Flóki Icelandic Young Malt

Floki Young Malt 01Distillery: Eimverk
Country: Iceland
Age: 13-14 months
abv: 47%

When you think of Iceland, you may picture glaciers and waterfalls, or volcanoes that annoyingly bring whole continents to a standstill. Perhaps you may even think of Vikings, Björk or fermented shark meat. But rarely will you hear the words Iceland and whisky uttered in the same sentence. Not until recently at least, because now Eimverk distillery is producing Iceland’s very own malt whisky. True, it will not be ready until November 2017, but there’s already a taster available for those who cannot wait. Fittingly subtitled First Impression, Flóki Young Malt is exactly that: a first introduction to an Icelandic whisky that’s far from a final product.

Bottled after having been matured for just over a year, this Flóki may not even call itself whisky yet. Despite this, it’s a very captivating drink, thanks in large part to the unconventional way in which Flóki is produced. For more background on Eimverk and Flóki, you can read about my visit to the distillery here. What is good to mention though is that because of Iceland’s harsh climate, barley produced on the island is much less rich in sugar content. To make up for this, Eimverk uses up to 50% more barley in each batch, and this has a very positive impact on the flavour of the spirit. You can expect lots of sweet cereal and an almost oily spiciness in this Flóki.

It has been great to make acquaintance with this Icelandic experiment in whisky making, even just for a first impression. It’s left me eager for more, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out to see how the Flóki range develops in the future. For now though, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this Young Malt. Skál!

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Mackmyra Vinterdröm

Mackmyra Vinterdröm ReviewDistillery: Mackmyra
Country: Sweden
Age: No age statement
abv: 46.1%

Sweden is perhaps not a country famous for distilling whisky, but since 1999, Mackmyra distillery has been producing a wide variety of excellent drams. Such has been the quality and acclaim of Mackmyra’s whiskies, that high demand pushed them to open a second distillery in 2011. This is the Gravity distillery, and in true Swedish fashion, its production is very environmentally friendly. 35 metres high and relying on the forces of gravity for many of its processes, it manages to save up to 45% on energy use compared to the first distillery. After distillation, the whisky is stored 50 metres below ground in an abandoned coal mine for maturation. The cask of choice for this is often Swedish, rather than American oak. Mackmyra claims this wood type gives the whisky a rougher, harsher flavour, which better represents the Swedish climate.

Vinterdröm is Mackmyra’s latest release in the limited edition ‘Seasons’ range. All of the whiskies from this range have received an unusual finish, and Vinterdröm is no different. Apart from Swedish and American oak, the whisky has aged in casks that previously held rum from Barbados and Jamaica, belonging to the famous rum producer Plantation. The result is a seasoned, sweet whisky with plenty of Caribbean swing in it.  With its sleek packaging featuring swanky palm trees, this whisky also just looks damn cool. Let’s hope it tastes the same!

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Hakushu Heavily Peated

Hakushu Heavily Peated 01Distillery: Hakushu
Country: Japan
Age: No age statement
abv: 48%

One of only nine Japanese whisky distilleries, Hakushu is located on Japan’s main island of Honshu. Often dubbed the ‘Forest Distillery’, Hakushu can be found at the foot of Mount Asayo in the Southern Alps. Unsurprisingly, this gives it access to some of the highest quality water sources in Japan. Hakushu opened its doors in 1973 and is owned by Suntory, one of Japan’s oldest and most famous whisky producers. The Heavily Peated expression was released as a limited edition in 2013 and is now hard to come by. I for one hope it will be relaunched soon, as this is wonderful dram that offers subtlety, complexity, and a very pleasant waft of peat smoke.

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