Product: Jeppson’s Malört
Alcohol Content: 35% ABV (70 proof)
Location Purchased: Via Mail Order from Binnys.com
Price Paid: Total cost for 1 bottle was $34.87 (bottle was 17.99 plus tax, shipping was $14.51
For those of you who are coming late to the party, Malört is a Scandinavian wormwood schnapps, produced in the U.S. by Carl Jeppson. The drink has something of a cult following in the greater Chicago area. It has been alternately described as tasting like “extreme dirt”, “poison”, and “exactly like drinking a tire fire”.
In all honesty, we have to say that those descriptions do not even come close to describing the unholy, soul-crushing taste of Jeppson’s Malört. You might think that the rest of this article has been exaggerated for comic effect. We assure you, it has not. Jeppson’s Malört is the foulest thing you could put into your body. And you can’t even begin to comprehend the taste of this hellish brew.
We opened the bottle cautiously, afraid that its legendary fumes would permeate the air like carbon monoxide and kills us both. And oh, how we wish it had. Because if we were dead, we could hide from the taste of Malört forever. Death, we have agreed, is our only refuge from Malört. But then again, this concoction is so unholy that it just might reanimate our corpses and force us to nurse at its foul Scandinavian teat for all eternity.
Please, do not buy this beverage to taste it for yourselves. Instead, please refer to our handy reference guide about the Malört experience.
The Seven Stages of Malört
1. The “Aroma”. Malört smells like rubbing alcohol, turpentine, ballpoint pen ink, and embalming fluid. We are not exaggerating.
2. The Trepidation. Once you pour your first glass, you begin to have second thoughts. You think of every bad thing you’ve ever heard about this drink. You think of your family, and how your death would devastate them. You remember that you haven’t gone to confession in months, and that you are unprepared for death. You think that maybe you’ve made a mistake in pouring yourself this drink.
3. The Bravado. Then you think, “It can’t possibly be that bad.” You remember that one time in college when you drank a skunked beer, and you totally handled that. Maybe you’re already a seasoned absinthe drinker, and you think your palate is prepared for anything with wormwood in it. Maybe once you ate pickled pig’s feet on a dare, and you think that nothing could possibly taste worse than that.
4. The First Taste. You hold it in you mouth for a few seconds, and think “Hey, this isn’t so bad!”. Then you make the mistake of swallowing, of letting your guard down. And like a sniper, the Malört takes aim for its killing blow. The bitterness strikes you off guard, but the Malört isn’t finished with you yet. Out of fucking NOWHERE, the bitterness swells and consumes your entire mouth. But your first taste was small, so the strange hairy pucker-mouth sensation doesn’t last for long.
5. The Second Taste. Yes, it was bad. You can admit that now. But a lot of booze has a strong flavor. And really, it wasn’t so bad. You think you’ll polish off the rest of your glass in one go. And then the Malört decides to make you its bitch, and anally rapes you. At this stage, you might get the shakes, lose the ability to speak, develop a crashing headache, or simply need to lie down for a while. You might cry like a schoolgirl, develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or question the existence of God. A quiet stillness descends over your entire being, and you no longer fear anything. Not snakes, not terrorists, not even death itself. Except the Malört.
6. The False Belief. Some time passes. It might be a few minutes, a couple of hours, several decades. And strangely, you feel compelled to drink more Malört. Which makes no sense. You know how awful it tastes. In fact, all your evolutionary programming should be forcing you to avoid the Malört at all costs. Human beings don’t want to drink things that taste like poison. Poison could kill us.
AND YET. You feel this compulsion to taste it, just one more time. And to tell everyone about it, and to force them to try it. And it’s only sporting to have a glass with them. After all, no one should have to go through the Malört ordeal alone. The compulsion builds, and you succumb to its strange siren song.
7. The ‘Oh God WHY!?’ You have another drink. And, like some cruel joke, the Malört has somehow gotten worse. Not just a little bit worse, but exponentially worse. So terrible that words completely escape you.
And the worst part is, once you have tasted Malört, you’ll be repeating steps 6 and 7 for quite some time.
In conclusion, Malört is like September 11th. It’s over now, but it has changed us. And we’ll never really be able to forget how it made us feel.
So Tory and I put the bottle away. But we went out to dinner with some friends that night, and they all wanted to try it. So we all came back to the apartment and cracked open that godforsaken bottle one last time. And that’s when things got really interesting…
To be continued…