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Box Distillery, Sweden : part 1

By Dominic Roskrow

Box is a new distillery making quite a splash. Please introduce yourself

First, we are very glad for the interest you are showing us. We have very high ambitions and we are on the road to create a world class whisky, The map is unfolded, we are sure, we know how to do it.Sweden is quite a unique country in the whisky world. We have more than 1000 whisky clubs, lots of whisky bars and the interest and knowledge is very high from an international point of view. One of our goals is to be the whisky friends' and conosseurs' distillery. Whisky made by experts for experts is something different than whisky made to be ingredients in big brands blendings.

Box probably devotes more attention to detail than any other distillery

Where are you in terms of production?

We are still in an early phase. We have only new make and small cask experiments to show. Our first bottlings will not be on sale before summer 2014. But the response we have got so far from international experts and from Swedish whisky lovers is overwhelming. "One of the best and even the best new make ever tried" could be a quotation from many in the business.

So tell me about the distillery

Box whisky is produced in Ådalen, on the banks of one of the most powerful rivers in northern Sweden. Box Distillery is the world’s northernmost distillery, with unique conditions for developing a world class whisky. No other whisky has been matured in such a varied climate. In wintertime, it is not unusual for the temperature to reach as low as – 30 degrees, and during summer, it can rise to as high as 35 degrees. Whisky stored under these conditions develops a wealth of flavours. Thanks to its unique location, Box has access to the world’s coldest cooling water, warranting optimal development of flavours. Copper contact is one of the secrets behind Box’s sensational new spirit. 

How big is it, how long has it be going, and what are the local resources like for whisky making?

The size and capacity of the distillery is pretty much like Kilchoman, around 100 000 litres. The local resources are unique. Very cold and long winters and  warm summers creates a demanding climate for the casks, even the day temperatures can fluctuate from below zero to +20C. The big river gives us cooling water enough to chill every distillery in the world. During long periods of the year it is only about two degrees. You can't find a colder cooling water anywhere. That helps us to create a very estery and tasty spirit with maxmium copper contact.

Who runs it?

Box is run by whisky enthusiasts for whisky enthusiasts. Every part of the process is carefully evaluated for one purpose only – to create world class malt whisky. Box probably devotes more attention to every detail, from the choice of raw material to the choice of cask, than any other distillery in the world.

What is the background of the people behind the distillery? Where did your love of whisky come from and how did you come to be making it?

The project started several years ago (2004) when two brothers Per and Mats de Wahl realised that the old power plant (once built for powering the timber floating on the river on a place called Box which earlier was a factory for making wooden boxes for companies in England) was the perfect location for a distillery. The brothers didn't know much about whisky, but they started to contact people, entrepreneurs, investors, and later on whisky experts. The road was long and hard, but in December 2010 the first distillation became a reality. John MacDougal was a big help in the beginning and later on the present distillery manager Roger Melander put his fingerprints on the production. Roger Melander is one of the most skilled distillery managers anywhere. He would be a superstar at any Scottish distillery, and he is very well known in Sweden and abroad.