A flight of three Mackmyras...

Back in February when we had no idea what was about to hit us in less than a month I realized that the Master Blender of Mackmyra, Whisky Magazine Hall of Famer and long time social media friend Angela D'Orazio was visiting Los Angeles. I hit her with a message, luckily she had some extra time and we agreed to meet finally face to face after so many years of exchanging comments, likes, emojis and whatnot on different platforms... Long story short we ended up at a high top table in a bar on an afternoon with a couple of other friends and had an amazing time chatting for hours and hours about politics, environment, current state of things and of course about whisky and distilling. When we finally parted away that evening I had these three samples in my bag she carried all the way from Sweden... I have always been a big fan of early Mackmyra expressions but after they pulled out of US market I only had a chance to taste one or two new expressions when I was in Europe. So, let's see what they have been up to...

Mackmyra Svensk Rök (46.1%): Mackmyra distillery has their own malting floors and kiln situated very close to the distillery to produce the malt they need for Svensk Rök which means Swedish Smoke in English. Both the barley and peat are sourced locally and some juniper sprigs are added to the peat while they are smoking the malt which is a pretty unique process. The distillate is matured in a variety of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso casks made of American and Swedish oak in sizes differing between 30 and 128 liters.

Color: Pale yellow gold, unoaked white wine with thin but very persistent legs.

Nose: Lightly roasted sesame seeds, salted caramel nut brittles and bitter almond cookies. Peat is very subtle but aromatic. Chocolate halva, rosemary sprigs and flaked barley. It's dry and chalky.

Palate: Now we taste the peat: Sage smoke and dry juniper berries: Aged genever... Espresso beans and cumin seeds. Rock salt, toasted staves and rosemary. 

Finish: Medium-long with oak, ground ginger and again barrel aged genever.

Overall: Quite tasty... Dry, chalky and herbal. It is a little young and crafty on the palate to be honest. The small barrels in the batch shows up with highlighted green wood notes. I actually loved the spirity character and the consistent reminders of juniper from nose to finish.

Price: £46 (50cl bottle)

Mackmyra A:01 Intelligens (46.1%): Now this is the whisky which was in the news last summer. Mackmyra created this expression in collaboration with Fourkind* a Finnish technology firm and Microsoft using their Azure platform. After analyzing over 70 million different combinations made of reviews, ratings, sales data and Mackmyra's existing recipes the platform came up with bunch of recipes which supposed to be the closest to drinkers' likings. Then Angela D'Orazio sampled the top 30 recipes from the list and chose the final recipe to create this whisky I have in my sample bottle which quickly received the nickname "AI whisky"...

Color: Oaked Chardonnay with thick, oily and moving legs.

Nose: Diner style old school banana cream pie... Overripe baby bananas, freshly cut slices of Concorde pears, apple compote and range gummi bears. Incredibly fruity and perfumy. After allowing it to air spices add on top of all those fruits: Cinnamon, ground coriander and fennel seeds. Very refreshing nose...

Palate: Silky mouthfeel... Candied citrus peels, toasted oak and more pear. Maltesers, fresh tarragon leaves and light cinnamon dusting. Flavored pipe smoke, milk chocolate and Honeycrisp apples.

Finish: Long with white pepper, salt and apple skin.

Overall: It's an incredibly balanced whisky with fruity, spicy and herbal notes. For my two cents it actually highlights some unbelievable blending skills rather than artificial intelligence. It is definitely a crowd pleaser.

Price: £60


LAB+Distillery Kreatör Cask Matured Gin by Mackmyra (47.3%): Now this is the oddball of the three samples I received that day. It is the cask matured version of Mackmyra's gin Kreatör... Kreatör is produced in LAB+Distillery which is the experimental distilling and blending arm of Mackmyra dedicated to work on non-whisky products. It is distilled with all Swedish botanicals and fruits including juniper, raspberry, coriander, lime, lemon, orange, pink pepper, vanilla, and cardamom to name a few and then matured for about six months in second-fill ex-bourbon barrels which were already used to mature Mackmyra whisky.

Color: Very faint straw, almost clear color with thick and fast  moving legs.

Nose: Bright citrus aromas jump out of the glass first: Lemon, lime and pomelo. It all calms down after airing a minute and allows vanilla, lemon cookie dough and cardamom notes. Elderberry, white raspberries and blood orange. Cotton candy and mint jello.

Palate: Very perfumy... Spiked lemonade, bitter lemon and big cardamom notes. Hyacinth flowers in full bloom, crystallized ginger and sugar coated coriander seeds.

Finish: Long with cracked white peppercorns, lemon zest and more coriander.

Overall: A very citrusy, perfumy and cardamom heavy gin. Wood influence is so subtle I didn't even feel like writing down any tasting notes related directly to cask aging. Brilliant cask management... Wood aging marries all the different botanical notes together very tight without giving any hint of excessive oak. It does have a very Mediterranean and warm flavor profile though and I also think that this gin is created by someone who really likes their gin and tonic... You really don't have to worry which flavored tonic you have to choose to create the perfect G&T. This gin has everything you will ever need... Cannot believe that this was my favorite but it's a seriously good gin...

Price: £35 (50cl bottle)