- Jonathan Winters
Reykjavik Gin Review
A very easy drinking cucumber forward gin from Iceland
Review Reykjavik Gin
Made in: Borgarnes, Iceland by Pure Spirits Distillery (Islensk Fjallagros hf)
38% alcohol/76 proof
Botanicals ?: Juniper, Cucumber, ?
Style: Modern Gin
If you know me, either in person, or via reading my reviews you know that I’m a fan of local regional gins. Iceland is a place that produces some awfully good ones. Many of my favorites are not available in the US, and some just fell into my life by chance. Such was the case with Reykjavik gin. It came to me as a gift from a duty free shop. And it came in a plastic bottle.
Ugh. Plastic bottles. I never expect any spirit in a plastic bottle to be more than rotgut, suitable only for mixing in heavily flavored drinks, or for those inclined to overindulge on a tight budget. That said I’ve been surprised before. So when my benefactor told me this was good, really good. I have to admit I was skeptical of the 500ml, hip flask type bottle, but decided to give it a fair try.
Like any cucumber forward gin, it’s a distilled gin, meaning the cucumber flavor is added after distillation, to avoid the cooked squash-like taste that would occur if you tried to distill cucumber. And while Hendrick’s is the big name in cucumber forward gins, I think I found this one to be easier to drink..
The predominant scent of this gin is cucumber - it reminds me of a greek salad, cucumber, salinity, with a touch of pepper and of course juniper.
Tasted straight, this gin has some heat, but it is somewhat cooled by a very strong cucumber flavor. After being given a few minutes over ice to mellow however it became mellow, lovely and easy to sip.
In terms of taste the strongest taste is that of cucumber, just reaching the peak of flavor before it would become overripe, along with the bitterness and heat of the juniper, along with hints of black pepper, a trace of sweetness which I think is orris root.
It’s crisp,cool, and clean with a lingering taste of cucumber water.
It’s a good gin without mixers, but how would it do in cocktails? As always a martini, and gin and tonic are my standards, then I’ll pick a cocktail I think will do well with the gin.
A dry martini seemed an ideal showcase to see what this gin could show. With a splash of Nolly Prat (which i’ve always thought sounded like a British pub insult) to coat my shaker, some ice, and the Reykjavik, I made one and garnished it with a garlic stuffed olive. The brine of the olive, and the bit of garlic helped to highlight the lovely vegetal flavor of this gin. It was a martini to savor.
Another outstanding gin for a gin and tonic. The fresh cucumber taste shines through and creates a clean, crisp G&T that is light and refreshing when made with good quality tonic.
Trying to pick a cocktail which would complement the nature of cucumber gin offered a lot of possibilities but in the end I chose to make a Gin Basil Smash, because a) I thought the cucumber and basil would go well together, and B) because I happened to have all the ingredients at hand since I’ve been growing basil while in quarantine. I decided to opt for the genovese basil rather than the thai bail but I may have to try that next. The flavors were quite harmonious with the basil and cucumber, accented, but not overwhelmed by the lemon. And it was good, very good.. Nuff said.
This gin certainly isn’t as refined as Hendrick’s but its taste is fresh and delicious, and it’s so easy drinking, so much so that no bottle is likely to last long. And it’s good enough that I look forward to someone else bringing me a bottle from their trip to Iceland.
Overall rating: 84. A beautiful cucumber forward gin which gin drinkers, and non gin fans are likely to enjoy.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it, and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance, or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.