|By Artemis on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 01:31 pm: Edit|
A sample of this artisanal absinthe from France was provided to me by Petermarc. Some doubt has been expressed as to whether #9 is absinthe. I don't harbor much doubt myself. I have come to recognize the bouquet (smell) of wormwood. I learned to recognize it by sticking my nose deep into artisanal products which I know for a fact contain substantial quantities of wormwood, because I know how they were made. Only after I had trained myself to recognize the presence of wormwood in that way, did I come to realize how little of it is present in almost all commercial products. Anyway, that's how I make a judgement as to whether a given liqueur is absinthe. The "absinthe effect" (yes, it does exist) when present, is further confirmation.
#9 is almost clear. It has an almost ephemeral, very light green tint. I had to hold it to the light at several angles to convince myself any color was actually there. This is puzzling. My guess is that an attempt at artificial coloring was made, but not brought off with any degree of success. How else to explain it? It would seem that if someone were to go to the trouble to artificially color, they would make sure the liquor actually took on some color.
In the nose, #9 has a solid wormwood presence, but there is something else, very strong, a primary scent for sure. It almost overrides everything else. You can taste it, too. It almost burns, especially in the finish (going down the throat). There is a hard candy that comes out around St. Valentine's Day. It's in the shape of hearts, about the size of a dime. They come in different colors, and have love messages written on them. The purple ones - that's the flavor in #9. I was unable to determine the source of the flavor, since I've never tasted it that strongly in any absinthe, and I didn't recognize it from any of the samples I have on hand of most of the herbs we might reasonably expect to find in absinthe. "Smells bee-zarr, tastes bee-zarr" was the verdict of one of Peter's guests, I seem to remember.
So I asked Ted Breaux to tell me what he thought the mystery herb was, and he said licorice root. I accept his judgement on the matter. It certainly seems to add up, since licorice root is in extensive use in confectionary.
#9 louches to a very attractive steely gray-blue. The "licorice" burn added to the burn of the alcohol would make it impossible to drink straight for me. The scent and flavor mellows somewhat with water, but both are still strong. The licorice root is the primary flavor, but wormwood is there. #9 has substantial bitterness, and sugar definitely improves its drinkability. This is a simple product. I would be surprised if there were more than 3-4 herbs in it. The "absinthe effect" was fairly intense. Everything considered, I like #9 very much, but I couldn't see it being my everyday drink. It's sort of rough around the edges, a wild child, a niche product, although a respectable one.
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