Fontagard / Masthouse / Mackmyra / St. Kilian / Säntis

Fontagard / Masthouse / Mackmyra / St. Kilian / Säntis

We’re looking beyond the borders of Scotland today. Our little European trip starts in France and will pass through England, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. In fact there will be some Japanese influence along the way.

Fontagard is a family distillery in the cognac region (France), which produces cognac, gin and single malt. Currently their production is split into five styles, mostly differentiated by the casks used. I believe their 2018 vintage was still made in a Charentais still but they are expanding and changing the distillery as we speak. They have a great technical file for the Fontagard PNDC which is aged in ex-cognac and Pineau des Charentes casks.


Fontagard PNDC 9918-9 2018 (44%, OB 2021, Cognac + Pineau des Charentes casks)

Nose: quite young with mashy notes, leafy notes and the barley core that reminds me of Waterford at times. Subtle hints of yellow fruits and pencil shavings. Rather clean, but also rather neutral.

Mouth: again very close to a grain eau-de-vie. Some caramel sweetness in the background, as well as barley syrup and citrus peel. Pleasant notes of dusty wood. Later it becomes darker, with the warmth of black pepper.

Finish: not too long, still really grainy.

I understand this is a very locally produced spirit from a distillerie that is still developing a vision for its products. We’ll give them some credit for the local philosophy, but at the moment it feels reasonably smooth, but it’s very light and doesn’t offer enough to keep me interested. Let’s revisit in due time. Samples are available from The Whisky Exchange, if you like.


Next up: Masthouse Single Malt, whisky from Copper Rivet distillery in England. It is made exclusively with Kentish barley (Belgravia), matured in a combination of first-fill bourbon barrels and virgin oak casks.


Masthouse Single Malt – Pot Distilled 2017+2018 (45%, OB 2021, first fill bourbon + virgin oak, 2470 btl.)

Masthouse Single Malt 2017-2018 Nose: I’m getting nice waxy notes at first, always a good sign. Yellow apples stand out, algonside hob nobs and fresh wood chips. A bit of citrus sweets and whiffs of gin botanicals.

Mouth: citrusy and grainy, with green apple, crushed mint leaves and some green vegetal notes (fennel). Biscuity notes are in the background now, with spikey herbal notes and aromatic bitters coming out after a while. Grapefruit. Then also a hint of dry cocoa and new wood.

Finish: medium length, slightly plankish with pepper and light wood tannins.

Pretty good, less smooth perhaps, but certainly more interesting. Not exactly a classic (Scotch) profile, but offering enough complexity to leave a positive impression. Score: 79/100



Mackmyra Björksav (46,1%, OB ‘Säsongswhisky’ 2023, birchwine cask finish)

Mackmyra Björskav - single malt whisky Nose: bright and floral, with an underlying hint of vanilla and apple sweetness. A creamy note too, in between marshmallow and honey. Then pine needles, pears, peach chewing gum and biscuits. Funnily enough I’m also getting hints of mosto (the unaged base wine for sherry), a mix of grapes and chalk. A pleasant surprise.

Mouth: aromatic grapes, citrus notes and elderflower lemonade. Hints of chewing gum again, as well as tinned apricots, green apple and vanilla sweets. Then fresh herbal notes, mint and lemongrass. Really fresh and uplifting. Very gentle charred notes in the distance.

Finish: medium length, on toasted wood, crunchy apple and some dryness at the back.

This is the new edition of the birchwine finish which Mackmyra already released in 2021. It may take a different mindset than a classic single malt, but it rapidly grew on me. Very Nordic of course and probably my favourite Mackmyra expression so far (taking over the crown from Mackmyra Skördetid). Available from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange among others. Score: 86/100



St. Kilian 3 yo 2019 – Mizunara (55,1%, OB 2023, Mizunara virgin oak cask #3866, 300 btl.)

St Kilian Exceptional Mizunara 2019 Nose: very fruity. There are lots of sweet pears and apples, a subtle hint of vanilla ice cream and nougat. Then more exotic hints of melons and papaya, alongside mild virgin oak spice, like white pepper and nutmeg. Hints of sandalwood (Mizunara comes close) with this unique oriental fingerprint. Fresh mint grows stronger over time.

Mouth: clearly more spicy now. Ginger and pepper jump forward, with apricot sweetness and vanilla in the background. Lemon liqueur, some rooty hints and perhaps a little sawdust. Whiffs of cardamom and juniper, always with creamy fruits underneath.

Finish: medium long, more pears alongside buttery notes and sandalwood spice.

One of four medium toasted Mizunara casks they sourced from Hokkaido, all filled on the same day, two with unpeated spirit and two with peated. It is a very good spirit in a vibrant cask. Young St. Kilian but already very enjoyable, up there with the best Shizuokas for instance. Sold for around € 250 in a fancy case. Now sold out, but I hear the next Mizunara is in the pipeline, and it will be a peated version. Score: 88/100



Säntis Malt 7 yo 2014 (64,9%,OB for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan 2021, old beer cask #2132, 84 btl.)

Säntis Malt 2014 peated - Picnic Whisky Bar Taiwan Nose: pretty crazy. A lot of charred things, including meat, cigars, newspapers and maybe a little EPDM. Hints of mezcal. Also plenty of dark caramel, vegetal extracts and beef reductions. Nut paste, hints of miso, bittersweet prunes but also plenty of barbecued bananas and Indonesian saté on a small charcoal grill. Maybe a hint of stout beer. Intruiging.

Mouth: out of this world again. A mix of pipe tobacco, Lapsang Souchong tea and the same meat skewers on the night market in Ubud. Then all kinds of lacquers, barbecue sauces and beef stocks. Prunes again. Burnt wood logs, tarry notes and cecina de Léon. Hints of smoked mackerel. Something of a boozy dessert too. A massive profile, pretty impressive.

Finish: very long, charred, with hints of dark tea, barbecued fruits and herbal extracts.

It’s been a while since I’ve had my socks blown off by whisky that is entirely like no other. It is not something I would drink every day, but it is definitely something you pour for a whisky friend who claims he has tried everything. Massively extractive whisky that is hard to score. In any case, this is of the very few Säntis bottlings exclusive to a third party, so I suppose you can’t buy it any more. Score: 86/100