Nordic Whisky News #6

Box-goes-Islay

Sweden: Box Distillery announced at Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival this week that they are extending their private cask repertoaire with Islay casks. They are not at liberty to disclose which distillery is the originator for the casks, but revealed that it is one of the ones on the south coast, so the candidates are Lagavulin, Laphroaig og Ardbeg. David Tjeder makes an educated guess at Laphroaig (in Swedish only). For those who want the full-on peat experience the cask can be filled with Box’ peated spirit, but I’m more curious to taste the results of one filled with the unpeated variety. The cask will doubtless provide plenty of smoky character, especially since we are talking rebuilt 40 litre casks, but how well will it blend with the somewhat fruity unsmoked Box spirit? Only time will tell.

Sweden – and the world: Motörhead has teamed up with Mackmyra to produce a band-branded whisky. It’s not Motörheads first forage into branded alchohol, the site brandsforfans.se details their earlier products as well.

 

Nordic Whisky News #5

Myken: Ali Boston has been to Myken and paints a rather lovely picture.

Talking of Myken, would you like to own your very own cask of Myken spirits? Orders are now being taken for 40 litre casks, presumed to be mature just about the time the whisky comes of age. For more information contact Myken distillery (e-mail: post at mykendestilleri.no) or check out their pdf with more information (including explanations for the somewhat odd purchase processes that Norwegian regulation dictate) that I’ve shared via Google Docs.

Sweden: Box whisky released the third expression in their The Early Days Collection: The Explorer. 10,000 bottles were released at Systembolaget 5 June. Earlier this week there were still a few left, but they seem to be all gone now. We’ll be back with tasting notes soon, probably some time next week.

 

Oslo Craft Distillery

It’s not every day I come across news that signals the startup of a new Norwegian distillery. But in an article covering new leases and renewals in the Bryn and Helsfyr area of Oslo I came across the following sentence:

I samme bygg skal Oslo Håndverksdestilleri AS bygge et nytt destilleri på 424 kvm fra januar 2015.

Translated: In the same building Oslo Craft Distillery (trademark has been registered in the EU) will build a new distillery covering 424 square meters starting January 2015.

The man behind it is Marius Vestnes founder of Cask Norway and Cask Sweden (importers of alcoholic beverages in Norway and Sweden), a man well known for good taste in alcoholic goods.

Not much more is know at the time of writing, but we will come back with news when they emerge.

Nordic Whisky News #4

Denmark: Fary Lochan in Give are expanding. Through sales of shares in the distillery they have secured a solid enough financial basis and have funding in place for an expansion to 250 m2 production space and 270 m2 warehouse and showroom. The buildings are expected to be ready by summer 2015. To increase capacity they are also aquiring another pot still, but since they insist on a Scottish-made one have to wait for an estimated delivery of January 2016. They are now aiming for a yearly production of 50,000 bottles, against the originally projected 3000. (Source: Give Avis, vafo.dk)

Sweden: Whisky Cast have visited Box and Mackmyra.

Nordic Whisky News #3

Sweden: On the 20th of November Smögen whisky will release two bottlings at Systembolaget. One – Smögen single cask 20/2011 – is a single cask ex Maker’s Mark cask bottling, bottled at 60.9%. 295 bottles of 500 ml will be made available. The second bottling – Smögen Sherry Project 1:1 – has been finished in sherry casks, is bottled at 52% and 595 bottles of 500 ml wil be made available. The latter is listed as “övrig sprit” (other spirits) rather than whisky for some reason, though Smögen say it was filled in casks in July 2011 and bottled in September 2014, which makes it three years old by a healthy margin. Whiskyblogg.se has tasting notes for the single cask and Whisky Saga for the Sherry Project.

Sweden: Also on release at Systembolaget in November is Box The Challenger, at 48.2%. The date for this bottling is the 27th, and a pre-release was held at various Swedish pubs on the 13th.

I will be ready to order on the 27th myself, the jury is still out on the 20th, but I have to admit it’s tempting.

Nordic Whisky News #2

Myken: Myken posted pictures of their stills ready to ship from Spain on Facebook this week. The stills are looking good, and progress is also being made on the buildings at Myken. Follow their Facebook page to get news as they happen and see more pictures.

"The 300-litre and 700-litre spirit stills almost complete. Stands, valves, instruments, "onion" heads and lyne arms will not be mounted until they sit on the distillery floor."
“The 300-litre and 700-litre spirit stills almost complete. Stands, valves, instruments, “onion” heads and lyne arms will not be mounted until they sit on the distillery floor.”
"The 1000-litre wash still being hammered into shape after having the top and middle parts welded together."
“The 1000-litre wash still being hammered into shape after having the top and middle parts welded together.”

Since they have three stills on the way, of 300, 700 and 1000 liters capacity, I had to ask if they are planning on triple destillaton, but they are not. The smallest still is intended for gin production and possibly some experimentation. The whisky stills will therefore be a wash still of 1000 liters and a spirit still of 700 liters.

Highland Park Dark Origins 46.8%

Highland Park announces the launch of a new whisky: Dark Origins. According to the press release it is ” inspired by the cunning spirit and courageous personality of its founder, Magnus Eunson.”

Magnus was a cunning soul, apparently, working as a beadle during the day, but as a smuggler and possibly illicit distiller by night. He has been connected to the founding of Highland Park distillery, though the story they tell on their website is somewhat more academically hesitant than the Dark Origins press release.

In any case, a new, widely available expression of Highland Park is interesting news. The only “leak” about it prior to the press release embargo of 1st July 00.01 is the label design, which  has fallen into the hands of The Whisky Ledger.

hp-dark-originsDark Origins is bottled at a strength of 46.8% ABV, is non-chillfiltered and non-coloured, and substantial amounts of first-fill sherry casks have been used in its maturation, twice as many as for the standard 12 year old. As Dark Origins is a NAS (No age statement), the use of the casks may be a necessary virtue, sherry is known to mask a lot of things, and youthful spirit is one of them. With the market the way it is, the release of a NAS comes as no suprise and may be a very wise move. The important thing, as ever, is what does the whisky taste like, not how old it is.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance sample of Dark Origins, and so I present you with my tasting notes:

Nose: Milk chocolate, fudge, newly struck matches and very subtle smoke. Warm wood and spices, I think cumin comes closest to what I’m finding. The nose loses some sweetness after some time in the glass, and aquires tarter and fruitier notes, which are emphasised with water. Tart mango? With water the sherry cask is also immediately more obvious, with burnt matchs and leather, but also grilled meat. Spareribs?

Palate: Surprisingly little sweetness. Ashes, heather and lemon. A little sufur. Water emphasises the cask on the palate as well, dry sherry, burnt oak and old leather. There is smoke, but though obvious it is not overwhelming.

Comments: A lot of people are going to like this (though if you dislike the smell of burnt matches you might just hate it). Some may be disappointed at the lack of sweet notes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the dryness suits this whisky. Out of interest I tried it against the very lovely Arran sherry cask (sherried island whisky against sherried island whisky) and actually liked it even better than when I tried it first on its own. Dark Origins doesn’t beat the single cask, but it holds its own, and that’s quite impressive in a NAS. A very good candidate to one of those “must always have a bottle at hand” slots in the cupboard for those nights when you just want a good dram and for bringing along to social occasions to share with friends.

Dark Origins will be rolled out internationally starting now, and to attract some attention Highland Park are planning The Dark Expedition in the second half of august. I’ve been invited to join, and since I like sailboats even more than I like whisky (if that’s at all possible) I hastily cleared my calendar. There are also two places up for grabs to a Highland Park fan, so if you fancy a trip across the North Sea, check out the details at whiskynyt.dk.

Addendum: Highland Park has now written about Dark Origins on their blog and we can see the final label design (which differs somewhat from the leaked version).

Nordic whisky news #1

Times are exciting when it comes to Nordic whisky. This series of blog posts (in English) will sum up some of the most important news on the subject. Looking for news in Norwegian? See Nyheter.

Sweden: Two Swedish distilleries launched exciting expressions in Systembolaget’s June release on the 5th. Spirit of Hven released a single cask bottling, Sankt Ibb, fat 11-217, distilled from barley grown just outside the distillery. With only 273 bottles available, it was gone before you could blink. More interesting, as far as I’m concerned, Box launched their first whisky bottling (their earlier releases have been less than three years old). Box Pioneer was available in a batch of 5000 bottles, with a maximum order per person of 2 bottles, but even so, it was all gone by the end of the first day. I have two bottles waiting for me, and will publish tasting notes in due time.

Sweden: Talking about Box, the distillery has its own mini-festival, and it’s taking place on the 28th of June. Box Whiskyfestival features loads of masterclasses, a chance to tour the distillery, food and drink at the bar, including a festival beer, several whisky importers with their wares and live music.

Norway: The news of a planned distillery at Myken, north of the Arctic Circle, has garnered interest worldwide. Among others: Canadian Eye on the Arctic, Barents Observer and The Spirits Business. The distillery plans are part of a greater initiative to breathe new life into the community of Myken, The Myken Project. If this sparks your interest, there is a Kickstarter project in search of funding to make a documentary about the whole thing.