söndag 22 november 2020

Swedish Blended Malt Whisky from Smögen & Hven – Bländande 55,5% ABV!

Friends! Last week Pär Caldenby, the Distillery Manager/Master Distiller at Smögen Distillery, contacted me by e-mail giving me a heads up that some upcoming products would come my way in the form of samples. Yay! The package arrived at the beginning of this week and one of the samples was marked "Bländande". The sample contained a swedish blended malt whisky and the name of this whisky is of course a pun, a play with words on the fact that it is both a blend and that the result of the blend is of bländande quality, meaning of blinding/dazzling quality. Bländande is a collab between Pär at Smögen and Henric Molin, the Distillery Manager/Master Distiller at Hven Distillery. This is (most likely) the first ever blended malt whisky using whisky produced in Sweden! 

The recipe consists of roughly equal parts whisky from the two distilleries. Both parts are made from heavily peated barley. The whisky is 8 years old. In total nine casks were used: four virgin chinquapin barrels (Quercus muehlenbergii) containing Single Malt Whisky from Hven Distilley, and four 1st-fill bourbon barrels (ex-Makers Mark) as well as one Oloroso Sherry Hogshead containing Single Malt Whisky from Smögen Distillery. The blending was carried out by Pär and Henric. Prior to bottling the whisky spent more than a month marrying, and was then bottled at (watered to) 55,5% ABV. Bottling took place at Smögen Distillery, while distribution is taken care of by Hven Distillery. More than 3000 bottles were produced in total.

Curious for some more info/details I sent an e-mail to Pär with a few questions which he kindly replied to. You'll find his answers in italics:

1). What is the ppm for the respective parts from Smögen and Hven?
The phenol-content in the malt of Smögen is fully [well above] 50ppm. For Hven it is somewhat lower but still definitely heavily peated.

2). The whisky has been watered to 55,5%, what ABV did the respective parts have before watering took place?
The ABV in the casks were well above 60% before dilution.

3). Was the sherry hogshead european or american oak?
American white oak.

4). In a commentary field on facebook it is said that half the contents of the sherry hogshead was used for this bottling. Is this info correct?
Half the hoggie was used, that is correct. Sherry casks can easily dominate so one has to use them with good judgement.

5). Can you share an exact number for the marrying time, and in what kind of vessel was the blend married?
Fully [well exceeding] one month. A [steel] tank.

Ok folks, there you have it! Here in Sweden 2600 bottles of Bländande is available this Tuesday (24/11) at the state monopoly, and the product can be viewed by clicking here. Now, let's analyze and see if the result of this blend blinds and dazzles me!

Lots of dark and rich scents lurk about, great deapth. Very mature. The first things that pop up is the center scents consisting of dark fugde, something chocolate-y, ”fruity vanilla” (red berries and vanilla) and also a quite big malty-ness. Surrounding the center is of course peat, but it’s not really the Islay-style kind of peat (that I would associate with Smögen); there is a lot of peat but it’s rather soft and at the same time earthy (rich soil), and when pouring some of this whisky in my hands, rubbing them and nosing, the peat manifests itself as live coal/embers, leather and a whiff of mint. It might be just in my mind but I can kind of feel (recognize) which scents are from Smögen and which are from Hven, meaning both identities/distillery characters are present. At the same time, this is a really sucessfull blending project with perfect integration where the two parts become one.

Wow, just wow! Old Laphroaig on sherry casks, spot on! This is definitely my kind of whisky. It tastes like 18 years or older but the peat has not calmed down (as it would have if it was that old and from Islay). On the contrary, the peat is very much alive, vivid, with an earthy, rich, chewy character to it. I’ve never tasted a Swedish whisky that tastes like this one. Magic is in the air and all nerds out there should be really happy that this project happened. Trying to ignore/set aside the absolutely wonderful peatyness for the sake of further analysis, I find dark raisins, black treacle and traces of sweet acidity (as of sour milk) in home baked bread, honey sweetness, sugar coated/caramelized ashes, and a wonderful smoky malty-ness. 

Some reflections to sum up:
Buy this whisky. Or you’ll truly miss out on something great!

Finally, a big thanks to Pär and Henric for the great opportunity to review this whisky before it's release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or is associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission is granted by stating the source.

Pic borrowed from systembolaget.se