Nowadays, distilleries love to play around, more than ever, with casks used to mature their whisky. In some countries, for example Scotland, if distilleries go “too far”, the regulatory bodies give a big frown. And “too far” is more “it’s not on the allowed types of casks list hence it’s forbidden” than “what you did gave a crappy whisky because your cask was spent or was virgin oak ruining a good but fragile spirit”. In some other countries, let’s say Sweden, distilleries can experiment and do as they want. Moreover, Mackmyra is a Swedish distillery that loves to experiment. Their latest experiment is a whisky called Grönt Te, but before reviewing it, let’s give a quick presentation of Mackmyra.
Mackmyra is a Swedish whisky distillery named after the village and manor of Mackmyra, where a group of friends established it in 1998, in the residential district of Valbo. In 2002, they built a new distillery in the old mill and power station at Mackmyra, which started in October. Their first limited edition single malt whisky, called Preludium 01, was released in February 2006 and sold out in a mere 20 minutes.
In 2012, Mackmyra built a new distillery in Gävle, a few miles from their first distillery and since April 2013, all the distillation took place there. However, they reopened their original distillery in 2017 as a laboratory distillery in order to develop new innovative spirits with craft distillers.
Finally, and it shows their experimenting DNA, Mackmyra released in the autumn of 2019 the first whisky in the world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) had been involved in the creation process. AI analysed the distillery’s recipes, sales data and customer preference in order to generate tens of millions of possibilities, but Mackmyra’s blender still had the final choice. I honestly don’t know where the truth stops and where the marketing starts and I haven’t had the occasion to taste this whisky, but they did have at least one great success with it: it was all over the news and gave them tons of publicity.
Mackmyra Grönt Te Review
Mackmyra Grönt Te is a single malt that has been matured in casks seasoned with oloroso and Japanese Green Tea. To be more precise, Mackmyra details the different types of casks used: Newly saturated ex-Oloroso – 128 litres, new and 1st fill Oloroso – 128 litres, 1st fill Bourbon – 100 to 200 litres and 1st fill Swedish oak – 100 litres. Mackmyra Grönt Te is said to have been inspired by two of their master blender Angela’s passions in life: “traveling to new cultures and bringing innovative combinations flavours and senses to life”. Mackmyra is really open about the fact that the casks have just been seasoned and not let think these casks were used to mature sherry for hundreds of years like some other distilleries unfortunately do. The Japanese green tea leaves used are Yame Sensha, Yame Gyokuro, Kaoribo Hojicha and Yame Matcha Shinobi. I “unfortunately” don’t drink tea much (usually only when I’m in China or Japan) but vaguely remembers matcha taste (their green tea), so we’ll see if I’m able to pick up notes from it.
At the time of writing, it was not widely available yet, but you can order it from Mackmyra’s UK website for £59.90 and from some German whisky online shops for 54.90€ to 59.90€. They probably don’t ship outside Germany though.
The sample reviewed has been provided by Mackmyra UK, however full editorial control has been retained in the tasting process.
The nose starts immediately with orchard fruits (peaches, pear and cherry) and vanilla. Then citrus notes and honey appear as well as a slightly herbal note. I’m not finding any trace of Japanese green tea on the nose even while squinting the nose though. A pinch of pepper is also present on the background, not making this a spicy nose however. The nose gives the impression of something young and spirity, with some kind of watered down solvent.
The arrival is a bit spicy with cinnamon and ginger, and bitter with some cider apples and dark chocolate. On a second sip, there’s a watered down sweetness appearing at first but quickly disappearing behind the spices. Leather and tobacco leaves appear later, and the bitterness finally evolves with grapefruit notes.
The finish is medium in length, slightly drying on the tongue, with dark chocolate and grapefruit as well as oak spices.
I must admit I had a bit of fear about the green tea involved and expected something I wouldn’t like, and I was very wrong. As I said earlier, I’m not a regular tea drinker, and I honestly could not identify notes related to tea. And regarding the “rest” of the whisky, I thought it was a quite good single malt, not too spicy, not overpowered by the sherry seasoning, and with a subtle influence of the few virgin casks that didn’t give an over the top wood aspect. A very good whisky.