With a title like that I almost feel like Serge Valentin, reviewing multiples of the same distillery on a single day.
Spirit of Hven is a relatively new distillery in Sweden on the island of Hven. Strangely enough it is not only a distillery but also a conference center. I’ve never heard of such a combination before, but it sounds like a lucrative venture. The distillery was founded in 2008 and has a variety of spirits on the market from gin, fruit distillates but their main line of products is their single malt whisky.
While I thought they were newer than from 2008, it turns out their whisky is also a bit older than I imagined at first.
Just before Christmas I received a surprise package from them containing a rather sizable sample (10cl) of their organic gin, Sankt Claus single malt whisky and the Merak organic single malt whisky.
It seems the organic trend is getting some traction in the world of whisky too, with Hven, Bruichladdich and Benromach releasing organic whiskies, and Springbank almost with their Springbank Green.
Of course, what matters is flavor.
Organic Gin, 40%
There’s a bit of alcohol on the nose first, but that soon gives way to juniper. Fresh, fruity and crisp with oranges. I also get a hint of herbs like rosemary. I am reminded of some Mackmyra whisky I had that was matured in a Swedish wine cask or so. Interesting. The palate is more creamy with dry spices, orange zest and a slight saltiness. Some fruit too. The finish has that rosemary flavor again, with orange and juniper.
I am not the most knowledgeable guy regarding gin, but this one is ridiculously smooth. It just slides in with very gentle flavors and almost not detectable alcohol. Very tasty, but I imagine this one being quickly overpowered in a G&T.
Sankt Claus, 53.2%, single cask single malt whisky
Three single casks were selected from over a hundred casks tasted. One was released in Sweden for Systembolaget (obviously), one in Denmark for Juuls Vinhandel and the third was made available for the rest of the world. The barley used is a mix of Pale Ale malt and peated malt (48ppm), and the resulting spirit has been matured in French oak barrels previously used for Merlot
On the nose I found oak and cherries at first. Other red fruits and red pepper corns followed. There’s a lot of oak flavor and some barley. The wine is detectable too and apart from the fruit gives a slightly nutty character. The palate is remarkably sweet with honey and nuts. Also some barbecue like greasiness and marinade. The fruits are here too but the sweetness is very different from the nose. Dry, spicy and lots of oak. I can imagine this being their Christmas selection! The finish is warming but not very long.
A very tasty dram with lots of Christmassy flavors. They picked this one well for the season. It’s a wonderful combination of flavors, although I would also like to taste the whisky from a less active cask, to see what that Pale Ale malt brings. Even though they used peated barley, apart from the barbecue flavors I don’t get much smoke at all.
Seven Stars No.2 Merak, organic single malt whisky, 45%
This whisky is from the Merak series, which is named after a part of the Big Dipper constellation. Without trying to get too technical (I’m just copying data here) the Merak star is a white sub giant three times as big and heavy as our sub and 68 times more intense. It is located 79 light years away from Earth.
Maturation of this whisky happens in a combination of French, Spanish and American oak and each bottling consists of 25 casks. It’s organic and classified as such, no coloring or chill filtration.
On the nose I got lots of barley with some oak. The spirit tastes rather young but quite gentle. A hint of smoke and a certain bread like scent that reminds me of fresh French bread crust. The palate is also remarkably young tasting but quite tasty. Gentle and rather rich with some spices, barley and oak. I think I get an oat flavor too, syrupy with some peppercorns. The finish is gentle and long, bready, grainy.
This is a very young tasting whisky, but not in a bad way. The flavors are already well integrated and in this case the youthfulness of the whisky is doing it a favor I think. Or my palate is changing.
All three spirits are very nice. I think the Sankt Claus is interesting but a bit overly Christmassy. That works miracles when sitting around the Christmas tree but I think it limits it potential in other periods of the year (I can’t imagine drinking that in summer), and the Merak is just lovely. I wonder where they’re going with these casks in the future!
The gin is just good. It might be a bit too smooth for all-round gin usage, but I prefer my gin neat anyway, so that worked out quite well. It’s kind of telling that that’s the only one that’s finished now. The other samples are in line for finishing soon.
I’m not even sure how the guys at Spirit of Hven got my address, and I might have given it some time ago, but I love them for letting me get to know their spirit. I’ve not seen it around in many shops yet but there is some of their stuff available at Master of Malt. Unfortunately, as is the case with all Swedish whisky, it’s rather expensive.
Thanks to Spirit of Hven for sending me these samples. Much obliged!