We’ve already tried a couple of season releases from Mackmyra, with Gront Te and Jaktlycka. But these were not the first of their seasonal and bi-annual expressions, as Mackmyra started these seasonal releases quite some time ago. I had for some time now miniatures of some of them in my samples boxes, so I guess we should take a look at these, right? And when I say look, I’ll look with my eyes, nose and palate. Yeah, so much ways to take a look at whisky, it’s crazy. Then, why won’t we review a very special one, bottled for the Whisky Circus? So, låt oss börja.
Mackmyra Gruvguld Review
We start with Mackmyra Gruvguld (meaning ‘Gold from the mine’). It has been named after its quite different maturation location. No dunnage warehouse here, but 50 metres down a mine shaft in Bodås, an old mine converted as a maturation site for Mackmyra, 40 miles from the distillery. Gruvguld has quite a complicated cask composition. Mackmyra gives a lot of information regarding the wood, and a bit about the age, as they say the casks were stored between five and sixteen years. Now let’s talk about the wood used here. First, they use three different sizes of casks: 30, 100 and 128 litres. Then, they use an even larger selection of types of precursor content. Get ready, grab some paracetamol, here we go:
- 30 litre and 100 litre ex-bourbon casks, first and second fill
- 30 L and 100 L Swedish oak, virgin, first and second fill (what did the first and second fill contain before though? Was that Mackmyra whisky?)
- 30 L Oloroso casks, virgin and 1st fill. The press release does say virgin. But it contained oloroso (or was at least seasoned). Not too sure here.
- 30 L Swedish oak and ex-bourbon, virgin, second fill, and some saturated with Pedro Ximenez sherry
- 128 L new American oak, virgin, 1st fill, and saturated with Oloroso. Once again, why do they say “new american oak” once it’s 1st fill or seasoned with oloroso? In my mind new means virgin.
Oh and that was too simple, so though most of the casks were filled with unpeated new make, some were filled with peated new make. Who said “that’s a bit complicated”? Though it has been released back in 2018, you can still find bottles for about €50 on some German websites, for example LaWhisky.com, in the UK, Top Whiskies has some for £55 and HTFW for 2 pounds more, and expect to be ripped off in France from the last shop having some, so you’d better order one from Germany.
It starts with a bit of varnish, vanilla and honey, toffee and fudge, then moves to fruits, with mostly apples and apricots and lots of cherries almost cherry liqueur. Some sweet spices as well.
Sweet arrival, but the mouthfeel is a little thin, more than I’d expect at 46.1% ABV. Then it becomes a bit woody, with also coffee beans, honey, pepper, nutmeg and clove. Whisky flavoured fudge (I know that I’m tasting a whisky, but it really feels like a whisky flavoured fudge. And those are my tasting notes anyway, I write what I want.), and something herbal. Tobacco leaves and moss I’d say. Apricot and pear for the fruity side.
Short to medium, with pear and apricots, nuts and clove.
Blind, I wouldn’t be able to guess there was such a complicated cask composition to this whisky. It is quite balanced, with no flavour or trait overpowering the others, but I think it’s lacking a bit of texture on the palate, and maybe a couple more years under its belt.
Mackmyra Äppelblom Review
Calvados, Virgin American Oak, Bourbon
Next, we have Mackmyra Äppelblom, the first Seasonal whisky from 2019. This time, as it names suggest, it was finished in casks that held Calvados coming from the famous French house Christian Drouin. To be precise, the whisky was matured in 100 to 200 litre ex-bourbon casks and 200 litre virgin American oak casks, before a finish in 30 to 225 litre ex-calvados casks. As usual with Mackmyra’s seasonal releases, it is bottled at 46.1% abv, without coloring nor chill filtration. Might be difficult to find one now unless you’re in Belgium it seems, where a few shops list it between €63 and €77. Or try your luck at your off-licence, who knows!
Strangely I have the impression I’m smelling a bourbon, not a whisky finished in Calvados casks. Vanilla, caramel-coated popcorn, a touch of oak. Then orchard fruits appear, with apricots, nectarines, pears and apples. Liquorice and pepper provide a well appreciated kick to the nose. Err. Figuratively of course.
Again that slightly thin mouthfeel. It’s slightly drying but less so than Vintersol. Orchard fruits and spices battle for domination, with apples, pears and underripe apricots on the left, and clove, pepper and nutmeg on the right. In the middle, caramel liquor plays the referee.
Caramel, oak sawdust, cider, medium length.
I’ve tried some Calvados-cask finished whiskies before and they were usually a bit too sweet for me. Here however, we have something quite balanced, sweet, sure, but not overly sweet. The finish brings apple notes but without being too present. I don’t know if it’s thanks to Mackmyra’s skill with finishes or the highly renowned quality of Christian Drouin’s Calvados, maybe a bit of both, but I think it works quite well.
Mackmyra Vintersol Review
Vintersol, meaning Winter Sun, was released in 2019. Here again there is quite a cask recipe, though a little bit simpler than Gruvguld. Vintersol was made using casks coming from Quinta Do Vallado, one of the oldest Quintas port wine producers (founded in 1716) in the Douro Valley. The cask recipe breaks down like this:
- 500 to 700 litre 1st fill Ex-Portwine casks
- 128 and 200 litre new and 1st fill Amerikan oak
- 100 L 1st fill Ex-Bourbon casks
- 100 L and 128 L 1st fill Oloroso and Swedish oak.
Early 2018, Mackmyra sent down the first 30-liter barrels for saturation in Quinta Do Vallado warehouse. Once in place, they were saturated by Vallados staff. Then Mackmyra used those barrels to give a 16 months port finish to their whisky. I guess the casks were transformed since they announce 500 to 700 L port wine casks, and no 30 litre ones. This 2019 release from their Säsongswhisky bottling series was bottled at 46.1% without chill filtration nor coloring. Expect to pay from €53 to €55 in Germany, £55 to £60 in the UK, and in France well try to get it from a German site shipping to France or from a Whiskybase seller, because the only shop still selling it will rip you off.
Chestnut with an orange/pink hue.
Stewed strawberries and mulled wine at first, quickly followed by a chalky and flinty minerality. Soft hints of spices with cinnamon and ginger as well as traces of oak char. A few drops of lemon juice and some black grape.
Once again the arrival is a little thin, but it quickly becomes quite drying and peppery. More lemon juice in that strawberries compote from the nose. More oakiness too, and it’s a bit tannic as well. There’s an underlying sourness from coffee beans and very dark chocolate powder. Hints of raspberries to conclude.
Raspberry and very dark chocolate, still that dryness from the palate, with the sourness staying for a good moment.
The nose is soft and automnal, almost a wintery stroll at an outdoor Christmas market, I guess the name was well chosen. The palate is surprisingly dry, and spicier that the nose led to expect, but also a bit too oaky for my taste. It’s nonetheless a good whisky, still a bit thin despite the ABV. A little less oak and a little more texture would have hit the spot.
Mackmyra Moment EFVA Review
This whisky has been created after a tour of the distillery by a jewelry maker, Efva Attling, who picked casks with then master blender Angela D’Orazio. A complex combination of casks was once again in the recipe:
- 30 L to 200 L Ex-Bourbon casks,
- 200 L Oloroso casks,
- 200 L American Oak casks,
- Birch tree sap wine casks,
- Cherry wine casks.
The Birch tree wine and cherry wine casks were used to finish the whisky. Then, it was bottled at 46.3% (.2 above the usual 46.1% but I’m sure it won’t change anything!) without coloring nor chill filtration, with an outturn of 4111 bottles. Still available in the UK from £88 (at MoM or HTFW) and in Germany between €95 to €125. Then you have La Maison Du Whisky with a stupidly high price of €153. I mean come on, LMDW, this is getting ridiculous!
Rich and fruity, sweet, it makes me think of some kind of tutti-frutti or Arlequin candy, without the heavy banana smell. There are also bourbon-like notes of vanilla, caramel and oak. Liquorice and aniseed bring fresh and lovely notes to the nose.
Still that tiny wee thin side, but less so than the other expressions tasted before. Bourbon-y flavours are present on the palate as well, with a stronger oak side than on the nose. There are some spices but showing restraint, with a bit of pepper and tabasco. Maybe nutmeg as well. Pine sap, floral notes, coffee grind. The Oloroso cask bring a bit of dryness on the gums.
Oak, caramel, sour cherries, coffee grind, slightly drying and quite long.
The combination of Oloroso and birch sap wine casks brings interesting flavours while the ex-bourbon casks clearly had a strong influence on the spirit. Overall, the nose is lovely, the palate too if maybe slightly too oaky. But out of the four expressions tried today, I think it was my favourite.
Mackmyra Whisky Circus Review
Now, let’s trigger the FOMO for you Mackmyra fans, as this one is a 30L cask bottled for the Twitter group I’m so happy to be a member of since its inception at the start of the Covid crisis, the Whisky Circus. Thanks to having their UK brand ambassador, Richard McKeand, we chose from a selection of 30 litre casks, giving our requirements and voting for the characteristics we wanted: which recipe, which cask type and where it was matured. We chose the Elegant recipe, an unpeated one, soft, delicate, sweet and fruity. We wanted it matured in a Gravity cask, which has a body of newly emptied bourbon casks and ‘top and tailed’ with fresh Swedish oak from the island Visingsö. And finally, we wanted it to have matured in the Bödas mine, obviously, as it’s stored 50m below ground, in the mountain, we wouldn’t want a ‘classic’ warehouse when we can try something different! We also had the chance to design our own label for it, with a couple people from the Circus designing it using ideas brainstormed by the group, and boy did they deliver.
Then… everything went wrong, as our bottles, having needed 11 weeks to reach the UK shores, were stolen at the warehouse before being shipped to the members. But Mackmyra immediately replaced the stolen bottles by equivalent ones (same characteristics but a cask even slightly older, well done and big thanks to them) and after a few more weeks of waiting, we finally got our bottles! The final cask was filled in 2012 and in February 2019, 50 of them were filled, 500ml each, at cask strength: 53.4% abv. And if you’re wondering, yes the bottles were already filled, as Mackmyra fills into bottles their private casks as soon as they’re ready. With a 30L cask, there’s a lot of wood contact and if it was staying for too long, the whisky would become too woody. Obviously neither chill filtration nor coloring were involved, and it cost us just £60 a bottle. Which, for your own cask and your own label on the bottle, is honestly quite cheap!
Neat: Wood spices (think virgin oak), fruits (apple, apricot, dates) and loads of caramel and custard cream. Sticks of liquorice and sweet floral notes. You can feel you are in the 50s regarding the ABV, but no burn on the nostrils at all.
With water: more toffee-like caramel, sweeter nose, icing sugar.
Neat: Caramel and spices on the arrival, sharper than you’d expect from the nose. Thick caramel, pepper for quite a good time, then mid-palate fruits briefly appear, with granny smith apple and lemon, then it moves to chocolate and coffee beans. Roasted malted barley, liquorice and some metallic notes.
Dilution brings out a slight woodiness and a more bourbony profile, as well as a slightly sour note in the back-palate, not unpleasant at all.
Caramel, lemon, liquorice, copper coins, chocolate, medium length. Slightly drying after dilution.
If you put aside the special meaning of this whisky for members of the Whisky Circus, it’s still a good whisky. It’s tasty and the higher ABV compared to the drams tasted above is welcome, as thanks to that you don’t get the kind of thin mouthfeel. Less fruity than the seasonal expressions or the Moment, it feels more bourbon-y, but it’s honestly good. It’s not 90+ good, but the feeling of drinking your own cask, shared with your friends, is so worth it…