2# The next bold step / 20 years with Mackmyra

Rickard Lundborg

Chapter 1 in “The story of Mackmyra – # 1 How the idea to create Sweden’s first whisky was born” is available here.

The post is a short version of the chapter “The next bold step” from the book “The Whisky Rebels” by Mackmyra’s co-founder Rikard Lundborg.

The insightful evening where the idea of creating Sweden’s first whisky with the conclusions of the first study trip helped the idea to start turning into a plan. Each time we met, more parts of the puzzle fell into place. They were admittedly small pieces and the puzzle would turn out to be very big. But still. Progress was being made.

When autumn came, it was time to make a decision. I was playing badminton with Magnus (Mackmyra’s current CEO ed.) one weekend and he talked enthusiastically about the latest developments. It was obvious that we were approaching a fork in the road. Within the next few weeks, the founding group would be formalised and it was time to make a decision. Stay on board or jump off? 

I DON’T WANT TO DIE WONDERING

I ended up deciding that I didn’t want to die wondering, so right there, right then – in the Spånga badminton hall – I said I was in. It’s unlikely I would get another chance in life to become a whisky pioneer. The potential gain was too attractive to ignore. 

Although it had taken time to make up my mind, it was ultimately an easy decision. What was i risking anyway? At this stage, the work mostly involved acquiring information and, together with friends, thinking about and planning a very exciting project. Spending a lot of time, and no doubt a bit of money too, creating something unique. Learning something new, potentially building a new business and having fun along the way. 

Some people buy wooden boats that need overhauling together, others start playing golf. I wasn’t interested in such activities. But making my own whisky… 

There was another important aspect as well. Something that had a deeper meaning. It also felt like it was a cultural contribution. Adding to the domestic supply of quality beverages. Showing that Swedish raw ingredients can be used for more than just making schnapps (brännvin). That we Swedes actually have the patience to make a product that requires years of storage in a cask. 

 There is no Swedish whisky, and there should be. We can be the first to make it. How could we possibly let go of such an idea? How would that feel twenty years down the line? No, I’m in. Let’s do it. 

Speaking of bold moves, our most innovative Mackmyra whiskies can be found in the seasonal series. Here we focus on unusual finishes which reflect the revailing season. The season 2019-2020 is called Vintersol.

A GROUP OF PEOPLE WITH MANY SKILLS

Much later, I realised that we as a group had a really good basis for investigating and planning our rather ambitious entrepreneurial project. It turned out that our knowledge about and interest in various areas complemented each other perfectly. 

Magnus and Astrid were chemists and knew about processes. Calle ran a family business and knew about accounting.  Jonas and Annika were good at design and building. Malin and Jennie were structured and great administrators. I could turn ideas into products and concepts. And we all wanted to make whisky. 

There were also enough of us to ensure that we could keep things moving forward all the time, even when some of us sometimes had other things we had to get done. I don’t think we would have succeeded if there were only two or three of us. 

We ran the project as a sideline business for the first few years while still doing other jobs, so we didn’t have an immediate need to have to make a living from it. This was crucial. We were able to acquire relevant information and make our desired preparations at our own pace. That’s not to say progress was slow – quite the opposite in fact. 

The sum of everyone’s efforts meant that the work progressed well and we noticed that it was constantly moving forwards. There were sometimes minor setbacks, but these were manageable. On the whole, we had a real whisky flow. 

We met almost every week, usually on Sunday afternoons. We were now in the classic kitchen table phase. The phase when you have had an idea but not much more than that yet. No office, no business, no staff. No products, revenue or indeed costs. Just opportunities.  The weeks were used to search for information and make various contacts. Alongside our day jobs, we always found moments when we could send an e-mail or make a call. We organised the work into what became our two main areas of focus: production and financing. Marketing and sales had to wait, as we first had to see if we could be successful in terms of production. Questions continued to arise, just as they did before.

Exactly what licences do we need and who issues these? What equipment do we need? Who can provide the raw ingredients and the first casks? How do we ensure high quality in the development of recipes? What will it cost and how can we finance it? When can we actually achieve some revenues?

/ Rikard Lundborg, co-founder of Mackmyra Whisky

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE STORY OF MACKMYRA

Nnext chapter “#3 – A pilot distillery is born”.

This post is a short version of the chapter “From indecision to decision” from the book “The Whisky Rebels” by Rikard Lundborg. The whole story is available in the book, which can be ordered here.