Featured at World Whisky Day 2014: Another distillery started within the past 15 years, Mackmyra was born of eight Swedish friends who loved good whisky. Mackmyra exemplifies what we love to see foreign (i.e. non-Scottish) distillers do: embrace their own locality and make great whiskey from what lays around them instead of seeking to emulate Scotch. The first edition, as the name implies, was their first wide release in 2008. They continue to grow in output and accolades, but this first try is enough to give whiskey drinkers ample notice.
Location: Valbo, southwest of Gävle
Maturation: Bourbon casks, Swedish oak
Nose: Licorice, amoxicillin, oak, honey, toffee
Palate: Medicinal, herbal, caraway, cherry, cinnamon, orange, honey
Finish: Herbal, crystallized pineapple, licorice
Comments: Water is definitely recommended to cut the heat and bring out the flavor.
Adam – I love the character of this whiskey. With a little water, the flavors just bloom out at you. Never mind the fact that I have a hard time describing what those exact flavors are, that’s not important. The nose is fascinating all by itself and the mid-palate is surprisingly short. The finish sneaks up on you and clubs you over the head, before dragging you away into the Swedish hill country. Hill country full of flavor. There’s a lot of good in this drink, and I like trying to figure out what exactly I enjoy. It’s not Scotch, but it doesn’t aim to be. Like a good Scotch, however, it takes the elements of locality and renders it into an amazing spirit. Also a fine example of how preferences can split along gender lines sometimes at Scotchology. This is not my favorite whiskey, but it may be the most fascinating.
Kate – This smells like amoxicillin. I want it to be more interesting than I think it is. Reminds me of being sick as a kid and have to take this nasty medicine. The nose does not have a sweet smell but more like a cloying one, with notes of honey and a medicinal quality. When you add water you can detect toffee but overall, the water seems to dull the nose. The taste is spicy, like cinnamon, and on the back of the palate it is buttery with orange and honey. Water seems to make the taste hotter. It does have a long finish that tastes like crystallized pineapple. If you add water the finish is anisey. This seems endemic of Swedish cuisine. It’s one-note. I want it to be interesting but I don’t find it so.
Meghan – The nose brings out memories. My heritage is a mishmash of German,Polish, and Scandinavian (but not Swedish). Upon my first sniff, I knew I recognized it but it took a moment to place: pfeffernusse. These are small, hard cookies that my Mom would make every year at Christmas. The name translates as ‘pepper-nuts’ and although there is not any actual pepper in them, the name is fitting for their spicy quality. A Google search proved there are many variations on the recipe though my family’s appears more unique. Along with general cookie ingredients of sugar, flour, and eggs, it also includes cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and anise oil. The touch of the anise (1 tsp for almost four cups of flour) gives the cookies (and the whiskey) an unmistakable licorice flavor. My mother would also put a drop of brandy on each cookie prior to baking. These cookies are one her favorites and were the favorite of my Grandma B (my father’s mother). The recipe was handed down to my Mom from Grandma B. from her mother, Amelia, who was German. My grandmother recalled having pfeffernusse dunked in coffee as a child. Although I have the recipe, I did not get a taste for the cookies handed down. As a kid, I pretty much hated these things and it annoyed me that my Mom spent so much time on them when she could have been baking ‘good’ Christmas cookies. I don’t like licorice as a flavor and subsequently, not a huge fan of this whiskey. It has some very interesting notes and warrants repeat tasting. But, if I never get past the nose, I don’t think I’d feel too deprived.
Henry – Curiosity got the best of me here. Swedish whiskey? WTF? I was not disappointed. This is fascinating and delicious stuff. Most impressive is the distillery’s focus on not imitating or aspiring to copy any particular Scotch, instead creating something truly unique, local, and special. No cloying sweetness here. Toasted oak and light honey, with a dry finish reminiscent of a very good, very oaky Chardonnay.