As the whisky market becomes more and more saturated (so to speak) the need for distilleries to stand out from the crowd becomes increasingly important. Mackmyra have been at the forefront of that experimental side with numerous special releases focussing on differently seasoned casks. Last year saw the Swedes release the world’s first whisky to have been matured in oak casks that used to house raspberry wine. Surely the different number of permutations is only finite, so what do you do when you run out of different cask types? Well, you put different things in the cask, obviously. That’s what we have here [ed: and it appears to be another world-first] as Mackmyra have used casks that have been “seasoned” with Olorosso sherry and four types of Japanese green tea leaves to then mature their spirit. The name says it all: Grönt Te – quite simply: Green Tea. Bottled at their signature 46.1% ABV, get your pinkies ready to extend as we sip this down…
There’s an initial vanilla flash and quite the piercing alco burst here. When it settles it reveals a combo of creamy fudge and raisins in the back but the overwhelming scent is a menthol, minty, and slightly herbal one – like some sort of old-school cough drops or, I guess with the tea connotations, it’s more like a cold peppermint tea rather than green tea.
A real surge of orchard fruits fill the mouth. Apples and pears particularly. It’s got a sweetness and tartness that puts conference pears to mind. There’s a good boozy tingle to boot from the alcohol, malt and oak spices all mingling together. Think white pepper and, maybe on the Japanese theme, pickled ginger.
There’s quite the drying finish to it with a little sherbet sweetness that goes away and leaves behind a grassy/vegetal note – definitely showcasing the green tea flavour outright as a tasting note on the finale.
In all honesty, I don’t like green tea. That made for this to be a very interesting experiment, as I went into this with some mild trepidation, but wanted to avoid a preconceived set of expectations, and I just thought: who knows? Maybe I’ll like it. Maybe I’ll dislike it? Maybe it’s my own gateway into green tea? I’d certainly like to try more whisky in my tea… So did it make me side either way? Well, kinda actually, yeah. Definitely not the “Marmite” style reaction I was expecting. It piqued my interest more than anything else and made for a pleasant evening’s sipper. The orchard fruit tasting notes really dominated the main taste for me and it would potentially go very well with a proper farmhouse cider or perry, as a fruity boilermaker. But that’s just asking for trouble! It’s definitely got that Mackmyra signature base too, which I think has an almost clinical malt spirit profile to it, which the drier fruit flavours complement really well. Despite the autumn connotations of the apples and pears notes, this felt like more of a summertime whisky – it’s light, fresh. zingy and zesty with a dry finish. It’s certainly a different beast to other Mackmyra releases but is yet another experiment that has proven successful. I doubt that if any scotch distillery were to release something called “Green Tea” that it would fare so well, but the continual barrier pushing by Mackmyra is certainly paying off. So what’s next? Coffee? Surely? It has certainly been done with beer to great praise – any coffee stout would get my vote, for sure. Obviously there are the whisky purists to contend with, but I’m pretty sure that a fair few of those would have had their stuffy noses put out of joint by this one too, and more the fool them.
Sample disclosure: this sample was sent to me by Mackmyra through the Summerton Whisky Club as part of the promotional launch of the whisky. All notes are however intended to be a fair, honest and independent review of the whisky and not a promotion.
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