If the Swedish Chef from the Muppets didn’t cause nightmares, then you were a tough kid. Here was a neurotic bushy eye browed freaky looking Muppet with an over sized moustache and man hands that tossed around cleavers and other dangerous cooking utensils. He’d start every segment with his theme song ending it with the fling of his kitchen gadgets that for some reason always startled him. The recipe he’d cook always train wrecked into a culinary disaster as he spewed Swedish sounding gibberish. The chef walked a fine line toward creating a full-blown stereotype. The only thing missing were empty Absolut Vodka bottles, a couple of Abba records and a set constructed 100% of Ikea furniture. However, if you wanted to start a nightmare-free stereotype that the Swedes are creating some of the best whisky in the world, then I will toss my whisky glass over my shoulder and listen.
In the spring of 1998 eight friends took a ski trip. Over a few bottles of single malt whisky they pondered why there wasn’t a Swedish whisky. This trip was the big bang for creating the Swedish whisky universe. Born out of this cosmic event was Mackmyra Brukswhisky. “We had a dream to create the first Swedish malt whisky. We followed our path and developed the whisky from its origin. That path was neither the easiest nor the quickest. But it was the right path, because we reached our goal: a Swedish malt whisky with a unique identity,” explains the distillery.
It’s this identity that makes this whisky special. In a blind taste test it stands up with a light freshness that has fruity characters and a bit of peat smoke balancing and rounding off the finish. The malt characters of the whisky are very enjoyable throughout the entire experience but there’s complexity in the whisky’s simplicity that sets it apart from traditional Scottish single malt whisky. So don’t assume the Scottish sounding name of the whisky is rooted in Scottish tribute. It’s just a coincidence that it sounds Scottish. The truth is, Mackmyra is named after the Swedish town the distillery calls home.
The distillery takes a handcrafted approach to its craft by avoiding additives and using local Swedish ingredient. The finished whisky is aged in used bourbon barrels with a combination of large and small casks for “spicing” the whisky. These casks include used Spanish sherry and new Swedish oak and it’s this Swedish oak that makes this whisky different. The cold snowy winters followed by very long summer days create a condition where oak can grow slowly for over a century locking in a fiery spiciness into the wood. The full casks of golden whisky are aged close to the distillery deep underground in the perfect climate – an abandoned mine. The kind of abandoned mine where a comic book villain would hide his hostages.
Which brings us to Stockholm syndrome, a psychological occurrence where hostages start to have positive feelings and end up defending the actions of their captors. It’s caused when captors don’t act out on their hostages. The hostages mistake this for an act of kindness becoming emotionally attached. For decades many whisky fans have suffered from a whisky Stockholm syndrome where they’ve been trapped and held hostage by Scottish whisky with the thought that single malts is only good if it comes from Scotland. Mackmyra is the cure for this syndrome and is further proof that single malts shouldn’t be judged by their birthplace but by their taste. Just ask the Swedish Chef. He’ll back this up with an affirming, “Gersh gurndy morn-dee burn-dee, burn-dee.” That’s Swedish Chef for, “You’re damn right this is good whisky and it aint from Scotland.”
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