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Brennivín (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈprɛnːɪvin]) is a clear, unsweetened schnapps that is considered to be Iceland's signature distilled beverage. It is a very popular Icelandic liquor and special-occasion alcohol shot, and the traditional drink for the mid-winter feast of Þorrablót. It is made from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway, cumin, angelica, and other botanical ingredients. The steeping of herbs in alcohol to create schnapps is a long-held folk tradition in Scandinavian countries. Brennivín has a unique and distinctive taste similar to vodka or Scandinavian akvavit. It is typically bottled at 80 proof.
The word "brennivín" translates to English as "burning wine" and comes from the same root as brandy, namely brandewijn, which has its roots in the Dutch language (also compare German Branntwein). A variation of the same word is used in other North Germanic languages. In Swedish the liquor is referred to as "brännvin" and in Danish as "brændevin".
The most popular brand of brennivín is produced by the Egill Skallagrímsson Brewery and is packaged in distinctive green bottles with a bold black label bearing the phrase "The Original Icelandic Spirit" or "The Original Icelandic Schnapps." The bottle's label once bore the letters ÁTVR, referring to Iceland's state-owned alcohol company that once produced brennivín in monopoly, but now features the coastal outline of Iceland.
Availability outside of Iceland 
Export of Brennivín from Iceland to the United States is expected to begin in 2013 by Brennivin America, LLC.
In popular culture 
- Brennivín is often called "Black Death" and because of its unique and memorable flavor it has a somewhat notorious reputation as a strong liquor.
- In Kill Bill Vol. 2 the character Budd drinks Brennivín.
- Brennivín is mentioned in the Foo Fighters song "Skin and Bones", the line being "brennivín and cigarettes".
- Icelandic films such as Kristnihald undir Jökli, Land og synir, Stuttur Frakki, Djöflaeyjan, Ingaló, Cold Fever, and others have featured the drink.
- Brennivin is the name of a song by The Album Leaf on his Seal Beach EP.
- Brennivin is consumed frequently in the novels of the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic writer Halldor Laxness.
- The song 'Brennivin' appears on the Faroese band Týr's album, Land.
- Zane Lamprey drank Brennivín and learned about its history on the Iceland episode of Three Sheets
- The character Iceland, in Hetalia: Axis Powers, involves this drink in his song, "With Love, From Iceland".
- In Philip Kerr's The One from the Other, main character Bernie Gunther gets drunk on Brennivín upon learning that his second wife is about to die.
- Anthony Bourdain drinks Brennivín in No Reservations Season 1, Episode 2 (Iceland: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend).
- In Gaia Online, there is a character named Brennivin who owns one of the shops and is apparently Icelandic.
See also