|Courtesy of Dubh Glas Distillery - Okanagan Valley BC|
A few months into my lovely discovery, I befriended a few people from the distillery on twitter. They thanked me for spreading the good word and of course I had a million questions not only about their products but also about their history and process. Of course I had to ask what was coming next and whether or not we would see it in Canada.
It was with great excitement that I received a letter inviting me to take part in a virtual tasting judging panel for a lineup of products that Mackmyra was working on. I immediately responded yes! It was scheduled for December 19th, 2012. I was lucky enough that one of the Mackmyra ambassadors was going to be in Canada a few weeks before the tasting date so we arranged to meet up, but unfortunately not everyone else received their samples on time so it had to be pushed back to January 23rd 2013. At the time I thought ok no big deal that will work. Then I looked at my calendar. I was still going to be in Victoria BC on that date. I looked at the time, 7:00pm Sweden time and quickly calculated what time it would be in Victoria: 10:00am. Ok, nothing like nosing/tasting 5 whiskies for breakfast!? I'm game. Plus it's how all the pros do it, right? Your nose is the best first thing in the morning?? Oh boyz...
So armed with my 5 samples (numbered 1-5) I carefully packaged them for flight to BC and unpacked them unscathed once we arrived. The morning of the panel I was actually awake at 5:00am so I got up and went about being on twitter, wrote a bit of a blog, made some notes, planned to meet a friend for lunch and as time got closer began to prepare a place at the kitchen table. The hype had started on twitter. HASHTAG: #mackmyra2013. All the participants were starting to chat it up a bit and I was really starting to get a bit excited. Once again, my nose would be judging blind and my brain would be throwing out descriptors and flavors, except this time it was in real time and with a bunch of other people. From a virtual tasting perspective, it was really well organized and Mackmyra managed to cover most of the world: Taipei, Israel, Germany, South Africa, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden and Canada. Truly a global community of whisky tasters all coming together in one place.
Everyone was introduced and then Angela (the moderator) asked for photos of everyone. Needless to say I began to giggle as I was still in my pyjamas and hadn't even bothered to brush my hair yet, welcome to Lassie world?! So Graham snapped an up close and personal shot that I actually liked so we sent it. And so we began with whisky #1. On the nose I immediately detected banana pudding, lots of cooking spices like ginger and cloves. It opened slowly and I could tell it was young as I kept finding golden sultanas and vanilla custard. It was very aromatic and mouthwatering. However it was a bit of let down on the palate. It was really flat. The rich custard was completely gone, not really sweet and was very minty, oily with hints of lemon. The finish went to really dry almost like a white wine. Didn't stay with me long either. Guessed it was about 46% ABV.
Not a well balanced dram. Something was missing.
Whisky #2 was aggressive on the nose! Acetone notes, overwhelming at first. Gave it a few minutes with lots of agitation to calm it down a bit. Very floral, lots of red dark berries. I could smell the oak much better in this one. After one sip my breathe was taken away (cask strength). I guessed above 50%. Had to add a bit of water. Lovely flavors of coriander, spicy with a bit of heat, the flavor of juicy red bing cherries. Finish was sweet spices like cinnamon and again a bit of nuts so a bit drying. I enjoyed this dram. It was really aggressive on the nose, so knowing that I would probably let it sit for a while or add water right away.
Whisky #3 was AMAZING for a few reasons. Sometimes to see how much oak I can detect I rub some whisky in the palms of my hands. WELL!!! I was so excited by my descriptor I told everyone they had to try it to see what they would discover. This whisky when heated from friction in your hands releases the most beautiful greasy, smoky BBQ'ed burger smell. I was starved all of sudden and that's what I wanted. I thought, I must be nuts?! But I pressed on and waited to see what the other participants found: BOOM! Many said/used the same type of descriptors: Smoky, oily BBQ. It was such a full bodied and rich smelling dram. Sweet pastries (fried dough), BBQ pork, spices, marinade! Absolutely mouthwatering. I stated it was like a mermaid enticing me with all my favorite smells to dive in. So dive in I did. Super oily palate, clove oil or pine needles. More smokiness, some crisp clean fruit like unripe pears. The finish just lingered. It stayed with me for a long time. Such a delicious dram. I got so lost in it I didn't guess what the ABV was, nor did I care. I saved some in the glass to go back.
Whisky #4 - Back to crisp, clean and traditional Mackmyra on the nose. Bourbon soaked golden sultana raisins. My descriptor that came coming back to my brain: Walk in the woods after a rain storm: earthy, clean, fresh. I knew the ABV was lower than 2 and 3. The palate was lightly spicy and quite herbaceous. Again hints of woody oak, a bit drying. The finish was long, not as long as #3 but nice. It was an enjoyable dram with subtlety and panache but because it came after number 3, I might have lost some of the finer aromas and flavors.
So those were the four whiskies. I rated them as such: 3, 2, 4 and 1. Some of us moved on to #5. It was a whisky liqueur. I believe in trying everything and I'm glad I did. This was delish on the nose: Honeyed marmalade, with lovely spices like whole cloves, dark sugars and a syrupy butterscotch smell. Truly divine. On the palate HUGE clover honey, sweet but not artificial in nature. Truly a natural honey sweet, with crisp slices of lemons. It was really good and I'm not big on liqueurs. I immediately reached for some tonic water, some orange bitters and an ice cube and quickly made the Swedish Orange Whisky Fiz. Not bad for a Wednesday morning!? And just like that, it was late for some and we all thanked Mackmyra as well as Colin and Angela. People may not realize the amount of work that goes into planning a virtual panel, especially one that spans almost every corner of our world. So, are you curious as to what we drank? I certainly was... A few days later came this:
What I really love about these types of opportunity is the ability to trust my nose/palate and speak my mind. The notes that were sent about each bottle further enforced that for me.
#1 - Spices, orange, honey mint, raisin. Palate: red berry, spicy, roasted oak, oily. Finish: Dry and lightly spiced. AND I was bang on for the ABV.
#2 - Spices, very flowery. Palate: Fruity, wine, citrus, oaky with some smoke. Finish: Nutty, slightly dry. I knew ABV was above 50%.
#3 - Juniper, smoke, dark berries. Palate: Fruity, dark cherries, pears, roasted oak, oily. Finish: Long aftertaste, peat smoke and nuts. Knew it was above 50%.
#4 - Nose: Forest aromas, earthy, juniper, light smoke. Mouth: Rich dried fruit, pears, winy. Finish: Oak, juniper, dry. Long aftertaste. ABV I got wrong, I didn't think it more than 45%.
#5 - Honey, brown sugar, butterscotch, orange, ginger cookies. Palate: Honey, roasted oak, coffee, oranges, buttery and light. Finish: Butterscotch and bakery spices. I think I might have had a bit too much by then, because I didn't guess ABV, and enjoyed two cocktails with the liqueur in it!
ALL in all, being on a virtual tasting panel was yet another great experience for 2013. All 5 of these Mackmyra products are still available throughout Europe in either specialty shops, duty free or regular carriers. If you don't own a Mackmyra, what the heck are you waiting for? Get on the bandwagon my friend. These are truly exceptional whiskies. Some, not necessarily these, are available in Canada: Ontario and Quebec. GET THEM!!! Now! Move/go, get in your car...
But seriously: Thank you to Mackmyra for this delightful experience which I not only enjoyed but learned a little more about the Lassie. It's not often that those of us in North America get to participate in the twitter tastings, so I consider myself super lucky. This truly was special for me. Having fun and looking forward to more great experiences in 2013.
I remain, half of the Perfect Whisky Match.
That's me _>