Malevolent Malört


The other day I found some booze from an American ex – gifted to me yonks ago when I was living in Chicago.

A bottle of Jeppson’s Malört.

You’ve probably never heard of Malört. It’s the kind of a drink one imbibes for a bet  –  deep into a drunken rugby club dinner. Exactly the kind of drink your American hosts will give to you with a smile when they know you’re British or Irish, presuming you’ll down anything. Its aftertaste is even worse the morning after. Worse, I would imagine, than tonguing a badger or fox, alive or roadkill. It’s a drink that possesses you with its foulness and putrefaction.

(In retrospect I suspect my ex could see the writing on the wall).

A type of Bask liquor, Malört was created in the 1930’s by an insane Swedish immigrant in Chicago called Carl Jeppson. And in case you need any convincing of just how acquired of a taste it is, here’s a short chunk of text from the back of the bottle itself:

“Most first-time drinkers of Jeppson Malört reject our liquor. Its strong, sharp taste is not for everyone. Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate. During almost 60 years of American distribution, we found only 1 out of 49 men will drink Jeppson Malört.”

As I wondered whether to have a swig or not, I was reminded of the American wine connoisseur who made the mistake of reviewing some Buckie some years ago. His tasting notes were memorable:

Buckfast Tonic Wine (No Vintage)

  • Screw cap – took it off about 30 minutes before to bring in some air. Apparently made by monks in England. Decided to try while cooking dinner. Poured into a glass, first glance has a very inky almost brownish color that you see in older wines. Very syrupy, liquid clings to the side of the glass when swirled. Almost 15% ABV.
  • Stuck my nose in and was hit with something I’ve never experienced before. Barnyardy funk (in a bad way) almost like a dead animal in a bird’s nest. A mix of flat Coca Cola and caramel with a whiff of gun metal.
  • On the palate, overwhelming sweetness and sugar. Cherry Cola mixed with Benadryl. Unlike anything I’ve tasted. I’m not sure what this liquid is but it is not wine, I’m actually not sure what it is but it tastes like something a doctor would prescribe. A chemical concoction of the highest degree. Can only compare it to a Four Loko.
  • Managed to make it through a couple small glasses but not much more. Has absolutely ruined the evening drinking-wise for me as I tried to drink a nice Bordeaux after but the iron-like metallic sweet aftertaste I just couldn’t get out of my mouth even after a few glasses of water. I don’t drink a lot of coffee regularly, so I also have mild heart palpitations from the caffeine after just drinking a bit of this and feel a slight migraine.
  • An ungodly concoction made by seemingly godly men. I believe the Vatican needs to send an exorcist over to Buckfast Abbey as the devil’s works are clearly present there. After tasting this “wine,” the way I feel can only be described as akin to being under a bridge on one’s knees orally pleasing a vagrant while simultaneously drinking liquified meth through a dirty rag.
  • I’ve drank a lot of wines in my life and will never forget this one.

Given this sacrilegious review of Devon’s finest (and Scotland’s most popular) beverage by an American, I thought, on behalf of the Motherland and Buckfast’s acolytes, and as a proud Limey – and because I was short of an article topic for this week’s deadline – I should jot, revengefully, some tasting notes of my own for Malört. So, I poured myself a glass and these were my resultant jottings:

Malört Liqueur (2002 Vintage)

  • Screw cap – keep it on when near children, pets or shielders. Take it off when passing by the Fabian Society or an ASLEF picket.
  • The mad Swede who invented this hard liquor – clearly an unmedicated diabetic who coloured his creation to match the unhealthy hue (taste? bouquet?) of his widdle.
  • Malört (literally ‘moth herb’) is the Swedish word for wormwood. Forget any herb element here (or as our American, language-mangling friends would refer to, foolishly, as the ‘erb element). This vile concoction’s 35% ABV long ago annihilated any herbs and left only a residue of dead moths preserved in liquidised ear wax.
  • Even a quarter bottle of this poison found in one of Saddam’s palace cellars would have justified the Second Gulf War, rendering Hans Blick assured of Iraq’s WMD capability.
  • A second sip induces a seventh retch. Ipecac on speed.
  • A dilemma presents itself. Should one gulp back this whole glass of Malört or go down on Rose West? The latter suddenly becomes as fragrant a prospect as a youthful Gisele Bündchen in a rose-petal-infused gold bath.
  • After three sips I can just about read on my phone amidst a sea of tears that Malört is famously challenging to drink, with a flavour that includes notes of gasoline, grapefruit, sweat, wax, fire, mineral oil, and bitterness. Bollocks to that description which fails to plumb flavour downsides or the onset of immediate dysgeusia – burnt rubber, tamarind, vinegar, old rotting flesh and pre-prepared prawn mayonnaise cocktail (as found in a broken Beko fridge in the outhouse of an Indian eatery in Slough, long since condemned). All vileness and bile zoom to the fore – almost as quick as mentioning Nadine Dorries to James O’Brien.
  • Only upsides of this macabre poteen are instant removal of stubborn mouth plaque and sudden appearance of celebrity porcelain veneers in one’s cakehole as a cocktail of Satanic chemicals seem to fuse to fix small cracks, chips, gaps, and discoloration all at once in one great calcium phosphate melt.  
  • On the palate, overwhelming bitterness and a boiling cauldron of pre-vom gastric acid, worse than an overdose of pear drops. The unwashed vagina of a sweaty Somalian trans tribes-‘woman’ infused with post-apple-gorging Labrador fart springs to mind. (I am proud to say) unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in my life.
  • Not sure what this liquid is but it is certainly not potable, tastes like something Dr Shipman would prescribe. Would prefer to spend a night with Alan Carr than to drink a bottle of this poison.
  • An ungodly concoction made by a Swedish sadist who left Sweden’s freezing climate and long, dark nights for freezing, miserable, windswept Chicago when California or Florida were actual options. Fucklewit.
  • After braving half a glass of this foul concoction, I long for a soothing Jägermeister or the sweat off a rhino’s ballsack. I am done. Beaten. Basta.
  • Fucking disgusting, Dear Readers.
  • Shall stay concealed in the garage forever – at least until the mother-in-law dares visit or until I hear rumour of an alien invasion/Lib Dem majority.