Episode 4: Malört (or, Why Bad Things Happen to Nice People)

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…

11 responses to “Episode 4: Malört (or, Why Bad Things Happen to Nice People)

  1. Erin "Skal!" Creley

    Most entertaining so far… in a Shadenfreude sort of way.

    Did the Malort have instructions for accidental poisoning? Drink milk? Don’t induce vomiting?
    Keep this one in the cabinet with the child safety lock!

    I think Paul wants to do a bad booze-off between Malort and Opal… honestly, my money’s on the Malort.


    p.s remember those Bavarian schnapps my mom brought back for me from Germany? With such flavors as: flaming blueberry, rock, pine tree, and woodsman? You should find those for a T&TBBR since that stuff made my blood run cold. I believe we didn’t even have the intestinal fortitude to finish trying them all. *dry heave*

    • Dude I know! Wasn’t there a black pepper schnapps, too? That one was actually pretty fucking delicious!

      Can’t wait for when you and Paul come down! We’d love to make time to tape both Opal and Brennivin if we can!


  2. I have a brand new appreciation for Tucker. She said after her first taste, and even after maybe like 1 minute of the after taste, which with this one was where it was all at, and I quote, “It’s not the worst thing.” This is exactly my new appreciation for one of two reasons:

    1) If that truly isn’t the worst thing she’s ever had in her mouth, well, I just …. just…. have no words then.


    2) Tori was exhibiting real cold feet. I mean the real hesitation of someone on the verge of quitting, the cold feet of the groom on his wedding day. And she, calmly and coldly lied to him with the biggest stone face I’ve ever seen. Now this as a horrendous act; cold, hard bitch of legend because Tori was about on the verge of correcting a mistake he had not yet made. She could have saved him instead she got all womanly all of sudden and appealed to his ego. Do you hear it too? PUPPETMASTER!

    But hairy tongue, tire fire is all true. I drank from that very bottle and it is my opinion that it is the solvent that they use to clean other solvents.

  3. Dandelion earwax!!!

  4. There is little to no hyperbole presented here. It is, without question, factually based. But I urge all readers, please! Keep an open mind! Won’t you join us? We celebrate Malortial Day every year, on the Sunday preceding each Memorial Day. Just try it, yes? Remember, if you survive, you’ve gained entrance to a brother(and sister)hood of elitism of epic proportions! Raise a toast! Nozdrovieewwwww….

  5. Pingback: Episode 12: Rosa Regale « T & T's Bad Booze Review

  6. My history with Malort goes back about 35 years. It’s also been at least 25 years since I’ve indulged the storied Malort too. It isn’t by mistake either. Malort was served at my friends bachelor party the night before the wedding and he told me he was burping up Malort his whole wedding day. A fine way to start the new life! That’s right. The bachelor party the night before the wedding. That was when men were men. Not today’s pansies who attend wedding showers and baby showers. They should serve some Malort at those girly events if they want real men to attend!
    Long and short of it. Just drink up and blog about it in 30 years because you will remember Malort for the rest of your life. You only live once. Just drink it & shut up unless you’re asking for another shot or shock glass of Malort!!

  7. I share a link that just begins to illustrate the love, hate, passion, pain and general reactions that Malort inspires. (it is a link from the Chicago Fire supporters; forums)
    There is so much truth to #5, 6 and 7, but its a beautiful thing.


  8. 1) the @JeppsonsMalort twitter is the funniest marketing on the internet

    2) Have you had Malasco? Turns out a couple squirts of Tabasco make Malort even milder…

  9. Yes Malort is like drinking the sweat rinsed out of dirty socks, but have you ever done a shot of Bitters, or even Cynar, try that.

  10. Wimps.
    I tested Jeppson’s when I worked in US 1989 and it’s soft compared to a full bodied malört schnaps. Might be that you need to get used to it (like a real Swede!)

    Ulf W

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