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For my 100th review, I will go back to 0: a couple years before I started writing reviews. It so happens that Mackmyra's Bruskwhisky was my first single malt, my gateway. It may not be the most likely starting place, but I'd visited the Mackmyra distillery while on a business trip, where I sampled several malts showcasing the influences of different casks. This was my favorite of the tasting. I learned that it was a blend of sherry and Swedish oak maturation (after bourbon), and that the whisky had just been awarded 95.5 by Jim Murray. Amazed that a whisky didn't sting, I managed to secure a bottle (which was a struggle in Sweden), and enjoyed this over several months. I still remember how much I enjoyed the aroma and finish, as you will see.
Anyway, 100 malts later, I return to that origin— and review it for the first time.
Tasting notes - fresh
First vapor: A sweet tropical flower, perhaps like ripe cantaloupe or else passion fruit.
Nose: Exquisite and complex. Like that first moment stepping into a sweetly humid flower shop, with a hit of warm floral vapors and organic soil. My simplest description is: violet perfume with vanilla and red grape.
But excessive daintiness is arrested by a serious chalkiness, like finely powdery (& forest-y) sawdust. You’ll notice accents of toasted coconut flesh and grapefruit pith, and the ripe cantaloupe is hinted again. This is a unique nose, distinguished from any other spirit I have had.
Palate: Entrance of grass and raw coconut flesh. Slowly, sweetgrass develops into lightly-lemony woodiness, increasingly coniferous and drier… and drier....
Finish: The throat and nose get signs of buttery cherries (those “thick floral” nose aromas). These vapors are the best part. Sour grass sits on the tongue, and quite dry juniper woodiness remains in the mouth.
Tasting notes - oxidized
A month-oxidized sample improves, eradicating the grass and dry wood, gaining 5-6 points:
Nose (1 month): Same.
Palate (1 month): Easy entrance, now, of light flavors and no burn: coconut milk, lactose, and sweetgrass. (Grassier if it enters under the tongue.) The entrance flavors sustain, but become enhanced: with lemongrass on top of the tongue and some drier juniper-y woodiness under/back.
Finish (1 month): Again the buttery cherries (or cantaloupe/violet) in the throat; the tongue keeps the coconut milk from the palate but also feels dry, especially near the tip.
For me, this malt is all about the impressively floral nose. You can immerse yourself in it for an evening. I had thought that it was complex, from my first bottle, but now I realize how it stands out among malts, especially for a lighter expression without salt or smoke. I cannot recall another subsequent malt that delivered such perfumy aromas (perhaps the Arran 16 came closest). And of course, those nose elements play very well in the finish, too, with the buttery cherry sensation in the throat. The palate is... palatable, but not spectacular. I could recommend the fresh bottle to anyone not minding dry finishes and woody palates, because the complexity would intrigue you (the sherry-vs-Swedish oak contrast). But oxidation made the palate simply smooth: with no drawbacks but also with nothing compelling. I have good memories enjoying this first single malt bottle for the 6+ months it lasted me, especially in the summer months.
In short, this malt is interesting enough that more people should try it, if only for the excellent aromas as they come through in the finish.
What malts to try, if you like this? I'd been steered towards the lowlands and Auchentoshan in particular. Their 18yo has similar lightness in palate; but for more notable aromas I would recommend the 12yo or Three Wood. The character of the Brukswhisky palate reminds me Glenfiddich 14 Rich Oak, but again the aromas are not there. For similar aromas, you may find just traces in Highland Park 18. Finally, I think some of the Arran malts I’ve had (Original/10/14/16) bear resemblance in character; they would make a good branch for exploration.