1999… Is the year many thought the world might lose the internet, or the very way we see the world with a new millennium fast approaching, Sweden however was in the process of launching a new era in whisky production and looking at challenging the very belief whisky was a Scottish heritage.
Sweden is located in the North of Europe and boasts a population of around 10.3 million people, the country is also one of the leading countries in climate change and looking after our planet.
The distillery itself is said to be state of the art and very climate friendly, described as a gravity distillery they make use of nature and allows things to be done in a natural a state as possible.. Swedish barley is of course the way forward for the distillery and with the start of the process staying within the country it only seems right that the final part to producing a Swedish whisky does likewise, oak grown in Sweden is used to make the oak casks that are used in maturing some of the product.
For the peated expressions they use Peat from Karinmossen, and the barley is dried on site using the peat and juniper twigs !! ( a rather interesting concept )..
The actual distillery boasts 7 floors with each floor having a dedicated role in production..
FLOORS 7 & 6 – CLEANING AND SIEVING
Before every batch, 1500 kg malt is opened and sieved, and dirt and stones are removed by blowing air in from underneath. The malt is collected and allowed to fall to Floor 5.
FLOOR 5 – ROLLER MILL
After sieving, the malt is milled in a roller mill in for different milling grades: fine malt, medium-milled, semi-coarse and coarse. After the stage the milled malt falls to into milled-malt pockets.
FLOOR 5 – MASH TUN
The mash tun is a round vessel with a perforated bottom and arms that are used to stir the mash – the mixture of milled malts (grist) and hot water. It is fed by a tube and mixed with hot water, heated by waste heat from the distillery. Mashing extracts the sugars from the grains to become wort, which is then filtered through the grist bed and run off through the perforated bottom of the mash tun. The mash is rinsed with more hot water to extract the maximum amount of sugars.
The temperature of the wort varies from 65 degrees in the start of mashing to 95 degrees at the end. Before it is run into the fermentation room it is cooled to 20 degrees otherwise it would kill the yeast. The wort runs downwards to the fermentation room on Floor 3.
FLOOR 3 – FERMENTATION ROOM
We have 12 fermentation tanks, each with a capacity of 9,000 litres. From each mash we retain 8000 litres of wort. We use Swedish “kronjäst” yeast, which is normally used for making sweet dough. Fermentation takes four days and produces the wash – a “beer” of about 7% ABV, ready for distillation.
FLOOR 2 – DISTILLATION
The stills are the traditional onion-shaped pot stills, made by the Forsyths Coppersmiths in Scotland. The stills are fired using bio-fuel (pellets) produced right outside the distillery.
The wash, heated by residual heat runs down into the wash still. During this phase of distillation the wash is circulated with a heat exchanger held at 115 °C so that it boils and the alcohol becomes vapour. The condenser chills the vapour to liquid again (called low wines) and this is collected in the intermediate tank. The boil is stopped when the alcohol content in the distilled vapour goes down to about zero. The spirit is then pumped to the low wines still.
Now finally, it is time to get really involved. The first runnings from distillation are called foreshots (or heads) and consist mostly of highly volatile, unusable alcohol and impurities. This is fed back into the intermediate tank. Then comes “the heart” – the part of the distillation that is used to fill the casks. The heart is collected in a separate tank called “the middle tank”. A valve is used so we can choose in which tank the spirit is collected. After the heart, come “the tails” (or feints), low in alcohol and containing unwanted components. These are run back to the intermediate tank.
Using our acute sense of smell and by measuring the alcohol content, we decide when the heart is “cut” from “the head” and when “the tails” are cut from the heart.
The spirit that ends up in the intermediate tank is returned to the low wines still and redistilled with the next batch from the wash still.
The stills are our main consumers of energy. All the residual heat is used to heat other stages in the process and for heating our premises. When the distillation from the low wines still is complete, the new-make spirit is run from the middle tank to the spirit store on Floor 1.
FLOOR 1 – NEW-MAKE SPIRIT STORE
The spirit from the middle tank is run to one of the two storage tanks in the new-make spirit store. Each tank has a capacity of 5000 litres. We mix 4-5 batches before diluting the new-make spirit to 63%. The new-make spirit is then ready for the next stage in its journey – to be filled into casks and matured in one of our maturation warehouses.
( info taken from Mackmyra official site )
Mackmyra – Svensk Ek
Casks.. American Oak, Oloroso with 10% of the liquid matured in Swedish Oak for a minimum of 18 months
Nose.. Freshly peeled granny smith apples, poached pear and a delicate satsuma aroma leads into lemon drizzle cake, digestive biscuits and soft floral notes.. A soft spicy aroma develops with a nice vanilla cheesecake style scent.
Palate.. This starts of with a sharp citrus bitterness before those spices start to take control with Cinnamon and Ginger being prevalent, a touch of freshly baked apple pie with grilled pineapple on the side..
Finish.. Fresh with lingering spices.
Thoughts.. Although I have tried something from the Mackmyra range I really couldn’t remember which one and it was at a festival which isn’t always the best setting to try and remember just what its like it does offer you a quick insight into what does and does not suit the palate..
This Svensk Ek though is very typical of the whisky I would pick out for a relaxing, it is very light, fruity and perfectly balanced with plenty of areas to explore. The lightness lends itself to those summer nights and spring days, and for those into the cocktail or long drinks this will I am sure be a perfect base..
Sample kindly provided by Mackmyra….
A great starting point for the Mackmyra journey..