Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 2 Merak

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 2 Merak
Spirit of Hven Seven Stars No. 2 Merak
Distillery: Spirit of Hven
Country: Sweden
Abv: 45.0%
Advent Year: 2014

This is the first Swedish whisky on the calendar, and indeed the first Swedish whisky I've ever tried.

Although I’ve known for years that Swedes love drinking whisky, it’s only relatively recently I realised that they make it too. It's also not something you often find - even the most well-stocked whisky bars rarely seem to carry much in the way of Scandinavian malt.

Spirit of Hven is a distillery on the island of Hven, sat between Denmark and Sweden. They make a small range of whiskies, along with the now-traditional collection of gin, vodka, and other less-aged spirits that help new distilleries get up and running.

Seven Stars No. 2 is part of an annual series of whiskies released by Spirit of Hven; the star in question is Merak - a white sub giant with three times the mass and radius of the Sun, and 68 times the intensity. It is located 79 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Ursa Major.

The nose is initially sugar sweet, with a rich raisin fruit slowly emerging through a surprisingly harsh alcohol burn. There's just a hint of smoke lurking underneath, but overall it's closer in aroma to brandy than whisky. Water takes away much of the fruit but reveals a wonderful bed of slightly oily, smouldering peat.

In the mouth, it starts peppery and then softens, becoming sweeter and fruity, poached pears with vanilla. That leads into a lingering, fiery finish with wisps of bonfire smoke. Watered, the initial spice is greatly reduced; you're straight into a subtle but heavenly sweetness with orange peel and a smouldering finish that just goes on and on.

A little aggressive at the bottled 45% ABV, with a splash of water this is a phenomenal whisky that manages to be both big-flavoured and easy drinking - I could go through a bottle of this dangerously quickly. Spirit of H (ea)ven indeed! 4 stars.

This review was originally published 6th December, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.