A UK-based whisky brokerage has successfully shipped the largest single consignment of rare whisky casks from Sweden to Britain. New world whisky specialists Cask World recently announced the arrival of the 34 casks, holding thousands of litres of premium single malt from the renowned BOX Distillery, with the spirit - valued at approximately £1.2m - now continuing to mature in its new English home.
Whilst this shipment is significant in showing that trade with the EU can still be buoyant in the post-Brexit pandemic era, it also exemplifies growing global interest in non-Scotch whisky, with the spirit now increasingly in-bound to UK shores.
Comparisons can be drawn with the new world wine revolution of recent decades, and Cask World have positioned themselves as pioneers of this movement. As a division of Rosewin Holdings PLC, this acquisition adds to their rapidly growing new world whisky portfolio, with the company proud to lay these barrels down alongside some of the incredible whiskies now being produced on all continents.
The pedigree and rarity of this shipment should not be underestimated. At the time these casks were filled, BOX was the world’s northernmost whisky distillery, sitting just inside the Arctic Circle at 63° North. A forerunner of the current Swedish whisky boom and renowned for its vision to be the first truly green whisky producer, BOX quickly gained recognition for the quality of its spirit, which uses pristine local spring water, excellent Swedish barley, and ultra-clean air.
Additionally, the huge temperature fluctuations between summer and winter in the region cause unique interactions between the maturing liquid and the wood, all combining to give special depth and character to the BOX final product. All filled between 2011-2015, the eldest barrels to have made the journey across the North Sea are just turning a decade old.
These are also believed to be some of the final remaining stock filled under the BOX name (the producer changed to ‘High Coast’ following a naming dispute in 2018). When eventually bottled, they could therefore be the last in existence to bear the ‘Distilled at BOX Distillery, Sweden’ label.
Currently ranging from six to ten years old, this cask collection contains a broad array of exciting cask/spirit combinations. Cask World’s founder Daniel Monk explains:
“This is a true box of delights - we’ve got wood ranging from virgin American, German, French, and Swedish Oak through to ex-sherry, bourbon, port, Madeira, and even an ex-Laphroaig cask! And those barrels feature toasting and charring levels across the entire spectrum from light through to ‘high mocha’. 23 of the casks hold unpeated and 11 hold peated whisky. It could be said that this collection is a perfect microcosm of the wonderful variation and innovation we are now witnessing in the global whisky scene.”
BOX started producing in 2011, with their first offerings to the domestic market in 2014. The Swedes, a nation of discerning whisky lovers, reportedly snapped up the 11,500 bottles in minutes. A similar story ensued for all the distillery’s subsequent releases, with their slightly longer aged (up to six years old) and independent bottlings regularly achieving price points well in excess of £100. Indeed, High Coast have recently released their inaugural 10 year old bottling to the Swedish market (evidently using spirit distilled early in the BOX days) with an RRP. of £136 (SEK1650).
The above prices seem well justified, with the distillery winning a plethora of international awards under both the BOX and High Coast brands, such as their Best Swedish Single Malt for The Festival in 2017 and The Second Step Collection 01 in 2018 at the World Whiskies Awards. Their High Coast 63 (5 years old, £100) was awarded 91% by Whisky Saga with the comment, “Liquid magic from the wizards of the High Coast. This is how you do it!” To put this into perspective, Macallan’s Sherry Oak 18 year old (£300) scored 86%, and Highland Park’s 21 year old (£210) achieved 89%.
The BOX casks now resting in the English warehouse alongside other premium single malts are all well aged, with many ready for bottling. Cask World plan to release a quantity of them over the coming months.