When all the world appears to be in tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm.Madeleine Kunin
As sure as Mackmyra will push the boundaries of whisky maturation, they will also respect nature and the (very literal) fruits and offerings of the seasons. There is no better exponent of this than their seasonal releases, and for this post we look at their 2021 Spring/Summer release: Björksav.
Following on from the success of previous collaborations, such last year’s autumn/winter release, Jaktlycka, Mackmyra have once again teamed up with their countrymen in Grythyttan winery to explore the influences of their artisanal craft wines to influence the Mackmyra spirit. The name Björksav literally translates to “birch sap” and sure enough this whisky has been matured casks seasoned with Grythyttan’s birch sap wine. Their Björk wine is actually made by by capturing the sap from birch trees in the spring season just before the bark cracks due to the rising temperatures.
The whisky is not solely matured in those casks however and true to form, the team have made the actual components available on their website – available here. The whisky is a combination of 200L ex-bourbon casks, 128L-200L oloroso seasoned American oak casks and 100L-200L birch sap wine seasoned Swedish oak and American oak casks, combined to the tastes of their master blender and Chief Nosing Officer, Angela D’Orazio [ed: Q: Is there a better job title in the business? A: Probably not!].
The whisky has been captured at the house favourite strength of 46.1% ABV and is available for roughly £62 per 70cl bottle (RRP), at natural colour without chill-filtration.
There’s a thick sticky sweetness upfront here – apple, honey, butterscotch, maple syrup – especially the strong maple hint of floral bitterness – and the Mackmyra signature pears but, particularly here it reminds me of pear skin with the sweet and slightly soily flavours. There’s a strong vanilla flavour too, which with that slight sharpness reminds me of a creme brûlée – it’s not burnt in the sense of smoky or peaty style at all – but it’s got this extra bitterness or something that offsets the sweetness nicely.
It’s really quite sweet with that maple syrup flavour again and a honey-like texture (or mellifluousness if you like your words fancy – though to be fair I’ve been waiting to deploy that word for some time) plus a comforting set of vanilla and biscuity flavours at the start but then there’s just a thick, fresh and strong woody / oaky note that just builds and builds and it brings with it the oak spices of hot cinnamon and stem ginger as it coats the tongue. There’s a strong almond flavour there too.
The spiciness tingles and there’s a lingering creamy note and strong nutmeg note, which, when combined with the biscuit flavours reminds me of egg custards / Portuguese tarts which are heavy on the nutmeg.
This is a delicious sweet treat. That said, if I had a bottle of this – and it is very tempting – I am going to want this with some pancakes. Once again Angela and the team have taken the Mackmyra DNA and have taken it another direction without being unrecognisable. The thick texture – which really does conjure up the mental images of the birch sap – takes this whisky into a dessert wine direction. In fact, I’m thinking to myself that I should try some birch sap wine. That said, I would worry that it would maybe go too far into the cloying sweetness and stronger bitter flavour that I suspect that the sherry and bourbon barrel influences are tempering. It is quite similar to one of my favourite Mackmyra releases the Äppelblom – an ex-Calvados cask aged release, which was the 2019 spring/summer seasonal see notes here – but with a really cloying sweetness. I would think that the thicker texture and more floral flavours would probably mean that the bottle would last around the Unplugged household a little longer too than the Äppelblom has. I would probably buy a half bottle of it, if available, as it does have that dessert wine texture and feel to it. Without the option though, I’d happily “settle” for a full bottle that sticks around a while. Another successful seasonal sensation.
Sample disclosure: Please note that this sample was received as part of a press release pack and promotion for the release of the Björksav single malt whisky directly from Mackmyra. All tasting notes and thoughts on this are my own however and are intended as an honest, fair and independent review of the whisky itself. Please remember to drink responsibly, and drink wisely.