Mackmyra Interview Tasting

Tasting of six of Mackmyra’s Finest!

After an interesting interview with Angela D’Orazio, master blender for Mackmyra (which you can find here), I had the pleasure of tasting six Mackmyra expressions, which were:

Midnattssol (Midnight’s sun), Midvinter (Mid winter), Moment Bärnsten (Amber), Moment Vinterträdgård (Conservatory), Moment Malström (Whirlpool) and Svensk Rök (Swedish Smoke)

Mackmyra are a Swedish single malt distillery which was formed in 1998, when eight friends came together and hit upon the idea of making Swedish whisky (read more here).  Mackmyra are making some pretty exciting whisky and I couldn’t wait to dive in, and that’s exactly what I did!  Here are the notes from all of the whiskies tasted.

Midnattssol (Midnight’s sun)

MIdnattssol
MIdnattssol

This is the 2nd limited edition bottling after the Special series, and is bottled at 46% ABV, this is a Birch Wine Finish bottling.  This is due for release on 2nd May.

Nose:

Soft and sweet, very spirited.  Caramel strong on the nose, with a hint of white pepper, slight touch of harsh vermouth and a touch of acetone.  Pear drop breath and a refreshing citrus tang.  As it continues to open in the glass the sweet notes continue, vanilla and honeysuckle come through with a hint of freshly mowed lawn.  Love hearts mingle with wham bar, resulting in a citrus fizz.

Palate:

Far more bitter than the nose had indicated, drying oak and vegetation with just a touch of decay, however this works really well as the sweetness starts to push through.  The caramel on the palate is replaced by a darker, sticky, treacle with liquorice.  There are hints of mocha and creosote, with root vegetables such as burnt turnips and parsnips.  A slight perfumed floral note (think your Nan’s best Lily of the Valley), before the dram is lifted with some much needed citrus, just enough to keep it from becoming just too dry and bitter.  Rich orange, grapefruit and salted lemons kiss the roof of your mouth, before the dram tails off.

Finish:

A good well rounded finish, the bitter notes that are so present whilst drinking tail off, leaving citrus with a lovely pepper tingle, wrapped up in a bundle of damp, fresh wood.

Midvinter
Midvinter

Midvinter (Mid winter) – The first limited edition bottling that came after the Special series (1-10), a Mulled & Spiced Wine Finish bottling which is bottled at 46.1%. Released in October 2013.

Nose:

Christmas in a glass, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and warm orange.  Lovely and deep with rich stewed plums, delicate pears poached in a good red wine with a slight creamy melted milk chocolate finish.  Hiding in the background is a fresher, sharper notes, pine needles warmed by the fire and just a hint of juniper berries and ferns.   The nose is just amazing, I seriously do not want to stop nosing this for fear the palate doesn’t match, still here goes.

Palate:

Wow where to start, flavour after flavour assault the palate and assimilate the senses.  Orange was the very first thing I could pick out, followed quickly by a surprising meatiness, like a honey glazed gammon studded with cloves, a slight nod to the medicinal with a touch of TCP, before waves of caramel and vanilla melt on the tongue, think the softest, silkiest crème Brule you ever tasted whilst being smacked round the face by Santa himself.  Rum and raisin makes an, all too brief appearance before the plums from the nose elbow their way through, not as soft as the nose suggested but sharper, which saves this dram from becoming almost saccharine sweet.

Finish:

This is such an oily mouth coating dram that it really sticks about, the sweetness is first to fade, you lose the caramel and the milk chocolate but you are left with a slight salted chewiness.  As this starts to dissipate the spices are all that are left, with the ginger, cloves and all spice mingling into one giant Christmas party on the tongue, the herbal fern and pine needles notes come through right at the very end.  This is one special dram!

Moment Bärnsten
Moment Bärnsten

Moment Bärnsten (Amber) – very limited edition of 1500 bottles made with ex-cloudberry wine casks and smoke tail whisky using 1st fill Swedish Oak and ex-Bordeaux wine casks, released in December 2013 and bottled at 49.8% ABV

Nose:

Red wine is the first to hit the palate, rich and full bodied with black pepper and just a touch of black tea leaves.  Autumn brambles are present with warm wild blackberries and raspberries and a touch of loganberry also, this is no doubt due to the influence of the Cloudberry.  Some new make coming through despite the attempt by the Bordeaux influence to hide this and although I am unsure I suspect this to be reasonably young.  Right at the very back there is just a hint of sulphur, it’s not for everyone I know, but I think the slight touch of burnt rubber really brings out a complexity that this dram was perhaps lacking.

Palate:

Ok, I had no idea what a Cloudberry tasted like but I think I do now!  First on to the palate are the berries, literally like crushing a blackberry in one hand and a raspberry in another and then pushing the two into your mouth simultaneously.  Once the palate recovers from the shock of this, you are left with an overwhelming fruity sweetness, take a summer pudding and pour raspberry coulis on top, put honey and sugar syrup on top, add fresh strawberry for good measure and you are getting somewhat close to just how sweet and fruity this is.  There is the slightest hint of the oak and good quality dark chocolate, but these are quickly overpowered by the sweetness.  There are touches of strawberry laces and it reminds me of the Dewberry body spray (from the Bodyshop) that I used as a teenager, as did all the girls in the school, it’s cloying and sweet.

Finish:

Short and in some ways this is a good thing, this is a very light, sweeter than sweet whisky.  I haven’t tried any of the “flavoured” whiskies that are on the market but I suspect that they may have some similarities to this.  The finish really just brings in more of the same and there is little other than berry sweetness to pick up.  I would recommend this as a starter whisky to someone who perhaps doesn’t like a more traditional style whisky.  Think the Rose of the whisky world!

Moment Vinterträdgård
Moment Vinterträdgård

Moment Vinterträdgård (Conservatory) – very limited edition of 1500 bottles made with ex wild raspberry wine casks, ex- lingonberry & blueberry wine casks and  ex-Ambassadors casks (these are combination casks with 30L of 2ndfill mackmyra body + new Swedish oak ends), bottled at 48.4% ABV) this was released in December 2013.

Nose:

Sharp and fruity, picking up the tang of the raspberries coupled with an almost sharp dry yet sweet mix of fresh cranberries.  A slight boiled milk edge and a note of soured cream.  The more this opens up the more you can find, black pepper married with good quality balsamic vinegar, drizzled over a juicy, tender seasoned steak.  The meatiness continues to make itself known before a slightly overripe, almost rotten notes appear, which for me announces the blueberry, however these are soon carried away as strawberries and cream, drizzled with white chocolate are last to appear.

Palate:

Hot, this is somewhat fleeting but it does leave a wave of chilli, green peppercorns, white pepper and ginger in its wake.  This is a drying bitter dram, which belies the fruitiness offered on the nose.  The meatiness is far more robust, gamey and rich.  There are definite hints of stout and the metallic tang that goes with it.  The fruit is all but gone, with only the slightest touch of raspberry sweetness left.  Thyme and Rosemary come through and finally the fresh oak is allowed to make itself noticed.  It becomes fresher and lighter, evocative of a walk through the deep forest in springtime and a floral touch of bluebells and pollen.

Finish:

Medium in length, hangs about long enough to evolve which is what this dram really needs.  The nose and palate are so at odds with each other it’s hard to work out which direction the whisky is going in.  Ironically, as it’s so lacking on the palate the fruit is the last note on the finish, which by this point is very welcome.   I think this one is a definite marmite dram!

Moment Malstrom
Moment Malstrom

Moment Malström (Whirlpool) – very limited edition of 1500 bottles made with whisky matured only in 30-Litre casks of all kinds from the Mackmyra cellars;  This whisky has been maturing in Ambassador Casks which are combination casks, this is 30L of 2ndfill Mackmyra body + new Swedish oak ends, 1stfill Sherry, 1stfill ex-Bourbon, New Swedish Oak.  Bottled at 46.45ABV, 99% elegant whisky and 1% Smoky whisky due to be released in June.

Nose:

Lots of vanilla on the nose, this is obviously the bourbon influence, toffee and chocolate, butterscotch Angel Delight and Caramac are all there.  Sweet drop pancake and all butter shortbread, give a slightly more buttery edge.  Given time to open up there are hints of savoury spices, sweet paprika, couple with a little cardamom and just the gentlest caress of smoky air.  This less Islay bonfire and more boy scout campfire.

Palate:

The smoke may have been lacking somewhat on the nose but it is definitely there on the palate, you don’t so much taste it as you feel it, it brushes against the roof of your mouth before settling right at the back of your throat, drying instantly.  The vanilla sweetness has all but disappeared, this feels like part whisky and part black magic (where has all the sweetness gone?), a second taste bring the sweetness back through, but only for a moment, the sugar is burnt, no longer soft but bitter and harsh.  Toasted oak with a little desiccated coconut and rich Brazil nuts finishing with green pepper freshness.

Finish:

Long, more than long, this is a dram that isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, the smoke keeps catching the back of your throat with every breath which is offset by a little toffee sweetness as promised on the nose.

Svensk Rok
Svensk Rok

Svensk Rök (Swedish Smoke) – the (still quite new) standard edition Mackmyra smoky bottling, this is bottled at 46.1% ABV and released in Sweden in autumn last year, will be released all over Europe.

Nose:

Here comes the peat, oh how I’ve missed you.  This is far punchier than the other whiskies tasted.   It’s really not too far away from a gentle Islay, there is a lovely gentle salted edge to smoke, like fresh smoked haddock, wrapped in brine from the sea.  There is a little pepper bring right at the back of the palate and a slight juniper kiss.  This could be down to the fact that traditional methods of both curing and drinks-making it is common place to use juniper twigs.  There is a little vanilla sweetness to be found too, like a really good quality vanilla ice cream, the richness is tangible.

Palate:

As you may expect the smoke hits hard and fast.  It’s gentle but punchy, a real contradiction.  More of the sea comes through, ocean spray in a storm.  The haul of a full fishing net, couple with the roughness of the rope to balance out the tangy brine and hint of tar.  There is a sweetness which comes through from the vanilla, this brings a sweetness more in keeping with scallops seared in butter and finished in a soft white wine and cream sauce.  There is an almost hidden oat note, uncooked porridge becomes introduced to hot milk with just a touch of nutmeg.

Finish:

A lovely long finish on this, the smoke is so power yet so gentle, this is a really sophisticated dram and is, without doubt, my favourite.  All the favours are balanced perfectly, there is not one note that is over powering, a really elegant dram that I would never tire of drinking.  This is Mackmyra at its very best.

2 thoughts on “Mackmyra Interview Tasting”

  1. I think this is the “Rolls Royce” of Svenska whisky – and that might sound like damnation with faint praise, but, it is not, as some really excellent whisky is now made in Sverige. Long live Mackmyra!

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