A fascinating insight into Swedish Distillery Mackmyra, and the early days establishing their stills.
First published on Mackmyra.com
THE HUNT FOR THE PERFECT SITE
At first sight, the Mackmyra mill was already of great interest to us. The site was well maintained, surrounded by beautiful environment. Mill production had moved during the industrial revolution, which was why it hadn’t grown too big. The size was just about right for us.
In the middle of the site, we found the building we wanted. Actually, it consisted of three smaller buildings: a forge, a mill, and a power station. To start with, the power station would be enough for the test distillery, but we already started visualising how the site would grow. The forge could become a visitor centre and we could resurrect the old mill as a brewing house. In the power station, we pictured a magnificent copper pan by each window. But, first, we had to face reality and the small-scale start up.
OUR VERY FIRST COPPER POT STILL
With this help, we created the first sketch of our pot still. The first sketch was created in Word and is the only remaining draft there is.
Once we had completed the sketch, we began building. We learned how to weld and, even though the first pot still might not look that professional, it fulfilled its purpose. It was used between 1999-2000 and could distil around 30 litres each time. Thanks to the size of the pot still, we constructed the casks to hold 30 litres as well. This size proved to be just right in order for the whisky to not mature too fast nor to slow. And that’s why we decided to keep the small size casks as an option even in the full-scale distillery.
SUMMER AND AUTUMN OF 1999
Prior to the summer of 1999, we finally got access to Mackmyra Bruk and we could finally begin turning our vision into reality. The power station was about to be turned into a test-distillery. We also had access to Bruksgatan 4, previously an equestrian shop. It would later become our office, but that summer it served as our accommodation and canteen.
The old power station had operated from 1905 until 1962, when its turbines, generators, and miscellaneous equipment were removed. There was still an old blasting mat hanging from the ceiling, from when one of the turbines had been blown up. After 1962, the building had been used as a storage room for the props of the local theatre group, ‘Skottes musikteater’.
We had to spend many weekends on-site. A typical weekend meant driving from Stockholm to Mackmyra on Saturday morning. While on site, we went through the plan for the weekend before we went down to the power station and began our work. The work was led by Jonas and Annika, and Astrid was normally responsible for lunch and fika (coffee and cake).
In the beginning, we had to clean out about 50 kg of spiderweb that was covering every inch of the rooms. Calle, responsible for the finances, kindly allowed us to buy a pressure-wash. Thereafter, we dealt with the surface layers and painted the whole place in a limestone colour. Slowly but surely, as the building began to look better, we started to look for equipment for the soon-to-be test distillery.
To celebrate our Mackmyra Month, our subscribers will each receive a rather special bottle of Mackmyra Gruvguld (find out more) - join us before October 19th to receive yours - it's not currently available in the UK, and would make a beautiful addition to your collection.
Subscribers to The Summerton Club will receive a full size bottle of aged spirit (Whisky, Rum or Brandy) expertly curated by club founder, Daniel Humphrey. All bottles are chosen for their scarcity in the UK and for their appeal to you as a collector of fine spirits.
Subscriptions cost £50 per delivery, and are available monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, and can be cancelled at any time.
Alternatively, consider our gift subscriptions for the perfect Christmas/Birthday present for friends and family