Monday, March 29, 2010

Issue 3: Everclear Purple Passion

Everclear Purple Passion. This is a thing. This is a thing, which they make. It comes in tiny, one-serving bottles which look exactly like cough syrup bottles that have "grape" printed absolutely nowhere on them. BECAUSE IT DOES NOT TASTE LIKE EVEN AN IMITATION OF GRAPE.

Weirdest of all, it's only 26 proof. I have wine as strong as this. What is the point of putting Everclear in something if it will only get you as drunk as a glass of wine? That's it's one strength! If I wanted a mild buzz, I wouldn't be drinking Everclear. That's like putting Christopher Walken in a romantic comedy!

"To me, you are perfect."

So while this may not necessarily be the worst, it's the most ill-advised and nonsensical drink I've reviewed for this blog. Christ, even the cast of Always Sunny mixed their own riot punch.

It looks like fucking Grape Drink, is what it looks like. Only not. Because Grape Drink is purple all over, and there's somehow a faint gray tinge for this, or a really dark navy blue. How do you not get grape drink right?

Even Kentucky Gentleman or Riva looked like it might be vaguely distinguished or at least used for purposes other than getting smashed. Even my attempts to make it look classy still look like I am an alcoholic ten-year-old.

Pictured: class.

It smells kind of like a purple (not grape) Freez-Pop. I'd say that this would make it great for getting your kid drunk (or someone else's kid--I review rotgut for a hobby, I am not going to judge you), but it also smells kind of like really musty cheese underneath the sugary purple flavor. So good for getting a French kid drunk, maybe so you can lecture him on why he thinks he's all that, but he's not all that.

I know that logically, anything with Everclear in it really should just exist for the sole purpose of getting you drunk. But if they're gonna make it wine-strength, I am going to judge it like wine.

At first it really does taste just like a Freez-Pop, but then it gets worse. I logically do not know how. I'm pretty sure you could just add Everlcear to melted Freez-Pops and it would taste better than this. There's not really a burn here, just a really strong musty bitterness. Like bile. My mouth really puckers up whenever I take a sip, and it only tastes good for a fraction of a second. Then, an awful swelling of terrible at the back of my throat, meaning I guess that the addition of Grapedrank has simply expedited the Everclear drinking process.

This is a bad idea even by the standards of people who would willingly mix Kool-Aid and rubbing alcohol.
Charlie doesn't approve, and he can't even read this blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Issue 2: Kentucky Gentleman "Bourbon"

Kentucky Gentleman is not bourbon, and fuck it for calling itself that.

Okay, it technically is. You can call something bourbon as long as at least 51% of it is pure bourbon spirits. Kentucky Gentleman is 51% pure bourbon, and 49% "neutral grain spirits," meaning pretty much straight alcohol and water. As a bonus, it's actually made by Barton Brands, the same people who make Riva vodka! According to their website, Kentucky Gentleman has "authentic bourbon flavor."

God, I hate them.

(At right: Kentucky Gentlemen)

As mentioned in the review of Riva, I think Kentucky has fairly low standards in regards to rank. They made the last pope a Colonel, after all, and somehow seem to think that Riva is drinkable. That's the only logical way I can picture this ever being called a "Gentlemanly" drink, as opposed to a "Vardaman Bundren" drink (yes, As I Lay Dying is set in Mississippi. But I imagine Kentucky Gentleman as a fumbling swamp child who doesn't understand death).

Anyway, let's dive right in here. Much like any sensible human being, I don't want to spend any more time in Kentucky than I have to.

Deep, rich mahogany hue. A faint tinge of red. Very dark, and-- oh wait. Sorry. That was the bottle of Maker's Mark I bought to remind myself that Kentucky should not be (let me check my notes here after sampling The Gentleman) "burned, salted, burned again, and somehow fucked to death."

Kentucky Gentleman looks vaguely like dark piss. Sort of a sickly amber. Not too pale compared to other whiskies, but bourbon should really have more color than this. I've had Islay Scotch darker than this, and they brew that in used bourbon casks. How, Kentucky Gentleman? Logically, there is no way for this to even-- oh, right. 49% neutral grain spirits.

I get the feeling I'm going to use that excuse a lot. It's kinda hard to get too angry at a whiskey that's barely actually whiskey. It's kind of like a pitiful man-child that's only a member of the family by name (can I make another Faulkner joke here? I am drinking his chosen poison).
My man William's too drunk to give a shit.

Very little smell here-- I can definitely whiff out the alcohol, but the bourbon smell is really subdued. It smells about half as strongly of whisky as the Maker's Mark. I wonder why that is. There's not that much complexity or woodiness to The Gentleman's odor. It mostly smells like pancake syrup and alcohol.

I take back what I said earlier. If this bourbon was my retarded child, I would still beat it. It barely tastes like bourbon or whisky (bourbon can be -ky or -key, but since Maker's Mark is -ky and it's pretty much shining like a Heart of Gold for me right now I'm rolling with that). There's a hint of the wood flavor, but not much of one-- mostly it tastes like I took a shot of Everclear out of a pinewood shot glass.

There's a sweetness there too, but not a really natural smooth sweetness. More a sort of processed-candy sweetness. The kind that makes your mouth feel a little chalky and lingers a long time after the other favors fade.

Pretty much like if you wrapped a drunk in Fruit Roll-Ups and then rolled them through cedar chips, is what I'm saying.

Amazingly enough, this was the most relevant image I could find of the Good Lady. I was sure she'd done that.

Amazingly enough, not especially terrible. I mean, it's not good-- and it still tastes worse than just a glass of Coke --but it's actually vaguely drinkable. There's the same problem Riva had, where subduing the burn heightens the vaguely chemical flavor and makes the bad sweetness linger, but whereas Riva tasted like industrial waste this just tastes like tree sap.

You know what? Fuck it. Just fuck it. The organic foods place within walking distance from my house was out of ice (how does that even happen? I thought environmentalists were supposed to be all about long-term planning), and I'm not driving to buy some for this.

Bourbon is supposed to be sipped over ice, I know. But this ain't real bourbon.

It's not honestly as terrible as Riva-- don't get me wrong, though, it's still terrible. I guess if you're desperate to get smashed (like seriously, hobo-level desperate) I could vaguely recommend it. But if you want bourbon, just a few dollars more will get you Wild Turkey.

That's right. I am actually going to recommend Wild Turkey. And it will murder your family.

Hey, it worked for Hunter!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Issue 1.5: Lost Vineyards Argentinian Merlot

Hello all. I'm going to try to keep updating this regularly every Friday or Saturday (coming up: Kentucky Gentleman!), but I'm also going to try doing occasional midweek episodes detailing my adventures with lighter stuff. This week: pisswine!

The story behind the Lost Vineyards label is their attempt to bring Californian 2-dollar Charles Shaw wine East. Well, not actually that wine-- according to one source (something I found on Google) "The quality of the wine and its low price have spawned urban legends to explain why
'Two Buck Chuck' is priced so low, yet isn't 'wino wine.'"
There are two main differences between this description and the tacky bottle I hold before me. The first is price: this was actually $3.33, which I love. That's 3-for-10 pricing. That's pricing designed to make you buy three bottles of this. (I actually bought two, but that's because I use them for cooking with-- this will be the first time I've actually had a glass).

The second is that this is not wino wine. This is not wine. You know how the back labels of bottles always exaggerate the product? Like it'll talk about "hints of apple and a light undercurrent of rosewood, punctuated by the faint notes of a girl's trepidation at the oncoming spring and the approach of her womanhood," and you just taste fancy grape juice, punctuated by bubbles?

This label brags that the wine is "drinkable."

A very, very, dark red, leaning towards purple. I don't really know wine that well, but this is almost black. That can't be right. There's also a really faint sort of brownish-orange tinge to it, kind of like the edge of a bruise, or woodstain.

Notes of red wine vinegar, with a gentle hint of apple cider vinegar. Also, a very faint grapey smell under it all. Not like wine grapes though. Like grape juice.

Oh, fuck. There's a reason that the vineyards of Argentina stayed goddamn lost. The label brags about "rediscovering" the vineyards of the New World. Jesus, that sounds like some Indiana Jones type shit, and I think we've all learned he should stay the hell out of South America.

Bad Idea Alien does not approve of this wine.

There's no real fruit flavor here at all. No real "drinkable" flavor either. It pretty much tastes like red wine vinegar mixed with water and sugar. Not good water. Like, really bad tap water. Like, if you ran your tap water through a fish instead of a filter, like some zany Roald Dahl character or (I imagine) the Japanese. I'm two big sips in and my throat is closing up-- probably from the acridness, but I like to imagine just out self-defense.

Hey, while we're on the topic of Indiana Jones, you know what else [pop-culture has informed me] Argentina is full of? Fucking Nazis. Now, I'm not saying that the people who make Lost Vineyards wine are Nazis-- they're probably just extremely well-dressed and seductive farmers. However, and again, I don't want to make accusations, but this is the kind of wine Mengele would make.
Angel of wine / Vintner to the vineyard of the dead

Wait, no, I was wrong. Took my last big gulp (why did I pour such a big glass, why), and there is a bit of actual flavor there. It tastes vaguely like leather, under all the terrible.

No, it's actually more like Eichmann. At first you think there's nothing actually there beyond layers of empty soullessness and repugnance, but deep down, so deep that it doesn't even know it exists, there's a little blackened nub of a soul.

And that soul tastes like leather

Friday, March 19, 2010

GUTROTTER, ISSUE #1: Mr. Boston's Riva Vodka

Riva Vodka (although most places online just call it Mr. Boston's) is literally the cheapest I could find-- 3 dollars for a 375 milliliter flask bottle. 3 dollars. Wrap your head around that for a second. For the record, a bottle of rubbing alcohol will set you back about half that much. As it is the new-born Gutrotter's mission statement to review the absolute bottom of the barrel, I took this as a challenge.

Read on to discover why, despite what your inspiration coach played by Danny Glover (or Crispin Glover, christ can you imagine that inspirational sports movie?) said, you should not rise to certain challenges.

(Pictured at right: Inspiration)


It's vodka—ideally it shouldn't have much of a look at all. In this case I guess it succeeds—there's no chunks of anything in it, and it's clear. I have to say, that, out of all the cheap vodkas out there, this one probably does have the best packaging. It may not enderaingly brag about its “unbreakable bottle!” like Popov does, but it's got a pretty crisp Czarist Eagle on it and says VODKA in giant, faux-Cyrillic letters. So that's nice.

(This will be literally the last nice thing I say about Mr. Boston, which is not even made in Boston. It is Kentucky vodka. This is one of Kentucky's worse ideas, and yet I'm pretty sure the bottle is an honorary colonel).


Oh god. Oh christ almighty. This is gonna be bad. It literally smells like turpentine. Maybe a little like gasoline. The only thing here that smells like an edible substance is a really faint sweetness. You know, like nail polish remover.

There's also a whiff of metal to it. Pay attention. That is foreshadowing.


Can I just type “the worst” here and leave it at that? No? No?

Fuck. You.

Strong notes of ozone and turpentine. In no way does it taste like anything organic. Its distributor claims that Riva has “faint notes of fruit,” and this true only in the sense that Riva tastes like grape drink fermented in a lawnmower engine.

Stolichnaya (which is good) puts the Movska Hotel on its label, a major Soviet landmark. It denotes class and a certain elegance. In the same vein, Riva should take notes and slap on that Ferris wheel from Pripyat, Ukraine. Because it tastes like fallout and rust.

I feel like I was just forced to pleasure an industrial lathe, and the lathe was

not gentle.

(Only people voluntarily go to Pripyat)


Putting Riva in Coke makes it worse. Try and think about that for a second. It's like putting magnesium in water and watching it burst into flames—this is a natural reaction that seems to run counter to the way the world works.

The thing is that mixing Riva with anything non-alcoholic is just going to decrease the burn and the numbness, freeing your tongue up to actually taste it. And christ, it's even worse. The budget Kool-aid flavor gets heightened and you get this iron bitterness in the back of your throat. I really wasn't lying when I said nail polish remover, and the sweetness of the Coke just heightens that.

So, knowing that anything nonalcoholic would just make it worse (you know, like life), I did what any increasingly resentful and increasingly drunk reviewer would do and whipped up a 50/50 mix of Riva and Cutty Sark (because I have both 3-dollar vodka and midrange whisky, for some reason). At first it seemed like a damn good idea—it was like a movie where some beautiful girl took Steve Buscemi to a dance and taught him to be a real gentleman and make something of himself.

Then the aftertaste fades and it turns out that there's still twenty minutes left in which he beats her to death with a table lamp and is revealed to be even worse than you already thought.


When I woke up my mouth felt like I had been eating moths, and I was still angry.