Iceland might be best known as a country where people chug beers in between shots of liquorice flavoured schnapps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relax with two fingers of whisky in a tumbler within the city limits. First called aqua vitae — ”the water of life” — whisky isn’t so much a drink as an obsession, and for lovers of the spirit, it’s essential to indulge in some local flavours while travelling. So, sit down, and grab some neat, with water, on the rocks, in juice, in soda, or in a cocktail, and enter the Reykjavík whisky scene.
Dillon Whisky Bar
When the people of Reykjavík think of whisky, the first word that comes to mind is indubitably Dillon. The downtown institution has stood strong over the decades, serving up a delicious selection of whiskies to a devoted, thirsty clientele. Dillon’s menu plays host to more than one hundred bottles from Scotland, Ireland, Japan and the United States, and their staff is perfectly prepared to recommend whether you should take each neat, with water, or with ice. Complete with their astounding selection is a dark, cosy, wooden interior that seems like it hasn’t changed at all over the years — the perfect mood to contemplate some succulent undertones. For the whisky-intimidated, though, never fear. The bar occasionally hosts Whisky School, where you can learn the difference between scotch, rye, bourbon, malt, and everything in between.
Lyngás 13, 210 Garðabær
Eimverk Distillery is the only whisky and spirit distillery in the country that uses solely Icelandic ingredients. While they have homemade gin and brennivín on offer, it’s their Flóki whiskies that take centre stage. Currently they stock three iterations of the Flóki brand. First up is a smooth and spicy Young Malt. Next, their acclaimed Single Malt—still young with an age of three years—serves up a fruity, floral punch. If you’re looking for something stranger, though, they also, in true Icelandic fashion, have a reserve smoked in sheep dung. The distillery offers daily tours where you can learn about Flóki, as well as the processes involved in making Icelandic whisky, gin, and brennivín. So if you’re looking to nurse a tumbler while you nurse your intellect, look no further.
Quest Hair, Beer & Whisky Saloon
There are not many places where you can get your moustache trimmed while learning about the intricacies of fermentation. One of those places, though, is the Quest Hair, Beer & Whisky Saloon. The ‘bar-bershop’—located just a stone’s throw from downtown Reykjavík—offers an extensive selection of local and international whiskies and beers, as well as a knowledge of the Icelandic brewing scene that is unparalleled. This is one of those places where you can sit down, have a chat with the owner, and hear stories you can’t find anywhere else. It’s also a cosy locale with tasting courses and occasional late-night concerts. For non-drinkers, they also have an amazing selection of hair pomade. But seriously, if you’re a non-drinker, why are you even reading this?
For more great drinking options check out our Reykjavik “Best of” guides with all kinds of amazing choices for you to get your drink on.