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Swede taste of success

Ian Buxton, 05/07

Even the most diehard Scotch drinker will acknowledge that some pretty decent whiskies are made in Ireland, the USA and Japan, but few know that Sweden also distils good whisky.

Mackmyra distillery is the brainchild of Swedish engineer Magnus Dandanell and a group of friends, who had the idea of creating Sweden's first whisky distillery in 1998. Dandanell is now Managing Director of Mackmyra Svensk Whisky AB, and he explains, "We love whisky and we wanted to create our own. We didn't see the difficulties - only fields of billowing barley and the clean fresh air. We felt the clean, cold water and were convinced that we had all the conditions for creating a high-class malt whisky."

Dandanell and co took Scotland and Scotch whisky as their inspiration, but were keen to produce a spirit that reflected its Swedish heritage and had a distinctive character all its own. They began by building their own still and conducting pilot distilling trials on an industrial estate in Mackmyra, some two hours drive north of Stockholm. This involved a considerable amount of trial and error, and Dandanell says "We modified the shapes, form and size proportions and the reflux functions of the pilot until we were satisfied with the resulting raw spirit. Then we enlarged the design and ordered our stills."

In total, the project cost in excess of 25m Swedish Kroner (around $3.4m), along with working capital to fund production. Mackmyra was financed by private investment, and now has some 2,000 shareholders.

   By early 2002 the development process had been completed and stills from Forsyth's of Rothes in Speyside were installed, along with Swedish stainless steel washbacks and a German mash tun.

Preludium 01 was released in March of last year at the age of three and a strength of 55.6 per cent, and the UK consignment of 4,000 bottles soon sold out. An 02 version was subsequently imported, but that too rapidly disappeared off the shelves. However, stocks of 03 have now reached Edinburgh retailer Royal Mile Whisky, and bottles are available for 42.50. See

01 presented a nose of lemon and apples, along with freshly cut logs and slightly peppery notes. The palate was fresh, with apples, vanilla and a floral character. Citrus fruits and toffee lingered on the medium finish. Overall, it came across as well balanced and remarkably mature for its age.

Essentially, Mackmyra has developed two styles of whisky, named Elegant and Smoke. Elegant is the original recipe, designed to produce a well-balanced, well-rounded spirit. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of the wood, with buyers of casks having the option of maturing their whisky in Sherry, Bourbon or new Swedish oak casks.

Smoke is spiced with juniper brush on a bed of bog-moss peat, from the nearby peat bogs at Karinmossen. As with Elegant, this can be filled into Sherry, Bourbon or new Swedish oak casks.

One major innovation is Mackmyra Reserve, matured in casks that are a mere 30 litres in size. That is around one-eighth of a typical ex-Bourbon cask used in Scotland. This means that the whisky matures faster, due to greater wood contact.

Macmyra Reserve Elegant, matured in Bourbon wood, is classical in style, sweet, and with the influence of the cask quite evident. A younger Reserve Elegant, matured in Sherry wood is noticeably darker, with prune notes on the nose. The taste is rich with dried fruits and a nutty finish.

Mackmyra's most unusual casks are those made of new Swedish oak, which has been charred to reveal the true sweetness of the wood. After only two years of ageing, Mackmyra Smoke out of Swedish oak is dark in colour, with a very powerful nose and a spicy character on the palate. With water, the wood influence is quite pronounced, even dominant, but fruit cake notes are also evident.

It is possible for individuals to visit the distillery, choose their own cask, and select the style of whisky they want filling into it. Mackmyra is keen to involve its customers in the whisky making process and plans to increase its range of whiskies and whisky-related products as the brand develops.

Mackmyra Distillery
Bruksgatan 4
SE-818 32 Valbo


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