I tried Swedish whisky for the first time last night.
I was in a place called Umedalen, just outside of Umeå, with the intention of visiting the sculpture park there. But rather than stop and admire the art, hunger led me on to find food.
A friend had suggested the nearby Bistro le Garage – a good call. It was on the pricey side, though to be fair, this is Scandinavia, and it was no worse than some of the nicer London gastropubs. Good food – some of it superb – in a relaxing, family-friendly environment with outdoor seating against a backdrop of pine trees. I’d definitely go back.
The place was a little busy – and while waiting for a table, I noticed a selection of whiskies I’d never seen before: Mackmyra.
It’s a young company, as whiskies go. A bunch of friends got together at a winter resort in 1998, and each of them had brought a single malt. The shared interest led to a conversation over drinks, which led to a decision, which ultimately led to the establishment of a Swedish distillery. Their first release in 2006 sold out in 20 minutes.
After nosing all three available expressions straight from the bottle, I selected the Special: 10 – since it seemed to have the most going on. The others seemed a bit light and floral for my tastes. I ordered a 4cl glass and decided to do a tasting between my main course and dessert. It was the right choice, especially since I’d gone for the crème brulée.
The Mackmyra Special 10 is smooth and on the sweet side, matured in casks that have previously stored whisky spiced with coffee beans. It was a good way to finish a meal.
The nose was light and fruity with honeycomb, pear, vanilla and freshly sanded wood. There are fudge notes to the palate with a touch of citrus and apple. A slightly sharp baking soda overtone was less welcome, but that disappears with a drop of water, replaced by more of a vanilla cream. The finish is medium to long – and that’s where those coffee beans really come through, along with a hint of lemon and a little saltiness.
The dessert made sense of it. Or vice versa. It was a great match.
I hadn’t paid proper attention to whisky in a long time. The whisky blog I ran with Clutch came to a natural end a couple of years back. I’ve had the odd glass with friends from time to time, but not made a point of doing a tasting.
Finding something new like the Mackmyra was a good excuse to give the whisky tasting thing another try. And while it didn’t blow my mind, it was lovely – and just right.
The rewarding bit is in paying attention when confronted with new things: new tastes, new smells, new experiences. I need to stop and do that more often. Not just whisky. Life always seems richer, more nuanced and brighter when I make myself slow down and attempt to articulate the experience. It’s why I write.