Much like the fashion catalogues of yesteryear that used to appear through our letterboxes, Mackmyra annually produce a Spring/Summer edition and an Autumn/Winter release within their “Seasonal” subset of single malt whiskies. Each year the team manage to push the envelope of whisky maturation in a direction that suits the season. Vinterglöd is no exception to that rule and, as the name clearly indicates, is tailored to the colder, darker months of the year.
The name Vinterglöd translates to “winter glow” and it looks to marry another seasonal/festive experience with whisky drinking: mulled wine. For this release, the team at Mackmyra took some of the spirit created from their Bruk gravity distillery, and matured it within a whole host of barrels that have previously held bourbon, Olorosso Sherry, Pedro Ximenez sherry and [the game changer] the casks that have been seasoned with mulled wine from the Saturnus Glögg winemakers in Sweden. The two actually returned the favour to one another releasing a mulled wine that had been aged in Mackmyra’s whisky barrels (Svensk Vinter).
For this review, as per our modus operandi, we review just the single malt whisky. A full breakdown of the casks used is available one from the product sheet on their site – available here – but in summary this malt has been bottled with the usual house favourite stylings: without an age statement, without colouring, non-chill-filtered and at their preferred strength of 46.1% ABV.
There’s a lot jumping out of this glass at once here: initial fruitiness reminding me of apples, pears, peaches. There’s also some really unusual herb-like smells there too, like sage or parsley and definitely some aniseed. There’s lots of warming spices too. Going back to it after a bit and it is really quite sweet, bringing to mind Parma violets and red berries.
The sweetness comes first here again as it hits the tongue and tingles the tastebuds with toffee apples, dark caramel and more stone fruits. The sweetness is immediately followed by a strong aniseed flavour again and some grassy/vegetal elements. Third or fourth time round and a sweet and sour fruity combo starts to develop that made me think of blood oranges and grapefruit. Oak spices set in and warm the soul at the end.
It could just be the power of suggestion but there also seems to be a strong scandi fruit/berry influence and lots of nutty flavours on the finale. It seems to have quite a young and fiery finish courtesy of quite a spirit-led burn and some raw oaky spice.
I should be used to this now but once again this is a tasty and interesting dram which demonstrates yet another direction that the apple-and-pear-tasting Mackmyra spirit can be taken. It also fits the brief perfectly again with a nice Christmassy quality and spice to it, but still carries that signature profile whilst also providing loads of the zesty fruit flavours with those orange and grapefruit notes. The nutty, herby and aniseed-y flavours are the newer elements to this malt whisky presumably introduced by the mulled wine maturation. As a big fan of Mackmyra, I don’t mind saying that on this occasion, this one just isn’t for me. That’s purely down to the aniseed flavour on this one. It’s not down to quality by any stretch – that’s really not in doubt – but it is down to personal preference and I really don’t like that flavour at all. Even though it features amongst lots of flavours that I do like, I just could not see myself buying a bottle of this. I just have too much of a sweet tooth and those herby/aniseed notes are just not to my liking but they may, of course, float your boat. These notes are all just subjective after all, right? Anyway, not for me, but extraordinary nonetheless.
Sample disclosure: I bought this miniature as part of a Master of Malt / Drinks By The Dram set, which, in this case has proven as a helpful try before you buy. This is not a promotion, and all notes are intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky. Drink responsibly. Drink wisely.
Completely agree! We had a related reaction – also from the terrific Drinks by the Drams Advent calendar tasting set. 🙂