Börkur Bitter – Icelandic Birch Bitter

Borkur Birch Bitter

From the Icelandic Foss Distillery, Börkur Bitter is made with Icelandic birch bark.  Currently only available in Iceland, this bitter is based from a neutral grain spirit (potato vodka most likely).

The distillery itself is very young, being created only a few years ago (2010) and they pride themselves on having a very unique product which uses sustainably gathered birch trimmings.  The bottle itself even has a birch stick in the spirit itself (much like the worm that can be found is poor quality mescal), which adds a nice touch that only seems a bit like a gimmick.

Borkur Birch BitterOn the nose this spirit reminds me of Play-doh, and some sticks in the background.  As a 37% ABV spirit this is not a strong burner on the nose.

The flavor reminds me completely on the smell, with the old forest sticks flavor a bit more powerful, and not nearly as much bitterness as I was expecting.  A bit of warmth from the alcohol, but not nearly as overpowering as the flavor.  The finish is what I assume the finish of eating a decaying leaf would be like.

Overall as you can probably find out I am not a fan of this spirit and am curious to know how it could be used in a cocktail, as I cannot find any recipes that use it, and also have no good ideas on how it could be used.  Also making this review in Iceland where I purchased the spirit my selection of mixers is limited, but nothing that I can find worked.  The distillery looks to be expanding and exporting some spirits, but I would be surprised if the Börkur bitter ever makes its way out of Iceland.


  1. I’ll be interested to see if you manage to do something interesting with this.

    Over my various trips, I’ve got a few bottles of two of their other birch concoctions: their Bjork liqueur which actually makes for a nice Bjork and Tonic, and their Birkir schnapps which has defied my attempts to do anything except use it as a sipping drink.

    1. I really liked the Bjork Liqueur and thought that it had a lot of potential as a mixer, but really I could not find any way to make the Börkur useful for anything, the odd flavor was just hard to find a way to make add something useful. Nevertheless I will continue trying, hopefully I can uncover something good!

  2. Ya, it’s a strange brew – has the slightly sweet musty, doughy odor of play dough. On the tongue it reveals light dark berry/cherry flavors w/a hint of bitterness. No sweetness & little in the way of finish outside of a slight bitter sensation. Would benefit from some added gentian notes.

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