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.

3 Comments

  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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