Thanks to /u/distillasian for the sample.
When someone mentions Iceland, you don’t think of whisky. Probably because there’s only one distillery making whisky there. But it exists, and every so often it pops up. Someone brings in a sample of either young malt or actual whisky coming from the small nation.
I enjoyed visiting Iceland. The food I had there was all high quality and made with pride. So when I read that Floki Icelandic 2017 Young Malt Sheep Dung Reserve existed, I’m not as afraid as I should be that the thing I’m about to drink has poop in the name.
The idea here is the malt has been heated over sheep dung. All of the malt is Icelandic, and it’s aged in new American oak. Yes, you read that right, they smoked it over sheep dung. The idea being that Iceland doesn’t have the trees to smoke food over, so you use sheep dung. Hangikjöt is a dish where lamb is cold-smoked over sheep dung.
So while the scared, almost child-like person in me freaks out at dookie being used as part of food, the older, still child-like adult who understands this may be safe and just different from the tree-filled life he’s lived.
So what does this less-than-3-year-old-whisky that was smoked by sheep dung taste like? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: 9,844 Icelandic Króna
Cask Type; American Virgin Oak
Colour: Very light / Couldn’t get it on the scale
Nose: Barnyard, cocoa, grass, red grape, leather
Wow, it smells like a barnyard. Guess my work here is done, just assume what the bottle says is right from here on out I guess.
Joking aside, this has some interesting flavours going on. Cocoa, grassy… Look, it’s young, so all of this isn’t well refined. There’s a raw fruity note to it. It’s weird. Nothing about this is small or slight.
Taste: Grass, lemon, sour cream, caramel
Gone are the strong barnyard/smoke notes, and replaced is this grassy/sour/extra sour/ouchie sour note. Like it tastes like it’s off? Again, obvious young age here. It’s tasting closer to new make now.
The smoke is adding very little here.
Finish: Anise, burnt brown sugar, brine, heat
More of the anise, more burnt aspects, and hot as hell. There’s hints where this could go, and that this could be an alternative to peat easily, but… wow this is young and hot, and not in that “society keeps pushing that” way and more in a “ouch my face this liquid is burning” way.
If the sheep dung can add on anise and burnt sugar, then let’s get them sheep some extra sheep food and start making more then!
Conclusion: What the hell.
I mean, what the hell. How did this work? Are we that bougie that no one else could have used sheep dung as a smoke point before? All those “peats running out” and “be better to the environment” things and we couldn’t smoke sheep dung before?
Oh, this version is too young. There’s potential, sure, and the nose was impressive in a “my brain broke” kinda way. The rest? Your typically too young malt taste that you buy to support the distillery while things age.
The young malt is a funky thing to hand to a friend. It’s pricey to buy it for that, but it’s also proof of concept. I hope that enough people see the potential that once this has enough time to age. They may have seeded the whisky community early, or they may have let the sheep out of the barn too early. Either way, weird yo.
World Whisky review #403, Iceland review #2, Whisky Network review #2018