Having visited some 25 countries, Iceland is one of my all-time favourites. The minute I touched down, Iceland’s stark beauty stole my heart. Its immaculate snow-scapes, glaciers, volcanoes and geysers are lit with a soft ethereal light.
With a population of approximately 338,800 spread over a vast area of 103,000km2 (that’s more than 140 times larger than Singapore), this magical island is pristine, unspoilt and unfathomable. It is a land where up to 80% of people reportedly still believe in elves and trolls!
So imagine how thrilled I was to be invited for The Herbal Tales experience, a bespoke Icelandic vodka cocktail tasting at Capella Singapore’s Bob’s Bar. Created with fresh herbs and Reyka Vodka made from pure Icelandic spring water filtered through lava rocks, it conjures up the breathtaking beauty of Iceland.
As part of this exclusive experience, the bartender invited me to pick my own bouquet of herbs and spices. I sniffed my way through Bob’s Bar’s very own herb garden, and finally decided on fresh rosemary and lemon verbena. My bartender then expertly crafted my bespoke cocktail, and I was instantly teleported to the Arctic Circle again.
Deeply intrigued, I caught up with Charlene Low, regional brand manager of William Grant & Sons (which includes Reyka Vodka under its portfolio of premium spirits). She shares some rare insights and insider tips with me.
What is most interesting about Reyka Vodka?
Charlene: Reyka is an old Icelandic word for ‘smoke’ or ‘steam’. We use geothermal energy to power our Reyka Vodka distillery, making it one of the greenest distillation processes in the world. We also use lava rock in place of charcoal for filtration, contributing to its clean taste.
Share with us your tasting notes for this vodka.
Charlene: It is superbly clean, and slightly sweet with subtle aniseed and fennel, faint cream-of-soda vanilla and light peppery spice.
What herbs go best with vodka?
Charlene: Being such a versatile spirit, you can use your favourite herbs to create almost any cocktail. The best way to do this is to use a Reyka Tonic as your base, add a slice of grapefruit and your choice of herbs. I like mine with thyme and tarragon.
What are your best vodka mixology tips?
Charlene: Try a vodka martini – this puts the spirit at the forefront so you can fully experience and appreciate its subtle flavours.
What’s a popular Icelandic vodka cocktail?
Charlene: Foragers Ramble is popular in Iceland. It’s a delicious blend of Reyka Vodka, homemade thyme syrup, cinzano bianco, Reyka bitters, dandelion and burdock bitters. I’d highly recommend it if you’re visiting Iceland.