Jeppson’s Malört – Probably the World’s Worst Tasting Liquor

If you’re not into liquors, they probably all taste bad to you, but there’s a particular liquor that everyone agrees tastes horrible. It’s called malört and, over the years, it has been compared to battery acid, pesticide and gasoline.

Although Jeppson’s Malört is most often associated with the American city of Chicago, its true roots are in Sweden, where where “malört” is the word for wormwood, the key ingredient in this ghastly spirit. Wormwood is a notoriously bitter herb known for its ability to kill stomach worms and other parasites. The Swedes started infusing it in alcohol and using it as medicine for digestive problems in the 15th century, and it reached US shores with the first Swedish immigrants. The awful taste didn’t appeal to many, so it’s no wonder that malört faded into obscurity pretty much everywhere, except Chicago. For some reason, people here not only accepted its horrible aroma, they actually embraced it.

Photo: Jeppson’s Malört/Facebook

“Chicagoans view malört as a mascot, and a mascot has got to be tough, like Chicago,” Jeppson’s creative director, Sam Mechling, told NPR, adding that much of the drink’s success can be attributed to the city’s bartenders. They adopted as their “secret handshake”, and this allowed the drink to thrive, despite its terrible aroma.

Another important component in the Jeppson’s Malört success story is social media. The company has embraced malört’s reputation as one of the most foul alcoholic drinks on the face of the Earth, promoting it with slogans like “turning taste buds into taste foes for generations,” and boasting about its brutal flavor.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Alan Blauvelt (@alanblauvelt)

Interestingly, while pretty much everyone agrees that Jeppson’s Malört is an unsavory drink, when it comes to identifying its taste, everyone has their own opinion. But you can be sure people’s descriptions of malört will be as nasty as its taste.

“It tastes like someone vomited up their gin and now you’re drinking it from a shoe,” one Reddit user once wrote.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Faces of Malört (@malortable)

“Imagine twisting damp socks after a heavy workout and squeezing the moisture into a bottle. Fill the bottle with that, let it ferment in a warm closet. That’s Malört,” another creative Reddit user commented.

“What can you say about drinking Malört that hasn’t already said…about drinking pesticide?” Thrillist‘s Sean Cooley once said.

Malört tastes so bad that when Carl Jeppson started selling it during out of a suitcase on the sidewalk, during Prohibition, its awful aroma was what kept him out of jail. When police officers came to inspect the legality of his business, Jeppson would offer them a taste and they always agreed that what he was selling was most definitely not a recreational good.

The countenance of first-time drinkers of this atrocious liquor has become known as “Malört Face”, and Chicagoans love pranking their out-of-town friends with a glass of their local spirit. It’s also considered a rite of passage by locals, although no one quite knows to what…


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Anthony Idol (@anthonyidol)

“Most first-time drinkers of Jeppson’s Malört reject our liquor. Its strong, sharp taste is not for everyone. Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate…we found only 1 out of 49 men will drink Jeppson’s Malört after the first ‘shock-glass’,” the original Jeppson’s Malört label proudly boasted.

But despite its reputation as a terribly unsavory sprit, or perhaps because of it, the malört brand has been thriving in recent years. Although still mostly consumed in Illinois, the drink has slowly been adopted by other markets as well, mostly by prankers or people curious about its turpentine-like taste.


Posted in Foods        Tags: , , , , ,