Whiskey Review: Mackmyra First Edition Single Malt

Sweden isn’t a country with a long history of whiskey production, so it might come as a surprise to learn that Mackmyra, Sweden’s oldest whiskey producer, was founded in 1999, meaning it pre-dates the bulk of American craft distilleries. Its origin story, however, is very much of a kind with the standard craft distiller mythos: a group of friends on a ski trip realized they’d all brought along a bottle of Scotch and got to talking about why no one in Sweden was making whiskey (or, as the charmingly clunky translation on Mackmyra’s website puts it, “Why are there no whisky destilleries Sweden?”).

“We wanted to produce the very first Swedish single malt recipe, and not just copy from other countries,” co-founder Rikard Lundborg said in an interview with China Daily. To that end, Mackmyra uses Swedish barley and Swedish oak barrels, which supposedly lend a “harsher” flavor than American oak. They also make one whiskey, called Svensk Rök, with malt smoked over juniper, which, the distillery notes, Swedes “have used to season [their] food for generations.”

Since Mackmyra’s inception, several other whiskey distilleries have popped up in Sweden, including Spirit of Hven and Box. But Mackmyra was the first, and although their lineup remains relatively small, they have a well-established presence, with a slick-looking new distillery in Gävle (about an hour and a half north of Stockholm) and four “satellite warehouses” throughout the country.

Mackmyra First Edition Single Malt was aged in several different cask types, including first-fill bourbon barrels, charred Swedish oak, and extra-small 100-liter barrels. This whiskey has been phased out in favor of Svensk Ek, a higher proportion of which, according to the distillery, was aged in Swedish oak compared with this earlier release. You can, however, still hunt down a bottle of First Edition online. My tasting notes are as follows:

Tasting Notes: Mackmyra First Edition Single Malt

Vital stats: 46.1% ABV. No chill filtration. No age statement given.

Appearance: Light amber.

Nose: Sweet and fruity. Green apple and pear mingle with typical bourbon notes—caramel, honey, and vanilla. I also get a faint whiff of dull cardboard.

Palate: Pretty well in line with the nose, with lots of honey and vanilla. There’s a warm spice character, though, and the fruit is more citrusy than the apple-pear of the nose. It’s rather oily on the palate, and there’s a faint chemical harshness on the back of the tongue. Dry oak on the finish, with lingering vanilla.

Final Thoughts and Score:

All in all, this is a decent whisky, though it does come across as a little raw thanks to the heat on the palate. It’s a very bourbon-like expression, heavy on sweet and spicy notes. I’m not blown away, but it’s piqued my interest in this distillery—I’m very curious about some of their more recent expressions. If nothing else, it’s one more country to stamp in your whiskey passport.

About the author

Katelyn Best

Katelyn is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. She's a regular contributor to the Whiskey Wash with an affinity for the unique and weird side of whiskey.