Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Glenmorangie La Santa (100 ml mondo mini)

Tasting notes: 
Here at Malt Impostor Central we always are concerned that the smell of cadavers or fermenting hummus might interfere with the gentle aurae emanating from the rusty old Campbell's soup cans---not those immortalized by Andy Warhol---that we sometimes use to drink our expressions.  Fortunately, the nose of the 'yumminess in a bottle' that is the La Santa asserts that it is nothing less than petals falling from a floral display in a New York salami factory, or maybe a backwoods smokehouse in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.  Instead of a tuna melt, it's like a Petunia Melt (soy cheese) for vegans: approachable, delicious, and morally non-reprehensible.  Or maybe the trailing wafts of the laurel wreath worn by Daphne as she ran from Apollo's amorous advances?  There's also a hint of the disturbing mixture of the scents of wood-stain, teak, and garish displays of flowers barely sensed while you are unfortunately taken for dead, and sealed in a coffin at a closed-casket ceremony.  (Not that that has ever happened to me.  Recently.)  At any rate, repeated sniffing uncovers a pleasant modulation of vapors like those boiling and leaking out of well-kept beakers and retorts in an eminently sane scientist's spotlessly sterile laboratory.   The mouth evokes Douglas Sirk movies from the 1950s when the deep dulcet tones of Technicolor splashed across cinema screens the world 'round.  Oh, you say you want to know how it actually tastes? How...disappointingly...normal...of you.  It's a perfect exemplar of its kind, a pleasantly tarrying tingle on the tongue, a $200 tip for a hotel doorman opening your cab door.  It's being a roast filbert vendor at a World Cup event, or maybe just taking a sweaty fistful of grappa-drenched marcona almonds and surreptitiously pulverizing them in a supermarket coffee grinder.  It's the clinging camphor on a pashima shawl delicately removed from a cedar closet, or the joy of opening a long-toted silk umbrella---with a bamboo handle, of course---on a day that began in sunshine, but eventually waned.

--On the scale of unjustly maligned figures of speech--
The Glenmorangie La Santa is the mixed metaphor--It's a glorious sunburst of the distilled ichor of the Greek Pantheon of gods, a crescendo of rainforest swaddled in white velvet gowns, an omnipotent dragon of kitten-like cuteness sent by your benevolent daemon overlords to protect you.  If it doesn't make you crazy with joy, you may as well crawl back into your womb of a cantaloupe core waiting to be served notice by the maitre'd of long-delayed delight.


--Our thanks to David Blackmore and the good people at Glenmorangie for the sample (though we should note that the bottle pictured above is not the bottle he sent us (he was more generous))!  Slàinte!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The William Larue Weller 2010 Bourbon Whiskey (750 ml melt-proof glass bottle)

Tasting notes: 
Wow, just look at it in the glass!  It’s as a dark as cordovan loafers after a sprint across a dew-moistened lacrosse field, or an acrylic cutting board after preparing chicken livers, or a urine sample after repeated punches to the kidney.  Man, oh man this looks great!  What’s that?  63.3% ABV? [/opens window so that the fumes don’t build up].  Swirling it, I’m not sure whether those are legs or liquification of the inner layers of the Glencairn glass.  I carefully lean over to nose it but my apprehension is repaid with soothing comfort.  Imagine replacing the animatronic dolls in Disney’s “It’s a Small World After All” ride with smiling emmer wheat sheaves holding out slices of Schwenkfelder saffron cake with caramel icing and a sea salt finish.  There’s corn here, too, and cherry tobacco.  But in this race wheat is the winner.  The reward is to sit under a window sill as a lemon chess pie cools wearing a garland of chipotle peppers.  Like the implacable, impeccable, flea-bitten ronin, Sanjuro, in Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, the William Larue Weller hooks its thumbs in its belt and starts kicking ass with but a glance of its eyes.  The finish is nothing if not a miniaturized Galatea brought to life on my tongue by Pygmalion prayers.  In grace she caresses my taste buds and swings on my uvula like a poorly-hung ceiling fan.  Do you take William Larue Weller to be your lawfully bourbon whiskey?  I do, I do, a thousand times, I do!

--On the scale of Kurosawa's Oscar-winning films--
The William Larue Weller is Rashomon--Four people drinking it will have four completely different impressions [Bill:  There are only three of us, John...], but all will agree that the Lord is dead, and the final result richly deserves international acclaim and multiple awards.



Friday, July 22, 2011

The Hankey Bannister Blended Whisky (750 ml anti-roll-away bottle)

Tasting notes: 
Though it is well known that Hankey Bannister is named for two gentlemen (Hankey and Bannister), I prefer to imagine that Hankey Bannister is rather one man, and a grizzled, world-worn one at that.  I picture him as the interlocutor or perhaps co-conspirator from a Tom Waits song ( "...hey Hankey can I borrow / a couple of bucks from you / to go waltzing Mathilda, waltzing Mathilda...").  But when he's not staggering along Heartattack and Vine, my Hankey's attempts at late morning recovery usually involve very ripe--or even pickled--banana, canned pineapple juice, and maplewood Jamba Juice smoothies (because that's what we get on the nose).  And I imagine him drinking said smoothies as he lounges on an old four-poster bed he had begun--years ago--to refinish with leftover lacquer from This Old House (also on the nose for us), only to abandon the project in favor exploring the depths of a ridiculously reasonably priced bottle of blended whisky, like the one that, appropriately, rendered him eponymous.  Undiluted, this dram is a bit jagged, like my imagined Hankey most mornings--or like a first date.  The finish is short, but sweet, like that same first date, once an awkward hug goodnight is met with an unexpected soft kiss on the cheek that makes your knees give.  Add some water, and Hankey smooths out considerably:  he even smells a little like flowers once you water him.  This is a Scotch that's meant to be--not to push the analogy too far...oh, hell, why not?--on the rocks.  Mr. Waits, if you're reading this, consider this Hankey Bannister-inspired song title:  "Knee-deep in a Two-Cube Cocktail"...

--On the scale of great Tom Waits quotes--
The Hankey Bannister Blended Whisky is "Disneyland is Vegas for children."--Straightforward, true, just a little subversive, and considerably more accessible than "My father was an exhaust manifold and my mother was a tree", but perhaps less attractive to hardcore malt fiends than "I love [William S.] Burroughs. He's like a metal desk. He's like a still, and everything that comes out of him is already whiskey."


--Our thanks to Brian Johnson and InterBev Group for the sample!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Glenmorangie Finealta (750 ml mondo mini)

Tasting notes: 
    A dessert parfait trifecta: Tahitian vanilla pudding, butterscotch pudding, and banana pudding, topped with crumbled waffle cone bits at a Southern buffet restaurant, when you're already full fit to burst.  And mind you, these are real puddings, made with fresh cream and locavore eggs, grown by Miss Sally Mae.  Black truffle, and the well-bred Breton house pig that rooted it up.  Note that this pig, Napoleon (naturellement!), runs away if your accent is not pitch-perfect.
     Ceylon tea, and an anonymous Impostor, cloaked in obscurity, observes--minority report--that like Julia Roberts, the Finealta has a nice nose, but kind of a weird mouth.  The two of us with taste and discrimination got fudge brownie batter, with cayenne pepper baked in an old thick copper bundt pan in a Tuscan oven by a Michelin 3-star chef moonlighting as a pastry apprentice in the excellent hipster bakery around the corner from Stephen's place.  Crushed red ants adhering to flip-flops, whose pheromonic chemical "attack" signal is being broadcast with minimal interruptions from nearby cell phone towers and kitchen herb gardens.
     Finishing with peach nectar poured from a platinum can, introduced by Tiffany's as their first, poorly-conceived entry into the non-existent Luxury Fruit Canning industry.  Diaphanous delight down the stretch, twinkling like a Twilight vampire, dancing like Donald O'Connor, swinging like Ella.

--On the scale of great photographers--
The Glenmorangie Finealta is Ansel Adams--His pictures are worth more than all the combined words of the Malt Impostors, and that's saying a lot. Or showing a lot. Or something.


--Our thanks to David Blackmore and the good people at Glenmorangie for the sample!  Slàinte!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Follow The Malt Impostor on Facebook and Twitter!

That is, if you don't already.  The handy-dandy buttons for doing so (and for tweeting about our site to others) are in the left-hand column of this page.  On Facebook, we put out some other info that we do not post on the site, and there we try to keep up with our friends' lives and news as well.  
     Twitter, however, is another matter.  We've debated what in the world we could do with our Twitter account, since banal, self-obsessed, narcissistic ramblings of that sort just aren't us--as hard as that may be for most of you to believe.  So we've decided to try to post something humorous within the 140 character limit once a week.  OK, so we can't guarantee that each tweet will be humorous, but we can guarantee that each will be pithy--and pith is always of value, especially when it comes to helmets.
     So come join us in the arguably exciting world of social media.  You never know, it might actually turn out to be worth it.  Probably not, but you never know.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Usquaebach Old-Rare (50 ml custom U-bottle)

Tasting notes: 
This extraordinary blend of 41 different Highland Scotch whiskies (and some Scotch grain whisky as well) is so complex, it resists being limited by a narrative structure.  This is not to be confused with failing to have enough structure or spirit or gumption to carry--or, in some cases, even warrant--a narrative structure (a problem we encounter with some lesser whiskies).  So deferring to the singularity of this stone-flagoned dram, I will eschew the sophisticated and hilarious narrative approach typical of this site and will instead jump into the stream of consciousness that this dram lets spill from the mind's floodgates:
     The nose is like that of an aged cheese, though not the kind that clears a room, thank God, alongside vine-ripened and smoked umami, if there were such a thing, presented on a cedar spit, or perhaps a spirit finished in a three year old smoked gouda butt, sporting a synthetic cork bung...oh my goodness I need some tissue paper for my mouth the way I'm salivating for this stuff now, which brings me to the mouth of the Usquaebach Old-Rare, like aged blackstrap molasses in a sherry butt with fireworks residue (or is that just Independence Day residue?) and maybe hints of fermented anise, now firing on my tongue hot and heavy like fireworks, like the best Pop Rocks you could possibly ever have, like the synapse firings of Francis Scott Key as he penned The Star Spangled Banner--if that had been a masterpiece instead of a mediocre song that's hard to sing--as it progresses, this dram is an artist who can't stop painting a masterpiece on your tongue--and he's painting with a palette of joy and exquisite suffering and a little wasabi--and you wait for him to finish, but instead you get the finish, and it is much finish:  savory like a German dish of chicken with onion and lemon, a lemon soufflé you didn't have to order ahead of time (and it's even better than if you had), as it reaches full complexity, it makes you imagine Kentucky Cognac (and a good one), the finish provides mounting pleasure, like a Tesla arc slowing climbing up Jacob's Ladder, only without all the existential and eternal implications, thank God.

--On the scale of individuals whose enduring fame I just don't get--
The Usquaebach Old-Rare is Johann Gottlieb Fichte--a bridge from Kant to Hegel?  Really?  Why would you do that?  And why should that make you famous nearly forever (at least in some circles, which is all you can ask for in the eternal fame game)?  It seems a bridge too far--or maybe it's just that it's too much like Jacob's Ladder, in that I don't have any interest right now in going where it leads...

        *        *        * 
Sorry.  Is that too obscure?  Let me try again...

On the scale of great quotes about immortality--
The Usquaebach Old-Rare is Woody Allen's classic quip:  "I don't want to live forever through my work.  I want to live forever through not dying."--Is there any better way, really?




Our thanks to Noah Goldstein and Usquaebach for the sample!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Malt Impostor's Two-Year Maltiversary!

     This site's two-year maltiversary was yesterday, actually, but since the three of us couldn't be together, each of us celebrated on his own, and in typical Malt Impostor fashion, the celebrations led to our losing track of time and forgetting to post, despite our strong proclivity for self-promotion.  Stephen celebrated by finally settling (after months of research) on a new whisky cabinet for his room in his parent's basement apartment and cracking open his ceramic flagon of Usquaebach Old-Rare (his "tasting notes" on it to follow soon) and imbibing quite freely.  Bill, on vacation in Kentucky, celebrated by chasing the Louisville Slugger factory museum with a heavy dose of the Bourbon Trail--an exhilirating, but also decidedly dangerous, combo, to be sure, but at least Bill pursued it in the correct order.  And John celebrated by...well, deciding that the full bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail a friend had given to him when he attended one of John's famous house parties (known for their rough-hewn beer troughs and the hottest club beats) had to be dispatched in toto that afternoon, lest that friend should come to view John's house as adequately stocked with fine whisky.  As a result, it's a bit of a thick of a July 4th morning for the three of us--but nothing a trio of Bloody Marys (each) won't fix.
     It's been a great two years online with all of you, our readers, and we raise our glasses to you in deepest gratitude for your continued readership.  As a means of inviting you to share our celebrations with us, we pass on this missive from Bill, on location in Louisville, Kentucky, the western end of the Bourbon Trail:

Stephen and I prepped for my voyage by comparing some Pappy Van Winkle 20 and 23, of which I am happy to report:

1. Both are *excellent*.

2. Astonishingly, I liked the cheaper one better! (Well, it was "relatively cheaper," at any rate.)

The 23 is marvelously complex, with a finish that rings resonantly the changes for a really long time, alternately numbing and stimulating various mandibular and maxillofacial regions,
[John:  Bill! That's redundant!] [Stephen:  Bill! Put your thesaurus away and stop repeating yourself!] as well as, of course, crooning love songs to my soft palate, pharynx, and esophagus. But this report is not about PVW 20 nor PVW 23; rather it's about a snippet of an afternoon in Louisville; a stop before embarking on the Bourbon Trail.

The 21c Hotel is justly famous: A 2-time winner of the Condé Nast Traveller's Magazine "Best Hotel in the United States," as selected by readers. The lobby of the hotel encompasses a museum with nifty contemporary art, a restaurant, and a bar, Proof on Main Street. (Also, the coolest urinal I've ever used. It's a trough at the feet watered by a continuous waterfall flowing down mirrored one way glass. And so, as you disburse your filtered bourbon, you watch, through the waterfall, people strolling by, and the occasional woman adjusting her make-up in the mirror. It's disconcerting, deconstructive, and disarming all at the same time. It's a novel experience where I expect only a quotidian event.)

In the bar, I asked the genial tender, Mike Padgett, to recommend a flight of less common bourbons to try, a sample to prime the pump, as it were. He obliged by picking out three of his favorites. It was disconcerting to drink without John there to take the notes and bring the snark, and without Stephen there to pour the drinks and say, "Helllllooo Ladies," to the many Southern Belles percolating about, so forgive the brevity of my impressions.

First up, the Johnny Drum Private Reserve. A very pleasant smooth drinking dram--am I allowed to call a bourbon a dram? A very pleasant smooth drinking dollop? snort? lady slipper? that went down waaaaay too easily. Next, the Elijah Craig 12, which struck me (and confirmed by Mike P.) as a typical bourbon, brimming with notes of caramel, toffee, vanilla, and candy corn: A whole high-class confection shop in a glass. The last dollop downed was the Rowan's Creek, in which I thought I detected minimal corn and maximal rye. It made for a kaleidoscopic mouth and a balanced eddy swirling down my gullet.

Thank you, Mike, for your choices.


Happy Fourth of July and slàinte!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Usquaebach 15 Year (50 ml custom U-bottle)

Tasting notes: 
White lace in a cedar chest, Mikimoto pearls, something borrowed, and something blue.  And all of it wrapped in a silk dress pointedly not dry-cleaned after the wedding.  A dried white rose reconstituted by someone weeping on it years after the fact.  And then left to dry again.  Such is the refined nose of the Usquaebach 15.  On the mouth, this has more fight and spice than the Reserve.  It’s like an overachieving middle child overlooked by parents who coddle the baby and cherish the first-born.  This wonderful whisky has a great finish on both the fore and aft of my mouth.  And yes, this nautical reference places me on a reconditioned ‘54 Lyman 15-foot trying to complete a bootlegging run in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.  My white linen suit flaps in the breeze and the setting sun sparkles my unshaven beard.  And this reference naturally places me in a much larger boat in a much warmer harbor.  I’m in Miami where I’m rushing to meet my partner, Tubbs, for an assignment.  Or is it a femme fatale that I’m meeting for an, um, assignation?  Dear reader, of course it’s a femme fatale!  Now I’m on land riding a uni-cycle outfitted with a knobby wheel for switchbacks and the Usquaebach 15 jostles around in my Camelbak backpack.  I’m late for an Argentine barbecue.  Even from a distance I smell the flank steak and offal cooked al asador.  I slurp more Usquaebach and pedal harder, and now the smell mixes with winey and meaty notes from the chivito.  As I arrive, the smell of charred fat on lamb hangs in the air with the tenacity of regret.  But there is no regret here, only delight and joy.

--On the scale of fictitious films mentioned in The Simpsons--
The Usquaebach 15 is Shenani-goats (from the epidsode "Jaws Wired Shut")--To appreciate how fitting the term “shenanigoats” is, one need only to visit this website:





Our thanks to Noah Goldstein and Usquaebach for the sample!

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