Age: 3 years old
Gordon Ramsey recently caused a bit of a stir shovelling sheep shit on an episode of his show Uncharted. Sure enough, a celebrity chef and excrement are an unusual combination, unless we count the stuff coming out of Gordon’s mouth. The particular poop being shovelled was meant for production of Wholly Shit whisky, distilled in Tasmania. And while the use of sheep dung is sure to grab attention, it’s not necessarily a gimmick. Icelandic distillers Eimverk have been using sheep dung for years now, and to them it’s second nature. Although peat is traditionally the fuel of choice for drying barley, peat simply doesn’t form in Iceland’s austere landscape. In looking for an alternative, Eimverk needed to look no further than their local cuisine, where it’s very normal to smoke foods using sheep dung. I’ve tried Arctic char and lamb smoked this way, and although distinctive, it was an excellent meal. That’s not to say I will be collecting faeces for my next smoking session on the grill, but I am happy that Eimverk decided not to import peat from Scotland. It’s the sustainable choice too: while peat bogs can take centuries to regrow, sheep produce dung on a daily basis. How’s that for a renewable resource!
Before we dive in, a small note on this review. There have been days where I loved the Flóki Sheep Dung Reserve, and days where I didn’t. You really need to be in the mood for this one… but the text below should provide a pretty balanced opinion. And in case you’re still on the fence after having tasted this Flóki, try it with some blue cheese – it really is an excellent pairing!
Nose: Fairly sweet and certainly stimulating. The scent of granola is laced with a rather herbal perfume of hay, cloves and juniper. An aroma of plums provides a fruity counterbalance, along with an unusual creamy influence, like freshly churned butter. The result is not unpleasant, but also doesn’t have me quite convinced.
Palate: Smoother and more mellow than the nose would suggest. Grain husks and fresh wood shavings give way to a sharp, peppery burst of spice. Fruity flavours of blood orange and lemon peel take the lead role, but the sheep dung is always clearly present in the background. Is it obtrusive? Perhaps a bit, but actually… it’s not as big a slap in the face as I would’ve liked from a young, smoky whisky.
Finish: Woah, there’s that intensity I was looking for! They say you can’t polish a turd, but this is where the sheep dung really shines. The taste is quite astringent, as notes of cloves combine with a lingering ashy aftertaste. Memorable!
Verdict: Well, that was… quite unique. But Flóki Sheep Dung Reserve isn’t different just for the sake of being different. Rather this is an Icelandic product made even more unique by the use of local ingredients. For the distillers at Eimverk, the use of sheep dung isn’t a gimmick, but the only logical way of crafting an Icelandic smoked whisky. It’s this dedication to local terroir that’s so endeared this distillery to me. I expect there will be many people who intensely dislike this particular Flóki, but hey, that love-it-or-hate-it quality is not so different from a Laphroaig – not a bad yardstick to compare yourself against. To me the Flóki Sheep Dung is one of the most intriguing whiskies on the market and I’m curious to see how it develops with more time spent in oak. Already this 3 year old version is a much smoother and more pleasant dram than the Young Sheep Dung. I wonder if a few extra years can turn this into an elegant drink, or if that’s just not what this expression should aspire to. Perhaps this Flóki is best served brash and boisterous. Time will tell… for now though, a good step up from the Young Dung!
Value for money: 🤩🤩🤩