Interview

NYKUR VODKA: Founder Nixon Bui about the most awarded spirit from Denmark

NYKUR VODKA comes from Denmark, is made with water from the Faroe Islands and grain from northern Italy and has recently become available in Germany. The Bremer Spirituosen Contor imports brought the most awarded spirit from Denmark. And with it the story of the mythical animal Nykur, which gave the vodka its name. In the form of a shimmering grey horse, it lurks on the lakes of the Faroe Islands. Its beauty tempts weary travellers to mount or pet it. But if they do, they remain trapped and are drawn into a watery grave by Nykur.

Nixon Bui, founder of NYKUR SPIRITS, reveals in an interview how to escape this spell. He also talks about the creation of the vodka, the plans for the German market and reveals why the vodka is best enjoyed neat.

How long has NYKUR VODKA been around? How did the brand and product come about?

Nixon Bui: NYKUR VODKA Vodka has been around for about four years now. We have been working with vodka before that and wanted to create an organic vodka that is super smooth to drink.
Most of us associate vodka with cocktail drinks, but as vodka enthusiasts, we wanted to change that. We wanted to make it possible so one can sip a good vodka and enjoy it thoroughly as one do with whiskey and rum. We had a quest.

Our quest led us to the Faroe Islands – an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, where we found our water, and thus the story of NYKUR sprouted. The Kirvi volcanic mountain in the Faroe islands holds one of the purest water. So we immediately knew this water with excellent quality alcohol would make the best vodka ever.

After a year of product development, we have about 40 prestigious awards and still counting, from various parts of the world, making us the most award-winning spirit from Denmark ever.

The spring water from the Faroe Islands is accompanied by wheat from northern Italy. How did this combination come about?

Nixon Bui: The starting point for us has been our water. As we know, vodka is usually 40 percent ABV and 60 percent water. Therefore, the water quality is as essential as the base ingredients.
Secondly, we knew we wanted to do a grain-based vodka because of our personal biases and the neutral nature of grain-based vodkas.

So we experimented with wheat from the Nordics and different parts of northern Europe. And voila, we agreed that the wheat from north Italy perfectly matched our water. Our brand ambassador and renowned connoisseur Lars Code says it’s because of the right weather and the sun exposure on the wheat. The result is the smoothest-tasting vodka ever, with a unique character you must taste for yourself.

How exactly is vodka made? 

Nixon Bui: Vodka-making is a relatively straightforward process. You have four steps – fermentation, distillation, dilution, and filtration. The process begins by mixing the grains, yeast, and water, allowing it for fermentation, and then straining the mixture. The liquid is then distilled to separate the alcohol vapor from the liquid, which is then collected in a separate container.

The distilled alcohol is then diluted to the desired strength by adding water. Vodka may go through the filtration process before or after dilution. Though filtration is common with most vodkas, some traditional vodka makers omit this step. Instead, these producers rely more heavily upon their distillation technique to produce pure vodka.

How are the ingredients and production reflected in the taste of the spirit? 

Nixon Bui: As we are grain-based vodka, many say they can sense hints of hay, citrus, or even almond on the nose, but as you know, the sensory interpretation is so subjective.

We don’t filter our vodka after dilution to retain the essence of our water for its minerality, which undoubtedly gives our vodka its unique character and smooth finish. But again, this is our art piece, and it’s for you to try and have an experience and opinion about it.

Tell us about the name NYKUR. Where does it come from?

Nixon Bui: The name NYKUR comes from the nordic folklore of The Faroe Islands. The folklore goes as such – Nykur is a mythical beast that takes the form of a shimmering grey horse and usually lurks around the country’s lakes. Its beauty tempts weary travelers to mount or pet it. But, once they do, they stick fast, trapped as Nykur drags them to a watery grave. But you can break the spell by calling the beast’s name out loud: NYKUR!

Nykur, under various names, is also familiar in Germanic mythology. It is known as Nix, Nixie, or Nixy, a shapeshifting water being living in a beautiful underwater palace and mingles with humans by assuming various physical forms. The Rhine Maidens by Composer Richard Wagner is based loosely on the nix of the Nibelungenlied. According to the Brothers Grimm, they can appear human but have the barest hint of animal features: the nix had “a slit ear,” and the Nixie had “a wet skirt.” Grimm thought these could symbolize they are “higher beings” who could shapeshift into animal form.

Nykur can also be seen on the bottle. How did the design come about?

Nixon Bui: It has been a process of getting our design ready. The colors, letters, and texts are thought of and inspired by the Faroe islands’ wilderness and the Nordic heritage. We work with some great label manufacturers that make it possible for us. And we are looking forward to developing new designs with our line extensions.

In Germany, you work together with Bremer Spirituosen Contor. How did the start?

Nixon Bui: Bremer Spirituosen Contor is one of the leading and most reliable distributors in Europe. We have always wanted to work with them. We finally sealed our cooperation at the Bar Convent Berlin 2022.

What are the joint plans for the German market?

Nixon Bui: It is a collective quest now that we want people to taste a good quality, super smooth vodka with a great character that they can enjoy sipping slowly.

We can transcend how we drink vodka – it is not just about mixing it into a cocktail but drinking it neat and enjoying the complexity of its taste.

What is the best way to drink NYKUR VODKA? 

Nixon Bui: We recommend sipping Nykur Vodka neat in a rock glass at room temperature. With a bit of practice, patience, and careful attention to the senses, you will notice that our vodka’s nuanced flavor and aroma slowly open up. Of course, if all this is too much, you can always throw an ice cube in your glass. Cheers!

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+++ We thank Nixon Bui for the open and very interesting interview! If you too have an interesting brand, then we should talk. Just send us an email with the subject “about-drinks interview” to redaktion@about-drinks.com – we look forward to hearing from you! +++

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