Rum cask finishing isn’t a new trend – particularly if you look at the US whiskey category. But, whilst fashions have moved towards more varied cask creativity since the turn of the millennium, increasingly Scotch distilleries have looked to rum casks to create new and interesting expressions. Glenfiddich, Kilchoman, Arran, even Grants have all released rum influenced whiskies over the last 12 months. It’s somewhat anomalous when you consider that the strict rules which govern the production of Scotch are a far cry from the rules (such as they are - or aren’t) that direct the production of rum. However, the latest rum cask product to cross my desk doesn’t come from Scotland – it’s from Mackmyra in the form of their latest ‘Moment’ bottling.
Moment Karibien is in effect a sequel to Mackmyra Vinterdrom which was released at the end of 2016. Both whiskies have at their heart a parcel of liquid matured in rums hailing from Barbados and Jamaica by Plantation (the brand is owned by Cognac Ferrand based near Ars in France). The recently released Karibien takes this rum core and adds the type of innovative spin which Mackmyra has built their growing reputation on - by including rather the broad canvas of precursor liquids within the composition. As always, a helpful product sheet provides some illumination – ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso and cherry casks with 75% of the blend finished in particularly large rum casks.
Whilst issued as an NAS, all of the liquids used to create Karibien as are at least 8 years of age – and like many of the distillery’s expressions, they are matured 50 metres underground in the Bodas Mine (40 minutes SW from the distillery based in Gävle). The latest Moment bottling (with its funky detachable metal label held on by a recycled bike tyre) is delivered at 44.4% ABV with 4,137 bottles available. It costs a shy over £95 from Master of Malt.
Nose: Straight out of the bakery with aromas of pastries, choux buns and icing-sugar dusted tart cases. The fruit base is varied - part juicy red berries, part apple (a commonality across all Mackmyra expressions I find) and part brown-sugar steeped tropical – pineapple, mango and a scattering of raisins. In the background, more ex-bourbon cask aromas – desiccated coconut and split vanilla pods – alongside grassiness from dried hay. Reduction is thought-provoking with candy floss sweetness, Italian meringue creaminess and a slight chalky minerality (which I also often find from Mackmyra’s distillate).
Taste: A reasonably viscous arrival with some mouthcling. Toffee apples, buttered toast and vanilla up front – back up by a lower volume of berry fruit, but a greater definition of saccharine flavours – pineapple fritters, orange liqueur and refined sugars. The developments heads towards minerality with pebbles and shingle pushing through the sweetness before moving towards overt oakiness. Water introduces burnt custard, marzipan and a perky peppered spiciness whilst emphasising the tart dryness of the wood.
Finish: Quite long with fading sugars, punchy oak and tonka beans.
Moment Karibien is made from a well-judged collection of casks – each adding a perceptible facet to the end result. Unsurprisingly, the rum influence leads here with piquant sweetness pervading both the nose and palate and adding a basket of sweet fruits on top of Mackmyra’s customary cask-forward and apple-focussed character. Pleasant stuff indeed, and with a more balanced and well-aged compostion than Mackmyra Vinterdrom. If you're a fan of the distillery's style and enjoy a rum finish, this is worth a look.