The story of Mackmyra, Sweden's first whisky distillery, famously began with a ski trip in 1998, when eight friends from Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology went on holiday together and all brought bottles of whisky to share.
In conversation during the evening, the friends' national pride was somewhat piqued by the fact that all of them had brought Scotch and discussion turned to how a Swedish distillery could be set up.
One year after the idea was born, in 1999, Mackmyra Svensk Whisky was founded. On 18 December 1999 all the permits were in place and the first drops could be distilled. By 2001 they were producing two recipes, an elegant, fruity one and one with characteristic Swedish smokiness. These are the two flavours that will be associated with the words Swedish malt whisky.
What had started as a mental exercise developed into a dream, which in time became a reality. Now the very first, totally Swedish malt whisky is here. When the first bottles went on sale in the stores of Systembolaget [the State-owned alcohol monopoly] in March 2006, people were standing in line and the bottles were sold out all over Sweden in one hour.
The distillery is at the beautiful Mackmyra Bruk mill in GÃƒ¤strikland. When they opened for business in 1999 they were the only whisky distillery in Sweden, and also the most northerly one in the world. At that time it was a very small-scale business, using a copper boiler with a capacity of only 100 litres. It was in this pilot distillery that they developed their recipes. At the same time, they proved to the outside world that it is possible to create an excellent malt whisky using the ingredients and under the conditions that they have in Sweden.
In spring 2002 new equipment was installed so that bigger volumes could be produced. Now the distillery operates almost every day, sometimes in two shifts. But the distillery remains pleasantly small-scale compared to foreign distilleries, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. Just the way they like it.
In 2011, their brand-new Gravity Distillery was completed. Standing 35 metres tall, as the name suggests this building makes use of gravity throughout the whisky-making process. It was designed by the architects TEA whose mission it was to imbue the building with a character that captures the essence of Mackmyra: playfulness, sensuality and qualitative production.
Svensk Ek has a spicy character giving notes of sandalwood, dried ginger, black pepper, roasted oak barrel and herbs to the whisky. These spicy characteristics are complemented by fruity undertones with hints of vanilla and toffee from oak barrels, previously used to age Bourbon.
The Swedish oak barrels are made of oak from southern Sweden where oak trees have grown for centuries. Harsh weather conditions and dramatic seasonal shifts have left their marks on the trees, making them very durable. Before the trees become barrels staves are cut and then dried for at least a year. The barrels are then coopered by hand and heavily toasted on the inside, enabling the wood fibres to give the whisky more character.
Fruity aromas with citrus, pear, apple and honey. A light oakiness with sweet, lightly toasted bread notes and fresh butter toffee. Svensk ek has a spicy character giving notes of sandalwood, dried ginger, black pepper, roasted oak barrel and herbs. Fruity and smooth with citrus, caramel and honey. A light oakiness can be discerned at the end.