Review: Tasting Scandinavian Whiskies from The Whisky Exchange
One of the best whisky retailers in the world is The Whisky Exchange — and one of the retailer’s best product lines are its “Perfect Measure” sampler sets, which consist of numerous 30ml bottles of whiskies that you will likely have a hard time finding in any format, anywhere. Recently the company sent me a set from this line of five Scandinavian whiskies, including offerings from Mackmyra, Bivrost, and Stauning. While this specific set isn’t available any more, most of the whiskies included within it are. You’ll find them at the below link.
Prices listed are for 700ml bottles where available.
Mackmyra Bjorksav Single Malt Whisky (Sweden) – “Inspired by the arrival of spring after a long winter, Mackmyra Björksav – meaning birch sap – has been matured in casks that previously held Swedish birch sap wine.” Really interesting stuff. Very fruity on nose and palate, with notes of vanilla, cherry pits, pine needles, and a growing maple syrup note that really fills the glass in time. (I’ve never had birch sap wine, so perhaps maple’s in the ballpark there.) Sweet on the palate with edges of stone fruit, that maple wandering toward molasses and coconut notes as the finish builds. Slightly chocolaty on the fade-out, with a hint of pepper. This is one of those samples where 30ml just isn’t enough to really dig in and do it justice. 92.2 proof. A- / £60
Mackmyra Efva Single Malt Whiskey (Sweden) – “A collaboration between Swedish distillery Mackmyra and jewelry designer Efva Attling, this whisky has been aged in a selection of oloroso sherry, bourbon and American oak casks, some of which previously held Swedish birch sap wine.” So, a more complex version of Bjorksav, perhaps? This whisky actually presents itself more in line with a single malt Scotch, the sherry barrel offering a touch of orange to a nose that’s malty and rich with toasted cereal grains. Some baking spice and a touch of pepper are both also evident. The palate finds just a hint of the sweetness that’s found in the Bjorksav edition, with more of an herbal kick growing on the finish. Some hints of cinnamon apple and birch bark on the finish. 92.6 proof. B+ / £104
Bivrost Muspelheim Single Malt Whiskey (Norway) – “Handcrafted under the glow of the Northern Lights, at the foot of the majestic Lyngen Alps, at 69 °N. Made from peated barley, fermented with glacial meltwater and distilled in our hi-tech still. Matured in bourbon and ex-Islay casks.” Moderately peaty, with an unusual burst of citrus on the nose, plus plenty of saline. Sharp and peppery and a little strange, but exactly why is hard to place with a small sample. The palate is smokier than the nose would suggest, though it works well with its orangey kick. There’s something here that’s different from traditional peated whiskey, though, evoking burning evergreen needles and charcoal briquettes. Again, a whiskey that demands more time than 30ml can provide. 92 proof. B+ / $NA
Stauning Floor Malted Rye Whiskey (Denmark) – “A rich Danish rye whiskey from Stauning, made with a combination of local rye and barley, and matured in virgin American oak barrels.” Loads of caramel on the nose, with a slightly hoppy character that offers a distinct spiciness reminscent of an American craft rye. More of those flavor elements pop on the palate, and while a surfeit of wood — plus a load of grainy malt — give the whiskey a mild greenness, its finish finds room enough for some silky milk chocolate to even things out. 96 proof. B+ / £60
Stauning Floor Malted Rye Whiskey – Peated (Denmark) – Presumably the same whisky as the above, “made with barley malted using local peat and heather, creating a floral, smoky character.” Definitely the most intensely peated whisky in this lineup, this comes across like something straight out of Islay, unlike the other whiskies in the kit. Smoky and a bit beefy on nose and palate, the smoldering character rumbles its way to the finish like a freight train, for better or for worse, pushing aside fleeting notes of saline and malted milk balls. Blunt but engaging. 96 proof. B+ / £80
$NA for the tasting kit / thewhiskyexchange.com
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