Thursday, September 11, 2014
Icelandic craft distilled spirits like Reyka are famous for more than just their provenance. They are famous because of the quality of the water.
Is the water from Iceland alcoholic?
Nope, I’m sorry to tell you that it isn’t. But it certainly is pure. And unpolluted water is everything when blending the highest quality spirits.
The water from Iceland is perhaps the softest in the world because of the utter clarity of the ecosystem. The water for Reyka vodka is drawn from a 4000-year-old volcanic rock “field” that is, according to researchers, uncontaminated by the environmental ills of mankind.
Reyka (Ray-kuh) is an ancient Icelandic word for steam or smoke. This would make perfect sense because Iceland is a country filled with volcanoes and smoke. I’ve never been to Iceland, but in college I had a down comforter from Iceland. The down was gathered from puffins. You know, that impossibly cute bird that lives in subzero temperatures without any complaints? The same. But what does a down comforter in college have to do with vodka from Iceland?
It means absolutely nothing at all.
But I suppose the correlation is more of the quality of the products that I’ve seen coming out of this country. They tend to be of the highest eminence. They are the very best items that money can buy.
The same holds true to fact about their spirits. Reyka is one of the best vodkas I’ve ever passed through my lips. It is produced on a pot still in very small batches. There is a gorgeous sweetness that follows each drop, one of caramel and then another of sweet corn still glistening in the morning sunlight.
It’s bursting with flavors and I want to drink more.
Reyka is bottled in a handsome light blue tinted bottle with a long neck (easy to grab in your hand) with a real cork, instead of synthetic cork. It’s bottled at 80 Proof, 40% ALC/VOL but you’d never think that this vodka could be so smooth at this proof level.
The label reads something in Icelandic and we are also told that the vodka is a “Small Batch Vodka, Hand Crafted in Iceland. In smaller writing it goes on to read Traditionally Distilled & Filtered through Ancient Artic Lava Rocks. Lava rocks? Ah, that would make sense. Most of Iceland was formed from the eruption of volcanoes. Pure water is filtered through layer upon layer of the finest filter known to distillers. This makes the water from distillation sing with Terroir. I’ve tasted Icelandic water at the Fancy Food Show and can attest to its softness across the palate.
Reyka is distilled from grain and they carefully prepare each batch to emulate the exuberance that the head distiller feels. This is translated into each batch.
I don’t usually find myself drinking vodka. It just doesn’t do it for me on a flavor profile, but I am impressed by Reyka Vodka. It’s the anti-Vodka. There is flavor in there as deep as the depths of the volcanoes in Iceland. This vodka is the voyage to the center of the earth of Vodka.
Didn’t that take place in Iceland?
This week’s cocktail is derived from Voyage to the Center of the Earth.
In fact it is named just that.
I’ve included that masterfully prepared Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup to be combined with Reyka Vodka and a nice dose of Arkansas’s own Mountain Valley Spring (pure sparkling) water- because I think this combination of sweet to crisp is the perfect foil against this gorgeous Icelandic vodka.
Bitter Truth makes Creole Bitters that bring this very international cocktail back down to the Caribbean Sea through the luscious Creole Bitters. Tinted the color red- of a late summer sunset. These bitters complement the Reyka Vodka, the Mountain Valley sparkling water, the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup and your own favorite glass.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (a trip for two)
2 oz. Reyka Vodka
1 oz. Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup
4 oz. Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
To a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with ice
Chill two coupe glasses with ice and water
Pour out just before service…
Add the Reyka Vodka to the Fruitations Tangerine Syrup
Cover and Shake hard for 10-20 seconds
Strain into coupe glasses and top with the Mountain Valley Sparkling Water
Drip 4-5 drops of the Bitter Truth Creole Bitters over
Garnish with a lemon zest
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14. Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15. Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.
Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food. He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkupNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802. He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.
Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up. J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck. Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* – to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he’s finally become.
Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.