In conversation during the evening, the friends’ national pride was somewhat piqued by the fact that all of them had brought Scotch and discussion turned to how a Swedish distillery could be set up.
A company is born
One year after the idea was born, in 1999, Mackmyra Svensk Whisky was founded. Later that year all the permits were in place and the first drops could be distilled. In 2001 we had produced two recipes, an elegant, fruity one and one with characteristic Swedish smokiness. These are the two flavours that will be associated with the words Swedish malt whisky.
What had started as a mental exercise developed into a dream, which in time became a reality. Now the very first, totally Swedish malt whisky is here. When the first bottles went on sale in the stores of Systembolaget [the State-owned alcohol monopoly] in March 2006, people were standing in line and the bottles were sold out all over Sweden in one hour.
The first whisky distillery in Sweden
Our distillery is at the beautiful Mackmyra Bruk mill in Gästrikland. When we opened for business in 1999 we were the only whisky distillery in Sweden, and also the most northerly one in the world. At that time ours was a very small-scale business, using a copper boiler with a capacity of only 100 litres. It was in this pilot distillery that we developed our recipes. At the same time we proved to the outside world that it is possible to create an excellent malt whisky using the ingredients and under the conditions that we have in Sweden.
In spring 2002 we installed new equipment so that we could produce bigger volumes. Now the distillery operates almost every day, sometimes in two shifts. But we remain pleasantly small-scale compared to foreign distilleries, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. Just the way we like it.
We create our malt whisky using selected Swedish ingredients and with no additives whatsoever.
Mackmyra is in Valbo, just outside Gävle, about two hours north of Stockholm and Arlanda Airport.
The pilot distillery - where it all began
On 18 December 1999 all the permits were in place, and we were able to distil the very first drops of what was to be our Swedish malt whisky. At that time we used a small copper boiler, designed and welded together in house. The boiler had a capacity of 100 litres, and once we’d taken out the middle cut there were 30 litres left to mature in oak casks. This was when we hit upon the idea of the small casks.
Initially this was more of a practical consideration, so that we could change the parameters and experiment with every run and still be able to fill a whole cask with some kind of crude whisky for evaluation further down the line. We soon realised that the small casks also meant quicker maturation – the thirty-litre cask was here to stay!
After many years of testing and evaluation at the pilot distillery, we decided what we wanted a Swedish whisky to be like. We are really satisfied with not just one, but two whisky recipes. One is fruity and elegant, while the other has a harsher, smoky flavour. Of course we also use Swedish ingredients for the smoking process, including juniper twigs and bog moss peat from the local area.
The pilot distillery has now been replaced by a much bigger plant. The old copper boilers can now be found on Fjäderholmarna in the inner Stockholm archipelago, open to the general public in our Swedish Malt Whisky exhibition. Why not pay us a visit?
Swedish malt whisky - the dream that became a reality
A lot has happened since we founded the company in 1999. The business has grown, and now we not only produce whisky, we also arrange tastings all over Sweden and receive visitors to the Distillery and in our various warehouses.
Besides production and visitor activities at the Mackmyra Distillery, we also have a sales office in Stockholm. And we have a number of skilled whisky consultants who represent Swedish malt whisky in their own regions.
Mackmyra Svensk Whisky AB is an unlisted company owned by around 2,000 shareholders in Sweden. The main shareholders are the Founders’ Group (the eight people who founded the company), Lantmännen Invest AB and Rolf Klingberg.
A taste of Sweden
We followed our dreams and created the first Swedish malt whisky. A whisky that carries new experiences. A whisky for you who live life less ordinary.
Small casks, Swedish oak and storage in Bodås mine
Much of the whisky has been stored in 100-litre casks, which produces an exciting, powerful ageing process. We have also used newly manufactured Swedish oak casks, made using oak that was planted on the island of Visingsö 160 years ago and intended for use in building warships for the Swedish navy. The base is our Elegant recipe, stored in bourbon casks of first fill quality. All stored in the Bodås mine, 50 metres down inside the primary rock.
Did you know?
- Mackmyra is named after the village where the original distillery was located and translates as small mosquito
Character and Style of Mackmyra
- Mixed Herb