Review - An American Non-Commercial Product

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Feb 2001:Review - An American Non-Commercial Product
By Marc on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 12:19 pm: Edit

I too received a gift from the same artisan.
It is an extraordinarly well-crafted creation.
If anybody has any doubts as to whether a homemade absinthe can be worldclass, this brew should dispell them. I agree with both kallisti's and artemis's descriptions of this delightful
absinthe. I received it in the mail several days ago. It's the first absinthe I've held in my hands since coming to Vegas. I was literally trembling with excitement as I poured it into a wine glass. I took a sip straight. My mouth immediately became warm with alcohol, followed by a flush of anise and bitterness at the back of the throat. The flavor is deep and complex, lush . The louche is gorgeous. I have tried various creations by the artisan. So far, this is his crowning achievement. I drank 2 glasses and went out into the neon-enflamed Las Vegas night.
The Flamingo Hotel's blazing, flowering sign throbbed with a pink flourescence. The Strip was a pulsing vein of electric energy. I flowed in it, a navigator in a sea of crepuscular light. In the distance, the MGM Grand glowed, louching the night sky an emerald green.

By Admin on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 11:50 am: Edit

I received a gift from the same artiste of an earlier batch, here is a slightly edited review that I had sent back to him directly:

I have a li'l mominette that I do tasting from, so it was a limited test.

Just sticking my nose in the bottle (how fun!) my first thought was "piquant!" There is one of the herbs that is right up front... it's not melissa (that tastes like cleaning fluid if there is too much) I think it's the wormwood, a woody perfumey scent and then maybe hyssop. Anise and a mintishness are close seconds. First taste is anise & mint, light and greeny. Hyssop is one of my favorite herbs in absinthe, it gives it that wonderful herbal mellowness, and I'm pretty sure its in there. And then the wormwood settles in last with the bitterness hitting only as you swallow ... which is lovely. I think I taste coriander too, but that could be wishful thinking on the part of my extended taste buds. And after a minute the melissa comes back. Which could have been the original mint, but by now is very very light and has none of its overpowering characteristics if used too heavily.

All in all I think it is very lovely ... my only tiny criticism is that it is a bit sharp, which would probably improve with adding sugar, which I did not. It is a lovely color, especially when louched, a kind of seafoam with golden hints, which reminds me of some of the earlier paintings of absinthe in the glass. The anise is light and in wonderful proportion, with just a tiny mintiness that adds so much to the texture.

The wonderful treat about efforts such as this one is that it is like a circus to the taste buds, unlike most modern commercial stuff.

By Artemis on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 01:38 pm: Edit

In the interest of demonstrating that the "underground stream" of artisans to which I've occasionally made reference here is real and formidable, I've decided to review a product which arrived with my bottle of Segarra. This product, which is not commercially available, was a gift, as was the Segarra, from the same person.

The absinthe (I'll call it #69 for ease of reference) is an intense, shimmering, absolutely sparking peridot green. It's almost too pretty to be believed. The hue is entirely due to coloration with herbs, demonstrating that the artisan who made this absinthe has thoroughly mastered that delicate process, which is fraught with possibilities for screwing up the absinthe altogether, not to mention lending poor coloration, when done incorrectly.

In the nose, #69 has almost no alcohol presence, which is quite a trick, considering it's at least 140 proof. "WORMWOOD!", #69 hollers right up your nostrils, leaving an echo right around the third eye. Peppermint is also there. There is an aroma of new-mown hay generated by the melange of other herbs, not at all unpleasant, but unusual for this particular artisan, whose work more typically smells pretty intensely of mint. This batch is apparently somewhat more evenly balanced than his usual product. It's difficult to single any herbs out. It's been my experience that this "green" herbal character, while by no means unpleasant to my nose (Van Gogh strides through a hayfield on a July day, scaring up crows as he walks) mellows with time.

I cannot even think about drinking this product straight. The alcohol burn is intense. Although there is no added sugar whatsoever, the absinthe is sweet on the lips. Hint - ethanol is sweet on the tip of the tongue anyway. Unless an absinthe should be so bitter that sugar is absolutely needed to cancel the bitterness, sugar really isn't necessary. And I've never tasted ANY absinthe *that* bitter, myself.

Mixed with water, #69 presents a thick opal louche, further testifying to the skill of the maker. It's no great trick to bring off a louche with a whopping handful of star anise. But to keep anise in its place, subdued, blended with the other herbs, and still create a louche like this, is no mean feat.

The water subdues the "green" smell and seems to strengthen the mint and anise. The flavor is rather dry, herbal/minty/green hay/anise. The finish is very dry down the throat. Bigger mouthfuls seem to bring out the anise flavor.

As to "absinthe effects" - I was once sitting with a glass of this fellow's absinthe, looking out the window. I forgot I was drinking. The glass merged with my hand. Some time later, I looked down at the half-empty glass and was surprised to see it there. THAT, my friends, is absinthe effects. You can call it secondary if you want, but it's a PRIMARY reason I drink absinthe. You won't get it from faux absinthe or second- rate absinthe. But you'll definitely know where the horsey bit you, when you feel its authentic bite.

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