How hard has it been to set up your distillery?
Yes it is hard.....from an economic point of view it's madness starting a distillery. You have only costs and nothing to sell. We have succeeded by good connections to investors and today we have more than 700 shareholders. We also work hard with cask selling mainly to interested whisky enthusiasts. Today we work with three different kinds of customer casks called Anchors - 40 litres, bourbon, sherry and hungarian oak. But we do of course store our spirit in full sized casks as well.
The demanding public will make sure that only first class product makes it
What are your aims with the whisky? are you doing more than one style and if so, what?
The aim is create a world class whisky. We are working with two recipes, peated and unpeated - and we use different casks
Are there any factors which make your whisky different?
Yes, many.....nature and the climate give us special conditions. I can pin point a few others.
1) The knowledge and know how: We have recruited the best there is in Sweden.
2) The malt: The Scottish industry uses mainly high producing distillery malt. The old brewery malts are gone. We only use classic brewery malt which creates a fruitier and more complex spirit. As a small distillery we don't like to lose even a few litres of alcohol.
3) The casks: We are buying our casks from Torslunds Kagge in the centre of Sweden. Johan Torslund is probably the best cooper in the whisky world. He produces casks only for Swedish malt whisky distilleries. The European coopers are mainly building casks for the wine industry. Torslund is a whisky freak himself and using his nose and his skills in a way that nobody else does. The Scottish coopers are mainly building casks meant for blending industries. No one is so critical of the building process as Thorslund is. He is not building containers, he builds cask to create malt whisky, nothing else. The problem is that he spends so many hours working on a cask that he probably is the most expensive cooper in the world. We are looking for alternatives, we really are, but we have not found anything to compare yet. I could mention lots of other things - our yeast, our cutting points and so on, but let's keep a few things for your visit!!
When will the first whisky be ready?
First release is planned june 2014, but nothing is written in stone. We are also planing to release a "nerd box" called Box advanced master class. We will invite the most interested to try 20cl samples to study different yeasts, cutting points, different warehouse temperatures and many other things. The first masterclass will be toasting, from light to hard charred.
What are your long term aims? To grow big like Mackmyra, to export so mall quantities or to keep it quite local?
A world class whisky must have a world wide market. We are aiming very high. We already have contacts who want to start working with us in Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Canada and other countries. We will start domestic, with a few show-ups at places such as Limburg Lindores, Malt Maniacs events and so on.
Is Sweden undergoing a whisky revolution and do you think the country could be taken seriously as a major whisky making nation?
Yes not by volume, but in quality. We have today 16 different malt distilling projects going on in Sweden, some are very small of course, but a number of them run by very competent people. I don't think we will ever be a blended whisky producing country: it's all about malt. We have unique climatic conditions, we have lots of cold and clear water, we have barley grown for the beer industry and we have the devoted whisky people and the biggest malt market in the world per capita. These are circumstances that will make Sweden to be a country that will be much more than just Mackmyra.
Do you think a Swedish style of whisky is emerging?
NH: Probably.....we are talking about trying to define the Swedish whisky in terms of no chill filtering, no colouring, no bottlings below 46 and so on. We are not there yet, but it's always better that there are many pubs in a street than just one. We think that the Swedish distillers will help each other and in a few years the whisky world will start to talk about Swedish whisky as we tai about the Japanese and irish today. What will the Swedish style be?…I will say fruity due to the malt we use, the cold water will increase an estery style, the good casks will gives us well matured whisky, and the demanding public will make sure that only high class product will find its way to market. I will also guess that the Swedish market will ask for peated whisky.
Finally, how may people eventually get to taste your malt?
We are offering the opportunity to buy ”an Anchor”, which is a traditional Swedish 40 litre cask from the distillery. The purchase includes insurance, bottling, labelling and three years maturing. Additional costs include shipping, taxes and fees at the delivery point. Extra maturing can be purchased at the cost of 600 SEK per year. You decide the date of bottling.