SWAG: Spotlight on, Mackmyra

Before tonight’s proceedings have even begun, I’m off to a flying start. “Finish that off”, says the Foz, referring to the heel of a 1982 25yo Linlithgow sat on the table. Richard McKeand [one of four UK Mackmyra ambassadors] is our gracious host for tonight’s online SWAG tasting. In addition to the seven [predominantly 5cl] Mackmyra samples we are to try tonight, the Foz has rustled up another six expressions from the Swedish distillery – including the new make – to make it a flight of 13. Wish me luck!

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Mackmyra New Make [+/-2018/19] Un-Ob. 70.2% 

It’s a shame more distillery tastings don’t start with the new make spirit. I am lucky to have it alongside tonight’s flight, courtesy of a previous Mackmyra tasting some time ago. At 70.2%, “that’s straight off the still”, says Richard. Excellent!

  • N: Peachy canned puréed calvados and a potent sweet farmy potato-ey note,… will do nicely.
  • T: Delicious arrival, dense fruity barley spirit,….
  • F: ,… with a finishing form.
  • C: “Screw vodka”. One of the best all-rounder barley spirits I’ve tried.

[Not scored]

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Mackmyra’s three main markets are Sweden Germany and the UK. Everything from Mackmyra is bottled at 46.1%,.. or higher.

Mackmyra Appelblom [2019] Ob. 46.1% WB83.47[100]

This, the first official whisky of the night, was released in Spring/Summer 2019. The casks used for this calvados-finished whisky were from Christian Drouhin. It’s typical for experiments like this to be batch-tested for at least 6 months before the distillery commits to a widespread finishing – typically around 15000-20000 bottles. However, so sure was Angela [Mackmyra’s master blender] about these casks, that she committed to ‘Appelblom’ straight away.

  • N: Starts off as you might imagine Swedish bourbon to be like, with plenty of thick spicy-ish vanilla, apple [pie] – also evident in the new make – blue-tac,… I promised myself I wouldn’t make lists tonight so I’ll leave it there.
  • T: Firm arrival, but it’s the murky apple-led fruits and a varnished mouthfeel that prevail.
  • F: Short on blended [plasticy?] porridge, very soft resins, more gentle vanillin action.
  • C: The calvados influence appropriately tame, I find this clean straight-ahead [uneventful] Swedish bourbon.

Scores 82 points

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The Mackmyra distillery produces around 100,000 litres per year [according to Richard], far less than the 1.8mlpa I’d previously been led to believe. All of Mackmyra’s casks maturing within the Bodas mines are are temperature controlled between 7-9 degrees, and at 99% humidity.

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Mackmyra Intelligens [2019] AI:01 [5000 bts] 46.1% WB83.75[79]

From mackmyra’s website: ‘The distillery’s machine learning models, powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI cognitive services developed by Fourkind, are fed with Mackmyra’s existing recipes (including those for award-winning blends), sales data, and customer preferences‘. The result is a recipe using a mixture of bourbon and oloroso casks at various sizes [200, 100 and 30 litre casks]. Credit to Richard for his passionate attempt to convey the ‘story’, though despite his efforts, this concoction remains reeking of marketing fad and flannel. Regardless, let’s judge the results through smell and taste.

  • N: Winey, candied shampoo-chalky-dry herbal-y-medicinal murky perfumed,… Despite the engineering, the new make dna is still just about present, but where is this oddness/bizarreness coming from? Wine? Berries? Convinced it was [cloudberry?] wine casks providing the ‘funny business’, apparently, it’s the Swedish oak – 10% of the overall oak recipe – that gives out a unique bitterness.
  • T: Experimental, contemporary,,, we’ve all sorts here [refer to the cask recipe again] – and rather Lakes-esque [distillery] in that respect. The profile speaks of an odd candied sweetness moving towards a thin bitter-ishness, and then again,… also candied fruity pine needle-y,…
  • F: ,… becoming gacky/oily into a drying briney-ness, but the perfumed herbal and floral sweetness that settles is certainly more pleasing. Two hours later, it’s more waxy grassy.
  • C: Overall, a confused/confusing curiosity. Also, a demonstration of how influential Swedish oak is.

Scores 80 points

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Mackmyra Skordetid NAS [2017] Ob. 46.1% WB83.85[106] WF76 website

Skordetid means ‘harvest time’. I’ve had this before and my initial impressions were favourable [with a provisional WLP85]. The batch number is close to 20000 bottles.

  • N: Creamy, cognac-like, new wood, olives,.., 
  • T: Nicely woody creamy, port > cognac-sweet with a smoky maple bacon character brought on by casks that received a char level of 3 out of 4.
  • F: Almost rubbery/greasy cognac-y creamy sawdust-dry,… more waxy with water.
  • C: Very popular. Not everyone is convinced, but I feel this holds up from start to finish. I like it as much as I did before, perhaps because it appeals to my particular port-sweet/sour tooth, and let’s not forget the smoky charring that contributes favourably. A contemporary success.

Scores 85 points.

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Very few casks from 1999 exist/survive, so there’s no chance of a 21/22yo from Mackmyra any time soon [we are told]. Mackmyra released a 10yo in 2017 [WLP1/WLP2] – a release that [perhaps] came with [unrealistic] expectations – expectations that might not fit with the Swedish ethos of ‘freedom of innovation’. As a result, NAS for Mackmyra is here to stay.

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Mackmyra Gruvguld [2018] Ob. 46.1% WB83.46[88]

From Mackmyra’s website: ‘Mackmyra Gruvguld (Gold from the mine) has been aged in small casks of 30, 100 and 128 litres, in the mine of Bodås‘.

  • N: Quince jelly and mint sauce, meaty peachy orchard & sweetened citrus fruits, pastries, earth to putty – a putty mashy note which remains consistent amongst the range.
  • T: Short arrival which soon drops in intensity to simple barley sugar and settles at the front of the palate [Wayne].
  • F: Settles and simmers with a little Refreshers [Charlie] fizziness and a peppery waxiness. A rather dry puckering finish concludes with more barley sugar.
  • C: Odd form. I’m not totally convinced but I keep sipping away regardless.

Scores 81 points

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Mackmyra 2008/2013 Ob. For the Whisky Circus cask #35526 [btl #24/50] 53.4% WB0

I actually tasted this blind a few weeks earlier, having no idea where it had come from before tonight’s session. So the story goes, 22-23 people from the Whisky Circus [group/club] bought into to a small Mackmyra cask. It took 11 weeks for the bottles to arrive in the UK. A pallet full of whisky, destined for club members, was loaded onto the wrong van and stolen. The whisky was never found. This is Whisky Circus Mackmyra, take #2.

  • N: Young/keen, floral, fruity, spirity, euro-hybrid whisky. Smells like abv-high yet [triple distilled?] light fruity spirit without the nostril burn, so I’m guessing we are in the [abv] 50s.
  • T: Arrives acute-yet-relaxed-sharp, all barley-led, decidedly fruity & floral and then – after an unusual confusing frenetic middle – it somehow eventually dissolves into buttery iron filings,…. or more stainless steel filings, perhaps? Add water to promote the maltiness and briny > greasy lemon juice.
  • F: Manageably prickly greasy-briny lemon & grapefruit-juiced grainy-ish metal-ish,… Play-Doh,… with a hint of hot sawdust at the death.
  • C: Akin to hybrid whisky/aqua-vitae in comparison to Scotch.

Scores 82 points

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Mackmyra Vinterglod 3yo Ob. 46.1% WB82.96[93]

I think this is the mulled wine jobbie, yep. I try [with futility] to keep up with all the casks involved: 100-120 litres. PX, virgin and first-fill US oak, first & second-fill ex-bourbon, wine casks,…… all sorts. From Mackmyra’s websiteMackmyra Vinterglöd (winter glow) is an elegant Swedish single malt whisky distilled at Mackmyra Bruk. This whisky is inspired by the Swedish winter tradition of drinking mulled wine during the colder months of the year‘.

  • N: Not dissimilar to the Whisky Circus cask, this is perfumed new make-y/genever/gin-like with a lemony-icing ginger profile,… moving later to cider vinegar,… ohh so much vinegar – so sherry then – and some other weird berry juice, no doubt the mulled wine now talking. Despite promising myself I wouldn’t make lists tonight,…. there’s French white butter, more mint sauce [the vinegar note kicking in again], pickle Caramel to Vitam R, gravy to roast dinners, veggie sausages, oiled leather, a touch of methylated spirits,…[gentle] pine needle mash,… The complexity here, on the nose, is extraordinary.
  • T: Likened to Teeling Amburana [using Brazilian cachaca wood – Stephen], we’ve more ginger and lemon cake, delicious entertaining prickles,…. glimpses of Nc’nean,..
  • F: A slight waxy greasiness, fruitiness remains – yet now decidedly sour into putty < mash [hummus-smooth] – all very light. Light melon fruity caramel-y white oaky peppery beer at the death with some pine needles.
  • C: After hearing how much engineering has gone into this one, I was doubtful. However, the outcome is favourable. This was the most unexpected surprise of the night, and the one that had my vote as a result. If I can find a bottle for £50, I’ll buy one.

Scores 84 points

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Looking for distillery character throughout the range – Mouthfeel: waxy greasiness. Profile: a fruity putty-mash, pine needles,  

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Mackmyra malt their own peated barley [only their peated barley]. The process takes 36 hours and takes place in an old shipping container. Svensk Rok/Amerikansk Ek utilises 23% [65ppm] peated barley and 77% unpeated. Heather, pine needles, and juniper branches are placed on the peat fire for added flavouring.

Mackmyra Svensk Rok/Amerikansk Ek Ob. 46.1% WB84.10[74]

Matured for 5 years in virgin American oak.

  • N: Smoky saline [pickle] sweet and malty – done! 
  • T: Richer to taste than smell, this quickly softens to a unique dry vegetal  > garage-y Marmite-ish sweetness – no doubt the heather, pine needles, and juniper additions adding to the curious mix.
  • F: Light toasted barley chips, unique coffee, cough-mixture, menthol,… 
  • C: Mackmyra’s profile has always been unique, and that uniqueness rings through in this desirable/characterful fire-perfumed peated expression. By comparison, the ‘classic’ Rok comes across like standard [10-12yo] Caol Ila. “This’ll give Kilchoman a run for its money”.

Scores 85 points

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I’ve heaps of gratitude for SWAG tonight, a club that encompasses a combination of earnestness, light-heartedness, nonsense and respect. It’s a very rare mix of personalities. The choice of an automated poll fails once again in favour of Charlie’s ‘organic’ approach. Proceedings are even more chaotic than ever, but we get there in the end.

  • #1 Appleblom: 2-3 votes 
  • #2 Intelligens: 0 votes
  • #3 Skordetid: 4 votes [though later, Skordetid would beat Gruvguld]
  • #4 Gruvguld: 4 votes
  • #5 Whisky Circus: 1 vote
  • #6 Vintergold 2: votes
  • #7 Svensk Rok/Amerikansk: 5, and none? – a result that summed up the nonsense that prevailed. 

I really like Mackmyra, I always have. Tonight’s tasting has confirmed that Mackmyra, of the plethora of new world distilleries, stands out. With thanks to Richard and SWAG.

Back to that [previously enjoyed] Linlithgow bottle-kill: simple-complex malty citrus in a style that you’ll not find anytime now. Compared to when I first tried this bottle – in 2016 [WLP85] – it’s improved [or I’ve changed] right at the very end of its life [87 points].

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END

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