Age: No age statement
Mackmyra rightly call themselves Explorers in Whisky. For well over a decade now, they’ve been presenting us with weird and wonderful creations that other whisky makers wouldn’t even dare to dream up. At which other distillery will you find casks that previously held lingonberry wine, birch sap or glühwein? Mackmyra’s latest creation Grönt Te (Swedish for green tea) goes one step further though. For while the products mentioned above generally age in oak, tea does not. Instead, master blender Angela d’Orazio decided to season casks with a blend of Oloroso sherry and Japanese tea leaves. This mixture was then poured out, before finishing the whisky in these casks.
Purists will undoubtedly balk at this. While seasoning oak isn’t quite the same as infusing whisky, is Mackmyra cutting corners here? I honestly don’t think it matters. While certainly unconventional, we shouldn’t stick with tradition just for tradition’s sake. It’s quality that counts. Does this mean that in the future we’ll see casks seasoned with chili flakes or seaweed, in much the same way that gin makers use botanicals? There isn’t anything in the Scotch Whisky Regulations that forbids Scottish distillers from trying it. Grönt Te has been distilled from water, barley and yeast, has matured in oak casks, and nothing has been added to the liquid except water and (possibly) caramel colouring. Same as any other whisky. Nothing restricts what the oak may or may not have stored before.
Anyway, back to the review, because it promises to be an interesting one. Not only do we have that sumptuous combination of rough Swedish oak with Oloroso sherry, there are also the tea leaves to contend with. After whisky, tea is probably my favourite drink, so I’m very curious about Grönt Te. Mackmyra has used some premium Japanese teas too, with sencha, hojicha, matcha and gyokuro all thrown into the mix. Does the choice of tea leaves matter a whole lot? I honestly can’t say, since this is such a one of a kind product. Instead, let’s dive straight in.
Colour: Pale honey
Nose: Floral and fresh, with a resinous quality that reminds me of a pine forest. Sweet yet delicate aromas take the upper hand, offering up strawberries and blackcurrant. This gives way to a more herbal character, accentuated by brown sugar and a definite hint of vanilla. As with the rest of the Mackmyra’s Season range, it’s no coincidence when this whisky was released – the promise of spring is thick in the air.
Palate: Ouh this is interesting. Grönt Te is sweet, but with a bit of a zesty twist to it. The texture is quite unusual, tickling the tongue in a strange oily sensation. On the flavour front, pecan nuts and cocoa nibs give way to pears sprinkled with nutmeg. As we head toward the finish, tea leaves begin to shine through, along with that slightly rough, edgy Swedish oak.
Finish: The tea leaves continue to make their presence known, accompanied by a sharp, dry dash of white pepper and pencil shavings. The aftertaste produces a lingering bitterness that’s not at all dissimilar to unsweetened matcha.
Verdict: Mackmyra has once again pushed the envelope. Grönt Te sure is a novelty, and I daresay it’s also more than just a gimmick. While unusual at first, this whisky grows on you, especially if given a bit of time to breathe in the glass. Grönt Te isn’t averse to a few drops of water either, which help accentuate the Olosoro sherry influence through fruity, nutty flavours. The finish is perhaps a bit too bitter for my liking, but here a splash of water works wonders too. All in all, this is another compelling expression from Mackmyra. I definitely don’t regret buying Grönt Te. Would I buy another? Probably not… I’d rather wait and see what madness Mackmyra comes up with next!
Value for money: 🤩🤩🤩