Seasoned writer, bartender, cocktail consultant and magician, Jacob Grier, who brought us Eater’s top places to drink in Reykjavik, now wants to share with us his exploration of craft distilleries in the city. On his journey, he also sipped Brennivin, the famed Icelandic aquavit – inside a glacier!
First on the list is 64° Reykjavik Distillery. Each liqueur features local Icelandic ingredients such as blueberry, rhubarb and crowberry, creating spirits that are “fruit-forward” as he calls it and housed in elegant bottles. The distillery also makes three dry spirits: vodka, gin and an aquavit. The hand-crafted aquavit is flavored with caraway seeds, and is one of the country’s most renowned spirits.
Next up, is Eimverk Distillery, best known for their Floki malt whiskey, made from 100% organic Icelandic barley that’s grown in volcanic soil at the Arctic Circle. This distillery is truly one-of-a-kind. Their lightly-aged young malt is on the market now, while their fully aged single malt will be coming to market soon in limited quantities. Eimverk uses another Icelandic tradition in their creations, by smoking the malt over barley and drying it over burning sheep dung. Gin and aquavit are also specials here. The aquavit is distilled in malted barley. Unusual combinations with the young malt use botanicals such as moss, kale, meadowsweet and many others to create an eclectic spirit.
Last but not least is Foss Distillery, where Icelandic birch is transformed into delicious, complex spirits. The earthy Birkir is made by infusing birch into neutral spirits and sweetened with local birch syrup, whereas the less-intimidating Bjork is much sweeter. For an extra touch, every bottle is finished with a small birch twig inside. Foss is not limited to those two spirits; they have just unveiled “Borkur,” which is an intense birch bitter.
If you didn’t get the chance to visit any of these distilleries while in the city, the shop at Keflavik International Airport features many Icelandic spirits to offer you a taste of the land.