Iceland popped up on the World Baijiu Day radar last year after long-time WBD supporter Michael Ohlsson, of Dada Bar in Shanghai and Beijing spotted some bottles from Eimverk Distillery labeled “baijiu” while he vacationed in Reykjavik. It turns out these spirits were just released and so new they weren’t even on the distillery’s website yet.
Long story short, Eimverk’s Halli Thorkelsson shipped samples to me here in Beijing and I’ve been holding on to them for a tasting with my fellow baijiu fans this coming Chinese New Year.
“We currently make two styles of baijiu,” explained Thorkelsson. “Red label is our standard baijiu, made from a mash from Icelandic barley we grow on our own farm, triple distilled in pot stills, and bottled at 53%. You will taste the barley for sure, with grassy tones and spice for the after taste.”
“Blue label is our Icelandic special edition baijiu. In this version we add caraway seeds and other herbs,” he added. “This is traditional for white spirit in Iceland and is similar to traditional Icelandic Brennivín.”
So is this baijiu anything like what we find in China?
“We are not necessarily trying to create a Chiness baijiu in Iceland, but rather taking the ‘white spirit’ tradition of Iceland toward the style and presentation of traditional baijiu,” says Thorkelsson.
Okay, I guess our Chinese New Year taste test will tell!