Imagine a bunch of sweaty, middle-aged men sitting in a sauna with a dram. I am not one for saunas, but I can imagine the banter happening, and the idea of making ones own whisky isn’t too far fetched.
To actually go through with that is an entirely different thing. However, the guys behind Kyrö actually did just that. There’s a lot more background story on their website, but the short of it is that they started distilling in 2014.
It’s interesting to see that there are more distilleries outside the USA and Canada popping up to make rye whisky. Apart from the rather well known (here, at least) Millstone rye whiskies, there now is a Finnish one, and a few years ago even Amrut released an expensive, but splendid rye whisky.
With The Nectar celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, they got their hands on a cask of Kyrö rye whisky, and bottled it for themselves. Of course, with only the Nordic Cask one to compare it to, I had to get my hands on a few more. A sample came from MvZ, but next to the The Nectar one sat another one in the shop, and I picked that one up too.
So, comparing three Kyrö whiskies, and trying to compare them mentally to the Nordic Cask one. Here it goes!
Kyrö Malt, bottled in 2020, 47.2%
The rye is very intense with lots of spicy notes. Black pepper, roasted rye and ginger. A bit of orange and the oreo style of cocoa. Very iron rich. Quite some fresh oak too.
More syrupy on the palate than I expected, and it takes a few seconds before the spices kick in. It’s dry, with lots of toast, burnt cocoa, ginger, some bay leaf, even. Roasted pumpkin seeds.
Very gentle, with a high consistency. Lots of spices, dark toasted bread (both dark bread and darkly toasted). Not overly long.
A very decent standard bottling, but if this is the benchmark, we’re in for some fun! With this bottle setting you back between € 40 and € 60, depending on where you find it, it’s a bit on the expensive side, but that’s not too surprising with it being a recent start-up and a small distillery. A good start!
Kyrö Wood Smoke, bottled in 2021, 47.2%
There is a LOT of wood on the nose. Very typical for young rye. I don’t expect this to be more than five years old. Wood driven spices, with rye spices on top. Menthol, a bit of wood smoke indeed, but mostly moist wood shavings. Fresh ginger, some orchard fruits after a while.
The palate is rather gentle. Surprisingly, based on how intense the flavors are. Dry, roasted grains, ginger, orange pith, menthol. Lots of oak, and a whiff of smoke. That smokiness brings more wood flavors forward, than actual smoke.
The finish is slightly sweeter, but also gives a hot sensation down my throat. Syrupy, with a bit of pine and resin. Rather long.
It lacks a bit of complexity, but still is a high quality spirit. I expected the wood smoke to more prevalent, with it being stated so boldly on the label. And, with this being on the shelf next to the regular Rye Malt, I think the difference should be a little more pronounced.
Still, it has a bit more complexity than the initial one, and since it’s the same price, I’d go for this one.
Kyrö’s Choice, bottled in 2021, 47.2% – OB for The Nectar
Much like the wood smoke, but with a slight hint of matches. I like that, by the way, if kept in check. A little bit more smoky, with even a hint of red fruits. Therefore, not just that massive note of oak, although that’s still there.
Slightly sweet with symple syrup, resin, oak and strawberry coulis. Lots of wood notes with cinnamon, ginger, oak.
The palate brings surprising hints of buttered, and slightly burnt toast. Rye spiciness, some black pepper and strawberries.
It’s a bit inconsistent with flavors going off in various directions. However, it is more ‘wild’ than unhinged. I like that there are more fruits than in the other two. The Belgians have picked a good cask!
I like the simple fact that there is a decent base expression for this distillery, and they fan out from there. The different versions, including the single cask by Berry Brothers, from their Nordic Casks, all add something to the standard version.
It’s good to have another interesting distillery getting a bit more exposure, and I especially like that they do something different than most new non-Scottish, European distilleries. Kudos!