Here is the previous chapter “#6 An important person opens his doors”.
On the outside, the old mill still looks like the building constructed in 1839, as testified by the cast iron numbers on the gable. But inside it is all space age and high technology. Although not completely. Under stainless steel ladders and flooring you can still find the original foundations and crankshafts from old waterwheels.
If you believe whiskies have a soul and personality, then this one has a good chance of having a decent upbringing, so to speak. And so it continues, all along the street Bruksgatan.
The old stable is a storeroom for empty casks, the mill store is a silo for malt and the old cheese and wine cellar (yes, there was actually one of those) is a store for all the tasting samples that have been taken during the whisky production’s short history. Or the treasure room, as it is called internally.
There are even visitors who kneel on the ice-cold cement floor to try to get a little look, like a sort of personal industrial espionage, into that sanctuary. But it is not exactly a sexy sight. The bottles look like old pharmacy bottles. In the bottom left corner is the “original cask” from 1999, with “Mackmyra” written scruffily on the lid using a thick felt-tip pen.
The idea is that it could just as easily be a storage place for fusel alcohol or methylated spirits as for the first drops of something that will one day revolutionise the world. Which does not prevent some visitors from secretly hoping that the door lock will get stuck behind them, so that they have free licence to taste all the lovely drops. And there certainly can’t be many companies that have their entire history collected in a series of glass bottles.
It is perhaps not officially acceptable as an audit report. But it is irreplaceable as documentation. By using the treasure room it is easy to trace a whisky back to its source and roots. This forms the basis for both quality and historical authenticity.
The remaining room is the old mill office, where employees went with cap in hand to collect their weekly wages. This is now the whisky office, Mackmyra’s “nerve centre”.
The largest room is occupied by a gigantic workbench suitable for lunches, tasting sessions and conferences. It is actually the estate’s old billiard table, which can be restored to its original state in a few simple steps when people get the urge to play.
There are certificates from former agricultural exhibitions and animal fairs on the walls. One reveals that Mackmyra received an honorary award at the national exhibition in Uppsala for its Gloria Timotej (Timothy-grass). It at first feels slightly misplaced among the alcohol vapours. But maybe it isn’t?
Norrland’s first combine harvester once worked on the Mackmyra estate. And the buildings now house the first whisky distillery. That feels somehow like a logical progression. And if the tasting experts are to be believed, it is only a matter of time before the certificates awarded for timotej and breeding sows are joined by awards from whisky fairs.
CEO Magnus Dandanell remembers the Mackmyra Mill Estate of his childhood as being a mysterious, somewhat dangerous place, with broken roofs and an overgrown park. In the hands of Tage Klingberg it has undergone a comprehensive overhaul, and the most recent addition is a golf course.
Being the owner of an estate in the 21st century is no longer all about tweed jackets and constant feasting under the family portraits. Today he had to head out on a rusty bicycle and with a high pressure washer to the old farm workers’ cottages behind the paddock. The tenants had reported a blocked drain. In such situations, even the estate owner sometimes has to be prepared to have a really hands-on approach. So he is certainly no stranger to working with pipes and drips.
And these have now really taken on a completely new dimension for him with the distillery. Producing whisky in an old smithy sounded like a crazy idea when he first heard it. But he has absolutely no regrets about getting involved. Tage Klingberg is now one of the company’s owners, has his own cask in storage in a mining shaft and can again serve alcohol on his own estate, just 200 metres from his home, with its grand tiled stoves, his grandfather’s nine pipes, some elk antlers, his leather-bound copies of the complete works of Goethe and a Labrador with a wagging tail called Ceasar.
“I did make a mistake when I drafted the rental agreement though. I forgot to add a clause stating free tasting for the lord of the manor!” And his wife Eva says it’s never wrong with whisky, especially when you know the exact contents of the beautiful bottle.
The nearby Valboås ridge is an esker that has acted like a gigantic filter for rain and meltwaters since the ice age. Eva Klingberg claims she has never in her life bought bottled water. Guests have always been provided with a tap water that is one of the best in the world. There is now even certification of this, and she calls the water “Mackmyra undistilled”.
/ Rikard Lundborg, co-founder Mackmyra Whisky