Mackmyra distillery is named after the village where the first distillery was established in 2002. Plans for the distillery were hatched by a group of eight friends from the Royal Institute for Technology during a winter ski trip in 1998. The story has it that they all brought along a bottle of whisky each and wondered why there was no such thing as Swedish whisky.

Now, I’m sure that many groups of friends have had those sorts of ‘what if’ conversations around a fire after a few drams, but let’s be honest, drunken ideas more often than not do not see the light of day. In this case, they definitely did see the light of day and barley a year later a company had been created and small scale trials had begun. By October 2002 a ‘proper’ distillery had been built I the old mill and power station in Mackmyra.

From the early days of the distillery, the team pioneered the use of small 30 litre casks. Now, these small casks, often called octaves, because they are roughly an eighth of the size of an American Hogshead, were not invented by the distillery, but at the time their use wasn’t as widespread as it is today. The popular misconception about these very small casks is that they allow the spirit to mature quicker than if it was being aged in a Hogshead for example. This is of course not true, they do not accelerate the maturation process, but what they do is to impart a lot of oak character very quickly because of the larger surface area of oak to spirit. So, when the resulting whisky is bottled, it is often a sometimes disjointed combination of youthful spirit and heavy oak, but when they are used as part of a ‘recipe’ and blended together with spirit that has been conventionally matured they can add their unique character to the overall flavour profile. And this is what the distillery has become very adept at.

The first limited edition single malt whisky, Preludium 01 ‘The First Few Drops’, launched in February 2006 and sold-out in less than 20 minutes, this was followed by Preludium 02 ‘The Swedish Oak’ and Preludium 03 ‘Sherry & Swedish Smoke’. It has to be said that with these three releases, the distillery had set out it’s blueprint for what a Swedish whisky should be like. They were producing spirit made from both unpeated barley and barley smoked with both peat and juniper wood and using ex-American oak, ex-Sherry casks and casks wholly and partly made from Swedish oak, which imbued the spirit with a distinct spiciness.

By 2011 they had outgrown their original distillery and a new state of the art gravity distillery was opened about 6 miles east of the village. Malted barley is first raised to the top of the 35 metre tall distillery but then the force of gravity is used to move the ingredients downwards through the five levels of the distillery resulting in a significant energy saving.

Their innovation doesn’t end there. They currently have warehouses in a number of locations around Sweden, such as Fjaderholmarna in the Stockholm archipelago, the Bodas mines and at Hackeberga Castle in Skane. Each of these locations has a specific climate and adds a further level of flavour complexity which when added to the peated or unpeated spirit matured in a wide variety of different cask types gives them a broad palate of flavours to work with and have led to the release of some truly world class bottlings. Even though Angela D'Ozario, Mackmyra's Master Blender has since left the company she has left behind the raw materials to keep the Mackmyra artists busy for years to come.
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