Reyka Vodka has been on our show a lot, but we have never really reviewed it as a single spirit tasting. In order to baseline it, we are using something we are familiar with: Titos Vodka. How will it compare against what we consider a very true neutral spirit? And, I guess, more importantly, should it? Do we really want a true neutral grain spirit.
The initial aroma of Reyka Vodka is pretty neutral with muted alcohol flavor which doesn’t really excite but it also doesn’t hit you with hard with an alcohol-forward nose either. While I’d love to get some neat muted sweet, citrus, anise or anything on the nose, getting nothing is far better a super-potent alcohol that rings “warning.” So, for that, Reyka Vodka, we thank you.
When it comes to initial tastings, you’ll find a very smooth and mid-weighted mouth feel that doesn’t give off a “rubbing alcohol” flavor but does bring a slight tingling mouth numbing feel–not too unlike what I get from an absinthe. Through-and-through, a very easy drinking experience with a bit of dark green flavor, perhaps wheat/hay or grain but only to a mild degree. Again, while people seem to have come to the conclusion that a “neutral grain spirit” means you can have absolutely no flavor at all, I challenge you to expand your mind past such a thought…
Yes, if Reyka Vodka wanted to destroy all heritage of the base distillate they could filter it 8 times or more until any chance that the original distillate can be found, they could make a “true neutral” flavor. But… why? Hell, they can do it 100 times and it will taste just as if they did it 8x but cost us a few thousand dollars. No. That would just be dumb. Reyka Vodka is distilled enough and filtered through Icelandic lava rock (after all, Reyka Vodka is an Icelandic product). That means, we get some of its original heritage without an overbearing amount of rough bite.
The balance of Reyka Vodka falls between that of a Tito’s Vodka which tends to be super neutral and Absolut which tends to bring even a bit more of its wheat distillate to the game. Neither of these other brands are wrong in their direction, but it does gives potential customers a level of expectations for Reyka Vodka.
Some people have said the finish has too much mineral presence which they blame on the lava rock filtration; I don’t see it. That’s not to say someone else has an incorrect palate, but it doesn’t come into play on my own. I do believe the finish is a bit “hotter” than Titos at room temperature with a dab of water added, but nothing outrageous. My theory is that Reyka Vodka doesn’t come from a corn or fruit distillate, which I’ve found brings a bit of subtle sweetness nor does it use added sugars to “round out” the finish or make it feel more “expensive” or “ultra premium” like some brands have been seen to do. So, the finish may just be more natural for the lack of any sweetness to counter it.
You’ll find Reyka Vodka comparable on the shelf with pricing for Tito’s Vodka and Absolut so that’s why I try to compare it closer to those products. You can find it online or in many stores (at least in the United States) for under $23. Add to that, the lack of boasting the “n Times Distilled”, I think you’ll find the truth in advertising: a quality product that will speak for itself without breaking the bank.
What more could you want in a vodka product? I’d suggest trying Reyka for yourself and leaving a comment on your own experiences.
Also checkout the Glencairne Glasses in our store, use them for your next tasting!