Mackmyra Month | The Whisky Mine

Posted October 2nd at 12:31am

We are exploring and celebrating Swedish distiller, Mackmyra. Find out about the history, production and processes behind an amazing range of whiskies - in Mackmyra's own words:-

Our main warehouse – bodås mine

Bodås mine before our whisky moved in

Bodås mine is named after the small village Bodås, which is situated just 50 kilometres from Mackmyra. In the 1950s, about 150 men mined ore in the dark pits, some 430 metres beneath ground at the deepest sites. People have been breaking ore in this region of Sweden since the 14th century and you can still see relics from those early days of mining.

Ore-breaking on an industrial scale started in the 1930s. It made a noticeable impression on the local architecture, which is still visible today. The 47-metre-high headframe and the other buildings above ground are constructed in a ‘funkis’ (scandinavian functionalistic) style, which is very characteristic for its time. While the mine was operating, over 100,000 tons of iron ore were mined. However, in 1973 the mine ran out of ore and the owner, Sandvik, shut down the operation.

Next to the ore mine, Sandvik sank a shallower mine in order to conduct some further exploratory drilling. This mine is 50 metres deep and is the one we use today for our whisky. From champignons to whisky in the 1990s, cultivators of champignon mushrooms were lodged in the mine. But when polish competitors dropped their prices, there was no future for the Swedish champignons and it was at that time that our whisky came on the scene. Being cool, dark and damp, the mine met our requirements for a whisky warehouse. Moreover, we wanted the casks to be in a safe place.

The old mine in Bodås was the perfect solution for our whisky ageing. Today, the casks age safe and sound 50 metres down in the whisky-scented drifts. What is it like to work in a dark and cool mine? Working in a cold, damp and pitch-dark mine is actually just as creepy as it might sound. From time to time, in the middle of the working day, there can be a power cut. The whole mine turns into a pitch-dark maze with hundreds of long passages where it would be very easy to become lost. You could scream for days without anyone hearing you…

Bosse, our former mine worker, remembers:

“I knew i had the torch no more than five metres away, but at the same time the mine is gigantic. I was all alone underground and had no idea in what direction the exit lay. It felt like forever until i managed to grope myself to the door. Was i afraid? Nah, i don’t know. I had my cask of whisky there, somewhere in the dark, if the worst came to the worst. The thing is, no phones work down in the mine. If you’re lost, your lost.”

Evelyn on working in the mine:

“No days here at Bodås are the same. We try to stick to a plan, but normally fail within just a few hours. I work in bottling, filling and testing the casks, and maintenance of the mine."