrand, who sadly passed away in 2016, aged 94. However, prior to her death, Mademoiselle worked with Alexandre Gabriel to record the life of Elie VIII. The book was completed just three days before she passed away. Over a number of years, Ranson-Ferrand built up a strong relationship with Gabriel that would see him entrusted with the legacy of the Ferrand name. Gabriel now owns and operates Maison Ferrand and The Manor, home to the Ferrand family for generations, is now the Ferrand Foundation, dedicated to the research and preservation of the heritage of cognac.
*Full disclosure: The whisky featured in this article was sent to me free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Mackmyra Limousin was created by combining an array of different casks. 40% of the whisky used in the recipe was matured in 1st fill French oak cognac casks. The rest came from 1st fill bourbon, 1st fill Oloroso and Berry Wine-seasoned casks.
Smell: Fruity, nutty, oaky. White grapes. Almonds. Hazelnut. Apple and pear. Fresh oak. Ginger. Barley malt. Savoury pastry. Herbal. Lemon juice. White wine. Some subtle floral notes.
Taste: Big arrival with lots of new oak spices. Cinnamon, ginger, pepper. Caramel. Almond marzipan. Pineapple, green apples. Lemon. Green apples. Apricot jam. Dry, spicy finish.
Thoughts: Mackmyra have consistently demonstrated an ability to make their spirit work with a whole array of cask types. I suspect self-control is key to that success. It would be so easy to overpower the spirit but the cognac casks simply add layers of flavour to what I suspect was already a very decent malt in its own right. In my experience Mackmyra usually comes across as malty, with notes of apple and plenty of oaky spice. Here it’s nuttier with a floral white-wine character. It’s an interesting new direction, yet still recognisably Mackmyra. The Seasons range has produced some real crackers over the years but I’m not sure where this would rank among the finest releases. It’s not a personal favourite but I can still recognise its quality. It’s a shame to see the series come to an end but after 17 years it’s understandable that they wish to make a change. It will be interesting to see what comes next.
Value for money: As with all Mackmyra Seasons releases, Limousin should be available for around £60 a bottle. It’s a reasonable asking price given the quality of the product and the unique flavour profile it offers.
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