Tasting Video #13

Feb 14, 2024 |

“Give me something weird and interesting” said Tony. Tony… have I got a bottle for you. Did Bottle #46 – Mandalay fail because it was on the wrong shelf at the liquor store, as the marketing director thought? Or did it really just not taste good, like the product development firm said? We tasted it and we have opinions!

Prefer to read than watch? Check out the transcript under the video.



Tammy: It definitely doesn’t smell like a lemon languorously soaked in alcohol, which is what some of the marketing language for this was.

Tony: Languorously.

Tammy: Languorously.

Tony: That is a great word.

Tammy: Yeah, that is a two-dollar word.

After Credits

Tammy: Hello and welcome to My Time Bottles, the project where I’m exploring my grandmother’s legacy of miniature liquor bottles, one tiny bottle at a time. I’m your host, Tammy Coxen, and I’m here with Tony Jimenez. Tony, where are we?

Tony: We’re at One Tippling Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s a craft cocktail bar that’s been here for about 11 years.

Tammy: It’s fantastic. It’s really beautiful. Lots of great art. You guys can’t see that, but it’s gorgeous.

Tony: Yeah, we like to say it’s like Teddy Roosevelt’s sitting room, just very eclectic, a lot of whiskey and just good drinks.

Tammy: So Tony, why did we end up coming together to taste this tiny bottle?

Tony: Well, it was a combination of a couple of different factors at a moment in time. You did an interview with Sother Teague who – lots of love to Sother…

Tammy: Yes, we all love Sother!

Tony: And I was interested to see why he was tasting tiny bottles because I also love tiny bottles. At the same time, my grandmother had died and she collected miniatures from bottles to tiny beer steins and amazing tiny tea sets like the porcelain ones for doll houses. But I didn’t get to keep almost any of it just like one or two mementos so it was nice to be able to live vicariously through your experiment. And I just reached out and said I like what you’re doing and I’m a fan.

Tammy: Awesome. Well, I am thrilled to have you here. This is a bottle that I just thought was really weird and interesting and when I asked you what you wanted to taste, you were like, “something weird and interesting.” And I was like, “okay, great!”

Tammy: So, this is like an invented product by Gilbey’s of Canada in the 1980s. (Bottle #46 – Mandalay) They did a whole bunch of test marketing and research to try to come up with something that would appeal to drinkers of white spirits, because of course it’s the 80s so vodka, gin – well, gin is falling out of favor – vodka, tequila, white rum, those things are coming back in or starting to become popular.

Tammy: So they invented this, but when they asked those people what they like they also said lemon. So it’s a dry lemon liquor? Liqueur? I have no idea. But in 1983 it’s featured in an article about how great product development companies can be and in 1986 it’s featured in an article about how products can fail. So we’re gonna go on that journey here ourselves.

Tony: I’m interested to see if it failed because it just tasted bad or it just was a product that the crowd wasn’t ready for.

Tammy: Right, and if you ask the development company, they will say, “well, we told them it didn’t taste good.” And if you ask the marketing director at the brand, he was like, “well, the liquor stores didn’t put it on the right shelf.”

Tammy: It’s got a beautiful little label that’s utterly incomprehensible because they just shrunk the big one down to be mini, but you have to trust me that it says lemon somewhere on there.

Tony: It says lemon at some point.

Tammy: All right we’re just gonna go in, no fooling around here.

Tammy (pouring): It looks a little syrupy. It looks like it might have some sugar in it.

Tony (toasting): Cheers

Tammy: Cheers to grandmas!

Tammy (smelling): What do you think?

Tony: That smells like, you get that like, artificial lemon smell.

Tammy: Yeah, I was a little worried that it’s gonna taste like lemon Pledge. It doesn’t instantly smell like lemon Pledge to me, but it definitely doesn’t smell like a lemon languorously soaked in alcohol, which is what some of the marketing language for this was.

Tony: Languorously.

Tammy: Languorously.

Tony: That is a great word.

Tammy: Yeah, that is a two-dollar word.

Tammy: I don’t get a lot of nose, but that’s my experience with these bottles, they kind of take some time to open up. Like they’ve been cooped up for some time and they’re like what’s going on?

Tammy (smelling): Little bit.

Tony: Yeah, but it’s a little bit of cleaner smell.

Both: Little bit!

Tammy: All right, let’s just do it. Let’s just dive in and taste it.

(both drink)

Tammy: Well (pause) it’s got a lot more taste than it does aroma (laughing)

Tony: It has a caramel finish that I was not expecting.

Tammy: That’s probably just age, right? Anything that’s been in a bottle for forty mumble years is going to have a little oxidation. A lot of these old products get that kind of like dustiness, I almost think about it. But very much caramel here.

Tony: Yeah. But it just accentuates the fact that it does have sugar in it.

Tammy: Yeah, absolutely.

Tony: It got concentrated.

Tammy: Yeah. Although this is a glass bottle and it was a pretty good shoulder level. So we didn’t lose a lot of alcohol.

Tammy: So… it starts better than I expected it to.

Tony: It starts with limoncello vibes.

Tammy: Yeah, it’s like a lot of, “Woo-hoo, here’s lemon!”

Tony: It’s like a dry limoncello vibe and then just straight into the sweetness.

Tammy: And then this sort of, like, real kind of off note at the end.

Tony: Like, over cooked… like dates in a way? Like some like dark fruit that just (pause)… wasn’t handled right?

Tammy: You know what? So, what I get is like I get this big big lemon beginning…

Tony: Yes.

Tammy: And then it kind of tumbles into the sweetness like you said. And now I get this bitter finish. Right? It’s like the pith of the lemon stayed in there too long. So, yeah, pithy pithy bitter finish. What do you think?

Tony: It’s the lemon…then the sweet. Like, lemon meets quinine a little bit. I get, I see, that dryness.

Tammy: Right. I’m going to add some water. Because I don’t think they really intended this to be drunk on its own. It was the 80s, people mixed things, so they were like “Put this in some soda water or some 7-Up.”

(both add water and taste)

Tammy: It’s better when you can’t taste as much of it. And the bitter finish definitely isn’t as present when it’s not so strong.

Tony: Although without that better finish, it loses that complexity.

Tammy (laughing, and making air quotes): “Complexity”

Tony: That complexity that it made it like interesting in the first round. It was like, oh it’s a roller coaster of like different flavors. Now it’s just lemon water.

Tammy: Yeah.

Tammy: Well, thank you for taking the leap with me.

Tony: The dry failed lemon liqueur.

Tammy: Awesome. Well, if you want to learn more about this, if you want to see pictures of the bottle, or read this story or watch or listen to the story about Mandalay, you can find that at mytinybottles.com. You can also do what Tony did and go to my Instagram @mytinybottles and like all the posts.

Tammy: And Tony, if people want to find you, where do they find you?

Tony: I’m on Instagram as @tonyholdscamera.

Tony: Not a lot of as entertaining content as Tammy

Tammy: Lies, all lies…

Tony; Yeah, it’s mostly cats.

Tammy: Cats are good.

Tony: Cats and bars.


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