Iceland. Whisky. Never the twain shall meet? Until now.
Original Post taken from, https://savagewhiskyreviewer.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/iceland-whisky-never-the-twain-shall-meet-until-now/
Two whisky enthusiast brothers, Egill and Haraldur Porkelsson, kind of accidentally fell into whisky distilling after discovering a recipe that they thought could actually be quite good. And it is! The Floki Young Malt 1st Edition, 47% (Impressive for a baby!) from the Eimverk Distillery – not technically a whisky as it has only been barrel matured for one year - is the brothers first malt barely product to hit the markets and I have been lucky enough to snaffle myself one of only 600 bottles. From a mere 8 barrels, it is technically marketed as a young malt but it is a sign of things to come from this remote volcanic Island.. Iceland, which seems to have totally reinvented itself since the early days of the Global Financial Crisis, cannot do anything wrong. They have revitalised their tourist trade, reduced crime to a faint memory and now produce a Young Malt and soon their first release whisky in 2016.
The Young Malt and all Floki whisky is made from local organic barley that is so low in sugars due to the unique weather conditions that they require 50% more barley thannormally required to produce their whisky. The barley grown in volcanic soil is slow growing due to the cold and therefore produces a hardy, low sugar strain. Throw in some of the purest glacial water….how can you go wrong? Combined with fierce determination, no doubt inherited from Viking ancestry, Floki have the perfect ingredients to produce a potentially great whisky.
Right, let’s hop into it shall we? The bottle, only a 500ml, looks great. I LOVE the labelling – the use of the Viking runic alphabet and the symbol of the early compass (Vegvisir) is awesome. The Vegvisir is noted in an Icelandic Manuscript of Icelandic magical staves, sigils and charms by Geir Vigfusson from 1860 which quotes, “Carry this sign with you and you won’t get lost in storms or bad weather, even though in unfamiliar surrounds.” It looks dramatic , different and very Icelandic. Also there is a wonderful, personal touch. Each bottle is hand labelled to describe bottle number, cask number and year. Definitely collector worthy!!
Ok, I’ve poured myself a dram – I’m pretty excited I’ve got to say. An Aussie drinking an Icelandic baby whisky! Eeek! The liquid is a lovely amber colour. It moves around the glass nicely – this baby has whisky legs! I close my eyes and move my nose to the Glencairn. I breath in the Young Malt. Barley, woody oaks, maybe even a little musty – but no it’s the unmistakable smell of barley. Malt. The Icelandic barely comes through to your nose clearly, there are some subtle woody spices, I suspect from the short time in the barrel but the barley is the hero here.
I bring the glass to my lips and let the baby leak into my mouth. A little sharp, it’s that alcoholic bitterness, just for a moment then the beautiful malted barley cuts in. It’s everywhere for me. My mind goes to an open field of barley and I’m running through it. Corny (excuse the grainy pun) I know, but that’s the reality. I am transported to an Icelandic field of barely. Actually, Iceland has their own breed of horse, the Icelandic, so let’s just add for additional drama, that I am galloping through the field of barley on an Icelandic steed. The rising ice covered volcano looms in the background and cold wind whips through me however it is immediately quelled by the warmth of my snuggly barley malt dram. Not too bad for a whisky baby! It’s the barley and the oak that’s doing it for me here. More subtly, I get some oaky pepperiness and maybe a hint of ginger?
The finish is a little short for me, there’s not much of a linger however I don’t want to be too critical here as this is not a well matured whisky we are talking about but a Young Malt ( by name and nature) – not even a whisky technically. And perhaps in Floki’s defence this isn’t a bad thing. With a short finish I feel like having another sip sooner rather than later!! It does warm through and I have to say I’m really impressed by this little Floki!
I have added a few drops of water to this baby now – I have no doubt this will open it up to expose the more subtle flavours of this Young Malt. And I am right. You must have this Young Malt with a few drops of water. You still get that wonderful barley but the nuances of the other subtle flavours come through. The subtle oakiness is coaxed out by the water, the woodland spices and ginger are now much more discernible. This is a very layered Young Malt indicating a lot of promise for the whisky to come. I am looking forward to the Floki whisky proper – First Impression to be released in 2016.
I also understand that the Eimverk distillery will be using sheep dung to smoke a whisky - I’m putting my hand up for that one. Should be a hit in New Zealand. (Sorry couldn’t resist!) You have to hand it to the Porkelsson boys – they are doing a great job and I cannot wait for the whiskies to start rolling out. The Vegvisir may be our compass when we are lost, but I can tell you, if you are lost you couldn’t do much better than being lost with a lovely little hip flask of this delicious, and of no doubt to me , collectible Young Malt! Til hamingju!!!