It's a good vodka at the end of the day, but I'll be honest with you: it's hard for me to read a description of Reyka's production methods and sort out the fine line between gimmickry and actual craftsmanship.
For this review, let's you and I imagine that we have a sliding scale where we rank all of the marketing tidbits about Reyka. We'll label the very left end something like, "Okay, that's interesting." And on the far right, we'll call it, "You've gotta be fucking kidding me." Let's start on the left and move our way over as we go.
First, Reyka is made with Scottish-grown wheat and barley. That sounds impressive until you realize Reyka is a brand owned by the William Grant company. For those of you who aren't in the know, those are the guys that make Glenfiddich and have the third-largest market share of scotch whisky worldwide. Even though Reyka is produced in Iceland, it's not like William Grant is hurting for barley, so this is probably a matter of convenience and economics rather than taste.
Second, Reyka is distilled only one time. Yes, one. Like, a number that's finger-countable even for guys who have had a really bad day in front of the table saw. I like this because Reyka proves how absolutely bullshit the marketing is behind bottles like Purity Vodka ("Distilled a Remarkable 34 times!"). Reyka uses copper pot distillation, which is always at least a sign of care taken and effort spent. Apparently, if you know what you're doing, one distillation is perfectly fine.
So here's where we start getting into progressively more strange territory.
Reyka is made with Icelandic glacier water. Okay: neat, I suppose, but I'll give that the benefit of the doubt. I'm at a loss to explain why Martin Miller's is so good, but they use Icelandic water sources too. Probably it's really good water.
Next: Reyka is a totally green vodka made by geothermal heat sources. That is, they built the distillery near a goddamn volcano so they can use the heat from the lava to be a zero-emission distillery. It might not produce too much effect in the glass, but die-hard environmentalists will be able to drink this vodka without feeling crushed by the moral weight of their decision. For the rest of us, we get to drink a vodka that seems to have been made in the headquarters of a James Bond villain.
Lastly, Reyka uses lava rocks to filter the vodka. Yes: cooled magma. And then they pour the vodka over it, because of course they would. According to the distiller, this apparently works for its intended purpose. Praise be to volcanoes?
But at the end of the day? It's a decently affordable vodka that is hell-bent on being as neutral as possible. I mentioned in my Stoli review that it was the quintessential vodka for people who didn't want vodka to taste like anything, but I honestly think they'd be better-served by Reyka. In direct comparison, Reyka is less harsh and has a better price point. I suspect it would all but vanish in a cocktail, allowing you to become tipsy and warm without ever being aware in the moment that your drink was alcoholic.
That said, I did try to prepare some tasting notes. There's some very subtle sweetness in the form of Jordan almonds, and in the finish there's the tiniest amount of citrus. And, to Reyka's credit, there's very little sourness or harshness that creeps in as the vodka warms, which certainly can be an issue. Across a range of temperatures, it was perfectly fine with no off-notes or unpleasant sensations. That's easier said than done.
Admittedly, neutrality isn't what I want most from a vodka. I typically err on the side of taste, be it slightly fruity or savory. However, Reyka is a solid choice when you want a mixer that adds some alcohol but gets the hell out of its own way. It's a very capable vodka despite (or perhaps because of) the oddball gimmickry.