First sorry it’s been so long since my last post on this series, I got wrapped up in work and Xmas and tasting reviews so much that it slipped onto the back burner unintentional.
I left the last post at Mackmyra and must say I’ve had an opportunity to taste their entire core range since then and it is sublime, so now it’s on to the next distillery. This would be the Spirit of Hven based on the island of Hven right between Sweden and Denmark, they were the second distillery to come on line in Sweden behind Mackmyra. The new make has a long fermentation time of between 90-120 hours in order to give it a more citric and nutty character, they malt some of the barley on site with the rest being dried off site. A portion of the malted barley is peated and this is sometimes mixed with seaweed and sea-grass.
The first whisky released was a limited release lightly peated one in 2012, this was followed in 2013 with the launch of a limted series called The Seven Stars. In the autumn of 2015 the first readily available expression was released called Tycho’s star, the mash for this is a mix of pale ale malt, chocolate malt and heavily peated. With the expression being bottled at 41.8% abv.
From Hven we head to Smögen whisky distillery, becoming the country’s third whisky distillery in August 2010 when it produced it’s first spirit. Based on the west coast of Sweden and set up by whisky enthusiast, lawyer and author Pär Caldenby who also designed the facilities himself.
They have a capacity of around 35,000 liters per year and use a heavily peated malt imported from Scotland, with the intention to produce an Islay type of whisky. Pär uses an slow distillation with a long foreshots of around 45 minutes, this is to produce a new make that does not have too many fruity esters. The first expression was a 3 year old released in March 2014 of just 1,600 bottles and at 63.7% abv. This was followed by a new limted range of expressions called the Sherry Project, various single casks have been released as well as a range of gins which varies in strength from 47.4% abv upto the uncut strength of 75.3%abv.
From Smögen we head across the boarder to Norway and the Die Norske Brenneri distillery, founded in 1952 by Karl Gustav Puntervoid they mainly produced wine from apples and other fruits. Until the monopoly held by the state on production of spirits was abolished in 2005, when they started to produce Aquavit among other products. With whisky production starting in 2009 and the first single malt produce in Norway released in 2012 called Audny, matured in an ex-sherry butt with just 1,750 bottles being bottled. In the spring of the following year another 1,750 bottles were released with a third release of Audny appearing in May 2015. That year in the September the company released a 3.5 year old Oloroso matured called Eiktyrne bottled at 46% abv and finished off in a Bloodtub
From here we head out to the most unlikely place for a distillery, 32 kilometres from the mainland in the Atlantic Ocean and 25 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle is a group of islands called Myken. Home to the Myken distillery the only dedicated Norwegian whisky distillery, they use only unpeated malted barley and bourbon casks at the moment. By desalination they have a pure water source taken directly from the Atlantic ocean, which is also used in the cooling process. Founded in 2013 with production starting in 2014 they don’t have a malt whisky on sale at the moment, they do however produce a Gin bottled at 47% abv. To me the location and source water make this a very interesting distillery to watch and I look forward to being able to try a malt whisky matured on an island in the Atlantic ocean above the Arctic Circle.
My next stop is another island distillery, a some what bigger island in Iceland and the Elmverk Distillery in Reykjavik. Founded in 2009 with a focus on making premium Icelandic single malt whisky, using locally grown organic barley. This is an Hardy and slow growing barley which is low in sugars, resulting in about 50% more malted barley being used per bottle. The first single malt called Flóki was a very limted release of 500 bottles in 2016, they also have a one year old spirit matured in oak called Flóki young malt exclusive to the duty free store in Iceland and produce a premium gin called VOR premium Icelandic gin. With plans to experiment with casks made of local Icelandic Birch for maturation after 3 years maturation in oak, it’s another distillery that has made me very interested in them and the products they produce.
That is were I will leave it for this part, next time I head back to the UK and Scotland in particular to finish the last leg of the journey.