Brennivín is a clear, unsweetened aquavit that is considered to be Iceland’s signature distilled beverage. It is a a popular Icelandic liquor made with pure Icelandic water and flavored with caraway.
Although this beverage is more common in Iceland, Brennivín has been making its way from Iceland to the United States since early 2014. Joe Spiegel, an entrepreneur based in the mountain resort town of Jackson, Wyoming, is the one responsible for bringing Brennivín to North America. Today, Brennivín can be found all over the continent.
Every year, the Brennivín distillery makes a limited edition Christmas aquavit. Harry Sheff of Cocktails & Cologne notes that while seasonal beers are common, too few American distilleries make seasonal spirits. Although Brennivín only produced enough of its Christmas edition for the Icelandic market last year, a few bottles found their way into the States.
To produce the Brennivín Christmas edition, the distillery took the traditional aquavit and aged it two ways: in bourbon barrels and then in sherry barrels. Every year, the Christmas release is a little different. Spiegel claims that the 2014 edition was by far his favorite and that it was well-received by the public.
The 2014 batch has slightly increased sweetness, extra viscosity, caraway, and hints of bourbon. Spiegel noted that in 2015, Brennivín will work on modifying the taste by changing the ratio to a higher proportion of sherry to bourbon, and will also increase production so people in the United States can try the unique beverage: “Typically the differences [in taste] lie in the finishing, as opposed to changing the mashbill or flavoring of the spirit itself,” he says.
The distinct and powerful flavors of the beverage are exquisite and worth trying. While Brennivín works on its next magical Christmas edition, Americans can try the traditional version today, available at many locations around the U.S. and Canada. Click here to read more about the Christmas edition on Cocktails & Cologne, and check out some enticing Brennivín cocktail recipes here.