IWSC Spirit Tasting 2014


The 23rd July saw me travelling down to London to a rather prestigious event where some of the elite spirits would be showcased. A rather bold concept, but when you have the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2014 winners, who incidentally were announced that very morning for, in one room, it’s an honour to have been offered the invite. Organised by both the IWSC and The Worshipful Company of Distillers, the event was to the 7th annual and held within the Vintner’s Hall.

All gold winners were on display here, with a smattering of ‘Outstanding’ silver winners (197 overall), alongside brand representatives and Master Distillers, so to me it was the perfect opportunity to not only try some of the names I hear so much about, but to also experience, and ultimately compare, the liquid of a winning brand to other similar flavour profiles and categories.

As I tasted a fair few, for ease, below you will find my tasting notes covering a variety of categories –


Bourbon Barreled Big Gin – 47%

Aged 6 months in a once used Kentucky bourbon barrel. Slight wood aromas on the nose with a smooth vanilla scent following. The vanilla dominates the palate, offering a smooth yet dry finish.

Bedrock – 40%

Fresh and fruity on the nose with red berry and liquorice styles dominating. Sharp on the palate with a rather harsh kick of cinnamon creating a very long and very dry finish.

See-Gin Bodensee – 48%

A rather high kick of alcohol, with plenty of aromas including liquorice on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate, but develops with a good kick of liquorice allsorts. A little raw because of this, but produces a lingering finish.

Hernö Juniper Cask – 47%

Lively with heavy juniper on the nose, rounded off with sweet notes. A smooth start on the palate, developing a sharp citrus that creates a lingering finish.


Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo


El Tesoro Añejo – 40%

Light caramel on the nose with hints of banana coming through. Smooth, subtle flavours of dry, sun-kissed toffee creating a lingering finish.

El Tesoro Platinum – 40%

Smooth with notes of caramel and kicks of fresh wood on the nose. Very smooth with a banana flavour dominating. A long, fresh finish that’s slightly dry.

Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo – 40%

Light on the nose with fragrant scents of wood and honey coming through. Again light on the palate, with hits of banana and smooth, fresh agave. A slightly sharp finish that lingers.

Milargro Special Reserve Añejo – 40%

Fresh agave on the nose creates a rather aromatic experience. A rich blend of agave and wood on the palate that’s lively, yet lingers to a dry finish.


Vieux Niesson – 45%

Light with high, aromatic notes of cocoa and spices. A slow burner on the palate, with again light, aromatic flavours of wood, spice and almonds. Long finish.

Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish – 43%

Rich apple and orange notes, with vanilla and dried fruits kicking the end. Very smooth on the palate, with the rich aromatic fruit flavours dominating, followed by delicate sweetness that produces a long finish.


Angostura 1824 – 40%

Soft notes of wood and sugar on the nose with hints of vanilla following. Very smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of fresh kicks of wood, honey and spice on the lingering finish.


Pays d’Auge 8yr – 41%

Rich apple aromas on the nose, yet becomes lighter once onto the palate. More aromatic styling, with a smooth, rather thin finish that’s surprisingly short.


4 Fundos – 42%

Very aromatic on the nose with fresh, light fruit flavours coming through. Sharp and very dry on the palate, with cereal flavours creating a long finish.

Russell's Reserve Small Batch
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch


Blanton’s Gold Edition – 51.5%

Light wood on the nose with rich wheat and sweet honey combining soon after. A sharp spice start on the palate, that soon mellows into a sweet, long fudge finish.

Russell’s Reserve Small Batch – 45%

Light and aromatic on the nose with plenty of wood notes before dark caramel aromas step in. Light and thin on the palate, creating a mouth-watering flavour of caramel and wood before hitting a sharp finish.

Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – 66.6%

A bold hit of fruit and sweetness combined on the nose. Incredibly rich on the palate with deep kicks of caramel that creates a long finish.


New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1
New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1


New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1 – 56.5%

Fresh notes of light wood on the nose combined with sweet spice. Very rich on the palate, with an incredible sooth offering of toffee, banana, dry fruits and chocolate to create a lingering finish.


Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5yr – 43%

Smooth with a slight whisp of smoke on the nose. Light and thin on the palate, with a slight kick of vanilla and coconut before the short finish.


Gibsons Finest Rare Blended 18yr

Smooth caramelised vanilla blended with fruits appear on the nose. A rich, sharp fruity start on the palate, mellowing down to a sweet vanilla and spice combination.


English Whiskey Company Peated – 43%

Delicate peat  nose with hints of green fruit coming through. Short, light peat and some kicks of fruit on the palate.


Säntis Malt Edition Snow White 2 – 48%

Light, fresh, soft fruit on the nose, turning over onto the palate too. Aromatic herbs and spices combine with white fruits to create a lingering finish.


Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant – 48%

Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.


Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12yr – 40%

Smooth, soft notes of citrus and almond on the nose. Slightly sweet on the palate, with citrus, honey and spice combining well for a short finish.

Bushmills 10yr – 40%

Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.

Bushmills 16yr – 40%

Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.

Bushmills 21yr – 40%

Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.

Teeling Vintage Reserve 30yr – 46%

Fine, light caramel notes on the nose, with rich almonds following. Sharp start on the palate, but mellows into a light malt, honey and spice blend that creates a lingering finish.

Redbreast 15yr – 46%

Aromatic ripe fruit on the nose, with a soft malt finish. Plenty of barley and vanilla on the palate creating a rich and slightly sweet finish.


Grant’s Voyager – 40%

Rich on the nose with smooth cereal notes and ripe fruit. A combination of honey, fruit and chocolate dominates the palate, creating a rich, sweet lingering finish.

Ballantine’s Limited Deluxe Blend – 43%

Ripe berry and barley blend on the nose, with hints of citrus cutting through. A sharp start on the palate with vanilla countering the citrus for a long finish.

Grant’s Deluxe 18yr – 40%

A lively cereal nose with a good blend of toffee and honey. A light offering on the palate with toffee and ginger, mixing with hints of spice on the short finish.

Glenmorangie Signet
Glenmorangie Signet

Glenmorangie Signet – 48%

Light notes of toffee, fudge, chocolate and cinnamon blending together on the nose. A developing sharpness to a ripe malt kick, which mellows towards the short, rich finish of stoned fruit.

Glenmorangie 18yr – 43%

Light on the nose with citrus and fresh white fruit dominating. A developing kick of spice on the palate, followed by a dry, fruity finish.

Glenglassaugh 30yr – 44.8%

Smooth, dried fruits on the nose, followed by a light offering of raisin on the palate. A good kick of malt and spice on the finish with hints of tobacco.

Glenglassaugh 40yr
Glenglassaugh 40yr

Glenglassaugh 40yr – 42.5%

Rich chocolate and toffee notes on the nose. Burnt wood blends with nutmeg to create a long, rich, deep offering.

The Dalmore 25yr – 42%

Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of dried fruits and citrus. Soft, smooth oak that warms flavours of chocolate and toffee into rich offerings.

Glenmorangie 25yr – 43%

Light cereal notes combined with coffee and dried fruits on the nose. A slight citrus kick on the palate with honey, subtle spice and oak flavours creating a long finish.

Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition

Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%

Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.

Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside – 43%

Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.

Some absolute crackers available, despite missing out on the likes of vodka, cognac and brandy, fruit spirits, shochu and armagnac as well as the names I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing (Elmer T. Lee, Southwestern Distillers, The King’s Ginger, Mozart Gold and Col E. H. Taylor Jr the stand out missing expressions from the above list).

One expression that has truly surprised me was the New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1, coming in at a hefty 56.5% and hailing from Australia. This whisky has dominated my conversations of the event to anyone who will listen to me! One that I will be sourcing as soon as possible so I can enjoy a country that granted, you wouldn’t expect to get a good spirit from, especially compared to their wines, but have raised their output considerably and most importantly, winning a gold medal that highlights their work and effort.

Congratulations to them, and to the rest of the winners!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.






Mackmyra has come a long way since 1999. Founded as the only whisky distillery in Sweden, it has earned a reputation despite its un-traditional Scandinavian location. But how, and more importantly, why is Sweden coming through as a force to be reckoned with in the whisky world?

You have to start at the beginning to work this out.

Back in the spring of 1998, eight friends on a skiing trip met up at a mountain lodge armed with a bottle each of whisky. The conversation turned to not only enjoying, but wondering why Sweden hasn’t taken advantage of producing. With this, the coming weeks looked into how whisky is produced and to see if they could make Sweden’s first ever. In March of 1999, Mackmyra was founded, alongside their first distillery. To really give you a scope of the size, there were no employees within the company. Instead, all aspects were run by the company’s eight founders. Nine months later, hard work paid off as the first whisky to be distilled came to fruition on 18th December after going through 170 different recipes.
In spring of 2002, the first releases came after much deliberation. The Mackmyra Elegant and Mackmyra Smoke were the graces of Sweden, alongside their new distillery opened in Gävle during the same year.

Mackmyra also offered an initiative called the Mackmyra Reserve. This idea revolves around the opportunity for customers to track their own personal 30-litre cask from production through maturation to final bottling, at a time of the customer’s own choosing. Currently, several thousand co-owners and/or cask owners have their name to Mackmyra.

The year 2006 and 2007 saw Mackmyra release their first young, bottled series of limited editions, creating a prelude to new Swedish whisky. Incredibly popular, they sold out within a couple of hours. To capitalise on the popularity, the following year saw Mackmyra release ‘The First Edition’, the first to be produced in large volumes. Using Swedish ingredients and no additives, this unique expression is still available to enjoy today.

The following years saw more innovative expansions, with 2009 being the start year for their own whisky village deep in the forest Kungsbäck in Gävle that includes tours of their distillery, and in 2010 launching Mackmyra Brukswhisky, the first from them to establish their premium range.

Sounds like everything has gone from strength to strength, but how is it produced?

All ingredients used in the production of Mackmyra are sourced within a 75-mile radius from Mackmyra, except for the yeast, which is from Rotebro. The water goes through a natural filtration process in an esker nearby and is sterilized with a high-intensity UV light. The peat is from a local mire near Österfärnebo, and the distillery uses barley from Dalarna and Strömsta Manor in Enköping.
Mackmyra bottles at their natural colour, without additives, and ages their spirits in four different cask types: bourbon, sherry, Swedish oak and in a special signature cask made from classic American bourbon casks and Swedish oak. The whisky is generally matured 50 meters below ground in the disused Bodås Mine in Hofors, and most releases have been at cask strength, except for The First Edition and Mackmyra Brukswhisky.

So how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my Mackmyra experiences so far –

Mackmyra First Edition – 46.1%

Very dry on the nose, a little damp but some sweetness follows. Ripe on the palate, a slight sweetness follows with wisps of cocoa coming through slowly. Short.

Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant – 48%

Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.

Mackmyra 10 Years – 46.1%

Matured for ten years on high quality Bourbon, Oloroso and new American oak casks. Light, sweet green apple on the nose, with soft caramel coming through slowly. A building of warm spice upon the palate, with a kick of anise and raisin oak to start the lingering bold finish.

Mackmyra Expedition – 46.1%

Aged within American oak and Swedish oak, then partly finished in casks that previously stored Swedish cloudberry wine.
Very light and thin on the nose, with subtle dried fruits and berries coming through slowly. A blend of fudge and striking spice are present on the palate, with a subtle peat smoke carried towards the long, slightly dry finish.

Mackmyra Blomstertid – 46.1%

Aged within ex-bourbon casks saturated with cherry wine, American oak casks (New and 1st fill), Oloroso wine casks and Pedro Ximenez casks.
Gentle flowers, red fruit and subtle tobacco are present on the nose, leading to a ripe red berry profile on the palate. Fresh, with hints of dry herbs combine to create a cherried raisin finish.

Mackmyra Svensk Rök – 46.1%

Aged within American oak, Swedish Oak, ex-bourbon and casks saturated with Oloroso. Deep smoke forms upon the nose, with hints of vanilla creeping through. Waves of light peat cross the palate, with sweet salted fudge following. Wet tobacco and anise combine towards a lingering freshly smoked oak finish.

Mackmyra Skördetid – 46.1%

A collaboration with wine producer Masi, this is partially aged within casks that previously stored Masi Costasera Amarone wine.
Subtle grape and raisin upon the nose, followed by a wrap of fudge and stemmed ginger. Dried peel of orange, with a lick of ginger, dry spice and oak, followed by ripe pear as it heads to a long, grape led finish.

Mackmyra Moment Körsbär – 47%

Finished within casks that previously stored sweet cherry wine.
Very soft cherry notes on the nose, with light fudge and cedar wood coming through. Rich, slightly intense cherry approaches the palate first, followed by ripe fruits and stemmed ginger. A finish of long spices and cherry, with a slight dry linger.

Mackmyra Bee – 22%

A liqueur made from Swedish whisky, malt vodka and organic honey. The honey is produced in the surroundings of Gävle and Valbo, and consists mainly of dandelion, linden and forest honey with hints of raspberry flowers.
Soft notes on vanilla and wood on the nose, with the honey dominating. Light, thin but with plenty of aromatic honey flavours blended with butter and coffee. Short and velvet.

Some fantasitc expressions, with such individuality compared to your more classic Scotland or Ireland offerings. I can see why the world is watching when new releases come onto the market. Although limited, it’s still a great addition to your drinks cabinet, and can be found in many a whisky led bar. It’s different, and bartenders love it and are more than willing to share!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.