Typer: Single Malt Swedish Whisky
Ageing casks: Virgin oak
Added colouring: No
Owner: Smögen Whisky AB
Average price: € 110.00
Official website: smogenwhisky.se
Northern Europe is definitely in turmoil as far as whisky production is concerned, and alongside the well-known Mackmyra, another distillery, Smögen, has been active for some time (since 2009, to be precise).
Founded in summer by Pär Caldenby, a lawyer by profession and a whisky enthusiast with a book to his credit on the subject, Enjoying Malt Whisky, it began distilling in 2010 also thanks to a generous loan from the government, with which it maintains a stormy relationship given the strict rules imposed on the marketing of spirits.
Based on a farm near Hunnebostrand, on the west coast of Sweden, Smögen is dedicated to the production of peated whisky (and no, the name doesn’t mean ‘smoke’ but is borrowed from a nearby island), with a very limited capacity of 35,000 litres per year in small, 50cl bottles.
Actually, the full potential has never been reached, everything being in the hands of Caldenby who is unable to distill all year round from his own, small stills (although, as he himself has stated, between 2009 and 2015 he never stopped a single day!), filling between 70 and 75 casks a year.
Given the de facto craftsmanship, a lot of attention is paid to the raw materials (barley of ancient and modern qualities, mainly from Scotland), with fermentations lasting between six and seven days, slow distillation and carefully chosen maturation woods.
First release in 2013. Smögen Primö, which was followed by several bottlings including single cask, NAS and stated ages.
Here I find myself with the third and most recent version of his 8-year-old (not counting the many single casks of the same ageing), with distillate from early 2013 being aged in four puncheon casks of Swedish virgin wood that produced 2,478 bottles as of August 2021.
A curiosity: That Boutique-y Whisky Company has already made two bottlings from the distillery, in 2018 and 2022, proving once again that they really don’t miss out on anything going on in the whisky world!
The smokiness that emerges on the nose reminds me of that perceived in Mackmyra Svensk Rök, on the side of roasted juniper, but softer and sweeter, with inflections of nuts (Brazil nut, almond, pine nuts) and dried fruits (goji berries, apricot, mango). There is no lack of spicy touches of cinnamon and nutmeg, with occasional hints of vanilla, candied orange and butter brioche. Alcohol is the great absent from a rich and complex nose.
On the palate it’s tantalising, pepper and ginger hopping merrily between tongue and palate while the smoky part raises the tone by moving onto the fruity grill, where pineapple, orange, apricot and mango sizzle together with a handful of nuts. Toasted wood makes its way through the flavours, without intrusiveness, leaving impressions of liquorice root and a faint tobacco note.
Fairly long finish of smoke, toasted nuts, tobacco leaves, orange.
A truly remarkable nose isn’t matched by a palate of equal stature, which is ‘only’ good, but the substance is there and so is the personality, enough to pique your curiosity and follow Caldenby on his adventure.