From August 21st – 31st, a group of bartenders and beverage industry professionals (who’ve aptly named themselves the “Wandering Spirits”) embarked on a 10-day motorcycle trip throughout Iceland.
Among the group are some of the country’s top dogs in beverage – Dylan Regan (Aspen DJs), Bryan Dayton (OAK at fourteenth, Acorn, Brider), Matt Dorman (William Grant & Sons), Sean Kenyon (Williams & Graham), and Mark Stoddard (Hendrick’s Gin).
Sponsored by Reyka Vodka, the plan was to fly from Denver to Iceland and then join forces with local tour company Biking Viking to ride around the island, explore Iceland’s back country, and have themselves an all-out adventure. On the last day, the WS crew visited Reyka Vodka’s distillery – Iceland’s first modern distillery, constructed by William Grant & Sons in 2005. On a recent journey, the Wandering Spirits rode from Denver to New Orleans (making stops in Santa Fe, NM; Midland, TX; Austin, TX; and Shreveport, LA along the way) for Tales of the Cocktail… so it’s been quite the year of travel! Check out what Dylan Regan had to say about their trip!
Welcome back. Tell us about your trip.
Our trip was amazing – our most daring exploration to date! Most of our rides have been centered around cocktail events and destinations, but Iceland started with a bottle of Reyka Vodka (more on that later!). For this trip, we wanted to discover the origin of a spirit and explore the unexplored parts of Iceland.
Our first stop was the Reyka Distillery in the small town of Borgarnes. We were able to see this humble facility in arguably one of the cleanest and most pristine environments in the world. After our tour of Reyka, we headed north toward the Westfjords. Iceland is a small country, but seeing it on a motorcycle would take more time than we could afford – so we opted to spend most of our time in the northwest region (which is still mostly uninhabited and offers a true sense of the untethered Icelandic landscape). We spent a week riding over a dormant Volcano, through expansive valleys with massive waterfalls, past deserted fishing villages and sleepy sheep farms. We ended the trip negotiating our way through the Barren Highlands region that cuts between two of the country’s largest glaciers and the finally headed back to civilization.
The trip was breathtaking and I highly recommend Iceland to anyone with an adventurous spirit.
Tell us about the members of the Wandering
The Wandering Spirits is an adventure touring and marketing platform dedicated to bartenders, restauranteurs and beverage industry enthusiasts. Our goal is to explore different locales near and far, while furthering our knowledge and appreciation of culinary and cocktail culture through travel (and we have a blast!). For this particular trip to Iceland, it was myself (Dylan Regan, Wandering Spirits), Bryan Dayton (OAK at fourteenth, Acorn, Brider), Matt Dorman (William Grant & Sons), and Mark Stoddard (Hendrick’s Gin).
What do you do/where do you stop during your tours.
Every trip is different, but the central idea remains the same. Our ultimate goal is exploration and education. During the day, we’ll ride the road less traveled, searching out the back roads and discovering more about where true civilization lives. After seeing the countryside, we’ll park the bikes wherever the road has taken us and set out to find the remarkable bars, taverns and hidden gems for good food and drink. We are in search of the essence of the towns we come to, and we want to live as the locals live – even if it’s only for a day.
Why Iceland? What do you hope to learn there?
The conversation of touring Iceland started years ago, during one of our first trips. At the time, we were riding up the California coast on our way to Portland Cocktail Week. After an amazing day of riding up the Pacific Coast Highway, a few members of the Wandering Spirits group were relaxing poolside at our hotel, sharing a Bottle of Reyka Vodka. As usual, we were talking about our bikes, where we had ridden that day, and our “Bucket List” of future destinations. The conversation quickly turned to Iceland. Iceland is such a sparse and mysterious country, and we were excited at the prospect of taking a more adventurous, dirt-oriented trip exploring one of the world’s most untamed environments.
We hear you rode from Denver to NOLA, how was this Wandering Spirits journey?
Yes! The ride to Tales is the “granddaddy” of our events. This was our second tour to the Big Easy. Our first trip took us on a round-about journey through the Midwest and Bourbon Country. This year, we opted for a Southern route through New Mexico and Texas. It was our largest group to date! We stumbled across some quirky Americana in Roswell and Midland Texas, and found amazing scenic rides through the Louisiana wetlands and swamps. The highlight of the trip was definitely Austin (Texas), where the cocktail and culinary scene is thriving.
What was the inspiration to start the Wandering Spirits?
I [Dylan Regan] started the whole Wandering Spirits concept while writing a personal blog about my solo trip riding from Colorado to New York City (to work the Manhattan Cocktail Classic). I would stop every evening and explore the local nightlife – finding cocktails bars and posting photos of the establishment and the cocktails they were making. The blog became very popular and led to more trips with more riders until it was clear that this combination of ‘Cycles and Cocktails’ seemed to make a lot of sense.
What would you like bartenders to know about WS?
We are always looking for more eager riders to join our crew! We will be doing our third annual ride to Tales next summer, and I would love organize a few different groups of riders from around the country that will converge for the last leg into New Orleans. We also have a tour of Scotland planned for next year. Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand are in the works.