Thursday, April 29, 2010

Picture Contest!

The picture below inspired us to ask:  Do you have a funny picture in which whisky (preferably a bottle) plays prominently?  If so, send it to us at, and we'll select the three best pictures and award their senders each a prize (most likely in the form of recondite and maybe even pedantic praise of said senders).  If interest warrants it, a caption contest may follow...

If you send us a picture, please understand that we will ask you to give us the rights to that image ("I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained, et cetera, et cetera... Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum, et cetera, et cetera... Memo bis punitor delicatum!"), that is, if you have them in the first place.

We'll leave the contest open until Friday, May 7th at midnight (in whatever time zone you reside).  Thanks, and good luck!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Lagavulin 16 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
As one breathes in the aroma of the Lagavulin 16, one cannot help but picture an angel lounging on a cloud of smoke produced by the burning body of a saint.  The profile on the nose is so judicious and Apollonian (forgive the mixed religious metaphor), one can even detect evanescent hints of a fluoride treatment in a dentist's office therein.  In the mouth, the Lagavulin 16 bursts forth with briny wildness, like Poseidon exhaling, with seaweed and seethings of eels scattering in the wake.  Betwixt sips, one ogles the glass and notices, with rather intense contentedness, that the legs on this one go all the way down to the floor.  Lest one be tempted to take these last couple of observations to be incongruous, the point is that the Lagavulin 16 is Apollonian on the nose, and Dionysian in the mouth.  The dichotomy, like the finish, resonates deep within the human soul and just feels like home.  And thus it becomes apparent:  in today's world, our best hope for unifying these twin principles lies not in tragedy, but in Lagavulin.  

--On the scale of masterworks that destroy (at least) one career and launch (at least) another--
The Lagavulin 16 is Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy--Just edging out the Beatles' White Album (and well ahead of the Black Album).  While the White Album has the distinction of launching four careers, The Birth of Tragedy destroyed a career and launched another career for the same person.  Plus, no matter how nihilistic or crazy Nietzsche got, he never came up with anything nearly as disturbing as "Revolution 9."


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Stronachie 12 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
Stronachie... Stronachie….  Where have I heard of this?  Is it the name of a minor character in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno?  Pasta turned into the shape of the pancreas?  Clerical vestments? Martini & Rossi Asti Stronacci?  An insult in Na’vi more politely translated as “ikran cloaca”?  It is none of these, but perhaps I can be pardoned for my poor memory as it in fact refers to a lost distillery near Forgandenny.  After a 70-year interregnum, production began again in 2002 with the attempt to match the properties of a rare 1904 bottling.  If they have even approximated the archetype, the result is remarkable.  Drips from a sponge soaked in confectioner’s sugar and Bay Rum aftershave.  Rich, charcoaly, even gamey; it recalls nothing if not the steam from a venison, zucchini, and fingerling potato foil packet pulled from a Cub Scout campfire, with a dash of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt.  The Stronachie 12 elicits the same degree of mixed admiration for, and some of the curious tastes of, the handiwork of an imprisoned Poe aficionado, whose mint-toothpick homage to the House of Usher was burned by an aggrieved cellmate in a fit of pique.  (The latter, if you must know, held that The Tingler was the finest film adaptation of a Poe story, and after being dressed down on this point before a few members of Nuestra Familia—for clearly The Tingler is not fine, nor is it Poe's--well, you can only imagine his shame.)

--On the scale of names for an as-yet-to-be-created lesbian punk band formed by formal Classical Greek students--
The Stronachie 12 is "Rosie Fingered Dawn"--It somehow blends genuine respect for the authority of tradition with a subversive nod to current tastes.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Highland Park 18 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
The nose is akin to floating on a honey-coated raft on a sea of distilled and vitiated lilac. Like a cartoon, even with desperate back-paddling, the boat goes over a waterfall into the mouth, and slows way down on the superlatively smooth molasses backwater.  We fear being forever stuck in an eddy of delight, but like the gobs and daubs of paint splattered on the floor of Jackson Pollack's studio, a long finish of 1000 pinpricks of refined tastebud explosions moves us along. The sensation of being caught in a gale of fluttering ecru plastic grocery bags in a landfill briefly evokes wonder: Are we transported not to heaven, but to a Dali landscape? But then the perfectly mellowed and balanced smoke and charcoaled ashes of a flaming brand taken from the Yggsdrasil world tree disembark us into a surprise landing at Hōryū-ji, the Buddhist Temple of the Flourishing Law, inhaling deeply of air lightly censed. The Highland Park 18 is so smooth that it could talk Sam Peckinpah into making a G-rated movie for Walt Disney, and as such, it constitutes a perfect dram to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, or the end of the Council of Trent, or the next job of George Wendt.

--On the scale of iconic newspapers--
The Highland Park 18 is The New York Times, embodying all the scotch that's fit to drink.  No retractions or corrections on this issue, just iconic and Pulitzer-worthy reporting.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The MI's Annual Pilgrimage to the Last Hurrah

In January of 2009, the three of us went, at John's behest, to the Last Hurrah Bar in the Parker-Omni Hotel in Boston.  The goal was to try several of the 1/2 ounce "samples" of the high-end single malt scotch whiskies they have on the menu there.  That first experience at the Last Hurrah gave rise to our launching the Malt Impostor site later that year.  To immortalize that blessed event, the three of us recently made our way back to the Last Hurrah to relive that state of naïve innocence that characterized our pre-MI existence and to try some very good whisky.  Before we went, Bill had alerted us to the fact that the Last Hurrah is now selling full drams--and full drams only, no "samples"--of The Last Drop, a truly singular whisky of some renown.  After arriving and taking "our" table, we discussed at some length sharing a full measure of the Last Drop.  Stephen argued strenuously for imbibing in the rare spirit, and finally convinced the others by putting his money where his mouth was and offering to pay for it himself.

What follows is the unfiltered, raw riffing we did as we tried the Last Drop and several other "samples" of other whiskies.  Think of it as a bootleg recording of a group of jazz greats playing their guts out in an impromptu jam session--only without the great music and without the talent.

The Last Drop (Last Hurrah Full Measure) 
"Oh wow."
"strong hints of cognac" 

"This the inverse of the Milgram experiment."
"cotton candy made from maple syrup"
"It's not worth $130."      --"But what is?"
"a microplane annihilating the roof of my mouth"
"Every breath I take is like the rat pressing the bar to stimulate its pleasure centers (until it dies)."

"The saddle on a triple crown winner ridden by Lady Godiva--not side saddle."
"wood spirits, corinthian leather"

"It's from a different galaxy, a long long time ago, in a Scotland far far away."
"How about the legs?  You can't really call them legs, as they never stretch down into the bottom of the glass [and they never did].  Maybe we should think of them as vestigial limbs.  Or embrionic limb buds.  Or the bumps on an irradiated amphibian."

 The Oban 93 Distiller's Edition (Last Hurrah 1/2 oz. sample)
"I don't know what to say, but I'm not speechless this time, just high already."
"This takes an already good thing and wraps it in flannel sheets on a brisk night."
"pineapple liqueur, a slight hint of apricot liqueur"

The Ardbeg 10 (Last Hurrah 1/2 oz. sample)
"Condensation off a WWII era troop transport muffler"
"This is something gauze bandages are soaked in"
"paint thinner poured through a block of peat"
"phenolic phantasmagoria--alongside the famous Parker House rolls"
"the smell of a failed trepanning"
"the smell of a Civil War surgery floor"
"The water hits it and it's like there's oil in it--and it's as if the water's screaming, screaming to get out."
"This is like drinking Laphroaig with everything good taken out of it."
"nothing but heavy peat and fire"

The Bruichladdich 15
"This is making my tongue drool like Pavlov's dogs."
"The nose is nothing to write home about--at first I was disappointed:  the first half second on the tongue was nothing interesting, and suddenly, WHOA!! beautiful!--and it just keeps going and going and going..."
"This is a whisky that the bartender from The Shining would have served (even though it was bourbon he served to Jack)."
"faint dimension of spoiled butter" [on the nose, says Bill; on the mouth, says John and Stephen]
"It's curdling."

[and after all of that]
"I'm still exploring the halls of complexity of the Last Drop."


Thursday, April 1, 2010

The MacCutcheon 60 (50 ml Oceanic Airlines bottle)

Tasting notes:

“This swallow is worth more than you could make in a month. To share it with you would be a waste, and a disgrace to the great man who made it -- because you, Hume, will never be a great man.”    --Charles Widmore
We here at the Malt Impostor have yet to run across the scotch or whisky reference work that states the accurate measure of one “swallow”, but we figure it must be roughly equivalent to one unit of the equally obscure “gulp.”  As a result, we took it upon ourselves to taste the MacCutcheon 60, of which we are certainly not worthy (if Hume isn’t worthy, there’s no way we could ever be), in the fashion prescribed for this rare malt.  As one prepares to gulp, there’s an odd clicking sound on the nose, presaging something ominous, but nonetheless fascinating.  On the tongue, an odd stillness overcomes the drinker as he holds this incredibly valuable volume of whisky—roughly the volume a cricket ball might displace (when we gulp, we really gulp)—on the tongue.  It’s on the finish that one appreciates the truly singular character of the MacCutcheon 60:  something wells up in the stomach, something best described as a thick, self-directed column of black smoke,
discharging jagged electric flashes along its sides, pulsing and flowing through one’s innards.  Ultimately, we can sum up the MacCutcheon 60 in the following phrase:  when it gets a hold of you, you know it.  You might not be sure exactly what it is that’s gotten a hold of you, and finding out might feel like it drags out longer than any reasonable person would tolerate, but you know it’s happening…whatever it is.


--On the scale of philosopher names used in the ABC television drama Lost--
The MacCutcheon 60 is John Locke/Jeremy Bentham--never before has anyone confused or conflated these two thinkers, but the oddity of the combination is somehow appropriate to this show.  And we wouldn't be surprised at all if a guy named Immanuel Kant or Samuel von Pufendorf walked out of the woods in one of the last episodes. 


HAPPY APRIL FOOLS' DAY (or Hunt-the-Gowk Day)!

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