Back on our feet after Whiskymessen 2013, which took place last weekend and is Denmark’s largest whisky event. Lots of good people, old drunks randomly falling asleep, revisiting dear old whiskies, and exploring new quality bottles constantly spewing from both the Scandinavian and Scottish distilleries these years.
An absolute highlight was the world premiere of Mackmyra’s Special:10 Kaffegök.
Mackmyra is one of a dozen active distilleries in Sweden, and by far the most prolific. In fact, if popularity is measured by the amount of Facebook fans a distillery has, Mackmyra is with +150.000 fans among one of the most popular distilleries in the world.
However, Mackmyra is not really a predominant brand internationally and most of these Facebook fans are Swedes. A nation with a dubious reputation for settling with either moonshine or the thinnest beer and priciest spirits in the EU.
One of the things that could improve this bleached Swedish reputation in Denmark is Mackmyra. Not only have they recently switched to a better Danish distributor, which means their whisky is not only available in airports and select stores, but they also seem to make consistently decent and interesting whisky.
Because of the poor Danish distribution, we have never actually had a proper chance to taste Mackmyra before Whiskymessen 2013. But when they showed up with 7 of their bottlings, a world premiere and official brand representatives, we not only decided to taste Mackmyra, but to raid them.
A whisky festival raid means high-jacking a brand representative and make him select a line-up of 5-7 of their whiskies, which is then tasted in quick succession. (You can read more about raids and other whisky festival survival techniques here)
Under the guidance of Karl Thögersen from Mackmyra, we went through a line-up of increasing ferocity.
- Mackmyra Brukswhisky
- Mackmyra First Edition
- Mackmyra Vit Hund (More of that Swedish moonshining, not bad though.)
- Mackmyra Special:08 Handplockat
- Mackmyra Special:10 Kaffegök
- Mackmyra Moment Skog
The most important thing we learned about Mackmyra is that they are not afraid to try out new things. While it was hard to pin down a distinct Mackmyra taste, they still often manage to stand out because of the unusual tastes they seem very insisting on. Something that is mainly achieved by filling their casks with all kinds of natural ingredients before maturing the mostly unpeated spirit in the casks.
Nowhere in the line-up was this more prevalent in Mackmyra Special:10 Kaffegök, which premiered at Whiskymessen prior to the official release on the 2nd of May. The ironic subtitle “Kaffegök” means coffee punch (as in boozed-up coffee), and thus Special:10 is (sort of) made the other way around as it has been finished on casks that have previously stored whisky spiced with freshly roasted coffee beans. This spiced whisky is then poured out and replaced by regular Mackmyra spirit, which is then given a coffee-finish in the casks.
The result was a unique single malt whisky with strong coffee taste that still felt potent and complex despite the straining done to the taste buds during a whisky festival. It could easily match a conventional lightly peated whisky, and worked wonderfully as a break.
The coffee taste felt like a natural part of the liquid, and was present throughout the 10-20 seconds it took to develop in the mouth. On top of this, the taste of coffee had a surprisingly refreshing effect, which was probably caused by the placebo effect, as both of us are coffee junkies in our daily lives. At least so our theory goes.
The tasting of Mackmyra Special:10 Kaffegök at Whiskymessen 2013 can be summed up like this: Whisky and coffee together, but in a good way.
The Special:10 Kaffegök was a great experience for a number of reasons: It improved our perception of Swedish whisky. It tasted like nothing we had quite tasted before. It was a refreshing peak on an otherwise busy day of heavy tasting. And lastly it was a prime example of whisky innovation.
Not since German Cadenhead’s various Stupid Cask projects have we encountered such well-executed artificial cask finishing. An approach we not only find interesting, but also vital in keeping whisky alive as the most fascinating, wonderful or exuberant liquid on Earth.