According to my Dungeons and Dragons manuals from my early teens, Roknar is a Dwarven “lesser god of greed, intrigue, lies, and the earth.” Sadly, that’s not the reference the folks at Far North were going for: really, it means “Warrior from the gods” in ancient Norse. Though the first possibility had me waxing nostalgic for my earlier days of utter nerddom, the second actually makes more sense as the name of and inspiration behind this whiskey–and explains why they were producing average-sized bottles and not just minis. Or perhaps the whole thing is about o vs. ø. Regardless, this whole line of thought does have me wishing I still had my 20-sided dice ready to hand (of course I still have them).
But to shift from eponymy to olfaction, this field-to-glass whiskey first presents with notes of young, metallic rye grains being plucked from the ground by an elk wearing perfume–and wildflowers in her hair. That hint of youth is lacquered with sweet cherry, like from a Bourbon, but accompanied by a host of dried and smoked spices: cinnamon, clove, tarragon, and rosemary. The heirloom corn is noticeable, and it seems to be lurking around the back rows, itching to come forward for a solo.
The nose and mouth flow seamlessly into one another. They are, as much as smells and tastes have voices, univocal. But here, the spicy, green rye note has a tangible bite, and creaminess overwhelms the senses momentarily, filling the space above and around the tongue. It evokes some wild imagery: peppered heather honey drizzled over a spelt grain scale model of a dairy cow and a pair of once-worn white chocolate house slippers for a foot fetishist to tongue.
The finish is remarkably long and bright: it is a high, clear ringing bell. It is extremely smooth, yet generates a tingle express that is big and boarding now on the tip of the tongue. It’s destination is the Valhalla great rye cocktail contest. But for all of that, there’s an incredible softness here as well: it’s the foot falls of fawns on a fairway.
Overall, this whiskey lacks any hint of mank or funk or janky edges, but it also seems to lack any clear indication of the cognac cask finish–or it was integrated so well, it was perfectly seamless. Whether we should attribute this last to terroir or craftsmanship or some combination of the two, we may never know.
On the scale of heralds of great things to come–
The Røknar Minnesota Rye is bats nesting in one’s home–Let’s start with the fact that the literal translation of the word for “bat” in Old Norse is “leather flapper” because that’s just awesome. But the basis for this view of the old leather flappers as portending good fortune is that bats are able “to ‘smell’ out places with auspicious chi.” Get ready for the bats, folks: we’re talking about some audaciously auspicious chi here.
–Our thanks to Cheri Reese and Far North Spirits for the sample!