The 10 Best Alcoholic Beverages in Iceland

Reyka Vodka

MmePassepartout / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Iceland is known for cold weather during a large part of the year and one of the best ways the locals like to warm themselves up is through alcohol. Iceland offers a variety of locally-made alcohol from hard spirits to craft beers.

When you arrive in Iceland, you'll find the best deals on bottles at the duty-free shop in the airport. However, for the best atmosphere, head to local bar, make some new friends, and don't forget drink responsibly!

Before visiting Iceland, you should get familiar with all the beverage options you'll encounter at the local pub. This way you'll know exactly what you'll want to try when it's time to order.

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Viking Gold

Can of viking gold beer half-buried in shaved ice

 Daníel Örn Gíslason / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

From 1915 until March 1, 1989, now celebrated locally as Beer Day, beer was illegal in Iceland. Things have changed and now and Viking Gold beer is the favorite of both locals and tourists alike. It is a strong lager beer, with a light gold color and known for its caramel and coffee-like flavor notes.

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Because of the ban on beer for so many years, Icelanders came up with a plan; they took the legal, low alcohol content Pilsner beer and mixed vodka with it. The name of the drink is bjórlíki and is still a favorite drink among Icelanders, especially in the countryside.

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This is a very popular drink in Iceland because it is based on a specific brand of licorice and has the same flavor. When children bypass the candy stage, they go to straight to Ópal. Many non-locals claim that it tastes like cough medicine, so it's definitely not appealing to everyone.

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Fjallagrasa Moss Schnapps

Four different sized bottles of Fjallagrasa Iceland Schnapps

Courtesy of Reykjavik Spirits 

Made from an ocean moss that is soaked in an alcoholic solution, this schnapps is all natural and no artificial ingredients are added. This drink has been used medicinally for years, so if you have a cough, this is one of the alcoholic beverages in Iceland that might make you feel better.

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Topas is another liquor that is made with many herbs and sweet licorice. This spirit is sweet and strong. It also had that distinct flavor that tastes like candy to locals and cough syrup to most outsiders.

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Egils Sterkur

Because beer was illegal in Iceland for so long, it became a huge hit when the general public was finally allowed to drink it again. The Egils Sterkur flavor is one of the favorites among Icelanders because it's very strong with a 6.2 percent alcohol content. The taste can be a little bitter, but some people prefer that.

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Reyka Vodka

strawberry vodka smash cocktail in two glasses next to a bottle and two strawberries on a white table with thyme

Shari's Berries / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Many locals would claim this Icelandic vodka is the best in the world. The water used to make Reyka comes from a 4,000-year-old lava field. You will taste a smooth warmth with just a touch of vanilla flavoring. This vodka is unique because it is brewed in one of the coldest places on Earth.

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Egils Gull

Another Egils beer, this one is much lighter and only has a 5 percent alcohol content. It's gold in color, sweeter, and easier to drink with citrus notes and a malty flavor.

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Ísafold Gin

If schnapps and vodka aren't for you, you might like to try the Icelandic gin. Ísafold Gin is a slightly dry gin with a smooth taste that goes down easy. The bottle is nothing fancy, but the taste is classic and consistent.

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Four vintage bottles of Brennivin

Doctor Popular / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Brennivín is an unsweetened Schnapps that is made from potato mash and seasoned with caraway, cumin, and angelica. Brennivín has a very distinct taste and is normally 80 proof.

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