Lagavulin Newmake

IMG_1873Nose: Sulfur, apricots and recently extinguished match. With water I find more tropical fruits, “grønnsåpe” (a traditional soft soap) and ashes, and a barnyardy note.

Palate: Barnyard, ashes and apple peel. The most intense barnyard character luckily softens with water, and I’m left with red apples, peat and ashes.

Comments: I can’t remember the rather intense barnyard notes from the last time I tried this, but then that was in the warehouse at Lagavulin and I don’t know how clear-headed I was (not that I’d drunk much, neccessarily, but just being on Islay can turn your head, you know). Once it’s softened on the palate after a sufficent amount of water has been added, this is a pretty good dram, but not so good that I wouldn’t rather have them mature it for a few years. I’ve tasted far better newmake (even this  week just gone) considered from a “drinking it as it is” point of view.

Myken newmake 63.4%

In order to really test the sample of Myken newmake, I lined up two other newmakes to try in parallel. One was not even a sample, Mackmyra Vit Hund is available at Systembolaget in Sweden for 319 SEK for 50 cl bottle. The other spirit I let Myken test its mettle against was a sample of Glenburgie newmake. To my delight (yes, I will happily admit to rooting for the Myken project) the sample from Myken stood its own. The Mackmyra is perhaps more polished, but it’s also a product meant to be sold and drunk as is. The Myken spirit is intended for maturation (so is most of the spirit off the still at Mackmyra, of course, but I suspect they chose the batches for Vit Hund with care). The Glenburgien had a pleasant nose, but was unfortunately undrinkable once water was added, and that’s simply not good enough in this company.

But enough waffle, here are my impressions of the Myken newmake:


Nose: Malt, milk chocolate and wet concrete. With water sulfur emerges, but also green grapes and apples and Wasa Husmann crackerbread.

Palate: Lemon, concrete, malt and a chemical pine needle character. A little sharper with water, but the malt/barley character is also emphasised.

Comments: Pretty good, on the whole. Less fruity than the other two, but it tastes nice enough to leave me wanting more. The impression of concrete interests me (it’s an aroma I rather like), and I’ll be interested to see if it follows through in the maturation.

Mackmyra Vit Hund 46.1%


Nose: Malt first and foremost. Citrus and Haribo peaches, congeners in appropriate amounts. With water comes orange peel and orange blossom. Grilled chicken breast and apricot chutney.

Palate: Malt, a hint of sulfur, yellow apples. With water the malt turns doughy, and I get strong associations to a “Full Scottish Breakfast” without managing to pinpoint why… White pudding, perhaps? Or haggis?

Comments: Quite my cup of tea. There’d be no point in maturing this, except it results in another product entirely and so why not have the best of both worlds?

Glenburgie Newmake

IMG_5052Nose: Cinese cabbage (that’s a first), fruity, but with some strange fruits, like carambola and kumquat. Green apples and malt. With water it turns tarter and balances on a knife’s edge between fresh and …silo? Carbonated orange juice. A little mint, I get toothpaste. After a while in the glass it suddenly smells of Bamsemums (chocolate covered marshmallowy things).

Palate: Green apples and apple peel, congeners, malt and red brick. With water it develops an unpleasant, bitter note.

Comments: Exceptionally active nose, and it’s mostly all good. Unfortunately the taste collapses with water added, and it becomes undrinkable (and no, you cannot drink newmake without adding water. Sip and taste, yes, drink, no).

Spirit from Gammelstilla

We had time for a couple of quick samples of the various spirits Gammelstilla are producing, here are my hasty notes:

Gammelstilla newmake

Nose: Malt! Citrus, melon and generally a lot of fruit.

Palter: Congeners, citrus and lemon.

Comments: A very clean nose.


Gammelstilla “Nysprit” 15 months 57 %

Matured in five litre casks made from new and first fill American oak.

Nose: Vanilla, bourbon, citrus, malt, wood and sauna.

Palate: A little too heavy on the cask side, at the same time a little too young.

Comments: The nose is still impressive, promising stuff.

Gammelstilla-9Gammelstilla “Nysprit” 11 months 63,1 %

Matured in 15 litre casks made from new Hungarian oak for 5.5 months and then in 15 litre ex-bourbon casks for 5.5 months.

Nose: Different. Sweeter vanilla, wood (sauna), tropical fruits; pineapple, possibly grilled.

Palate: Vanilla, wood. Bitter on the finish.

Gammelstilla-8Gammelstilla Aquavit 46 %

Cask matured for up to a year. Available at Systembolaget.

Nose: Liquorice and fennel.

Palate: A lot of dill on the palate, also fennel and… rosemary?

Comments: I’m imagining it would go well with fish because of the dill.

Mackmyra Vit hund Newmake 46.1%

The newmake bottled as Vit hund is of the variety Mackmyra calls “Elegant”, distilled from unpeated malt.


Nose: Sulfur, a touch of apricots, clear malt notes, like a grain store. Almonds and a little fennel. With water I get lemon and a bit of acetone, then honeydew melon and almond essence. Sulfur and congeners throughout.

Palate: Spice, peaches, hint of pineapple. Grainstore as well. A sharp note on the finish. With water there are more spices; cardamum and coriander, as well as baked, mealy apples.

Comments: This is nice enough to beg the question of whether maturing it is really neccessary. On the other hand it’s nice in a very different way than whisky, so perhaps, “Both, please” is the correct response. There is a lot both on the nose and the palate, and it opens beautifully with water. There is newmake roughness, of course, but that is to be expected and personally I rather like it (if you like your whisky smelling of tar I guess you may like sulfur as well, though there will probably be a lot of people who like one or the other and some will like none). Clear malty and grainy notes leave you in no doubt what sort of spirit this is, also a good thing.