Scandi Whiskies – High Coast Berg “Pedro Ximenez” 50%

Our Scandi evening had a lovely light summery dessert quality with both the delightful “appetizer” dram Isle of Lime Sangelstain from Gotland and the delicate yet entrancing High Coast Alv 46% river-inspired single malt.

For our last whisky of the evening, we turned from the river to the mountain with the “Berg” expression from the High Coast’s Origin Series. This made it the 3rd expression for me – having tried the sea-inspired High Coast Hav “Spiced Oak” and the 4th for the Whisky Ladies who also sampled their timber-inspired High Coast Timmer “Peat Smoke” two years earlier!

So what did we think of their Sherry expression?

High Coast Berg “PX” 50%

  • Colour – Bright copper
  • Nose – Sherry and how! All the butter rum raisins and nutmeg spice you would expect from a Sherry cask…. however it also had a strong almond paste aroma, toffee, Alpen Lebe cream candies
  • Palate – Spiced ginger, coffee candies (think Kopiko!), had some spunk and character, mellowed into bitter almond, as we continued to sip, rich sherry fruits emerged – raisins and dried fruits, perhaps even a hint of marmalade
  • Finish – Pink peppercorns

As delicate as the High Coast Alv expression was, this one had a wonderfully robust character that demanded attention – in a very good way! It was a terrific contrast – warming and envigorating. What we particularly appreciated is that it had some of the typical “Christmas” sherry elements but in a non-Christmasy way (ok you have to try to know what we mean!). It was somehow fresher, cleaner, and less cluttered or overwhelming the way a heavy sherry can sometimes be.

What do they have to say about High Coast Berg?

BERG – is a sherry matured whisky which has the same natural colour as the Nordingrå granite which can be seen protruding the dramatic landscape of the High Coast. The casks have previously held the flavoursome Pedro Ximénez sherry.

Origins is a series where we celebrate our heritage. We have embraced our location, history and geography and created four whiskies that reflect these aspects. The Origins quartet is released in selected Systembolaget stores as well as in the ordering range and in selected international markets. Berg is so far our most awarded whisky in international shows.

“Berg” is the swedish word for mountain, a tribute to the Nordingrå granite which can be seen protruding the dramatic landscape of the High Coast.

  • Nose: Raisins, butterscotch, orange chocolate
  • Palate: Rich vanilla sweetness, ripe pear, dried apricots, sultanas
  • Finish: Dried fruits

What more do we know? Lots! High Coast is generous in providing loads of details about their whiskies. A synopsis is that Berg is aged between 5.5 to 6.6 years, no peat, matured in first-fill Bourbon barrels and then finished in first-fill sherry casks – primarily PX – to produce 13,000 bottles, retails in Sweden for 499 SEK (approx EUR 48).

What else did we explore in our Scandi whisky evening?

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This tasting was part of the Mumbai Whisky Ladies club which you can separately follow here: Whisky Ladies of Mumbai

Scandi Whiskies – High Coast Älv “Delicate Vanilla” 46%

After the rather delicious Isle of Lime “Sangelstain” whisky, we continued our evening of Scndi whiskies with a duo from High Coast Distillery. It is part of their Origins expressions:

Origins is a series where we celebrate our heritage. We have embraced our location, history and geography and created four whiskies that reflect these aspects.

We started with Älv – the Swedish word for River.

High Coast Älv 46% (Bottles 8257)

  • Nose – Oh yum! Delicious ripe bananas, caramel, lemon poppyseed muffin, banoffee pie – in short, tropical sunshine and dessert! As it evolved, we found fresh wood, honey, even sweet Neem leaf… more of that dessert – sweet cakes
  • Palate – A delightful contrast – mild, subtle, and delicate.. one even thought of chamomile… with the 2nd sip we found some spice, lights cloves, buttery, becoming fruitier and that sweet vanilla too
  • Finish – Initially sweet followed by a bitter almond

The nose was exuberant and effusive, the palate more restrained and yet it had a lovely balance. In short – we were most impressed and really enjoyed trying this whisky!

What do the folks at High Coast have to say?

Outside our front door runs the beautiful river Ångermanälven, the heart of the High Coast region and essential to our distillery. We are able to make such elegant whisky thanks to the naturally cold, crystal clear water sourced from the river.
Älv — a well-balanced soft single malt with vanilla tones. Älv is our most elegant whisky.

The official tasting notes:

  • Aroma – Vanilla, coconut, sponge cake
  • Palate – Sweet vanilla, mature pear, apple
  • Finish – Long sweet vanilla notes

With further details on the recipe and casks used:

Älv consists of 100% unpeated whisky which has matured in first fill Bourbon barrels;

  • 68.51% – 24 barrels of 200 liters Quercus Alba delivered empty direct from Kentucky
  • 31.49% – 11 quarter casks of 130 liters repaired by Speyside Cooperage 

Until October 2014, our casks have matured in a damp warehouse, where they lost slightly more alcohol than expected. Since October 2014 until bottling, the casks have been maturing in a dry environment in warehouse number 3.

12/04/2019 35 Bourbon barrels containing 4670 kilos of whisky, with an average strength of 61,64% abv, were emptied into our blending tank. There we added, 1787 kilos of water to reach the desired strength of 46% abv.

In early 2022 this retailed in Sweden for 500 SEK (Euro 48). We were quite happy with this one and excited to try the sherry “Berg” expression next!

This wasn’t our only High Coast (Box) exploration:

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Scandi Whiskies – Isle of Lime Sangelstain 46.3%

Every once and a while, a completely unexpected treat joins our whisky tastings – the Sangelstain expression from Isle of Lime distillery was a perfect example!

You won’t find this in any duty-free or even in your reasonably well-stocked whisky store. So far, it is only available in Sweden’s Liquor stores – Systembolaget – and that too if you are lucky to catch a limited expression!

The Isle of Lime Distillery was established in 2012 in Gotland – an island on the far eastern part of Sweden. They use barley from local farms and produce five expressions -from unpeated (like the one we tried) to peated.

So what did we think?

Isle of Lime Sangelstain 46.3%

  • Nose – Delicious from the start! Really summery – warm and inviting. Fruity and fresh, amber perfume, vanilla sponge cake… as it opened up further the oak base became more prominent, topped by jasmine… over time it shifted with pine needles or spruce transporting us to a verdant forest
  • Palate – Fresh wood, spice…nice buttery mouthfeel, countered with green peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, cloves with orange rind and marmalade… this may sound Christmasy yet was still summery
  • Finish – Carried on with similar elements – equally pleasing… at one point we thought it was a bit nutty, another a hint of anise

As we sipped, the nose remained joyful…. it was enchanting summer dram prompting us to think of wandering in a fresh forest peppered with flowers.

This was exactly the kind of whisky to get one in the “mood” for an enjoyable evening… light, refreshing, inviting and far too enjoyable!

I came back to it and enjoyed its mellow character – yet with enough substance on the palate to keep it interesting. I’d happily like to explore more from this distillery.

What do the folks at Isle of Lime have to say about this expression? Rather a lot!

SANGELSTAIN – A SOLID TREASURE
On a remote field on the northern part of the limestone island Gotland, lies a hidden anomaly.
A large phonolite stone, transported by the hands of gods to this alien place far from its volcanic origin.
So this stone was worshipped for having extraordinary powers. And if you hit it with a stone, it sang. That’s how it got its name Sangelstain – Gotlandic for clinkstone. Pour this fifth edition of Isle of Lime, and listen to the clink of your glasses and let it resonate through your body as you toast a friend.
The sound of the Sangelstain belongs to this mild malt whisky, stored and matured in oak casks giving it a unique character.

For official tasting notes:

  • Colour – Deep Copper
  • Nose – Fruity, oily, prunes and thyme
  • Palate – Fresh jam, salty, lively with a little licorice
  • Finish – Medium long with a sweet, vinous and peppery mouthfeel

BARLEY AND CASKS
TYPE OF BARLEY: Propina Tipple ekologiskt odlat på Gotland
FARMS: Halner gård, Bro och Sigdes gård, Rone
MATLTING: Mältas på Sigdes gård i Rone, Gotland. Malten röks med torv under nio timmar
WATER: Gotlandic hard water
YEAST: Torr jäst för Maltwhisky. DistilaMax MW
CASKS: Bourbon barrel, American oak medium, American oak char. Sherry hogshead och Ungersk Ek
CASK SIZES: 96, 200 och 250 liters fat
CASK FILLING DATES: 2014-2015
BOTTLING: 2021 April

And if you are really a whisky geek? They even share the barrels used – Sangelstain!

Bottom line? We loved it and found it a perfect way to kick off our Scandi evening.

We continued with:

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Scandi Whiskies – High Coast and Isle of Lime

Last summer I had the distinct pleasure of spending a few days in Sweden visiting a Whisky Lady. Naturally, we prioritized exploring distilleries and made it to Spirit of Hven on the West Coast near her family home followed by the mighty Mackmyra outside of Stockholm.

Years before we had tasted a few expressions from High Coast (mostly from when it was still called Box!) and also a couple drams from Smögen. So I was exceedingly curious to see what she chose to bring back to Mumbai for the Whisky Ladies.

Happily, it was two contrasting expressions from High Coast and our first ever experience with Isle of Lime from Gotland.

What did we explore?

Then two from High Coast’s Origins Series:

What an incredibly special evening… just a few Whisky Ladies experiencing three unique and exceedingly enjoyable whiskies!

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Mackmyra Smokey – Reserve Bourbon, Oloroso and Svensk Rök

The folks at Mackmyra distillery clearly know what they are doing. There is a subtle yet notable fresh “Scandi” style that comes from their use of Juniper which we’ve started to look out for as a signature element.

Our fabulous tour and tasting guide – Ingemar – chose to split our tasting broadly  between:

For the 2nd part, we explored the Smokey style through two “Macmyra Reserve” expressions (available only through purchasing a cask) and one standard expression:

  • Macmyra Reserve Bourbon Rök 3.5 year Fatnr 7765 (2018-11-13) 50.3%
  • Macmyra Reserve New Oloroso Rök Fatrn 38740 (2014-1010/2018-10-10) 57.3%
  • Mackmyra Svensk Rök 46.1% WL (2021 distillery visit)

Here is what we discovered….


#4 – Smokey transition… restrained elegant sweet peat

Unlike the punchy peat of Islay, we’ve found Mackmyra’s Scandi peat much more restrained and nuanced. Our first foray into the “Smokey” side was a perfect example of this.

Macmyra Reserve Bourbon Rök 3.5 year Fatnr 7765 (2018-11-13) 50.3%

  • Colour – Light bright straw
  • Aroma – Mmm… leather, bacon, honey with a citrus twist, had a lovely clean sweet peat aroma with a hint of juniper, restrained and elegant
  • Palate – Light sweet peat, very smooth and well balanced, easy drinking
  • Finish – Delightful cinnamon, long and strong

What a treat! Lovely, uncomplicated… truly stellar. By far one of our favourites of the entire tasting – remarkable at a mere 3.5 years! Narry a drop of this one remained….


#5 – Smokey and Sweet

Switching gears from a restrained elegant peat, we jumped into a more robust peat and sherry combination.

And what did we think?

Macmyra Reserve New Oloroso Rök Fatrn 38740 (2014-1010/2018-10-10) 57.3%

  • Colour – Copper
  • Aroma – Butterscotch toast slathered with butter, malty then becomes faintly floral after some time, shifting into Christmas spices oops and then hickory sweet maple bacon
  • Palate – Very dry, the most pronounced sweet spices – clove, cinnamon, nutmeg… marmite, oak and wood
  • Finish – Very warm finish – which stays, and how!
  • Water – At first, water mere cranks up the spice however didn’t add or reveal anything new… and then a light cinnamon spice with nutmeg and malt

The “Christmas-y” quality was even more pronounced with the New Oloroso Rok than its Elegant avatar.


#6 – Smokey juniper

Last was from their standard line – one we’ve had before many years ago! What do they have to say?

Svensk Rök (Swedish Smoke) is the only smoky single malt whisky made from Swedish ingredients only. In Sweden, we have used juniper to season our food for generations. Now you can enjoy the timeless flavour in a golden form. The aroma is slightly smoky and spicy, with a much smokier flavour and peaty juniper notes.

As for what we found?

Mackmyra Svensk Rök 46.1% WL (2021 distillery visit)

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Aroma – Juniper wood, sweet peat, tobacco, sour mash with an organic or agricultural quality which warmed to become even sweeter with vanilla notes
  • Palate – Much lighter than expected, more of the tobacco leaf, more juniper smoke, lightly salted too
  • Finish – Certainly there yet also not as much “oomph!” as we anticipated – quite dry, oaky with more herbs than juniper

As the only “core” expression tried, it was nice to check out what they had to say in their official tasting notes?

  • Nose: Slightly smoky and spicy with aromas of peat, juniper and vanilla fudge. 
  • Taste: Smokier than the nose with smoky, peaty, juniper notes. Dry, oaky aromas found with light tobacco leaves and herbs. A slight saltiness with minerals, anise and green fruits. 
  • Aftertaste: Slightly dry and smoky with notes of oak, salt and herbs.

Not all official tasting notes “jibe” with our experience – in this case it did completely!

What we tried from Mackmyra’s Elegant Style:

So there you have it! Four “Reserve” experiences, one limited edition and one core. Clearly catering to a local audience, it was no surprise that our cab driver on the way to the distillery – like many – have splurged with friends to buy a small cask after such a tasting!

As for other Mackmyra tasting experiences (nearly 20 and counting!)? You can find them here.

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Mackmyra Elegant – Bourbon Förlagrad, Brukswhisky Moments, Oloroso

After a fascinating tour of Mackmyra distillery we stepped into a ‘social distancing’ tasting room with separate tables for each set of companions.

Six carefully selected expressions were poured, ready and waiting for us… with no details beyond the golden liquid in our glasses.

As we gradually made our way through the progression it was clear they were split between:

  • A trio from their “Elegant” style aka without peat
  • Then a “Smoky” trio with peat aka Rök

So I’ve decided to split sharing our experience into two parts starting with:

Here is what we discovered….


#1 – Elegant Appetizer… foreshadowing the whisky to come!

Unlike Scottish whisky that needs to mature for at least 3 years else it is a “spirit” not “whisky”, American Bourbon can be “ready to serve” after limited time! What about Swedish whisky? Well in the case of Mackmyra’s Reserve Bourbon Förlagrad, just over seven months was sufficient to produce something really quite interesting.

Mackmyra Reserve Bourbon Forlagrad (Pre-stored) Fatnr 41155 (2018-10-29 to 2019-05-14) 55%

  • Colour – Bright straw
  • Aroma – Quite organic, farm-like and fresh, cinnamon, light honey, vanilla, fresh juniper, caramel… as it settled down, it revealed apricots and apples
  • Palate – Syropy, Christmas spices, malty, dates, wood, chased by honey
  • Finish – Not so long – oak and spice

Not such a bad beginning… until it was later revealed, we had no clue that we were sampling a “spirit” rather than matured whisky. Even only a ‘light’ time in American Oak nicely influenced the character of the spirit.


#2 – Elegant Moments… Brukswhisky DLX 

Next in the Elegant style was a single cask from their “Moments” series… which provide a limited opportunity to the public to purchase unlike the “Reserve” series which is limited to buying a cask!

We learned this happened to be one of their most recently released expressions. Here is what they have to say:

LIMITED EDITION OF 1999.

Moment Brukswhisky DLX is the deluxe version of our classic Brukswhisky; a nod to the original distillery at Mackmyra Bruk but also a stepping stone towards the future. The recipe has remained the same, but the whisky has aged for a longer period in casks. The whisky has gone through an intriguing development, which has resulted in a richer and more complex palate, with buttery notes of caramel and vanilla. In the background echoes light and spicy notes of toasted oak, juniper and peat. Brukswhisky DLX is between 9-14 years old and was aged in the Bodås Mine warehouse. The colour is natural and light golden yellow.

And what did we think?

Mackmyra Moments – Brukswhisky DLX Nr 659/1999 46.6%

  • Colour – Golden sunshine
  • Aroma – Citrus, light friendly and floral, lots of vanilla, summery pear, slightly herbal, leafy? Soft raisins, fruits (pear?), touch of pepper
  • Palate – Bitter yet interesting, initially a bit woody, warming, a bit of fruits, again slightly herbal with some sweetness too… as it opened up, silky smooth, more of that light herbal element contrasting with juniper and oak 
  • Finish – A nice spicy tail

When I looked back at my scrawled notes, I realized it simply didn’t do justice – particularly as what I recorded BIG AND BOLD was – “We really liked it!!”

I then went on to read Mackmyra’s official tasting notes…

  • Nose: Soft vanilla with caramel, honey and chocolate. Finely roasted, bready notes of oak and spicy herbs with light tobacco leaves, leather, white pepper and eucalyptus. Soft, fruity notes of pears, citrus and a hint of raisins.
  • Taste: Buttery vanilla caramel, ripe pears and citrus. Soft, herbal spices with anise and pepper, light notes of roasted oak, peat and juniper.
  • Summary: Soft citrus and pear fruit that ends with slightly spicy notes of roasted oak and vanilla.

Would we agree? Overall yes!


#3 – Elegant Reserve Sherry…

Last in the Elegant style showed off the influence of an Oloroso cask. At just over four years, the colour was striking!

Mackmyra Reserve Oloroso Elegant Fatnr 39502 (2016-11-22 / 2020-09-21) 49.6%

  • Colour – Dark gold almost copper
  • Aroma – Fudge, fruit and dates, raisins, vanilla, very sweet, full of all the lovely Oloroso aromas
  • Palate – Initially a bit harsh, different, herbal, honey…. like a herbal liquor
  • Finish – Quite spicy in a most enjoyable way
  • Water – Even with water, it was strong and even more distinctive in character… after some time it came into its own – rounder, fuller, heavier with caramel and cream

What was so interesting is even with all the Oloroso, it still had that nice clean “Scandi” style we have come to appreciate from Mackmyra. In this case, it reminded us of birch wood rather than pine or cedar!

There was something quite unusual about this one. It wasn’t easy but it was unique and that alone made it worth including in our line-up. We thoroughly appreciated this one – after tasting all six, this was one we came back to!

An interesting way to transition from “Elegant” to “Smokey”…

Coming up… Mackmyra Smokey Style:

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Spirit of Hven – Seven Angels – St Raphael 40.9%

Our last Spirit of Hven dram was their most recent – St Raphael – which is the first of their new limited edition Seven Angels series.

The folks at Spirit of Hven love their myths and stories. For this whisky, they were inspired by the tale of the archangel St Raphael sent to heal Abraham and Lot, becoming the patron for doctors, apothecaries and medics.

Hence St Raphael is :

a homage and thank you to everyone within medicine and healthcare. They have fought brave and hard with the Covid pandemic. It is also a tribute to blue light personnel by their side.

They go on to share that the Archangel St Raphael is also the patron for happy meetings, travelers and marriage.

Surely, during this pandemic, we have missed our physical meets, with hugs and human touch. Surely, we long for to travel again, to meet our friends, family and colleagues all around the world. And how huge is not our longing to gather family and friends, and finally be able to celebrate our postponed weddings, to commit, with love, closeness and joy.

Let this whisky be a tribute to the healing, to be able to travel again and meet like we once did. To enjoy the wonders of spring, each other, and a remarkably good whisky.

So what did we think? In short – we loved it! Definitely the right note to wind down our afternoon tasting…

Seven Angels – St Raphael (2010/Mar 2021) 40.9%

  • Aroma – A quick sharp whiff of varnish then it settled down and started to open up, becoming floral, wine, cinnamon and honeysuckle, summery, cloves, dessert confection
  • Palate – Unexpected! Lots of oak tannins, spice, the red wine cask is quite pronounced, while the aroma was floral the palate was a heavier creamier almost fudge like dessert with rich red wine
  • Finish – Long and warm

We could clearly taste the influence of the Italian red wines from Veneto – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Vespiola. We understand six casks in all were used – including one which previously held Spirit of Hven vodka!

Whilst we found it took a bit of time to open up, but when it did – worth it! There was a delightful dessert quality without being overly sweet. The contrast between summery aromas and spicy almost autumnal palate was quite enjoyable. Lots going on but it worked!

What do they have to say? Whilst you may not find the factsheet on their website, the kind folks sent it to me with oodles more details!

Here’s what they have to say about how they made this whisky:

St Raphael is a marriage between six casks from 2010. Five of these casks, made from air dried Quercus Petraea from Allier, have previously held wine from one of the most merited winemakers in Italy. A family-owned winery with many generations. Geographically they are situated just south of the alps in northern Veneto. The blend of the five casks is two previously holding Cabernet Sauvignon, two previously holding Merlot and one that have held a sweet wine made from the grape Vespaiola. The sixth cask, to balance the stringency from the French oak, is made from American Quercus Muehlenbergii. This cask has previously held the unique Hven Vodka that is oak matured prior to last distillation.

And what about their official tasting notes?

Scent and taste without water

  • the first scent is enticing, a wonderful marriage of ripe, well matured red wine on a sunny terrace. Both Merlot and Cabernet show themselves without becoming intrusive. A lovely fudge aroma from the Chinkapin oak makes a soft base. The end is elegant and fruity with notes of honey and apricots, a clear contribution from the Vespaiola.
  • Taste is soft with elegant stringency in the closure. Balanced acidity and a light sweetness. Long, warming aftertaste with round body. No fixated balance point on the tongue, it rolls over all the tastebuds, full palate, with small exclamations. Alcohol is clear but fine-tuned.

With water, just a couple of drops, as the alcohol is initially low, the whisky becomes even more flirtatious. It releases light notes of honeysuckle and ripe, dark fruits. Oak character grows with the notes of herbal French oak. Lovely, elegant hints of liquorice and flowers.

With these couple of drops of water, smoothness reach perfection. Velvet smooth over the tastebuds. The stringent taste that was felt before water is transformed to honey and vanilla.

Considering my tasting companion typically prefers a peatier dram, this one was perfect for a summer afternoon.

What else did we try at Spirit of Hven?

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Spirit of Hven – Seven Stars 6.2 Alcor 45%

Sunshine, warm breeze, nicely relaxed after a long walk around the island, distillery tour and grub, we started the serious business of whisky tasting. As an appetizer, we started with Spirit of Hven’s MerCurious Corn Whisky and then moved on to this expression from their limited edition Seven Stars series.

If today you wanted to try each of the Seven Stars series, I suspect you may need to visit the distillery itself as most are near impossible to track down. However for those fortunate few who make their way for a wee island adventure, you may find out experience edifying!

Seven Stars 6.2 Alcor 45%, Chateau Margaux Cask, 3642 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Aroma – very full, lush, rich coffee, a bit of leather and cream, loads of fudge, some licorice, very sweet, mocha, coffee cream, dark cherries, salted caramel brittle covered in chocolate
  • Palate – Flavourful and complex, clear follow through on the palate from the nose joined by red wine tannins, curiously thin, the peat comes through on the 2nd sip
  • Finish – Stays on the coffee note with a bit of smoke
  • Water – While didn’t think it would be needed, given the intensity of the aromas and flavours, gave it a try. What did it do? The coffee quality reduced and a nice nutty element emerged with brazil nuts, a bit woody and dry

Overall quite an interesting whisky. A little too “concentrated” or “intense” to have on a regular basis, however it was certainly one worth trying!

What do the folks at Spirit of Hven have to say?

Alcor is number 6½ in the Spirit of Hven “Seven Stars” series. It is the most unique so far amongst the releases. A fantastic marriage of American and European oak. Presenting a wonderful combination of traditional whisky lactones with herbal freshness and younger, vibrant and enticing wine cask character. The whisky has a mesmerizing scent- and taste palate with a delicious balance between freshness and maturity, sweetness and acidity, bitterness and texture.

The Alcor recipe was meant to be a longer finish of Mizar on Chateau Margaux casks. Unfortunately the result was not fully what we hoped it to be. So to improve the recipe, whisky matured on wine cask from Italy, Olorosso and Hven Vodka casks was added. The final result became so good, it made our master distiller cry, happy tears.

The mashbill is the same as with 6:1 Mizar; 58,8% lager malt, 35,3% peated malt (38ppm), 5,9% chocolate malt. This single malt whisky is a blend of seven casks. Three casks made of Petraea oak from Allier that previously held chateau Margaux; one cask made of Faginea oak from Portugal that previously matured Olorosso sherry; two casks made of Muehlenbergii oak from Missouri that was used to mature Hven Vodka; and one cask of Burgundy Robur oak that used to mature Maculan Torcolato.

Scent and Taste Undiluted:

  • First scent impression is raisins, then followed by a light liquorice smokiness. Rich nuances of dark chocolate and coffee combined by a distinguished scent of leather. Dried plums in the background. Mature and elegant, yet full of life.
  • The taste is surprisingly round even at 45 %vol. Delicate bitter notes that do not overpower the sweet oak lactones and wood sugars. Lands mid-back-tongue. Long, sweet aftertaste with soft tannins. Great, big mouthfeel, wins on not being chill filtered.

Diluted: With water 1:4

  • The elegant notes from the wine casks evolves, and gets to dance an intimate dance with the herbal maltiness of the whisky. Together they create a lovely fond of chocolate, coffee and liquorice complemented by spicy raspberries.
  • The taste is sweet yet full of texture and life. Balanced mid-tongue. Medium long aftertaste with round oiliness and slight acidity. Perfect to balance an after dinner espresso.
  • This whisky is almost unnecessary good. You would like it to last forever.

What else did we try from Spirit of Hven?

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Spirit of Hven – MerCurious Corn Whisky 45.6%

It is a curious thing at Swedish distilleries… you can pay to taste whisky however if you actually want to BUY a bottle, you need to go to a state-owned “off-license” Systembolaget or order online from an authorised distributor.

Additionally, this small island distillery Spirit of Hven specialises in mostly small batch experiments, so aside from their “regular” expressions like Tycho’s Star, what you try today will not be available tomorrow, let alone via the liquor store.

With Master Distiller Henric Molin’s foray into Corn whisky, there are indications this will  remain a regular expression – simply with different batches where subtle differences may be found. Named after the planet Mercury, known in Greek and Norse mythology as Hermes and Oden respectively. According to the folks at Spirit of Hven, this god “ruled over wealth, fortune and commerce. His favorite activity was to rule the corn trade.” 

After enjoying a relaxing lunch post distillery tour, we settled down with a rather large book of whisky options… and thought why not start by trying this before getting into the “real” aka barley whiskies!

MerCurious Corn Whisky 45.6%

  • Colour – Bright orange
  • Aroma – Sugary sweet, vanilla, bright fruits, buttery, sweet corn starchy sweet
  • Palate – Young, raw but not harsh, more of that buttery quality, sweet and almost a bit grassy
  • Finish – Limited

We didn’t really know what to expect however it was… curious? What struck is was the smoothness and the extremely orange colour!

We set it aside and on the revisit it was pure candy floss!

And what did the folks at Spirit of Hven have to say? Quite a bit!

Every batch comprises of 14 casks, all playing an important tune in this masterpiece; all casks are made of American air-dried virgin oak. MerCurious is velvet smooth and enticing while still challenging with rich character. The recipe is 88% corn, 5% wheat, 3,5% barley, 3,5% rye. Maturation is between 3 and 8 years depending on cask recipe.

Scent and Taste

  • Undiluted: the first notes attracting the nose are light, sweet candy aromas surrounded by scents of fresh fruits; apples and cloudberries. MerCurious has a distinct character of mature whisky combined with vanilla and cocoa balanced with a delicate spirituality. The corn is evident and if you close your eyes you feel yourself teleported to the kitchen with the nose over a casserole with new boiled sweet corn. A fine note of menthol contributes with a nice freshness, a clear provenance from Hven.
  • The taste is exiting and unique. First it is almost sparkling, fresh and vibrant then it transforms into a full bodied sweet and sour pie. It lands mid-back tonngue. Via the mouth it reaches the nose with a sweet corn aroma. The small addition of barley to the recipe gives a lively and fresh taste with light menthol and green notes.
  • Diluted: With water 1:7 (≈40%) the scent changes; the distinct spirituality fades a bit and promotes the light candy notes. It scents of jellybeans, wine gums and chocolate cake, mature blackberries and sweet pie dough. Vanilla and fudge in the background.
  • With water the taste becomes velvet smooth, green notes of sweet corn, asparagus and pear. Sweetness balanced with delicate acidity and light bitterness from American oak. This is happiness in a bottle, soft and smooth mixed with integrity and personality.

What else did we try from Spirit of Hven?

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Spirit of Hven – MerCurious, Seven Stars Alcor, Seven Angels St Raphael

Travel is a precious commodity these days… even more so when somewhere completely new in the company of a good friend. Without a fellow whisky lady explorer, I doubt Sweden would have made it on my COVID times travel list… and certainly not an amazingly packed few days which included not one but two distillery tours!

Our first was Spirit of Hven on a small island between Sweden and Denmark. It is one of those distilleries that takes COMMITMENT to reach. In my case it meant a couple of planes, taxi, bus, train then another car, bus, train, ferry and many kilometres walk to reach! Once on the island of Veen, we took the scenic stroll around the east coast of the island – most enjoyable and well worth doing. However the signage was limited so there was a time or two when we wondered – are we going the right way? It was only as we returned along the ‘main’ route that we suddenly saw signage a-plenty!

I’ll share more about our distillery tour another time, however for us the whisky fun really began after lunch. The owners have quite a remarkable collection of whiskies in their bar – tempting as the range was we were ladies on a mission to explore more of Spirit of Hven creations.

The distillery whisky menu was chock full of options – while some of the limited expressions were out of stock – it was remarkable how many were still available.

What did we try?

And the best thing? Relaxing outside after a day of travel including our MANY kilometres of walking!

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