This sample was reviewed as part of Master of Malt’s Drams for Review Program. Master of Malt is fantastic UK-based retailer that specializes in…malt, of course. More information about Master of Malt can be found here and here.
Being of Scotch-Irish and Swedish descent, I sometimes find it hard to reconcile the possible atrocities my Viking ancestors may have perpetrated on my Celtic ancestors as they whipped around the British Isles in those incredible boats, attacking and pillaging the heck out of everything as Vikings were wont to do. I feel strongly that my Viking half should bear some responsibility for the wrongs of my forefathers some thousand-odd years ago. Oh sure, King Magnús Hákonarson, the Law-mender, son of the somewhat overly aggressive King Håkon Håkonsson, set things right by ceding the Hebrides and the Isle of Man back to Scotland’s King Alexander III in 1266 with the Treaty of Perth, but that’s a pretty broad stroke and doesn’t address the needs of individuals. Of course, it could be said that the Scots of that time did gain some benefit from their “exposure” to Viking culture. Even today, traditional wooden boats on Orkney owe quite a bit to the longboat design of that scandalous past. Still, the closest thing to a boat that I can build is tying a bunch of plastic milk jugs together with some baling twine, so obviously those benefits have not trickled down far enough. Frankly, I feel I owe myself reparations and Swedish whisky is a good place to start.
Located north of Stockholm in Valbo, Mackmyra Distillery opened its doors and started distilling spirit in 1999. They’ve experimented with a range of Swedish ingredients (such as Swedish oak barrels) and styles, eventually settling on two distinct recipes; one lighter and fruitier and one smoky and earthy due to the use of Swedish peat called “vitmossetorv.” Released into the wild in the Winter of 2008 Mackmyra’s Special: 01 – Eminent Sherry was aged in smaller sherry-seasoned casks (small casks speed up maturation, don’t you know) and uniquely tucked away deep in an old iron mine called the Bodås Gruva.
The Nose: Some nice stewed stone fruit – peaches and plums, with ripe juicy citrus along with mingled notes of buttered bread, hot cocoa and even a bit of chocolate brownie. The sherry is pretty subtle here, mixed in well with the fruit, it comes across with bit of spicyness that reminds me of mulled wine…or I guess I should say glögg. Off in the distance, do I catch a tiny medicinal puff of peat?
The Palate: The fruit of the nose is a lot more restrained to start here, and while it’s there along with more chocolate brownie notes, a high-proof grainy spiciness begins to grow pretty quickly. There are nice notes of toasted, buttered bread, and salted nuts that slide away to spicy and very drying clove, coriander, and that tiny earthy, peat-like hitch.
The Finish: Very drying, a little spicy still with a last swell of cocoa and just the faintest peaty tang towards the end.
Thoughts: A different, fairly successful whisky. I loved the buttery, fruity and cocoa nose and would have liked more of that same “tone” with the palate, instead the palate has the young, quick-matured dryness that, while interesting, overwhelms some of the subtler notes that are there. The sherry is very subtle, my guess is the barrels were seasoned with a lighter Fino or Manzanilla, and adds a nice layer of complexity to both nose and palate. For an apparently young whisky, this didn’t really have the brash harshness of youth. I really did like where this one was heading, but I can’t help but wonder if a slower, even longer maturation would make for an even more balanced, evocative malt.