Mackmyra Ten Years Swedish Single Malt Whisky

Type: Single malt whisky 

Origin: Sweden

ABV: 46.1% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4

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Mackmyra Midnattssol (Birch Sap Finish) Swedish whisky

mackmyra midnattsol

Mackmyra Midnattssol is a limited edition release by Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery. It is aged in ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, and casks made from both American and Swedish oak.  It is then finished in casks that previously held birch sap wine. 

What is birch sap wine? Let me explain.

Continue reading “Mackmyra Midnattssol (Birch Sap Finish) Swedish whisky”

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda

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Rating: ★★★★

Type: Single malt

Origin: Sweden

ABV: 45%

Reaction: 😀

Price: Approx. £90

Oak: Matured in American white chinkapin oak from Missouri and French Oak from Alliers

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda is the third release in a series of whiskies produced by the Swedish distillery Spirit of Hven. As with the releases that came before it, the Phecda takes its name from the stars above; the Phecda being a star in the asterism (pattern of stars) Ursa Major. Phecda is described as being somewhat hotter and larger than the sun around which our planet circles.

An image of Supernova SN 1993J which occurred in galaxy M81, which is located in Ursa Major 10,000 light years away. Image: NASA

The whisky itself is a medium peated malt which is crafted, from barley to bottle, by the family owned Spirit of Hven on the island of Hven in Sweden.  After the wash (similar to beer without hops) is distilled, the spirit is placed in barrels made from Quercus Muehlenbergii (American white oak known as chinkapin oak) from Missouri and Quercus Petraea (French oak) from Allier. Over the course of whisky’s maturation, during which the spirit soaks up flavours from the oak, the oak seems to have infused the whisky with some very distinct aromas and flavours; the most interesting of which are a fiery spice and a winy base note of fortified wine and brandy over which floats a thin smokiness.

Nose:

Soft waves of vanilla are immediately noticeable, and the bouquet quickly develops into Panettone soaked in brandy and a dash of Sambuca, ground coffee, tobacco, new leather, stewed dark berries, banana, fragrant woodsmoke, scorching charcoals and peppermint Fisherman’s Friend.

Taste:

The taste of fortified wine is followed by a fiery spice, which is peppery with a mildly burning jalapeño bite, dark chocolate,  tobacco and pencil shavings. The peat is there, but it tastes more of tobacco. As the burning spice recedes, the fortified wine morphs into young style “hot” brandy, similar to Spanish brandy matured in sherry casks. There is the constant taste of rock salt underlying the winy sweetness, and an oily film coats the tongue and emits flavours of butter and caramel.

Finish:

The finish is somewhat smoky, with the aftertaste of prunes, sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry interwoven with more drier fortified wine, brandy filled chocolates and the faint kiss of lapsang souchong. Oily and buttery undertones linger on the base of the tongue, with salted caramel and coffee lollies.

Match with:

This whisky pairs impeccably with a fine mild-medium cigar, such as a Macanudo Estate Reserve or a Romeo y Julieta No 1; cigars that seem to appeal to the mass market for their smoothness, which ensures they will not dominate over the malt. This whisky was also delicious with chocolate, especially coffee or hazelnut truffles, and spicy cured meats.

Bottom line:

Buy it, if you enjoy a spicy whisky with a fortified wine/brandy base note and mild undertones of peat that resemble tobacco. Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 3 Phecda is a creative and balanced malt, with a mouthwatering kick of flavour. It is also smooth and quaffable, and coincidentally the perfect accompaniment for a night of star gazing. Bra gjort Spirit of Hven! Bra gjort.

Spirit of Hven Sankt Claus (Cask 11-222)

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Rating: ★★★★

Origin: Sweden

Type: Single malt

ABV: 53.2%

On a piping hot 42°summer day in Melbourne, a brown paper package arrived at my desk. It was torn and half opened, clear evidence of a long trip. The package was marked with Swedish writing and peeking outside its tears was a deep ruby red whisky, Spirit of Hven’s Sankt Claus. What a contrast, from ice cold Sweden to sun burnt Australia. 

Spirit of Hven Sankt Claus, as the name suggests, pays homage to Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of a number of groups including sailors, fishermen and, perhaps most appropriately, brewers. He also had a reputation for secret gift giving by leaving coins in the shoes of people, and he therefore became the inspiration for the big bellied white bearded jolly man we call Santa Claus.  Spirit of Hven Sankt Claus is intended to “”bring the most joy and (de)light to the winter darkness”, but having just enjoyed some of it on a few bright and very hot Australian days the whisky also inadvertently brings this festive cheer to snow-less lands as well.  Even ones that reach 42°C over the holiday period, such as my home city in Australia.   

Sank Claus is made from Pale Ale malt and peated malt (48ppm) and fermented for 120 hours, during which the Cerevisiae and Bayanus yeast converted the sugars in the wort into alcohol. Once the wort was fermented, the wash was distilled and a generous heart was collected from the spirits run which it can be assumed included a bit of tails to give the whisky some tasty congeners. Once distilled, the spirit was matured in air dried French Allier oak which had previously contained Merlot.   

Nose:

Stewed berry fruits are first noticeable, with rhubarb, strawberry yogurt and panetone. Undertones of sourdough and olive bread sit beneath the fruit with balsamic, star anise and cinnamon.  

Palate:

On the palate the whisky is potent, warming and drying.  The barley is rigid and bold, and the flavours of the whisky are integrated and balanced – find raw sourdough, heavy red wine notes, sweet red candy, red berries (especially cranberry), cinnamon, dark chocolate, sweet vinegar,, ginger bread and crushed nuts. 

Finish:

The finish offers mild creaminess, with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, cooked berries, balsamic glazed beetroot, pepper and wisps of smoke. It is somewhat drying and vapourous, again expressing red wine astringency combined with barley.  

Bottom line:

Buy it, if tis’ the season to be jolly. Find a plethora of all things as red as Rudolph’s nose in the whisky – red fruits, red wine, red candy, red berries, and even a dash of eggnog (an eggy nutmeg note, if you pay close attention). Granted, the nose does present with some aromas that indicate the whisky would have benefited from more time in oak but the Christmas flavours really come through on the palate such that any more time in oak may have altered the festive theme in this dram. This is a potent, rich, drying yet sweet whisky that is absolutely perfect to drink during the festive season. The maturation of this whisky in Merlot barrels certainly gives it a unique flavour profile, and the people at Spirit of Hven have done a superb job selecting this cask of their “Sankt Claus” expression (which is intended to have a Christmas theme). With each sip, I can hear the jingle bells a’ ringing. 

Mackmyra Misdattssol

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Score: 93/100

ABV: 46.1%

Origin: Sweden

Mackmyra Midnattssol is a limited edition Swedish whisky that has been crafted, its makers say, for bright summer nights. It is matured in sherry casks, bourbon casks and casks made from Swedish and American oak, but the ingenuity of this whisky comes from the fact that it is finished in casks that previously held wine made from birch sap. Yes, birch sap.

As winter draws closer to spring, deciduous trees that have stored sugar in their roots begin to move sugar upwards in their sap. The maple and birch are two trees that produce an edible sap in plentiful supply, so when these trees begin brimming with sap as winter warms people extract that sap and do many wonderful things with it. One of those things is to produce wine, with some help from some good natured yeast which converts all that lovely sugar into even more lovely alcohol. Mackmyra had the idea to finish its whisky in casks that have held birch sap wine to infuse its whisky with the distinctive flavours and aromas of that birch sap wine. Sounds good to me!

The nose presents with a sappy sweetness that radiates vanilla ice cream, varnished wood, raw cedar, sawdust, blueberries and blackberries, banana, anise seed, licorice, dark chocolate, mild coconut, raisins and English style pot still rum with undertones of raw sugar, spice and petals.  On the palate the whisky is less sweet and fruity than the nose suggests, immediately thumping the taste buds with a woody textured bitter citrus rind that gradually dries into the mid-palate when sawdust, spice, dark chocolate coated licorice and mild undertones of vanilla develop with a herbal cough drop glow and honey drizzled over forest berries. The sappy note detected on the nose returns in the finish but loses its sweetness to a woody and astringent dryness that is counterbalanced by the creamy aftertaste of a Sambuca spiked espresso affogato, the sweet bitterness of lime wedges in chinotto and the curious faint shine of menthol similar to the vapour of tiger balm.

Overall, Mackmyra Midnattssol is a creative whisky that harmoniously fuses an array of flavours that are difficult to find in most other whiskies on the market, thanks in part to the fact that the Midnattssol has been matured in Swedish oak and finished in casks that previously held birch sap wine – find the most curious fusion of fruit, citrus, sap and herbal notes with the more familiar vanillas from American oak to smooth it all out. This is a complex and interesting whisky with lots of depth to explore within its layers of integrated and balanced flavours. If you do decide to have a rendezvous with this whisky make sure you cancel your plans, this Swedish beauty deserves your undivided attention.

Mackmyra Special 07

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Score: 95/100

ABV: 45.8%

Origin: Sweden

Try it with: Romeo y Julieta No 1 Cuban cigar, Kung Po scallops (Chinese), Prawns with chili and basil (Thai), fresh prawns/seafood

Romeo y Julieta No 1

Mackmyra is a whisky distillery located in Sweden. It is the brainchild of eight friends who, tucked away in a mountain lodge in the spring of 1998, wondered why there was no Swedish whisky in the vast ocean of whisky in the world. Mackmyra was born a year later in 1999 and the first drops of their Swedish whisky were distilled on 18 December 1999. Mackmyra now produce a range of interesting, refreshingly different and, I’ll admit, pretty darn exciting expressions that make use of Swedish oak (which is said to infuse whisky with a fiery spiciness) and a signature “Mackmyra smoke” (peat flavoured with fresh juniper twigs) to produce whisky that is not only distinctly Swedish but unmistakably Mackmyra.

Mackmyra Special 07 is crafted by combining two different types of whiskies, a smoky style of whisky made with juniper smoke and a more elegant style whisky. Once combined these whiskies are finished in casks that have been saturated in cloudberry wine, and it is this finishing that gives this whisky its unique and very satisfying taste.

cloudberries
Cloudberries

Cloudberries are members of the rose family and are closely related to raspberry, blackberry, and thimbleberry, but unlike their more familiar cousins they are native to the snowforests, tundra and bogs that circle the Arctic and can be found in Scandinavia, most of Alaska, parts of Canada and the northern parts of Russia. People in Nordic countries and in Canada use cloudberries to make jams, top pancakes, ice cream and waffles or make delicious sounding desserts (probably the least appetizing to me is “Eskimo ice cream” which is made with seal oil and reindeer fat). For the more careless among us, cloudberry tea was believed to cure urinary tract infections (just saying). It did not take the Scandinavians long to realise that whatever has sugar can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage, so cloudberry wine – with all its delicious berry rich flavours – was born. It goes without saying that Mackmyra’s use of barrels saturated in cloudberry wine to finish this whisky infuses it with a distinctly Scandianvian character that is very rarely found in other whiskies, and coupled with its flavours of juniper smoke and spicy Swedish oak the Mackmyra Special 07 is definitely a whisky to try before you die!

Mackmyra Special 07 beautifully matched the flavours of a Romeo y Julieta No 1 Cuban cigar, fresh seafood and some Asian seafood dishes. The whisky’s smooth creamy entry and proceeding sweet glow of pear, apples and honey refreshed the palate and cleansed it of the taste of the cigar, and the Swedish oak and spice that then followed on the drying finish accentuated and complimented the woody and leathery notes that were released from the smooth smoke of the Romeo y Julieta No 1. The drying winy finish also complimented and cut through seafood, particularly the sweet bite of freshly peeled prawns or the fiery bite of sugary Kung Po scallops or stir fry prawns with Chili and Basil.

The bouquet immediately presents with lemon and hints of banana slicing through cream, sliced green apple, white chocolate, raisins, licorice, white wine, berries and a mild hue of juniper smoke with a gentle whiff of pinecone. On the palate the whisky is clean, smooth and creamy – undertones of white wine and grape skins merge with green apple, then at mid-palate the sweet glow of pear, apples and honey emerges and then fades into a drying and mildly astringent finish with undertones of spice from the Swedish oak. The finish is tart and drying, with the lingering aftertaste of a dry white wine and more pronounced wood notes with hints of spice.

Overall, Mackmyra Special 07 is a whisky that creatively marries the flavours of mild juniper smoke, spicy Swedish oak and berry rich Cloudberry wine with an underlying sweet glow of fruity malt to create a whisky that is so uniquely Scandinavian it makes me want to drink to the tune of Helan Går or leap out of my chair and dance the to the polska. It is now a personal favourite of mine, and perfect with a mild to medium strength cigar.

Mackmyra brukswhisky

Mackmyra brukswhisky

Score: 95/100

ABV: 41.4%

Origin: Sweden

Price: £35.99 (UK)

Mackmyra is a whisky distillery located in Sweden. It is the brainchild of eight friends who, tucked away in a mountain lodge in the spring of 1998, wondered why there was no Swedish whisky in the vast ocean of whisky in the world. Mackmyra was born a year later in 1999 and the first drops of their Swedish whisky were distilled on 18 December 1999. Mackmyra now produce a range of interesting, refreshingly different and, I’ll admit, pretty darn exciting expressions that make use of Swedish oak (which is said to infuse whisky with a fiery spiciness) and a signature “Mackmyra smoke” (peat flavoured with fresh juniper twigs) to produce whisky that is not only distinctly Swedish but unmistakably Mackmyra.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky is made from whisky that is matured in bourbon casks, sherry casks and Swedish oak casks, and it is given a hint of juniper smoke with the addition of Mackmyra’s smoky variety of whisky. This certainly sounds very innovative and creative, because the vast majority of whisky tends to be matured in bourbon casks and/or sherry casks. Mackmyra appear to be pushing the boundaries in this case and creating a whisky that is truly distinctive by infusing it with flavours from Swedish oak and juniper smoke. I am getting thirty just thinking about it! 

The bouquet is fresh, light and crisp with intriguing notes that immediately astound – creamy vanilla, citrus, orange peel, manuka honey, fragrant flowers, pot pouri, sweet tree sap, warm baklava with nuts and honey, raspberry and milk bottle lollies, perfumed soaps, mild licorice, incense and hints of smoke. On the palate the whisky is extraordinarily balanced and offers notes of cooked pear, fresh orange, honey, hard lollies (Berwick cockles, licorice candy and minties come to mind), dark chocolate, fragrant wood, and all the while an underlying heat radiates rigid flecks of spice from the palate in the form of cinnamon,  star anise, fiery peppermint and fisherman’s friends. The finish is refreshing and warming with spices and the continuing burn of peppermint/fisherman’s friends, as undertones of sweet wine intermingle with raisin, apricot custard Danish pastry, oak notes and orange rind.  

Overall, Mackmyra Brukswhisky is a soft, crisp, fresh and super smooth whisky with superbly integrated yet complex flavours. Its flavours are superbly balanced and project a distinct style that is Mackmyra, which not only makes it extremely drinkable but a refreshing change for those looking to broaden their whisky horizons and explore not only Mackmyra’s distillate, Swedish oak or juniper smoke but also some masterful blending by the Mackmyra team led by Angela D’Orazio. She should also be pleased to know that my Dad, a beginner whisky drinker who does not much enjoy spirits neat, sipped a dram of Mackmyra Brukswhisky with delight while he made a big pot of pasta sauce – he said it is the first whisky he has enjoyed. My continuing efforts to convert yet another person into a whisky drinker may just have succeeded, thanks to Mackmyra! Tack så mycket.