You gotta try new things. Again, yes, I’m your mother now. See previous reviews to find out why. Some of them will surprise you, or whatever I’m supposed to say to get people to read as otherwise I’m just screaming into the void.
Where was I? Oh yes, Mackmyra, a Swedish whisky distillery. When you think of Sweden you think of producing pop music, or making Volvos, or Swedish design, or even IKEA and their tasty meatballs that don’t have much horse in them anymore.
Maybe we should be thinking whisky as well? Mackmyra has been the distillery that I’ve tried a bit of, went “alright maybe not yet” and then continued on the dusty path that is life.
It’s been a few years, and since then I’ve had some more Mackmyra either poured for me or that I’ve obtained. The question then comes down to it:
Should IKEA release a whisky? Or maybe even the half of ABBA that stills does things, should they release one? Follow in the path of Motorhead or Mando Diao?
Should I have just written out a joke review of Return of the Mack and how Mark Morrison is both a 1-hit wonder and underappreciated while trying too hard? Nah, Todd in the Shadows already did that.
Let’s stop horsing around and see, shall we?
Thanks to /u/ScotchGuy_TO for pouring me a sample.
Mackmyra 11 2007 Cadenhead Small Batch
We’re going to start at the end, and the beginning. Yes, I’ve finally gone so far up my own ass in reviewing that I’ve become ouroboros, but horrifying due to the sounds of my bones breaking.
Appetizing way to start off a multi-review, isn’t it?.
Many months ago, when I was still able to go out and see people and wore a mask until I was separated, a buddy poured me this dram. This was his second bottle and he seemed to really enjoy it.
So what is Mackmyra 11 2007 Cadenhead Small Batch? It’s a single cask 11-year-old whisky that was picked out by Cadenhead’s, released in the now dead Small Batch line, at Cask strength no less.
From what I’ve seen, this whisky is one of the few ways you can have a cask strength, age statement, and no cask influence on Mackmyra. It’s what brought me back.
So was that a good thing? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $160 CAD
Cask type: Bourbon barrel
Number of bottles: 252
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Grassy, yellow plum, green apple, lime, cinnamon
Very light nose, but not “so light I can barely nose it”, we’re talking light flavours. Delicate flavours, if my vocabulary wasn’t just mastubatory in nature and just there so I can keep up this view of myself as some sort of intellectual.
Heck, I’m lucky to explain what I just wrote.
No, this nose is subtle. It has calm, spring type flavours. Yes, water brought out some cinnamon, however that’s the only “rough” note, with the second roughest being the green apple, which is about as rough as being pinched by your giddy aunt.
Again, random letters together.
Taste: Minty, soap, white peach, cinnamon,
Light, floral… I mean, yeah, it’s the friend of mine who always hands me floral whiskies, so I’m not surprised he enjoyed a light, soap-forward dram.
However another one of my friends who is basically Ledaig or die bought multiple of this too. So I guess both of them were right that this was a nice summer dram given the acidity, light flavours, and good floral elements.
Finish: Mineral, heather, grapefruit, brown sugar
Dry, a bit bitter, some general heather/floral, and brown sugar. No, I didn’t eat the soap from Lush again, I learned after the third time. This is a very light, floral whisky, right to the end.
Conclusion: It’s one of the best summer whiskies I’ve ever had. I can see why maybe some didn’t like it: They don’t like floral elements. Because their mothers did them dirty.
Joking aside (and yes, that’s a joke), if you like Lowlands, this is the quintessential Lowland profile that most people believe is gone and left in the 70s. No, it’s just in one cask from Sweden.
As such it led me to wonder: Is Mackmyra the new source for floral, citrus, and mineral? That in turn led me to the rest of these reviews, gentle readers.
Mackmyra 3 That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Batch 1 is a young whisky released a few years ago. Before we all had the option to have an 11-year-old age stated Mackmyra, back when I was normally visiting Europe, back when the UK was still part of Europe, but around the time when we realized that times were about to become interesting.
Insert something about Frodo being me but with whisky and more hair on my feet.
I wanted to see what Mackmyra would taste like apart from the distillery. This shows if their blender has an idea in mind, or do they need a certain amount of time, or do they need a type of cask, or do they need to be cask strength? Some whiskies don’t do well outside of the distillery, others do a lot better once they don’t have a Finance guy demanding more money for his boss’s 4th yacht.
So barely whisky, at a decent strength, and picked out by those crazy artist’s at That Boutique-y Whisky company: How’d it turn out? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: £128 (for a 500ml bottle)
Stated age: 3-years-old
Number of bottles: 220
Colour: 5Y 8/8
Nose: Butter, cereal, nectarine
Simple nose. I may have ended up with a circle on my face from pressing the glencairn to my face, which may or may not have led to a group of desperate people to attempt to lick it for money. Let’s not judge what I do on my weekends.
Simple, light. Could just be shy, but so far not that impressive.
Taste: Cinnamon, apple, cereal, floral
Good mixture of cinnamon and apple is there, and it opens to some floral/cereal notes with time and a tiny bit of water.
The profile is nice. It’s very light though. The flavors aren’t that strong. Nothing really pops. You could drink this easily and not notice it. Perhaps the whisky should have stayed in the cask longer.
Finish: Mineral, cloves, rosemary
Floral, spice, and some minerals (which is the most interesting part). It’s not rough, it’s just meandering.
Conclusion: Boring. Not very interesting. Yes, it shows the whisky apart from the distillery, and gives us an idea of the base. If you poured this for me as part of a tour of the distillery then I’m all in. Great way to show the beginning of flavours without anything getting in the way.
I’m not even sad I bought the sample, really. A review is a review.
I wonder why this was bottled at the end of the day. Someone worked hard on the whisky, someone worked hard on picking it, and someone else okayed it all. Was it because it’s up and coming? Was it done as part of a future package, like how some players are traded for draft spots? I can’t answer that.
I can answer that this isn’t complex, interesting, or unique. It’s not offensive and not flavourful. That’s all.
Thanks to /u/strasse for the three next drams.
Mackmyra Special 8 is the eighth special release from Mackmyra. Pretty self explanatory, right? No fuss, no muss, it’s special and it’s number 8.
What makes it special? Is it just that someone said it was special growing up and now the whisky can’t really achieve anything because no one is handing out gold stars or humans have a hard time measuring the success of adults? Not this time Randy, you’re still a drop out.
No, it has been fully matured in ex-Sauternes wine casks. Sauternes is a French DOA sweet wine. The casks aren’t that common, you see them pop up, and my bias is they can be nice but they take a good amount of time.
But you’re not here to read my bias, you’re here to see me be wrong about a whisky and change my mind and perhaps tell a few jokes about whisky. So let’s get to it, shall we?
Price: € 59
Cask type: Sauternes Wood
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Apple, cereal, cinnamon, ginger, pecan
More apple flavour, more cereal, and more cinnamon. Given the previous whisky I think it’s fair to say that may be the Mackmyra itself. There’s some nuttiness from the cask, and some heat going on.
It’s light again, though not circle making this time. Now it isn’t cask strength, so that may be it. There isn’t too much cask influence to get in the way of what I assume is the distillery profile, so that’s nice.
Taste: Apple, anise, peanut, alcohol
Simple, simple, and then some raw elements. We’ve lost some of the aspects that made the nose interesting. Now we’re left with something that feels half done.
Finish: Apple, cinnamon, cereal, butter
Huh. No cask influence at the end. Maybe the butter? Nah, it’s basically the one above it, with a better hat.
Conclusion: The whisky needs more time or more abv. Just more. I said it’s like the one above with a better hat, and that’s mean. It’s more than a hat. It’s Barbie as a Doctor versus Barbie as a Dentist. There’s a new coat and perhaps some new accessories.
I enjoyed the offering more because they had additional casks to work with. But wow they jumped the gun on this. Yes, I’m biased against ex-Sauternes cask whiskies because I typically don’t get the flavours they add, but again I’ve had whiskies that I’ve enjoyed so don’t @ me.
It’s a special release. It says special right there, on the label. You are trying to build up hype for a distillery. Don’t release something that’s just passable. That’s just “okay”. That I’d say skip and buy standard offerings and don’t look back. It’s alright, and that’s all.
Mackmyra Vinterglöd asks a simple question: What if whisky was finished in Glöggvin casks? That’s the crazy type of idea I love.
Little bit of a side rant here: I love this idea. Go hard into weird casks. I mean crazy people. It’s fun. I don’t care if it’s a trope, just go hard. But don’t do a finish unless the cask is so strong that it’s the only thing you can do.
Back to this whisky: Take a portion of your whisky and age it in Glöggvin casks. What’s that? It’s mulled wine, specifically Swedish mulled wine. The traditional recipe I found used half red wine and half port cask. Also, if you’re from a warm place and haven’t had mulled wine, what are you doing with your life? It’s cinnamon, cardamon, orange and wine. It’s a good time.
If you’ve read any reviews from someone who loves port cask whiskies you immediately see the potential here. Port casks add Xmas: Xmas tastes good with whisky. QED more Xmas is better.
So this is a NAS release that used Sherry, American, Swedish Oak, and the mulled wine casks. It’s not a low abv., and could work very nicely.
But did it? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: € 82
Age: Assumed to be 3 years old
Casks used: Sherry, American & Swedish Oak, and a portion is finished in Glöggvin casks
Colour: 5Y 8/8
Nose: Marshmallow, strawberry, cereal, butterscotch, anise
Very sweet at first. That pairs back… a tad. Like if we started at white North American children’s birthday party, we ended at white North American adult’s reason to not live as long as other countries. Other than the guns. And the freedom, I guess.
Some fruit, some of the natural, and not as spice heavy or any sherry or port heaviness. So that’s good.
Taste: Anise, honey, cinnamon, strawberry jelly
Less sweet, some more cask influence on the red fruit note, and yeah it’s tasting like mulled wine.
Here we’re seeing the opposite of what the nose did: Where you could point out aspects of the whisky (the butterscotch, maybe even the insane marshmallow, and one could argue even some of the spice) and had less cask influence, now we’re drinking something that totally tastes like mulled wine.
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” The reason you drink whisky is to enjoy what’s happened to the whisky because of the cask. An ex-bourbon Scotch doesn’t taste of bourbon, it’s enhanced by it and allowed to age more due to it not being a virgin oak cask.
Which is a long way of saying I”m missing the original apple notes from Mackmyra.
Finish: Anise, cereal, burnt sugar, red fruit flavour
It finishes like a mulled wine. Spice, some burnt sugar, and red fruit notes. Granted there’s a bit of cereal! That’s… something, right?
I’m reaching here.
Conclusion: They didn’t lie about it tasting like mulled wine. Sadly that takes over and you’d be happier with just drinking mulled wine. It’s less alcohol, balanced, and shows off the port, red wine, and spices.
The whisky here could have been vodka, almost. On the nose and in the finish there’s hints that it’s a whisky.
All that said, it’s nice if you’re looking for a higher abv. mulled wine. If this was a standard release then I’d recommend it. Given it’s price (which isn’t part of the score at the bottom and never is) I can’t recommend it. Buy an orange, a cinnamon stick (or cloves or ginger or allspice or all of it), and some wine you enjoy and voila, similar flavour complexity and a fifth the price.
As I hinted at before, Mackmyra has ties to music. How? I have no idea, nor do I care. Seriously, I’m happy for them, and it’s not a bad idea. Jack Daniel’s was able to grow because Sinatra enjoyed it. So why not join up with the music to help sell your whisky? Alcohol has such a huge link to music, for better or for worse.
Mackmyra Sweden Rock 2015 is released to tie into the Sweden Rock Festival, a rock/metal festival that’s been going hard since June 1992.
Not to be outdone by the above insane cask, we have another first for me: Ex-Raspberry wine casks. I have no idea what that will bring. And it’s been tempered with ex-Bourbon casks, some or all of which was distilled in 2008 (I say some or all as the marketing I could read on this wasn’t too definitive).
So it’s NAS whisky that’s potentially 7-years-old (or contains some 7-year-old) and has a weird cask. Also it’s for a music festival that shows rock and metal, two genres I’m pretty sure I still enjoy quite a bit.
However, I’ve been burned before. You can see that a few paragraphs up. So how does this taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Number of bottles: 6,666
Cask types: Ex-Bourbon Casks, ex-Raspberry Wine casks (Swedish and American oak)
Colour: 5Y 9/4
Nose: Brown sugar, veggetal, limestone, old spices
How do I start this? How do I comment on this? It’s brown sugar and root veggies, but not in that “sweet potato thing at Thanksgiving” way, it’s in that “did you actually put sugar on daikon” way.
Without any fruit the limestone sticks out. Also the spices feel weak. They don’t add heat, they add a feeling that I need to throw them out.
Taste: Lime, pickle, mineral
The good news? That earthy/veggie note is gone. The bad news? It’s mostly just citrus and this acidic spice that isn’t working out. It’s mostly just acidity and then exits out the stage like the shitty part of Guns and Roses (Axel) got into another fight and won’t play.
Also he sounds like a pterodactyl when he sings, but I’m just saying that because I have nothing else to say about the whisky and that band deserved better (which is why Audioslave and Slash’s solo stuff is so much better).
Finish: Sour, cream, grass
Not sour cream. There’s a comma there. There’s a generic citric acid note, then cream, and then grass. Then it’s over and you wonder if it was worth part of your liver.
Conclusion: I’m not the target audience for this whisky. Or maybe I am. I don’t know who is drinking this and loving it. The strength is painfully low. The whisky could be easily chugged without a thought. It’s rough at best and harsh at worse.
This shouldn’t be a special release. Again. I get that a bunch of people are going to buy it and look at it and drink it thinking about the festival. That’s awesome. I’d buy a t-shirt instead, maybe pay to listen to Obituary on vinyl or a really cool Molly Hatchet hoodie.
I can only hope that additional whiskies for the festival have been better. I won’t give up on ex-raspberry wine casks, however this ain’t making them seem great.
World Whisky review #417-21, Sweden review #4-8, Whisky Network review #2165-69