Iceland is probably not the first place to spring to mind when you think about single malt. Unsurprisingly as Eimverk Distillery is Icelands’ first and only whisky distillery. Produced from 100% Icelandic grown barley (primarily Kría; a fast growing, two-row strain similar to the Bere barley used by Bruichladdich. The barley strain is pretty hardy thriving during the short, intense Icelandic summer, but has an incredibly low sugar yield and requiring more than usual. The result is a sweet bread-like American style malt with sharp spice notes. One of the most interesting, or merely unusual depending on your preference, features of the range is that their Smoked Reserve uses sheep dung rather than the traditional peat smoke. This method imparts unusually sweet though quite pungent smoky notes.
Having opened in 2009 there’s not a lot of whisky to be found, in fact their primary product is currently called ‘Young Icelandic Malt’ having not yet reached the three years needed to be called whisky. It’s hard to come by outside of Iceland and so far seems to be pretty divisive* though it’s well worth taking a trip round the distillery if you get the chance. It’s incredibly small scale, highly automated and looks nothing like a distillery but they do have a range of whiskies and young malts for you to peruse.
*Among those I’ve shared it with most will go so far as to call it interesting, some refuse to touch the stuff but quite a few are looking forward to older bottles making their way to market.
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