– the sensational Swedish whisky
The year was 1998. A group of friends, four women and four men who had attended Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology together, were planning a ski vacation in the mountain village of Sälen. Each of them was to choose a bottle of liquor to pack with their gear and share with the others over the course of the week. Flushed and excited after the first day on the slopes, they unwrapped their libations.
To their utter amazement, eight bottles of whisky lay on the table. They had witnessed the improbable birth of a brand that leads the Swedish market 15 years later. Other distillers have followed in Mackmyra’s wake, but none has managed to emulate its track record.
The friends spent the evening discussing the history and traditions associated with liquor in Sweden. What could possibly explain the fact that the country had never manufactured whisky?
The question kept going round and round in their heads. They couldn’t simply dismiss the idea, they had to act. Before long they had explored the ins and outs of the challenges they faced and come up with a concrete plan.
Badly in need of some practical knowledge to supplement the technical expertise they had cultivated at the university, they took two field trips to Scotland, where they met with experts to sample, compare and discuss their various options.
Back in Sweden, they looked into ways of manufacturing the pot stills they needed. They next step was to find a location. Magnus Dandanell, who originally hailed from the small town of Gävle north of Stockholm, was instrumental in identifying a suitable site at the old mill in Mackmyra. There they would be surrounded by culture, tradition and rustic romanticism. The mill had used a little canal to generate electricity. The Scots would have leaped long ago at the opportunity to build a whisky distillery in such an ideal spot.
In 2011, Mackmyra was at it again, this time opening an in-novative 35-meter tall distillery powered largely by gravity. The breakthrough technology cuts energy consumption in half and contributes to distinctive, contemporary products.
Curiosity, inventiveness, the latest findings and plain old hard work have turned Mackmyra into an elite whisky manufacturer.
The company has built several aging facilities throughout the country. They are located on Fjäderholmarna Island in the Stockholm Archipelago, a cellar vault below Häckeberga Palace in southern Sweden, the old military radar station over the popular Smögen Wooden Pier on the West Coast, and atop a mountain in Lofsdalen, with its dazzling view 1,950 meters above sea level. The main storehouse is 50 meters below ground in the galleries of the Bodås mine west of Mackmyra.
The brand currently consists of four perennial standards. The company constantly markets new limited editions that sell out in the wink of an eye. The Swedish Systembolaget monopoly, as well as tax-free and duty-free shops, all carry them.
Here are a couple of whiskies we can heartily recommend. With its origins in the traditional bourbon barrel, Mackmyra Brukwhisky is simple and light with a touch of vanilla, pear, honey and herbs. Svensk Ek is a malt with a hint of spices, partly aged on Swedish oak.
The year’s seasonal release is scheduled for May. It will be the company’s first public edition of a ten-year old Swedish single malt, aged primarily on former bourbon barrels.
Why not stop by your local Systembolaget and pick up a bottle of genuine Swedish whisky next time you get the chance. You won’t regret it.