By Richard Thomas
With over 1,300 operating micro-distilleries in the U.S., it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the idea of starting up a small distillery and making whiskey isn’t a strictly American thing. The idea took root in a handful of countries years before it did so in the U.S. Australia is one example; Sweden is another.
Mackmyra went operational in 1999, and Svensk Ek is a signature single malt. Originally called The First Edition (the new name translates as “Swedish Oak,” appropriately enough). The whisky is aged partially in casks made from oak from the island of Visingsö, originally intended for use as ship building timber. While there is no official word on what species the oak trees might be, Sweden certainly has a short growing season, which would give the wood a tight grain. On top of that, Mackmyra relies on 30 liter (roughly 8 gallons) casks.
Bottled at 46.1% ABV, Mackmyra Svensk Ek has a pale yellow coloring in the glass. The nose is gentle, carrying a lemon and apple scent with buttery undertones, much like a nice fruity cake. The flavor, however, takes a sharp turn into turf that is herbal and spicy. Sandalwood and ginger dance on a base of nuttiness, with a light current of sweet tobacco and oak rolling in at the end. The spiciness leaves a gentle tingle that lingers in tandem with a faint apple aftertaste in the finish.
This is a lovely middle of the road sipper, flavorful, gentle without being light, and just a little sophisticated. Mackmyra has a strong reputation among international whisky enthusiasts, and with whiskies like this serving as its foundation, it’s not hard to see why.
£48 in the UK, and around €65 on the Continent. If this Swedish single malt is available in the U.S., it’s as a special import, so expect it to be pricey.