Monday, May 31, 2010

Whisky Explorers Club Bottle #1 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
The Whisky Explorers Club allows a steely-nerved Dante, lost in a dark wooden vat, the opportunity to descend blindfolded into Hell and, via sharp nosing, keen memory, discriminating tastebuds, and good water of life to rise to Heaven on Earth. This, by drinking from a flight of four whiskies, each nip--a favorite size here at the Malt Impostor--cloaked invitingly in a black velvety bag. Every detail is attended to, down even to having the bottles cosseted in extra swaddling, preventing a tactile-y astute taster from identifying the bottle by a unique shape. As if, after several drams, we remember the shape of the bottle!
     This reviewer must confess that in the absence of knowledge of the test, he must tip his hat to John, who by dint of his razor-sharp whisky intuition and voluminous knowledge of Plato, ascended quickly through Purgatory to Heaven. This reviewer, by dint of addled wits, too much locavore food, and too much inhalation of granite dust, remained stuck in the 3rd circle of Hell, reserved for the gluttonous. (At least I have the company of James Beard, Julia Child, and Brillat-Savarin.)

     The nose of Mystery Dram #1 was redolent with narcissus and jasmine. "Flowerly floral," we redundantly noted repetitively. (And after only one sip. My goodness.) The legs, with which various Impostors are besotted, were figuratively spiders on LSD, weaving weirdly wonderful webs. In the mouth, fire faded quickly; a volcano running in reverse, or perhaps simply burping after spewing magma. Sweet and hot with a long burning finish, like the enervated feeling in the final 500 meters of a marathon. It may well be likened to the extended stays Luther spent on the toilet, stricken with constipation, as he wrote his famous Ninety-Five Theses. Mystery Dram #1 is the lost 96th Thesis: Bushmills!
       

Rating:
--On the scale of religious masterpieces--
The Bushmills rates as The Ramayana--WTF?  What do Monkey Kings, Rama, Shiva, Vishnu, and multi-headed demons have to do with Irish whisky?  I'll be damned if I know, but it's the right rating.

                                                                                     --Bill

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Whisky Explorers Club Flight #1 Reviews on the way

We here at the Malt Impostor are proud to announce that we have received permission to reveal (partially, anyway) the first flight of beverages available from the Whisky Explorers Club, available on the For Scotch Lovers site.  Even though Flight #2 is out now, we have agreed to protect the integrity of the Club and its IQ game by pixellating the code numbers on the little black bags that shroud the bottles in secrecy and temptation.  Now that the vebmeister has learned how to pixellate photos, we're considering possibly pixellating entire whisky bottles if they're particularly dégoûtant.   At any rate, tomorrow we will begin posting Bill's interconnected reviews of the expressions from the first flight from the WEC.  Even though we don't want to post them all at once ("The suspense is terrible.  I hope it'll last."), we will post one each of the next four days so you don't lose the thread.  After reading these notes, we trust you'll see that the Whisky Explorers Club is not only worthwhile, it's nearly a religious experience.
    

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Four Roses Single Barrel (750 ml jumbo-sized nip)

Tasting notes: 
     Since this is my first review for The Corn Impostor, it makes sense that it's also the first set of tasting notes I write while suffering the pangs of a hangover induced by the expression under the microscope (which is not meant to suggest overly much about my high school drinking proclivities).
     The nose teases with a scent of scotch or butter scotch or margarine scotch. More corny notes emerge over time, like a Henny Youngman routine, or like the undertones arising from using Mazola oil in lieu of butter in a brownie recipe. (How long does it take for for aspirin to kick in?)
     The mouthfeel is like a vajazzling applied by accident to a tongue: It's sparkly, suggestive, upscale, and smacks of delightful crunchy sinful behavior. A surprising tannic-drenched leathery flavor girdles it like a spiky studded dog collar on a toy poodle. (Stephen, not a rocket scientist, likened the 'leather' to a money belt kept under a mattress by an 87 year-old widower who distrusts new-fangled technologies. Not quite the leather I'm getting, Stephen.)
     The finish murmurs 'Scotch" like a deranged, be-wigged, besotted member of the British House of Lords who's inhaled too much wasp-killer whilst tending his prize tulips or award-winning pig. It's also palpably cleansing, like a good schvitz in a Russian steam bath. (How much aspirin is safe to take? I mean, seriously.)  
     This is an eminently drinkable potation concocted from King Corn, and as this correspondent has discovered, it's almost too drinkable, given that it kicks like a combination of an Army mule, Jet Li, the Rockettes, and Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange. (As I will testify.)
        

Rating:
--On the scale of risings from the dead--
The Four Roses Single Barrel is significantly better than a zombie army or even the second act of Britney Spears' career. I can't bring myself to see it as a religious experience, either, so now that I've identified endpoints to the spectrum, I'll just say that it's mythical and mystical: The Four Roses Single Barrel is the Phoenix, rising from the ashes (of a burnt-out oak cask).
  

                                                                                     --Bill
    

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Four Roses Bourbon (750 ml jumbo-sized nip)

Tasting notes: 
Aromas of lilacs, cornfields, and perfume characterize the nose of this bourbon, recalling courtships aborted after stumbling upon Shoeless Joe and the gang and being invited to join in a game.  The initial flavors on the tongue are sweet, yet medicinal, like an unambitious pilsner with a honey-flavored Ricola dissolved in it--or perhaps that same beer employed as a slug trap.  As the flavor profile develops, however, one is struck by how nice, smooth, and bourbon-y it is.  There is no finish and no depth, that just adds to its drinkability somehow.  And it is dangerously drinkable.  In fact, it's so drinkable, it's an ideal workout dram. Lacking complexity while brimming with comeliness and lithesomeness, the Four Roses is the whiskey equivalent to a 23 year-old spinning instructor.  
      

Rating:
--On the scale of great things wasted on the young--
The Four Roses Bourbon is youth--filled with features that are smooth and/or uncomplicated, it has some basic attractiveness you just can't resist. And you'll pine for it when it's gone. 
  

                                                                                     --Stephen
    

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Four Roses Small Batch (750 ml jumbo-sized nip)

Tasting notes: 
The first thing one notices in this hot water bottle-shaped bottle is the large mahogany-topped cork.  (Note to self: Retain cork; serviceable as a binky for a reflux-addled infant.)  A satisfying pop draws out wisps of honeysuckle and some other flower, perhaps ox-eye daisy capers in a marinade.  There is a gentle bite from the alcohol but little of the charcoally tang in most bourbons.  But what really excites is the long, lovely woody finish, like a Lionel Hampton solo in your mouth, mallets hammering the keys of a marimba pushed into a hotel bathroom, creating so many notes on top of notes that one staggers back with the slightly concussed feeling one has after an endo.   
    

Rating:
--On the scale of things shaped like a hot water bottle--
The Four Roses Small Batch is the Four Roses Small Batch--the top choice, just edging out the Hoffmeister hot water bottle, and a world better than either Gummy Haggis or Vegetarian Haggis. 
  

                                                                                     --John
    

Monday, May 17, 2010

Four Roses Bourbon: Winner of the Malt Impostor's 2010 Maltease Flacon Award

This makes us feel like we should change our name to The Corn Impostor--or maybe this just takes the meaning of our moniker to a whole new level. 

Now, technically, the samples of Four Roses Bourbon we received did not come in response to our December call for distillers to send us the good stuff.  However, since it came wholly unsolicited--which is even better--we think this award is richly deserved.  We applaud Four Roses's media folks for their gumption--and Four Roses for their generosity.

In the coming days, we will offer tasting notes for each of the Four Roses expressions offered in the UK.  Tune in and see what we can do with Bourbon for a change!

Oh, and congratulations, Four Roses Bourbon!  Enjoy the Flacon and display it on your shelf with pride!

  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picture Contest Winners

Our first attempt at a photo contest may have been well received in that many of you seemed to find the cat-with-whisky-bottle picture entertaining, but only one of you actually entered the contest by submitting a picture.  Perhaps it was the prohibitive, legalistic disclaimer language...  However, we did receive a good caption suggestion for that cat-with-whisky-bottle picture, so we are going to award a prize to our one photo entrant and one for the caption.

Congratulations to Michael Noel, for submitting these two pictures:


As we stipulated in the original Picture Contest post, the winners would receive a prize, which we indicated would come "most likely in the form of recondite and maybe even pedantic praise".  Well, we are pleased to announce that the prize will not be pedantic--at least not overly.  Michael, your prize is the following custom haiku, which Bill hand-crafted just for you:

poker chip tower
the balvenie doublewood
a lucky gambler

escher paradox
an optical illusion?
stonehenge balvenie



And congratulations to Stuart, who offered up the following caption for the cat-with-whisky-bottle picture:    "Damn my lack of opposable thumbs!"  

Stuart, for your efforts, we're awarding you the photograph below (we didn't actually hold a caption contest, and serendipitous winners can't be choosers).  See what you can do with this one.



 Again, congratulations to our winners--and thanks for playing!
  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Auchentoshan 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
On the nose, mackerel served on a sherry-soaked cedar plank; on the mouth, the sensation of being locked in a leather valise with shavings from a hamster cage mixed with those from a full wheel of Pecorino Romano; and the finish is long and complex, not unlike serving as a South Sea kelp-soaked swab on the tea deck of a British frigate.  The marketing information on the canister of the Auchentoshan 10 reports, among other things, that this dram is "accessible."  As you can see just from the notes opening this review, we here at the Malt Impostor couldn't disagree more.  There's so much complexity here, buried under layers of inscrutability, the Auchentoshan 10 turns out to be about as accessible as a 10 year-old Dalai Lama, a 10 year-old Fort Knox, or a 10 year-old's logic.  In fact, if the Auchentoshan 10 is accessible, then I'm the Queen of Sheba--and though I may be a queen, I'd certainly never be a queen of the likes of ewes.

I apologize, but I really must stop here before the rating and admire that incredibly well-crafted pun.  No really--go back and read it again.  Now admit it: that is by far the best multi-layered pun you've ever experienced.  And notice the lengths to which I was willing to go for it:  on my most interesting days, I don't think anyone would ever call me a "queen" (diva, maybe, but not queen).  But that tells you just how committed I was to that pun--and that level of commitment is representative of the devotion we here at the Malt Impostor have for our craft.
   



Rating:
--On the scale of things that are hard to pin down or categorize-- 
The Auchentoshan 10 is the recent music of Tom Waits--neither smooth nor asperous, neither desultory nor disciplined, neither particularly profane nor profound, but nonetheless worthy of reverence, even if, while you're experiencing it, you can't say exactly why.
  

                                                                                     --Stephen
    

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
Our story begins when a plucky but otherwise indistinguishable Highland Scot is sent off to school in Kentucky.  After almost twelve years--growing as tall as oak trees nourished in red clay Crider soil--she travels to Andalusia, the chalky white albariza loam crumbling underfoot.  Soon she returns to her homeland.  There she is greeted by disbelieving parents who gaze upon this beauty, this fully matured sophisticate, in an almost fearful reverence.  So it is with Balvenie DoubleWood 12.  Each element is perfectly balanced; from the first to the final note it fully realizes its unique potential in an orchestra of graceful deliciousness.  Honey scooped up in a still-warm alabaster pipe and drizzled onto a tattie scone.  White pudding mashed by a sterling fork then arranged by dirty fingers into a ribald image.  Brodies tea in a neti pot tilted into an ear, then washing noisily out of a nostril into a demitasse cup, then swished in the mouth to remove fried egg remnants.  An unforgettable breakfast.  An unforgettable whisky.


Rating:
--On the scale of unfortunate spectacles-- 
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 is more unfortunate than a bus filled with Prader-Willi Syndrome day campers breaking down in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, but not quite as unfortunate an urban swordfish farm installed on the roof of the Little Angels childcare building and across the street from a driving range.
  

                                                                                     --John
  

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