As part of their Whisky festival, Harvey’s Brewery presents Mackmyra hosted by ambassador Alex Johnson. Pronounced Mackmura, it means ‘on the bog’ – a mosquito bog in fact.
Legitimate independent whisky production in Sweden only begun in the 1990’s when EU law forced the Swedish government [who controlled all alcohol production], to allow distilleries like Mackmyra the right to produce their own liquor. Alcohol sales are still strictly controlled and the government-owned Systembolaget is the only retailer allowed to sell alcoholic beverages with an abv over 3.5%.
- GRAIN: All of their grain is sourced locally [and though not a hard & fast rule], typically no further than 50 miles away from the distillery.
- YEAST: A Swedish bakery strain called kronjast Farsk. It’s a household brand commonly used to make sweet loaves. Fermentation time is around 3 days
- STILLS: The first Mackmyra still is a replica of a still at Bladnoch, a tribute to the whisky style that Bladnoch produced for Sweden in the intervening years of the EU.
- CASKS: Mackmyra deploy many different woods, casks and sizes, currently 30, 80, 100, 128 and 198 litre casks are in use.
The ‘house style’ is apple and agave [cactus syrup], and i’ll add pear drops, pineapples and pine needles – though these notes were more evident in the earlier/younger batches.
Time for the juice, seven tonight and maybe one extra!
Made from first-fill bourbon casks. Age around 6.5 years.
- N: Bready/husky with a touch of honeyed white wine. Less pears & pineapples than in previous batches though more ripe apple developing along with vanilla citrus. Also of note is a light waxy=oily=fattiness.
- T: Dry mashy & honeyed>sugary style, the spirit well softened by the casks. Reminds me of Benromach 10 somewhat though the aforementioned Speysider has a definitive edge over this Bruks on detail and prominence.
- F: Short, clean, soft.
- C: A good batch though i personally prefer the pear drop & pine needle batches.
Scores 82 points
Mackmyra ‘Svensk Ek’  Ob. 46.1% WB83.13
Age: 7-9 years. Makeup:
- 50% 1st fill casks.
- 40% 128 litre bespoke sherry casks, adapted from US casks and then sherry-matured in their Bodas mine [below].
- 10% Swedish oak that’s used to make 30 & 100 litre casks.
Historically there was no indigenous oak in Sweden. As a necessity, the Swedish Navy [300+ years ago] acquired saplings from Limousin to plant & grow oak for the expansion for their fleet. The saplings grew but due to the Swedish climate & soil, the trees end up tall and skinny. Hence the small & limited usage of Swedish oak for maturation.
- N: Similar profile to the Bruks but appearing a bit younger, naked, brasher. However, this appearance totally reverses later on. It relaxes with time, now creamier=oilier with notes of mint sauce, oily darker/more subtle vanilla, waxy-mushroom pate, ginger and holy basil [tulsi], The oily, fungal sherry only arises later on. Well married.
- T: Sharper barley=oak oils, though changing with water towards tighter yet soft sweet putty and spice.
- F: Longer finish than the Bruks.
- C: The extra bit of ageing certainly shows, and pays off with more depth & length.
Scores 83 points
Mackmyra make two types of new make spirit:
- Mackmyra ‘Vit Hund’ meaning ‘White dog’ [a US term], is their standard new make spirit that can be bought as a watered down version at 46.1%.
- Then there’s there peated spirit that goes into making Svensk Rok:
Rok means smoke. For the peated Svensk Rok they use floor malted Swedish barley. Each batch represents around 3 months of peated production.
- N: A peated number on smoky spruce needles accompanied by nutty>vanilla, silver skin onions, swordfish!, goji & sloe berries? – no, it’s juniper. Juniper is added to the peat fire during kilning! I wonder if they add a touch to the Bruks? I find this splendid and ingenious whisky making.
- T: Smoked cacao and caramel with the juniper in the background. Clever all the way.
- F: Hot cocoa, gentle smoke.
- C: Swedish whisky with Japanese precision [Nick]. Very clever on every level. Seemingly, the most grown up/sophisticated of the night.
Scores 86 points
As a stepping stone from the Svensk Rok to the Expedition [up next], Alex tells us of Mackmyra Moment Barnsten [WB WL], which is a partially peated spirit partly aged in cloudberry wine casks. After making their peated runs, Mackmyra run the system clean. The subsequent spirit that is inadvertently produced picks up smokey feints from the apparatus. This new make is appropriately called ‘Smoketail’. It’s then aged in Swedish oak, [possibly ex-Bordeaux casks] and cloudberry wine casks – like the Expedition:
Mackmyra ‘Expedition’  Ob. 46.1% [50cl] WB79
Expedition sees a cloudberry wine finish between 1-1.5 years. Travel retail exclusive for ports and airports in Scandinavia only.
- N: The creamiest one so far with a buttery/lardy=fattiness and more quirky, vegetal, a hint of [rum] funk and fungal ghee!
- T: More rum distillate sugars with a thin to fatty mouthfeel curiousness.
- F: Dries and lifts off completely.
- C: So interesting, especially on the nose and arrival. Again, super ingenious, really tasty distillate and well executed.
Scores 84 points
Cloudberry is an edible fruit similar to a raspberry or blackberry that is grown from the herb rubus chamaemorus. For a whisky with an even stronger cloudberry influence, check out Mackmyra Delagare LINK.
Alex tells us that cloudberry jam is sold in the TotallySwedish shop in London. Some of the main whisky retailers also sell cloudberry liqueur.
Around 20,000 bottles were made in total, with the first 360 bottles destined for the UK selling out in minutes.
- N: Aged-rum-like with runny toffee, fresh herbal, sweet smooth & thick putty mash, some linseed oil, olive oil touches,..
- T: Surprisingly rather generic/Scottish given the unique house-styles that have preceded this ones arrival. Proper chewy mouthfeel.
- F: Long toffee malt with a small handful of pine needles.
- C: It’s certainly very good if only a little Swedish in character. Maybe it was a deliberately ‘safe’ release, one that securely places it & Mackmyra on the ‘established’ global whisky map.
Scores 85 points
Predominantly matured in their forest warehouse [an old munitions store], near a fishing hamlet, Malstrom is cask matured for around 8 years in five types of 30 litres casks: bourbon, new US, Swedish, oloroso and hybrids [casks with Swedish oak heads].
- N: It’s so very soft i’m finding it hard to read. Fungal oily sugars, young Armagnac/rum sugars, a little greasiness, salt & vinegar and thin blackberry juice.
- T: Sugar-complex with linseed putty mash – a profile quickly emerging as the more mature Mackmyra house-style than the pear drops & pine needle days. Also with the putty-ed oily sugars are the sweet-sour [grapefruit] citrus notes.
- F: Holds on no problem before bowing out politely. Concludes unusually with fruit putty Shreddies.
- C: Far more than the eye first sees. But then, £110!
Scores 85 points
Mackmyra 2004/2014 ’Moment Vintage’  Ob. [Btl# 1354/1500] 48.6% WB83.15
Around 10 years old with a Tokaj finish – a Hungarian wine produced from the furmint grape that makes a sweet honey wine with notes of dried fruit & pineapple. This is some of the first liquid that came from the first distilleries Bladnoch-inspired pot still.
- N: Wine-sugars from a dark fruity red Sauternes. The nose really grows on citrus sugars.
- T: Quite a bundle on arrival, intense stuff going on. Water brings out the saltiness.
- F: The putty is there again as a foundation and the sugars are a’humming with tea cakes & huge a shortbread note at the death.
- C: The finish certainly grips the limelight but there’s plenty more going on throughout.
Scores 85 points
And there was a bonus dram!: Skordetid
Many thanks to Alex and the Harvey’s brewery team.