This year was the first time I did not only spend a single day at Bottle Market. Instead, I convinced my wife to find a nice hotel and stay in Bremen for the whole weekend. After starting slowly with a few drams on Friday evening, we returned to the fair on Saturday morning, jumping right into the fire with a tasting that had whisky from Scandinavia as its central theme. Under the guidance of Julia Nourney, we got to try eleven different liquids from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. Starting at 10:30 in the morning, some might call this an insolvable challenge – but to me it was more of a “Scandinavian Breakfast”.
The first dram Julia had selected for us was not yet a whisky. Odin’s Share comes from the world’s northernmost distillery called Aurora in Norway. Opened in September 2016, we have to wait another two years before their first fully matured whisky, which will be called Bivrost, gets released. Though Odin’s Share only spent about one year in the cask, it already had a pleasant honey sweetness. From Norway we journeyed on to the East coast of Denmark, where Braunstein Distillery is located. Their 7-year-old Danica Single Malt was matured in bourbon and sherry casks and offered leather, almonds and herbs. The first Swedish whisky of the tasting was the latest release from Box Distillery called Quercus I Robur. If you follow our blog regularly, chances are high that you will already have read my full review on this wonderful dram with notes of wood, vanilla, toffee and herbs. I know, I have said this many times before, but I really enjoy every drop that comes from this distillery.
Although more and more visitors had entered the exhibition hall by now, we had not even reached the half time of our tasting. Teerenpeli Distillery in Finland produces the PRKL, which is actually short for the Finnish swearword “Perkele”. While you have notes of liquorice and ham in the nose, it becomes rather sweet and malty when you drink it. Hopping over to Iceland, we tried the first ever single malt whisky from Floki that was bottled just three days before we got our hands on it. True to the slogan “From Grain to Glass in Iceland”, everything is handcrafted at Floki Distillery. The sweet notes of honey and grain in this pour promise some interesting bottlings for the future. Back in Sweden, we were served the 2015 fair bottling of Bottle Market, a cask strength whisky by Mackmyra, which was matured in ex-bourbon barrels and virgin Swedish oak casks. While we savored the spirit, we also learned that Mackmyra doubled their production facilities when they opened their new Gravity Distillery a mere three years ago.
The Fairy Lochan from Denmark is a smoky whisky from their Seasons collection, in which it represents spring. Due to the fact that the distillery dried the barley over nettles rather than peat, the spirit has a very special aroma that is both meaty and herby. Another Danish whisky we got in our glasses was Stauning’s KAOS that reminded me of a creamy versions of a bale of straw. This slightly peated expression combines the peated whisky, the rye whisky and the traditional whisky from Stauning. It was followed by the Initium from Swedish Nordmarkens Distillery, which was full of raisins and red fruits. Founded in 2014, this is the first whisky brought onto the market from this young production site.
But we were not done yet; there were still two more drams to come. As we had so much fun with Mackmyra’s fair bottling we went back to this distillery to try their Svensk Rök/Amerikansk Ek. A slight peatiness mingles with distinct vanilla notes and a nice honey sweetness. Before we were finally sent out for lunch, we were served our last dram which was also the most powerful pour of the tasting. The White Dog Straight Rye is a new make spirit from the Helsinki Distilling Company that has never seen the inside of a cask. Bottled at an ABV of 60.5% it offers notes of laurels, dough and herbs. It will be very interesting to see what this liquid will be like once it has spent a significant amount of time in the barrel.
Surely, the “Nordish by Nature” tasting was not a usual Saturday morning experience. And, of course, it was also quite different from the breakfasts I normally tend to have. While these were certainly a lot of drams for such an early time in the day, it was really great fun to see how many different styles of whisky you currently find in Scandinavia. Julia lead through the tasting with lots of enthusiasm and shared all kinds of anecdotes and other little stories. If you ever have the chance to attend one of her tastings ,you should definitely make sure to do so. It will be more than worth it.