Ah, Wednesdays. It’s a new week. With it comes new horizons and new whisky to discover and this week is no different.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t nab a bottle of a certain Norwegian release but I thought I would stick with the Scandinavian theme and focus on something from that region. As luck would have it, I recently did a dram swap with the wonderful Susanne of ‘IrishDrams’, make sure you check out her website. I sent her a few bits of Rye from about the world, and in return she sent me something very fun: this week’s World Whisky Wednesday, the Box (High Coast) Dalvve of Sweden.
So who are Box?
A recent newcomer to the whisky scene, Box Destilleri was founded by Swedish brothers, Mats and Per de Vahl, in the old Box AB wooden box factory (hence the name) along the river Angerman, first acquired by Mats de Vahl in 1991.
The set up and preparation took time. It wasn’t until December 2010 that the stills first ran and, as you would expect, it was a small operation. Starting with two pot stills and three washbacks, only 90,000 litres of pure alcohol were produced per year (as much as that may sound a lot, remember in the river of whisky that’s a small drop). It wasn’t until 2014 that whisky from the distillery was first released, though the distillery did bottle the occasional single cask from other distilleries.
Now, those reading this will have noted that I am referring to ‘Box’ and may be confused. The distillery no longer operates under that brand, now known as High Coast. Why the change?, some of you may ask. Well, whisky is a big wide world filled with many names and a certain company, established in 2000 in London, had a name involving use of the word ‘Box.’
It was April 2018 that the news broke and Box distillery became High Coast distillery. Why the name? It reflects the location of the distillery on the banks of the Angerman River on the High Coast (‘Hoga Kusten’ in Swedish) of Northern Sweden, an area important to Sweden’s tourism and a listed world heritage site. I kind of like that, though it is always disappointing to hear when someone is forced to change their name.
So, that brings us all the way round to the whisky, Dalvve.
It’s here we see a divide between Box (now High Coast) and other distilleries. While some will give you a few lines of text, a few smears of information, Box and High Coast go all out and give you all the detail you could want. Everything you want to know, they will tell you. Simple as that.
Here’s a sample of the information they provide, and you can find more on the High Coast website by selecting the whisky you wish to know more about.
Yeast: Fermentis Safwhisky M-1
Unpeated malt: Pilsnermalt from Vikingmalt in Halmstad.
Peated malt: Pilsnermalt from Castle Maltings in Belgium.
Peated to 45 ppm phenol count with peat from Scotland.
Unpeated barely types: Prestige, Sebastian
Peated barely types: Tipple, Rosalina, Sebastian
Phenol content PPM: 0 & 45 ppm. Average 10 ppm (malt)
77.7% 5.19-5.20 year old un-peated whisky matured in 200L 1st Fill Ex-bourbon barrels
22.3% 5.28 year old peated whisky, matured in 200L 1st Fill Ex-bourbon Barrels
Right, there in those few lines, you have more information than some brands and distilleries will give you over their entire range but that’s who Box/High Coast are. Whisky nerds, whisky lovers, whisky geeks. They want to enjoy whisky and want you to enjoy it too.
None of the information makes any difference, however, if the whisky itself isn’t any good.
So, let’s dive into the glass and see what there is to find.
The nose opens softly, opening with smoke started from sweet grass, eucalyptus leaves and dry hay. Moving forward it comes to vanilla sweetness, touches of musk and light honey over some pear and nectarine slices. It then deepens to bark smoke and light earthy tones with hints of moss, some brown sugar and sticky grilled figs. Juice and sugar abound, it’s the backing of light smoke that carries the whisky on the nose.
The palate straight away carries a punch of lovely bark smoke, the coals of a fire built of bark, pine needles and sun dried salt laden driftwood. It moves to sweetness, caster sugar, honey and then some confectionary snakes and raspberry creams before nectarines and apricots. Its nice and oily on the palate there, plenty of flavour to swirl about on the tongue with a slick mouthfeel to help coat every inch.
The finish has good length, with light smoke wisps, touches of salted caramel and some mint before a soft close.
Note: Somewhiskylass tastes a large metallic portion, and, while that’s not her cup of tea, I’m a huge fan.
I love it when companies get all nerdy and tell you all the nitty gritty details. I love it when companies make good whisky. It’s absolutely fantastic when they can do both, deliver all the information for the whisky nerds and follow through with flavour that knocks it out of the park.
What was previously the Box Dalvve and now the High Coast Dalvve is great, and while it won’t change your life, it will definitely spice up your whisky rack.