Friday, February 26, 2010

The Balvenie 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:*
Having once worked my way through a full-sized bottle of it and having applied it gingerly, though consistently and assiduously, as if it were a salve to my pain, approaching the Balvenie 10 now as a reviewer is like reconnecting with a high school flame at one's twenty-year class reunion (imagine you're not married).  Despite a beginning brimming with familiarity and schmaltz, it soon gives way to embarrassing fumbling towards which all present would be most merciful to turn a blind eye.  The middle loses its balance when confronted with the artificial mixture of scents and flavors, some introduced to mask others, much like Mint Vanilla Flavored Listerine™, even though the original was just fine as it was, despite its idiosyncratic and now slightly antiquated character.  Soon after the finish, there is the bitter aftermath, the bleak hours spent next to the former inamorata or inamorato, awash amid the detritus and decaying baggage of the middle-aged shipwreck that one's life has become.  Fortunately, as with such a tryst, the Balvenie 10 ultimately has an ally in human psychology:  after the maladroit valedictory, the thought asseverates itself, ineluctably and unmistakably, until it prevails as the ultimate arbitrament, "Ah well, I do still dig that label, though.  Man, I remember when I used to think that was simply the way a label on a bottle of scotch should be..."

--On the scale of nostalgia-inducing items--
The Balvenie 10 is your high school yearbook--it reignites a solid set of memories, but it seems a world away from where you are now.  And it's got nothing on the 80's channel on satellite radio.


*--this bottle is the first of a nice batch of miniatures my father was good enough to allow me to take from his liquor cabinet and put toward the cause of the Malt Impostor.  Cheers, Dad, and thanks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Miltonduff 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
     What's in a name? A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, but the Miltonduff by any other name wouldn't conjure images of a poet's keister as he sat squirming in a church pew, dreaming of the epic struggle between good and evil, eventually achieving enduring fame with Paradise Lost. Lambent, evanescent, and spicy: Perfumed--nay, censed, or crawling--with vanilla: A bottle of chardonnay gone missing from the warm climes of Napa Valley, crawling into a vat ensconced in Speyside? Swirling the malt, and holding the crystal goblet up to the light reveals legs; long, long, long legs as if a young Daryl Hannah were to be uncloaked as a sixteen-limbed spider prone to frequent whisky glasses. Disturbing? In the eye of the beholder.
     On the tongue, there is peat without smoke, which is certainly less lethal, if less interesting, than fire without smoke. One might indeed characterize the Miltonduff as Clay Aiken; a non-threatening entertainment option (admittedly, also in the eye of the beholder) that you'd trust with your 10 year old daughter. Pine in the sun, leather cleanser, but not as earthy as Moises Alou's or Jorge Posada's urine drenched mitts. Nice and round, like a baseball, or any other orb, for that matter; soft, fuzzy, and cooing like a tribble. Finishing with notes of maple syrup and exhaust fumes, as it runs out of gas.

--On the scale of increasingly surreal interviews--
The Miltonduff 10 is NBC's milking and milking Lindsey Vonn after her gold medal run in the Women's Downhill--The first question struck pure gold:  Vonn weeping, saying she gave up everything for this, and finally achieved it.  Then, seeming to surprise her, more questions, and when the interviewer couldn't dredge up a gram of lead slag or even a dollop of garden manure, what did NBC do?  Send in her husband, wired for sound like he was an FBI informer, telling her over and over that she did good.  Wow, that was some seriously awful stuff.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Speyburn 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 

     Wine-dark sea, glancing-eyed Athena…  

These memorable epithets in Homer lead us to consider the variety of terms for expressing color perception in Greek.  What we find is unexpected: instead of the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), the Archaic Greeks had four (black, white, greenish yellow and purply red).  And instead of organizing the domain of color perception in term of hue, the Greeks seem equally to have appealed to other properties of colors: their texture, depth, reflectiveness, and so forth.  What else explains how the same color term could be applied to honey and blood, or to sheep and the ocean?  These puzzles lead some scholars to conclude that the Archaic Greeks had not yet developed the capacity to discern color in the way moderns, with their 64-color crayon boxes, or Benjamin Moore paint wheels, take for granted.  Others suggest that the brilliant Mediterranean sun flattened out the chromatic spectrum, making shininess and opacity stand out.  And still others note that poets, in particular, sought to convey symbolic meaning in their color terms.  But I prefer to think that the Greeks simply found it more interesting to organize the visual perception of the world achromatically and willfully rejected the color spectrum we are more familiar with.  In like manner, what if we could reorganize our perception of taste, eschewing the traditional basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter and even such newcomers as piquance, and savoriness?  In effecting this sensible sea change, wholly new experiences await us.  Thus, the Speyburn 10 tastes of the vibrations of a didgeridoo pushing up waves across the surface of a liquid mercury lollipop, cresting onto ricotta cheese foot massages, and crashing over hand-twisted paperclips on a tipped cookie sheet.  

--On the scale of jokes by 80's comic Steven Wright--
The Speyburn 10 is "My socks do match.  They're the same thickness."--much less random than "The girl I'm seeing now, Rachel, is a very pretty girl.  She has emerald eyes and long, flowing plaid hair," but less plainly witty than "I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five."  



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Isle of Jura 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
The moniker for this dram could just as easily serve as the title for the latest installment of a role-playing video game in which one assembles a rag-tag band of medieval warriors to find the lost city of Ys and defeat Satan's armies vacationing there.  Then again, for some of us, it also calls to mind a familiar permutation of the English language (something like, "The Isle uh Jura?  Is theh a Isle uh Judge, too?  How about a Isle uh Court Reportah?  Hey, whaddya say latah we go up to Hahvahd and beat up some smaht kids?").  The dram itself, however, is the whisky analog to Plato's view of justice as the harmony of the parts of the soul (or of the city): various "parts" of the Isle of Jura 10 are, by themselves, innocuous or even repellent, but he way they work together is undeniably righteous.  Put more simply, this dram has the singular ability to evoke the smells and tastes of cleaning products--and make you love ingesting them.  The Lysol on the nose apparently disinfects and prepares the mouth, so that the deep sherry softens the tree bark into a velvety caress not dissimilar from the sensation of reading Plato again after a steady diet of Uncle Funny Bunny and Chumpy.  Add a splash of water, and you'll be treated to the same production, only with different players: the citrus hints of Murphy's Oil Soap on the nose combine with the veritable bales of pine needles on the mouth to give rise to honey-drizzled toffee crème brulée served on a taut, bare belly. 

--On the scale of everyday transcendent experiences (for me, anyway)--
The Isle of Jura 10 is hearing certain phrases spoken in the distinctive Boston dialect--the precise harmony of non-rhoticity, distinct vowel pronunciation, syntax, and big city attitude, as in "Tonight, I'm goin' to watch Pedro pitch against that rat bastahd." (okay, so not exactly a quotidian statement, since I still remember it from the 2003 playoffs).  But if any of the parts is lacking or not in the right relation to the others, it's like nails on a chalkboard.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza

Ladies and Gentlemen, here at the Malt Impostor we extol the virtues of making mountains from molehills. By that we mean that financial and time constraints typically limit us to a few small sips from airplane nips, and from those tiny trickles of the water of life, in the echo-chamber of our inner sanctum, we spew super-heated geysers of criticism. If we were to ennoble what we do, we'd say that first impressions are lasting, like gum adhering to the sole of a shoe on a hot summer day, and that they best inform our gut instincts, like the unerring sense of a salmon swimming upstream to spawn (and die).

If we here at the Malt Impostor are blips falling off of your radar screen, the visionary geniuses behind the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza are supernovas lighting up the galaxy.  They have put together the opportunity for all of us---experts, connoisseurs, discerning enthusiasts, and even malt impostors---to sample over 100 rare and exceptional single malt and Scotch whisky expressions. In one place! At one time! 

It's what we do---what we live for---on a scale so grand that our palates are already aquiver with anticipation, tingling and jangling like wind chimes blowing in a gale of delight. Beyond the samples, there will be various distillery representatives, freely dispensing knowledge and wisdom along with their spirits. A sumptuous dinner buffet is included to complement and enter into dialogue with the whiskies, and also for those times during the evening when a pause is needed to find the words (and overheated similes) to express our finer feelings. Afterwards, when our stomachs are filled with wonderful whisky and fine food, we plan on filling our lungs and soothing our tongues from the selection of premium imported cigars that are included as part of the evening.  It should be noted, however, that we will do so elsewhere, as the cigars are for attendees’ later enjoyment and smoking at the event itself is strictly prohibited.

We at the Malt Impostor look forward to contributing some mirth to the sophistication and elegance of the Boston event (we were going to attend the New York one, but Stephen has an emergency appendectomy scheduled that day), whilst experiencing the camaraderie of bending our elbows and sharing our thoughts with other whisky enthusiasts. We regret that we cannot make other events, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.  It means that you should.  Click here for the full schedule.

Tickets to the Extravaganza are $120 each for Members and $135 each for Non-member guests. However, if you are not a member, just use the promotional code “TMI2010” (that stands for The Malt Impostor, not Too Much Information) and you’ll receive your first two tickets at the Member price ($120 each). You can purchase tickets via the website at:
or by calling (800) 990-1991.  Once again, use the special Malt Impostor promotional code “TMI2010” to receive your first two tickets at the Member rate.

If you sign up because of this post, please email us and let us know how great it was. We’d love to hear all of the amazing details of your experience: after all, we here at the Malt Impostor generate a fair number of posts by tapping into our own deep-seated bitterness and envy of others. 

And look for us in Boston in October. We’ll be there with bells on…and Groucho Marx glasses, too.

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