Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Review / Mackmyra Virvelvind

This new whisky is the latest limited edition from the innovative Swedish distillery of Mackmyra. Virvelvind marks the final bottling in their Moments series, a collection of experimental and luxurious single malts. This final whisky takes inspiration from the very first in the series - the Mackmyra Medvind. It features unpeated and peated whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels, plus whisky matured in both ex-Oloroso sherry and Swedish oak casks. These casks were all matured in the distillery's Bodås Mine, a unique underground cavern, and have yielded just 2,049 bottles. The oldest whisky was distilled in 2007 with the remainder distilled and filled to cask in 2010.

Mackmyra was founded in 1999 by eight friends who decided to build Sweden's first single malt distillery. The original distillery was replaced in 2012 by a larger new eco-friendly distillery in the town of Gävle. This state-of-the-art distillery is 37 metres high, cost an estimated £50 million to build and uses gravity during production - malted barley is fed in the top and new make spirit comes out of the bottom. The distillery has won an Icon of Whisky award for sustainability. The annual production capacity is around 525,000 litres.

The Mackmyra Virvelvind is bottled at 46.8% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It is available in specialist whisky retailers in selected world markets including Germany, Sweden and the UK. A bottle will cost €122.50/ £105.50.

Our tasting notes

The colour is a deep golden yellow and the nose is packed with sweet and woody aromas. Golden syrup, vanilla and freshly sawn oak rise first and are joined by further aromas of crisp green pear, candied lemon and lime, white chocolate and underlying cereals. Late hints of dried grass, kiwi fruit and sweet, gentle smoke add depth.

On the palate this whisky has an instant grip. The gentle smoke is much more prominent than on the nose and leads the way. It is quickly joined by the fresh oaky note and the combination is bold. Then come the sweeter and fruity notes. First is plenty of golden syrup, honey and white chocolate which compliments the more savoury smoky and woody characteristics. 

Then comes crisp green pear and some cooked apple. Both have a hefty pinch of cinnamon added to them. A distinct candied lime note joins, as does an evolving biscuit-like quality. Something confected sits in the background and is most reminiscent of boiled sweets. There is also a hint of cream soda and a growing warmth, similar to gingerbread. The gentle smoke continues to weave around everything. 

The finish is of decent length but does get quite warm and woody as time goes by. The sweet and fruity notes fade slowly but this leaves the oak, smoke, spice and cereals to fight it out. The oak and smoke win the battle, which gives a bitter and drying edge towards the end.

What's the verdict?

The Virvelvind is another good bottling from Mackmyra and one that shows how their whiskies develop with a bit of extra age. Most of their regular core bottlings are youthful, but here you have more depth and complexity. 

But the age also gives more woodiness thanks to extra time maturing in the barrel. This adds another dimension but is dangerously close to being too much in this case. It just about holds itself together and gets away with it. Otherwise, a good whisky and a fitting end to the Moments series that has brought us some lovely whiskies over the years.

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