The first event in April saw the second distillery tasting for the club. Back in March we welcomed Ibon from the Loch Lomond Group and this time around we were able to host Shane from the up and coming Swedish distillery Mackmyra. Up and coming might be the wrong term as Mackmyra has been around for a good few years now, being set up in 1999. However, as Shane explained to us, alcohol advertising rules in Sweden are strict and the marketing budget has been historically non-existent. It is only more recently that the distillery has been expanding at a rapid pace overseas. For me this is quite a positive sign. It means that the reputation built up by the distillery has mostly grown organically and through word of mouth, avoiding big budget advertising and gimmicks.

The history of the distillery was interesting and Shane did a great job of talking us through the early days. Initially a tiny 30L still was used and gradually over time the still sizes and production capacity increased until a whole new approach was needed and the world’s first gravity distillery was built. The yeast being used today is exactly the same as when the the distillery started and can be bought from almost any grocery shop in Sweden. Uniquely it’s a bakers yeast and when the team run out they just pop to the supermarket and buy some more. Add this fairly unique aspect of production to the fact that all the barley used is grown on farms local to the distillery and you start to get a sense of what the distillery is about. As always, none of these things guarantee a good spirit at the end, but regardless it will be significantly more “of it’s place” than some well known premium distilleries elsewhere.

Thanks to everyone who came, we had another good turnout and as always it’s great to see some new faces each month. We were eased into the Mackmyra range with the entry level Bruks Whisky. If I remember correctly it is around 5 years old and matured in ex bourbon casks. For me it was one of the highlights of the night and offered a lovely fresh banana forward and fruit complex character that defied it’s age and price tag. We then moved on to an Amarone finished dram, Amarone being a sweet Itailian wine. After this came the Calvados finished expression recently launched called Appleblom. For myself and most of the group this was the first time trying a Calvados finished whisky. Both the Amarone and Calvados expressions were subtle, neither slapping you in the palate and declaring their maturation history. They were interesting to try and very different to the Bruks Whisky. Third up was the recently released ‘Karibien’, a rum finished whisky which went down very well. I personally struggled to pick out the rum specifics but others in the group had no such issues and could pick out the previous casks  immediately. From there we moved on to my personal favourite of the night, a peated expression where the peat was seasoned with Juniper. This led to some wonderful bonfire and ash notes and went down a treat with the whole group. To finish, Shane had lined up three bottles to come out of the reserve range, where casks can be bought by members of the public. There was a gravity bottle, a peated port wood bottle and an unpeated port wood bottle. All great to try and all extremely different. Thanks go out to Shane from the whole club, we had a fantastic night and are super grateful that he gave up his time to come and present his wares to us. The full list of drams was such:

Brukswhisky 41.4%

Skordetid 46.1%

Appleblom 46.1%

Karibien 44.4%

Svensk Rök / Amerikansk Ek 46.1%

Reserve – Gravity 45.2%

Reserve – Peated Port 50.9%

Reserve – Un Peated Port 51.5%

It was a pleasure to get the chance to try a range of malts from a distillery that clearly cares about the way it does business. Looking forward, we don’t have long to wait until the next event, with the young whisky theme only a week away. This will be the first time the club has put on two events in one month and is testament to the growing membership and great work being done behind the scenes by Jez and the rest of the group. Younger whiskies are playing a much greater role in my bar at the moment and I’m very excited to try some new ones next week. Nothing against older expressions which can of course be superb and often get the limelight, but the greater influence provided by the raw ingredients and distillery processes are welcome in my book and help showcase individuality. Hopefully we’ll see you there.

Sláinte