|By Eric on Wednesday, May 09, 2001 - 07:48 am: Edit|
A nicely written review of one of my very favorites Jim,
I agree that the thick louche of this la bleue suggests a heavy presence of star anise. the anise flavor is very smooth and soft compared to the harshness found in the commercial products. but it is much more complex than that. It also may be that the actual herbal content of this and other better quality la bleues is higher than the typical stuff.
It really does have a characteristic scent that seems to fill the room. a very unique and special product, I hope that it continues to be available in the future. I still have not tried it on ice cream yet, but that really sounds good. maybe at the next AA meeting at joalco's.
|By Malhomme on Tuesday, May 08, 2001 - 11:46 am: Edit|
Betina Elixer¡¦s La Bleue No. 2
6:30 PM Thursday, May 04, 2001
I recently received a shipment of La Bleue No. 2 from Betty. It was well packaged (this carries some authority as I work in a packaging firm and am intimately familiar with packaging design). Betty prides herself on service and indeed she exceeded my expectations.
The 1 liter bottle is a delicate, light green with two labels affixed. One label is a laser print of a vintage absinthe advertisement (of your choice), and the other label is the Betina Elixer¡¦s logo with a description of contents that must be meant to mislead nosy postal clerks and ambitious customs agents.
The contents of the bottle are absolutely colorless with no sediment whatsoever.
I attempted to uncork the bottle with an Estate cork remover: this is a large, mounted, lever-action device that is ideal for removing and reinserting corks. The cork tore within the neck of the bottle as though it were wet paper. This unfortunate event resulted in small cork chunks floating in the bottle. On examining other corks in this shipment, the corks appear to be of an acceptable quality, so perhaps this was an isolated event.
I pour the contents into an East glass and sample it neat. The aroma is well balanced, with not the slightest smell of raw alcohol. There is a strong, pleasant scent of wormwood; perhaps because of the type of glass the aroma seems to rise and bloom from the tapered bottom. Anise, however present, is not overpowering. Tasting it neat: it is dry, slightly bitter, grassy and astringent.
Upon adding chilled water, the louche is very strong. The drops cut through the clear liquid like rocks thrown in a pond. The transition is turbulent, with exquisite separation between the water and the absinthe. Indeed, it must have a lot of anise! The color of the louche is a vivid pale white with a blue-gray center and glints of red at the edges.
The aroma, now that water has been added, is sweeter and pleasantly full of anise. And something else¡K. I can't keep my nose out of it. It just smells so wonderful!!! The aroma reminds me of wet leaves in Fall, overripe apples, freshly tilled woodland earth. It is musk-y, sexy, sweet¡K a "high note smell" like a cedar chest yet without actually being cedar-y. It¡¦s a smell that is so conspicuously absent from modern products that I overlooked its obvious source at first. It¡¦s wormwood again. And lots of it too.
There is so much complexity to this absinthe that I have sat for half an hour with my nose in the glass. Additionally there is a smell like cassia bark but without smelling of Red-hotsĄµ. I can¡¦t isolate the source of the smell, perhaps a synergy between anise and wormwood.
The taste¡K. Oh, the taste! This La Bleue is sublime! The taste is wonderful, smooth, clean, and then pleasantly astringent on the finish. My tongue is singing in anise and wormwood. Absent is the tongue numbing burn of star anise; if used, it has been used with an experts skill. The flavor is much improved with the addition of sugar; it seems to draw out more of the sweeter, candy-like, elements that are such an important part of this absinthes composition. There are green, herbal flavors contributed by the wormwood, and there is a lingering light herbal bitterness at the back of my palate. In the finish I detect something green, dry, and mint-like. This is like the purest essence of absinthe. If ever there were a dessert absinthe this would be it.
The result is a robust, round, full flavored absinthe with an unusual amount of complexity for a La Bleue. The overall impression is one of harmony and craftsmanship. This one is infinitely gulpable!
Note: I am told that the octogenarian ¡§farmer¡¨ was recently (December 2000) arrested in Switzerland, placing this wonderful, artisanal absinthe at risk of being lost forever. He has since been released, having paid a large fine, and is expected to return to production.
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