Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Britannia Blended 8 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
      A recent study whose particulars I lack (blah blah, Journal of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors) suggests that prayer and drinking are inversely correlated; that is, the more one prays, the less one drinks, and the more one drinks, the less one prays.  Now one may debate the merits and wider meanings of a statistical study run by social scientists, but rather than explore that fruitful avenue inquiry, I instead unearth an easy paradox.
      I pray, nay, beseech higher powers for good, nay, great whisky expressions to fall manna-like from heaven into my Glencairn snifter.  With gratifying regularity, due to the kind offices of Stephen's father and John's brother-in-law---and the manufacturers with the wisdom to create airplane nip bottles---my prayers are answered.  Hence, the more I pray, it seems, the more I drink.  A refutation?  No, simply a self-referential paradox. (But a disturbing one.)
      The Brittania Blended 8 year old is NOT the answer to anyone's prayers.  I've often wondered how Stephen and John feel when the snarktastic task of writing up a non-starter falls to them. Well, now I have a clue.  It's not exactly clear to me what Brittania blended---legally, whiskies of at least 8 years of age, I suppose---but the nose hints rather at a poorly-tanned snakeskin belt wrapped around a cedar log with a rabid, near-zombiesque armadillo supine on top.  A second sniff instead unfortunately invites a gobsmacking by a phenolic porcupine surmounted by a wasabi-dabbed sea urchin.  All tossed into a blender.
       In the mouth, a soon-to-be-sunk Lusitania, spewing diesel smoke, with an impossibly anachronistic pair of fowl; a dodo and a passenger pigeon, both perched upon the poop-deck rail. (Or was it the orlop?)  Maybe a malodorous mound of mouldering monkey mucous with a mange-ridden mouse micturating on top, decaying like J. Lo's career?  All thrown into a Cuisinart.
       The finish impresses, much as eating a lit cigar from the clipped end would impress, especially if a stink bug and a tomato horned caterpillar were held on top of the cigar by mucilage or worse, gutta-percha.  Which is to say, it is impressive(ly awful).  All tossed into a vat of prussic acid.



--On the scale of movies spoiled by sadistic or thoughtless critics-- 
The Britannia Blended 8 ...***SPOILER ALERT*** certainly worse than the disappointment suffered over The Crying Game ("Everyone should know by now that she's really a man"); worse even than the ruination of The Sixth Sense ("Bruce Willis is dead, too"). No, the Brittania Blended 8 year old is no less than the awfulness of learning from smug critics that in The Empire Strikes Back, it is revealed that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. ("It comes as a shock to the viewer to learn...")  In other words, pure unmitigated suckitude, with a sour bucket of fermenting moldy orange peels on top.  All reduced to a paste of sheer awfulness by a bacteria-infested mortar and pestle.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

The MacPhail's Collection 1991 Bunnahabhain (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
This dram offers a unique syzygy of flavors and aromas reminiscent of Wonka's Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum, only that the dessert comes first--and there's none of the Violet violence on the finish.  This dram's nose is Islay through and through:  imagine a delicious chocolate cupcake drenched in honey crawling up your nose as you lounge in a one-of-a-kind Eames chair next to a table of smoldering incense cones made of peat.  But to say that much is to neglect the wonderful heathery-ness on the nose:  for that, imagine Roller Girl weaving her way up into your sinuses (I could have put her atop the cupcake, I suppose, but one must avoid overloading imagery lest it lose its effect or neglect a key aspect--in this case, the enchanting movement she would have no need to engage in astride a mound of icing).  In sum, on the nose, you'll find peat, honey, chocolate, heather, goodness, and joy.  In the mouth, this dram hits you with a perfectly balanced smokey peat hammer and pounds you into blissful submission.  This excellent dram cloys at the finish and offers a remarkably savory flavor profile:  black pepper and bay leaf simmering in demi-glace in anticipation of being drizzled over osso buco.  Unlike Violet, you won't want it to end.  Ever.


--On the scale of contemporary Southern (U.S.) poets--
The MacPhail's Collection 1991 Bunnahabhain is Coleman BarksLook him up.  Then try to find a better one.  Go ahead.  Try.



(This is one of about 14 minis that John's brother-in-law brought back to us from a trip to Scotland--a massive coup for us here at the Malt Impostor.  So here's to brother-in-laws:  may they all be as generous and as crazy cool as John's is)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Palace of Holyroodhouse 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
As Shandy is to beer, so this expression is to scotch whisky.  That is to say, it is a whisky for those who don’t like whisky, or a whisky with its essence replaced with something entirely different.  This remarkable bit of alchemy, however, turns a precious metal into something base.  At first, one leans forward to focus on the scent of maple syrup in a stale bowl of cheerios.  But like the table awaiting a B&B guest who stays so long in the first B that she misses the second, there’s not much on offer here.  Indeed the taste disappears as completely as Nixon's on-tape admission to Haldeman that he had a foot fetish...and had ordered the Watergate break-in.  What is more, this nonwhisky is disappeared so thoroughly one swears that it never existed in the first place.  Accordingly, I propose that the Palace of Holyroodhouse 10 be made the official Speyside scotch whisky of Oakland, California.  There is no there there.


--On the scale of the three Christs of Ypsilanti--
The Palace of Holyroodhouse 10 is Leon--Though Joseph and Clyde each remained resolutely convinced of their divinity in spite of the presence of two others claiming to be the Savior, Leon eventually retreated, asking to be called “Dr Righteous Idealed Dung” and claiming later that his wife was God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Four Roses 100th Anniversary Limited Edition (100ml maple syrup "recycler" bottle)

Tasting notes:
 The dark cognac color of this whiskey augurs a powerful experience for the drinker, and right away, it delivers:  on the nose, the burn rushes like nitrous oxide through the sinuses after an inebriated dentist has spun the valve on the tank in an attempt to empty the whole thing into your head.  After that, the experience is nearly hallucinogenic--or trascendental, it's hard to tell, exactly--with the aromas themselves recalling being fitted for a full-face-covering oak helmet just after getting leied.  A dog barks in the distance, you take your first sip, and you realize that this is the hair of the dog that bit you--before you got bit.  Part of that realization comes as you feel this whiskey's finish:  it goes all the way back into the hypothalamus, triggering the full range of primitive emotions Paul Ekman has catalogued.  Among those emotions is the wonder--at both the sight and the smell--of a Stuckey's gift shop in the Ozarks that offers a few too many finished wood products.  There is honey here, too, but it's honey laced with meth--or perhaps a honey-tiger balm speedball.  A little water not only opens this bourbon up, but also takes it to an entirely new level--and adds a faint hint of brine, like a visit to a catfish farm or sweat flecks from a thoroughbred as he carries you to the happily ever after. This whiskey is so incredibly layered and complex, the inside of the casks in which it was aged must be utterly despoiled, rendered either a white, chalky husk or a surface smooth and hard as marble.  Just imagine what it’ll do to your insides.  No wait, you can’t.


--On the scale of singular, history-changing events--
The Four Roses 100th Anniversary Limited Edition Bourbon is the establishment of Yellowstone National Park--it led nations all over the world to set aside millions of acres, hectares, and square miles of pristine land and hold them in the public trust--and that's a remarkably good thing.



Friday, July 9, 2010

The Benromach Traditional (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
    It's hard to imagine the three of us here at the Malt Impostor disagreeing on anything, since we're like Plato's ideal tripartite Republic:  a marriage of sorts made of a philosopher king, an honor-lover, and a prisoner of the flesh; but at times, we split like a cleft diamond, like LeBron from Cleveland, or like Uruguay from the World Cup.  In these rare cases, it comes to one of us to submit a minority report, and this BenroMachoMan, this pervasive wildfire of well-warranted hyperbole, has fallen to me.  I come to praise it, not to consign it to the ash heap of history.  
     It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. The key is not Russia's national interest, nor even Scotland's. Nor is the key a turducken, although it is closely aligned to that Cajun wonderment.  It is a seabacmonster:  a smoked oyster, wrapped with smoked salmon, enveloped in applewood bacon, swaddled in smoked seaweed.
     Where's there's smoke, there's fire, and the Benromach's oily, pencil-graphitic, greasy mouthfeel bubbles out of a mudhole like chthonic messages from the Underworld.  Sure, John and Stephen might liken it to drinking from a tadpole-infested puddle, sucking the water up while leaving the tadpoles to die, but I found it like eating a custardy quiche, loaded with leeks, smoked sardines, and the ground-up good intentions of every elected sincere politician confronted with harsh realities, old debts, and the wicked, wicked ways of mankind.
     The elegant finish exudes Bananas Foster crystalized in flaming Sambuca and dark Puerto Rican rum. It's down like Maria Callas singing the Habanera: Love is a little bird, and it just happens to be a phoenix, emerging gloriously from the ash heap of history.


--On the scale of portmanteau words--
The Benromach Traditional is the marvelous gedankenexperiment. (You were hoping for slithy, ginormous, gleek, twihard, or spork?)--It's guaranteed to drive physicists, linguists, philosophers, and scotch lovers wild with abandon.  Admit it, you tingled when you saw the word: gedankenexperiment. ADMIT IT!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Malt Impostor's One Year Maltiversary!

     One year ago today, we posted our first set of tasting notes.  Since then, we've come a long way, thanks to all of our readers and thanks to recognition we've received from some of the top whisky blogs out there.  
     To celebrate, we're posting an unpublished set of tasting notes written in our early days before we committed to reviewing miniatures as much as possible.  Going back through our archives, we found this old-school gem and thought it (and the whisky) especially appropriate for our one year maltiversary.  Enjoy and slĂ inte!

The Lagavulin Distiller's Edition 1990 
Tasting notes:
      This is the rare malt that can be described in a single term, Mitterand, for it perfectly blends the flavors of the statesman’s last meal: oysters, foie gras, capons, and ortolan, tiny, yellow-throated songbirds engorged on diet of millet, grapes, and fig—then drowned in a snifter of Armagnac, roasted in their own fat, and finally taken into the mouth under a linen napkin both to concentrate the aroma and veil the glutton from His judgment.  Finishing notes of the wheat of Morocco, the salt air of the Mediterranean, and the lavender of Provence, tracing the migratory pattern of the delicious bird. 


--On the scale of fictional places in the Southern United States--
The Lagavulin Distiller's Edition 1990 is Yoknapatawpha County--There is no other.


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