Grönt Te is simply Swedish for Green tea and you’ll be wondering what on earth are we doing with tea on Malt? Yes, some were surprised that our non-alcoholic week earlier this year somehow managed to lack a tea article. I promise we’re putting that right for later in 2020, as I’m a big fan of a cuppa.
There is nothing more relaxing than sitting down with a fine tea and a book, or slice of vinyl and letting modern life drift away. A fine tea is very much that catalyst. The Japanese have their own art form when it comes to tea and us Brits prefer a big mug and robust flavours. However, many of us are partial to both worlds and the universe of tea.
To celebrate Angela D’Orazio’s, Mackmyra’s Master Blender, induction into Whisky Magazine’s prestigious Hall of Fame (yes, someone must still read it), the distillery gave her carte blanche for a future release. This transpired into what we have in front of us today.
Immediately you can hear the powerbrokers at the Scotch Whisky Association exclaiming this isn’t Scotch. By their methodology that would indeed be the legal perspective. However, all I’ll say is I’ve written tea or tea leaves in my tasting notes more often than tequila: and look where that got us?
I’m happy to state that I believe Angela D’Orazio is my favourite Master Blender out there right now, not only for the products she delivers, but also, she has the freedom that many can only aspire to have. Yes, I’m saying the big names such as Gordon ‘Viking’ Motion, Richard ‘The Tan’ Paterson, John ‘Clynelish’ Glaser and their ilk. I’d happily wager she’d outdo such illustrious names with their own tools and inventory. But this isn’t a competition. Angela has a range of casks, ingredients and maturation conditions to showcase what whisky can achieve.
I was interested in this release from a new experience point of view and was set to purchase it when the Summerton Whisky Club announced it as a last-minute replacement. Ideal, I thought. You can purchase the Grönt Te via Master of Malt for £52.95 if you’re looking for a similar experience without joining a whisky club.
Meanwhile, during all of this, I was contacted via Mackmyra via my Instagram account about joining their influencer program. My views for stories and whatever would be tracked by their software and any rewards thereafter distributed. Of course, I refused such an offer. My interest in this release was genuine and doesn’t need to be oiled by the promise of money. I replied kindly turning down their offer and asking that any influencers who did make posts about the Grönt Te, did so in a very open and transparent manner.
Incentives are another fabrication of advertising. Creating content that wouldn’t necessarily be created or delivered. Arguably, prompting a more favourable review or outlook from the host who may have very little or no experience of Mackmyra, or whisky.
I do find it very interesting that a distillery such as Mackmyra has to resort to such things. Perhaps it is the novelty of being a Swedish whisky, or the green tea aspect specifically here? However, I know what they can produce and have poured a release at a tasting I hosted in London a couple of years ago now. Such influencer incentives I’d argue, actually damage the brand and diminish the respect that potentially you or I, have for it.
So, if you see a great deal of Grönt Te online in the coming weeks, ask yourself whether the post is based on an incentive or a real interest? Ask the host as well. Demand that level of transparency that a mere #ad hidden away in a field of hashtags fails to truly highlight.
This single malt has been finished in sherry casks that have been newly saturated in a blend of oloroso wine and the finest vintage Japanese tea leaves. [see the comment below from Sven for more detail on the process behind this creation.] These finishing casks were 128 litres in size and prior to that the cask makeup featured 1st fill 100-litre Swedish oak casks, 1st fill bourbon 100-200 litres and new and 1st fill oloroso casks of 128 litres in size. Angela worked with Yuko Ono Sthlm, a certified Japanese tea advisor to develop this unique whisky, which is bottled at 46.1% strength.
Mackmyra Grönt Te – review
Colour: apple juice.
On the nose: green apples, a herbal dustiness that reminds me of opening a green tea container. Vanilla, fudge, brown sugar and sage-like. A touch of smoke, lettuce, black tea leaves, a decliate mint leaf and a spicy nature. Water brings out more meadow fruits.
In the mouth: wood spice, brown sugar, black pepper, nutmeg and caramel. A tartness and a very subtle green tea influence with the sherry – so often forceful and screaming look at me nowadays – taking a rear seat. More spice resurrects on the finish, with water not being very beneficial.
Well, it works and is food for thought. The influence is well integrated and not forceful. Instead, the flavours marry well with the remainder of the orchestra and you’re left with a very drinkable whisky. A dram that isn’t going to rock your world, but then again, why should every whisky be a showstopper or a unicorn?
I’d anticipate giving this whisky blind and almost no one would pick out the green tea aspect. That in itself underlines how cohesive it is and how skilled the master blender has been. The whole experience has been kept in balance and to pick out the green tea aspects, you have to listen and nose with forensic care.
Bottle purchased as part of my membership of the Summerton Whisky Club – as this was my first parcel, I’ll wait till later in the year before commenting on the club. There are commission links within this review if you decide you want to try some tea. Photograph kindly provided by Mackmyra.