Iceland is a land of fire and ice; a dramatic, mountainous country with glaciers, towering waterfalls, natural springs and lava fields. It’s also the perfect place to distil one of the world’s cleanest vodkas.
Reyka (pronounced “Ray-ka”; an Icelandic word meaning steam or smoke) is a new kid on the block. It is also a trailblazer for Iceland.
The concept of distilling spirits was so new to Iceland that new laws had to be created before it’s first ever distillery could begin production. Hysterically, the still was held at customs until officers could figure out what the strange looking contraption was. And before Reyka could get to work, a new word was added to the Icelandic dictionary: Eimer, meaning Distillery or ‘The One Who Distils’.
Fire, Ice & All Things Nice
Iceland’s unique geography helps create this very special spirit. Located in the North Sea, Iceland is a freezing country with temperatures regularly dipping below zero degrees Celsius. Yet despite the frigid conditions, Iceland is surprisingly green.
Ironically, it’s said that Iceland should have been called Greenland and visa versa. At one time, Iceland was 25% forest. Now, its spectacular landscape is characterised by geo-thermal springs, active volcanoes, lava fields, beautiful fjords and crisp artic waterfalls.
The natural arctic springs are the element that gives Reyka Vodka its unique taste. The Reyka Distillery is located in a fishing village near one of the most pristine natural mineral springs in Iceland, Grabrok Spring, where the water is naturally filtered through a 4000-year-old lava field.
It’s commonly known that this amazing country boasts some of the purest water on the planet. Heck, it’s the only place in the World that soft-drink giant Coca-Cola doesn’t have to filter the water in their production process!
Even so, because this is vodka, the Reyka Distillery still chooses to cleanse the water even further than nature can, using their innovative lava rock filtration system. The result is an exceptionally refined spirit, infused with volcanic minerals.
Green & Clean
Borgarnes, home to Iceland’s first distillery, is located on the country’s west. It’s a remote area almost completely free of pollution and one where CO2 emissions are actually falling. In fact, it’s proudly one of the most environmentally sustainable places on the planet.
A pollution-free attitude is the Icelandic way. Strict regulations help to sustain the environment as the unique, natural geo-thermal energy acts as a renewable, carbon-free power source. This in turn has a positive affect on the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants; the country actually boasts one of the healthiest national health rates in the World.
Because alcohol can absorb the impurities in the air and water, the atmosphere is critical to the philosophy supporting Reyka Vodka. Adopting the sustainability ethos, Reyka uses natural geo-thermal energy to distil its vodka through a rare Carter-Head still.
Chosen for its ability to make the cleanest spirit possible with a single distillation, the Carter-Head still is one of the hallmarks of Reyka Vodka. It is believed to be one of only six in the World and the only still of its kind used to create vodka.
Usually used for the production of gin, the copper still reduces undesirable compounds from the neutral grain, as well as impurities like higher alcohols and aldehydes.
Reyka’s distillation process involves taking the initial neutral spirit and adding the pure mineral water to reduce the ABV, then warming the liquid using geo-thermal heat from nearby volcanic activity. When the spirit reaches boiling point, the vapours pass through the ‘vapour basket’, which is filled with locally sourced lava rocks.
It’s a process that takes around 6 hours and a final filtration that results in a brilliantly crisp and fresh spirit with mineral traces from the lava rock, which adds a delicate complexity to the flavour.
Capturing Hearts & Tastebuds
Reyka Distillery’s Master Distiller aimed to “create a vodka like no other” and achieved it. Juggling being the local fireman and the local policeman, Thurdor still managed to distil vodka as unique in its taste as it is in its production.
Handcrafted in small batches (1000 litres per batch), this premium vodka is capturing the hearts and taste buds of esteemed judges and vodka aficionado around the World.
Reyka has already won a cabinet of awards somewhat resemblant of loot sailing in from a Viking raid on an English monastery:
- 50 Best Vodkas Competition 2010
- 2011 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC)
- 2013 Ultimate Spirits Challenge held in New York
- Top medal wins at 2014 Spirits Business World Vodka Masters
- Gold Medal in the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Tasting notes from the judges: “Clean and fresh. Aromas of sweet spring water and herbs. It is soft and almost sweet in the mouth; round and smooth, like very pure water. Flavours of rich minerals linger on the tongue.”
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Spring Has Sprung
“Beware the man who does not drink.”
– Icelandic Proverb