Taste Test: Jeppson's Malört

Due to popular demand and the fact that we love
trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club will now regularly
feature "Taste Tests." Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new
edibles for future installments: E-mail us at tastetest@theonion.com.

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Every week, we here at The A.V. Club's Taste Test labs
selflessly subject ourselves to foodstuffs so misguided that they must have
been dreamt up by a cartoonish mad scientist who gave up on global domination
in favor of a career of merely disgusting the masses. Who else would be behind
a beverage as diabolical-tasting as Jeppson's Malört?

But, at the risk of prematurely tainting your
opinion of this urine-colored liqueur, here's what the beverage coyly has to
say for itself on the label: "Jeppson's Malört has the aroma and full-bodied
flavor of an unusual botanical. Its bitter taste is savored by two-fisted
drinkers." Now, calling it "bitter" is generous: At 70-proof with indistinct
ingredients, this is rotgut of the most potent and foulest order. There's a
good reason its ingredients are left a mystery: Supposedly, it's flavored with
wormwood—the very herb used for the highly potent and
hallucination-inducing absinthe, which until recently was illegal in this
country.

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Still, it's been on The A.V. Club's radar for a
while—our headquarters are in Chicago, and so was the Carl Jeppson
company's, until they moved to Florida, where they remain the sole distributor
of it in the United States. But it wasn't until we caught John Hodgman's recent
appearance at Second City behind the excellent More Information Than You
Require
that
we were inspired to go under the knife with this libation: Hodgman thrilled his
audience there by reading aloud from the bottle and speaking about the drink's
curative abilities for pretty much everything. He proceeded to pass two bottles
around the audience while he swirled a snifter of it onstage the rest of the
night; any fears of spreading germs are moot, as Malört smells strongly of
antiseptic and formaldehyde.

When asked via e-mail to expand on Malört, Hodgman
had this to say: "All I can tell you about Malört is that I first bought it for
a Chicago-themed Little Gray Book Lecture. I don't recall who recommended it to
me, but I had to have it shipped to New York. Imagine jägermeister heavily
diluted in pondwater, but less piney, and that about describes it. What makes
me sad is that it is not available in nip bottles. That is the only thing that
would make it more depressing, weird, and marvelous. I brought a bottle for my
first Second City appearance in 2006. By popular demand, we had two bottles at
my second appearance last month. Next time, I'm expecting a Malört fountain."

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The taste: Maybe Hodgman's eternal quest for complete
world knowledge goes hand-in-hand with his unquenchable desire for Malört, but A.V.
Clubbers
unanimously
could not stomach it. Within a single sip, reactions swiftly went from "I can't
see how it can be that bad" to sputtering and near-vomiting. Here's intern
Ellie Cunningham, A.V. Clubber Kyle Ryan, and Internet Eating Sensation Dave
Chang taking their maiden taste:

Indeed, it seems harmless at first, but it
proceeds to invade your innards immediately upon consumption with an
unbearable, cringe-inducing bitterness that sticks with you for a worrying
amount of time. (It also began to eat its way through our paper cups, which was
even scarier.) Words do little to communicate how vile Malört truly is, and as
proof we aren't just a bunch of namby-pambies, here's roughly 200 reaction
shots to ingesting this hateful demon-drink
on the "Malört face" Flickr
pool.

Office reactions:

·
[Wincing.] "It's foul. I think people in
prison make better alcohol than this."

·
"It
tastes like extreme dirt. Not just dirt, but dirt that's been super-charged."

·
"It tastes like poison. Real poison."

·
"Don't
get me wrong: This shit is awful, but I expected instant revulsion from my
whole being. But really, the alcohol taste is so overwhelming that you don't
get anything at first. Then it just lingers and strengthens on your tongue."

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·
"It's
been a few minutes now, and I still kind of have the shakes. That's a bad
sign."

·
"It's
exactly like eating a tire fire."

·
"It
has an initial nail-polish-remover flavor, and then... nothing. Then it tastes
like a cigarette got put out on your tongue."

·
"It
kind of settles into the back of your mouth and then crawls down your throat
like an acidic slug."

·
"If
someone offers you a shot of this, start running. This person is not your
friend. A.V. Club writers
excepted."

·
"I
can feel my tongue getting numb. It's like my mouth is creating a defense
mechanism against a second sip."

·
"Reminds
me of that time I chewed a Tylenol Gelcap. It puts a little stain on your soul
that won't wash off."

·
"Ah!
It tastes like death!" [Runs around the room looking for something to replace
the taste.]

Where to find it: Binnys.com for $15.99 plus
shipping, but only if you've exhausted slower methods of killing your liver.

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