Cask owner portrait: Staffan Sillén

Malin Åberg

For just over twenty years, ever since the day Sweden got its first proper Swedish whisky, he has accompanied us on our journey – and during that time he has lost count of the number of whisky casks he has acquired. He has attended events and been on whisky trips, supported new initiatives, written Mackmyra songs and helped set up the sites at Smögen and Lofsdalen. It would be hard to find a more involved cask owner than Staffan Sillén. Very hard.

Mackmyra’s Malin Åberg met the always happy and positive Staffan to find out what he thinks about his years as a cask owner and the journey he has made alongside Mackmyra.

You are one of our most loyal cask owners and have followed us since we started up in 1999. The first cask you bought certainly wasn’t the last; how many have you acquired?

– Hmm, I would have to look through your lists to find that out, as I’m actually not quite sure. In addition to the casks, I have also bought a large number of different boxes that have been issued, so I probably can’t say how many I have had or currently have.

What is the best thing about being a cask owner?

– The best thing is probably all the people you meet, the Mackmyra staff and the great relationships that have developed over the years. With, for example, Eric and like-minded people who are as whisky-nerdy as I am. It’s an incredible community and really provides a lot of added value.

I am also in a group that is interested in Mackmyra in a more nerdy way as well, and we always have a great time together. There are twenty of us and we meet once a year. Unsurprisingly, we each take a Mackmyra bottle to the meetings. This year, a guy who plays the accordion and I created a little song about Mackmyra that we performed.

Staffans first bottle from his own cask.

It is also fantastic, of course, to see your own whisky collection grow each time a cask is bottled. I have saved bottle number one from each cask. The very first bottle from one of my own casks was filled on 16 March 2007. I plan to open that on my 70th birthday.

You called one of your casks “Tricked again” didn’t you?

– Yes indeed, I had decided not to buy another cask for a while, but then my dear friend Eric at Mackmyra persuaded me to buy one anyway, so I named it “Tricked again” just for fun.

When you bottle a cask and receive your 48 bottles of a certain whisky, what do you do with them all?

– I give away a huge amount of them as presents and have also donated quite a few to the whisky club that I chair. And some of them of course get used at parties etc. I can now offer guests whiskies from four different casks.

Could you tell us about your Mackmyra collection?

– Ok, I will try to make a very long story short! My original aim was to have at least one bottle of each whisky that Mackmyra issued, but that is almost impossible now because so many special editions are released. But I continue to stick with my aim with regard to seasonal and Moment issues, and I always get at least one bottle of them.

And I have, of course, also been a bit nerdy about it, so I try to get hold of different sizes and appearances for each edition, for example versions that are issued outside Sweden, with different text and labels.

It is especially nice with the early Mackmyra bottles like the ones from the Special Series (which started in 2008, editor’s note). It fascinates me that when I go back and test a bottle, I often think “Wow, that one really was very good!”.

So that leads us in a fairly obvious step to the question; Do you have a very big drinks cabinet?

– I don’t have an actual drinks cabinet, I instead have a storeroom where I keep my entire collection. The biggest part of my collection is definitely made up of Mackmyra but I also have a few other whiskies as well. I probably have more than 100 bottles of non-Mackmyra whisky altogether.

You must be very popular among your friends with such a great storeroom?

– I am indeed! A friend came over yesterday and tasted three different sorts. Everyone usually really likes them.

… and is it the case that you also collect non-drinkable Mackmyra items as well?

– Yes, I have accumulated quite a lot of things relating to Mackmyra over the years, in all shapes and sizes. These include brochures, newsletters, annual reports, packaging and collaborations. One day, I will try to create something coherent from everything I have saved, but at the moment it is basically just a case of collector mania.

Would you be able to identify a Mackmyra in a whisky blind test?

– I have taken part in a lot blind tests and usually quickly identify what is what. It is more difficult if you are just allowed to taste and not smell the whisky, but if you get to put your nose close to a glass with Mackmyra you will easily notice the characteristic pear notes. That is what makes Mackmyra whiskies distinct from other whiskies.

Which are your favourite drinks?

Brukswhisky is my favourite among the whiskies available in the standard range at Systembolaget. Then comes MACK by Mackmyra. With regard to the limited editions, Blomstertid is a real favourite, I really like that one. I only have three bottles of it left, and it is a must for me at Midsummer. When they are finished I will have to see if I can hunt down some more bottles. Vinterglöd and Moment Karibien were also fantastic.

/ Malin Åberg, Mackmyra Whisky