Clearing up question #1: ÍS Vodka is pronounced “Ice Vodka,” which sadly ensures that it will draw blank stares not just from people who see it written but from those who hear it spoken aloud, too.
Hailing from Iceland (which has more trouble these days than how people pronounce the name of a vodka brand), ÍS is distilled — seven times — from a wheat base (non-genetically modified, naturally) and cut with water from the local esker.
There’s nothing completely out of the ordinary about ÍS, and the body is fairly typical of high-end vodkas. And yet ÍS grows on you. There’s kind of a funky, herbal kick (what ÍS must be referring to as “fire”) that plays out toward a chewy, moderately medicinal finish. Aromatic, it leaves a finish of fresh herbs and wildflowers in the nostrils. Very unusual, and — though odd at first — not at all unpleasant.
This is a “showy” vodka (just look at the bottle… then check out the party pix), and it’s in very limited release for now. Definitely worth a try, though I dare say it’s not for everyone.
B+ / $40