seems to be a land of contradictions. You would just have
to figure that any place named after ice would be pretty darned
cold, but it turns out that even though it is at the edge
of the Arctic circle, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream and
has a temperate climate. Even though the whole country only
has a population of 320,000 people, in 2007 the United Nations
ranked it as the most developed country in the world. Those
few people must all be very, very busy. Iceland has given
us such words as geyser and berserk and of course their most
famous export up to this point has been Bjork. So what's up
with this geography lesson?
I recently came into possession of a bottle of Reyka
Vodka from Iceland and it piqued my curiosity. The
bottle is a very pale ice blue and has the words ICELAND raised
in glass around the base of the long slim neck appearing like
they were carved out of ice. Reyka is taken
from the Icelandic word for "steam," and now, I
know four Icelandic words. Reyka is Iceland's
first and only vodka distillery and the only one in the world
whose rare Carter Head is powered by geothermal heat (steam!).
The water they use to distill the wheat and barley comes from
the nearby Grabok Spring and the distillate is filtered through
4,000 year old lava field rocks instead of the more traditional
charcoal. The resulting liquor is so pure, according to Wikipedia,
that its level of dissolved solids is less than 1/15 that
of Evian bottled water. The words "small batch"
on the bottle refer to the 235 cases produced per distillation.
As they say in their commercial this is a vodka flavored vodka
because if you want the flavor of banana, eat a banana.
vodka by its very nature should have no color, no odor and
no flavor. Achieving that ever elusive nothingness is quite
a formidable task since the grains used might impart some
flavor as could the water and the filtration. That being said
here is my description of their magnificent nothingness.
nose: It's very, very subtle and even when freshly
poured does not step forward with much ethanol at all. The
alcohol dissipates quickly leaving almost no nose at all.
What remains is sublimely subtle, fresh and clean with the
barest hint of an organic sweetness as though stirred up by
a slight breeze wafting over a verdant meadow in the early
morning or the barely there scent of spring water gently flowing
over rocks and through shallow sunny pools. OMG, I can't believe
I just wrote that flowery crap.
Palate: Ok, Ok back to reality, time for a taste.
As it sits in my mouth it feels warm and creamy with a vague
nod toward vanilla.
Finish: Swallowing it activates the spiciness and
pepper in my mouth right down into my throat but this is far
more pleasant than painful. The finish is soothingly spicy,
clean and pleasant.
Hangover: This hangover, unlike most vodka hangovers,
was not accompanied by the usual pounding headaches and churning
stomach. There was a fair amount of spinning and heavy headedness
but the goose stepping monkeys were wearing clean boots for
a change. Also the feeling of just wanting to die was far
less aggressive than usual and I pleasantly settled into just
wanting to harm myself to distract me from the malaise. At
$25-$35 this vodka can hold its own against vodkas costing
30%-50% more and could easily become my favorite with its
favorable price point.
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