The flora is remote, cold places has often in recent years inspired gin. Ungava borrows botanicals form the Quebec Taiga. Vor Gin— also from Iceland— is inspired by the lichens and other flora of the Island. Himbrimi is similarly inspired.
Himbrimi infuses wild arctic thyme, angelica seeds (rather than root as in many other gins), lemon peel and of course juniper— in a neutral grain spirit. It is then sweetened with honey.
Bottled at 40% ABV, Himbrimi has an umber hue. Because of the maceration process, there is a bit of sediment on the bottom inside the bottle.
We are reviewing Batch No. 1, which is also designated with a vintage of “2018.”
The nose has a woody, earthiness to it at first look. Chopped pine bark, dark crystallized honey, oakmoss,and a slight camphoraceous note. Himbrimi is unusual with its woody notes. It doesn’t have a trace of the oak or the usual hallmarks of aging (which it shouldn’t, as it’s not barrel aged). It merely stands in stark contrast even among other old toms in having a mossier, earthier take on wood than others.
The palate is bold and very spicy. Strong suggestions of earthy, mossy lichens. If you’ve ever had Fjallagrasa Icelandic Liqueur— you may recognize some of the tasting notes of Icelandic Moss in Himbrimi.
Perky and very fresh juniper mid-palate. It tastes of juniper berries freshly crushed. The herbal notes in the background call to mind a wide range— traditional thyme, lavender and a bit of tarragon.
The finish is quite bitter, suggestive of wormwood particularly. It might remind you me of an amaro than of an Old Tom. A pleasant sweetness lightens and adds texture— but it will sit on palate for some time.
All of these tasting notes being said— Himbrimi is a really unusual Old Tom and should probably not be considered as a replacement for standard gins in cocktails.
The Himbrimi website has a few suggestions for how to mix it. Many of them pair it with sweet, very rich juices and bold, vegetal ingredients.
I didn’t have many of those ingredients in stock. It works well in a Negroni or White Negroni— adding additional bitterness and texture. But considering that it has so much of the amaro quality on it’s own. You can go 3 parts gin, 2 parts Vermouth, 1 part Campari and get an unusual but worthwhile take on the classic.
Himbrimi I would say is closer to a gin amaro than it is an Old Tom. But categories aside, it’s an unusual direction in gin that’s unlike anything else out there right now.
I suggest looking at Himbrimi as a spirit through the lens of “do you want to sip this on its own” rather than as a cocktail gin.
Bartenders may find it a fun spirit to be played with in inventing new cocktails; however, it should very much be respected as it’s own thing entirely than a plug-and-play option or substitute in traditional Old Tom preparations.
1 thought on “Himbrimi”
I tried it in the air, for the first time last week from the Iceland Air “gin library” while traveling to Iceland in Saga Premium class. They suggested with tonic, but I wanted to taste it so I just had it on ice. It was delicious. I am glad I had it on the rocks, and I ordered it twice the same way later in the trip while in different restaurants in Iceland, consistently good and delicious. I could not figure a way to bring back a bottle from Duty Free for my domestic connection without placing it in a suitcase, I postponed the purchase ($43 USD at the airport) until I can find it here in the US.