Category-based absinthe rankings

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Category-based absinthe rankings
By Chevalier on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 09:03 am: Edit

"But, uh, master, without evil EVERYTHING would be good. Now hand over that freakin' pebble."

"Not so fast, insect. If EVERYTHING were good, people would be bored to tears and create an alternative for variety's sake: EVIL. The pendulum must swing, for better or worse.

I'll keep my freakin' pebble. You go carry a red-hot cauldron."

By Pataphysician on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 07:24 am: Edit

"Ah grasshopper, but without evil how would we know that which is good."

"But, uh, master, without evil EVERYTHING would be good. Now hand over that freakin' pebble."

By Geoffk on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 07:17 am: Edit

"Meat flaps" eh? Tell you what, take a look at

We have now successfully merged the "Madonna in Vegas" threads and this thread. Feel free to post in whichever strikes your fancy (as neither has anything to do with the original subject anyway...)

-- Geoff K.

By Bob_Chong on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 07:01 am: Edit

I don't know how this perfectly absinthe-related turned to sex, but I am grateful that "piss flaps" and "meat curtains," amongst other phrases, have been permanently added to the lexicon. Thank you, Hippie MC!


By Wormwood on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 04:53 am: Edit

A wise man once told me: "Sex is like pizza, when it's good it great, and when it's bad it's still pretty good."

By Royale on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 03:25 am: Edit

Once when I was a teen, I was hitch hiking and was given a ride by an older man. Amongst his seemingly idle banter he had one piece of advice... "At some point you should have sex with a hooker for you can only know how good sex is if you have experienced both great sex AND bad sex." At the end of the day we can all read, share and even learn from Marc's stories of copulation and cunnilingus, but how can we really understand without taking the dive and coming out of the adventure with inspiration for our own carnal poetry. I guess the same can be said for wine, women and song, literally and metaphorically speaking.

By Wolfgang on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 01:09 pm: Edit

I think all review should list all the absinthes tasted by the reviewer so we could validate the review.

By Wormwood on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 11:12 am: Edit

How well do you think the Wine Spectators system would work if noone had made a good bottle of wine in over 100 years?

Ah grasshopper, but without evil how would we know that which is good. --- Master Po

By Tabreaux on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit

Bob: I'll do just that as soon as I can confirm usability of one aspect of the system. When I can finish that, I will post it for all to review and comment.

By Wolfgang on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 08:45 am: Edit

When I write a review, I'm usualy very expressive. Some people may think I exagerate. It's my personal style... For me not so good is "undrinkable!" and excellent is "to die for!!!".

Heiko :

I now agree with you about Segarra. Now that my palate have been qualibrated, I find Segarra to be the only acceptable Spanish absinthe. It would be great without the oak, simple but great (unless Julian is doing it to mask something bad...). I also revised my mix ratio. I now use 2 parts Segarra for 1 part Deva or NS. In fact, I don't think I will order Deva again, Segarra and NS70 will probably be the only spanish I could consider to buy (for parties or for when I don't have the $ to drink only Jades).

I think the Spanish producers will loose every absintheurs who have enaugh money to buy Jades absinthes. Hopefully that will raise the bar and some producers will improves their recipe. I also think it will kill the La Bleu resellers market (or at least they will have to sell bellow Jades prices).

By Bob_Chong on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 08:15 am: Edit


How about loosening the reins a bit for some usability testing (re: the rating system).

No man is an island.


By Tabreaux on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 06:17 am: Edit

"I still feel it would be easier to discuss, and for all to educate themselves on line if there was an agreed upon ranking system. I also have been waiting with bated breath for Ted's ranking system."

You will see it soon. I think you'll agree that it is very thorough. There is one aspect of it I am still perfecting, otherwise it is finished. When you see it, I think you'll agree that it rates products exceptionally well.

By Royale on Thursday, September 06, 2001 - 01:50 am: Edit

Artemis -
I agree Geoffk took a bold step grouping these products in what seems to be a well studied manner, Thanks Geoffk for that. I still feel it would be easier to discuss, and for all to educate themselves on line if there was an agreed upon ranking system. I also have been waiting with bated breath for Ted's ranking system. Then again if it takes even one second away from the release of Jade it can definitely wait.

By Heiko on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 - 10:19 am: Edit

One thing I find very important about Segarra:

It is the ONLY commercially available absinthe which is distilled, not mixed from oils. The basic taste of it (without the whisky/butterscotch components) is very near to La Bleue (it basically IS La Bleue before it is put into an oak barrel for a few weeks).
Are the bells ringing yet?

At first I thought Segarra tastes a little strange - then I found out Segarra is the only brand that comes close to real absinthe in its basic taste. My taste has changed, that's right - very much in favor of Segarra.

Segarra is the bottom line of what's really good. The oil-mixes are in their own category (and Deva 70, Deva 50 and NS are at the top). That's why, in my personal ranking, Segarra will always be atop of any of the other Spanish brands.

I doubt someone will be able to make an oil-mix which has the warm and round flavor of the distilled. Until now, I haven't tasted any...

By Artemis on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 - 07:55 am: Edit

"Well said and well explained, Artemis. Success to you and your associates!"

Thank you, but I want to emphasize that it's just a group of hobbyists, there isn't now nor was there ever any plan for commercialization, much less competition with Ted in that vein.

I saw Geoff's list as more of a grouping than a ranking and as such I thought it was fairly functional.

Ted Breaux was at one time working on what he hoped would be an objective rating system that everyone could use and understand; it was one of his many projects. Maybe we'll see it eventually; I know he's busy.

By Royale on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 11:28 pm: Edit

I started a thread in March of this year about a standardized ranking system. It was discussed briefly and then the thread fizzled. I still feel this would be beneficial and will repost word for word, because I am lazy.

Marc-maybe you can review all your tastings in a simular way .


It has been a point of frustration in the past as I peruse the reviews posted on the forum that there is no common way to rate the absinthes that are tasted. It is hard to truly understand a review if you haven't tasted the products that the author chooses to use as comparisons or if you are lost in personal interpretations of words i.e.: sweet/ sour/ tart/ dry etc. I propose that we collectively agree upon a rating system for future reviews. Maybe a system similar to zagat that rates a few characteristics, important details and lists price actually paid. The reviewer should rate the product's taste and the overall experience on a scale from 1-50 or 1-100 or whatever. Obviously these will still be purely opinions but we will over time be able to see whose taste buds are similar to our own and more effectively judge which products we choose to purchase. I am by no means suggesting this formula replace the descriptive paragraphs but simply by stating the facts up front we will be able to share a common frame of reference.

Details I consider important (country of origin-taste rating/% of alcohol/ml in bottle/price actually paid in $US)

EXAMPLE: Ted's recent review of Absinto Camargo would look similar to this (please note the rating below is purely arbitrary and I claim in no way to know what Ted would rate this drink on any scale)

Absinto Camargo - Brazil-44/54%/700mL/$90

Distributed by Uniland Export. The transaction was made via bank transfer, The bottle was packaged well and arrived via EMS.

The liqueur is medium green color with just the slightest olive tint. There is some herbal sediment present. It is artificially colored as indicated on the back label. The bottle is clear glass. The front label shows impressionist-like artwork (a woman holding a cat).

The rear label says, "Absinto Camargo is prepared through the distillation and treatment of Artemisia absinthium alcoholic elixir, Artemisia pontica, star aniseed, Etc, etc, etc, etc.

By Bob_Chong on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:08 pm: Edit

"most people would rank Mercedes and BMW in one group"

Poseur-mobiles for people who have nothing better to do with their money than spend $75 on an oil change? All kidding aside, I have not been impressed with either of these makes (unless you live in the Fatherland, where it's probably more reasonable to own one of these).


By Verawench on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:03 pm: Edit


8 useful posts to my absinthe ranking post in all so nothing workable...

Bah.. we all know the general consensus on the forum. MM is out of favor, Deva is so-so, NS/Segarra better among Spanish, La Bleue, and of course vintage/JL are up there. So there ya have it.

By Geoffk on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:00 pm: Edit

> My rankings would be pretty much just:
> 1. NS
> 2. Segarra
> 4. Deva

See, this is my original point. What if somebody else is 1. Segarra 2. Serpis and a third person is 1. Serpis 2. NS.

Just as there is no "best car", there is no "best (currently commercially available) absinthe". However, most people would rank Mercedes and BMW in one group and Hyundai or Isuzu in a different group. Choosing between Meredes and BMW can be hard. Choosing between Mercedes and Hyundai is easy.

If everyone can agree on general groupings, then people can narrow their choices down to the three or four items in each group.

-- Geoff K.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 09:34 pm: Edit

I haven't had all that much experience, honestly. My rankings would be pretty much just:

1. NS
2. Segarra
3. L'amesinthe (almost certainly pastis, but good pastis)
4. Deva
5. Mari Mayans
6. Manguin (also probably pastis, and not as good)
7. Montana
[big gap]
8. Schulz (tastes like bad vodka)

By Mr_Rabbit on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 09:16 pm: Edit

Vera, did you ever get anywhere with your poll?

I never did with mine (no one sent data.)

By Geoffk on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:03 pm: Edit

"The problem would be that people who had not tried a certain absinthe would still give it a ranking. And that ranking would be based on what they have seen here in the, it would just perpetuate the opinions of a few members."

> What leads you to think that people here would do this?

Well, that's basically what I did when I started the thread...

In fact, that was one of Don's first criticisms--i.e. that certain people (for example, Serpis drinkers) are more vocal than others and would skew the results.

I do think it's possible to hae a poll tht's fair though. It wouldn't be "scientific", but there's nothing scientific about taste preerences anyway.

-- Geoff K.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 05:03 pm: Edit

Well said and well explained, Artemis. Success to you and your associates!

By Chevalier on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 05:01 pm: Edit

"The problem would be that people who had not tried a certain absinthe would still give it a ranking. And that ranking would be based on what they have seen here in the, it would just perpetuate the opinions of a few members."

What leads you to think that people here would do this?

By Artemis on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 04:57 pm: Edit

"Artemis, I'm curious: Did your first taste of Jade delight you as much as it delighted Wolfgang? "

A most intriguing question. First, you have to understand that my perspective is different than that of most people.

For people who have only tried what is out there commercially, and possibly not even tried the best (La Fee and some La Bleue is the best, I don't care what anybody says), Ted's product will hit them like a Mack truck. It's from a whole different planet. How can they help but be impressed? I agree with what Wolfgang wrote; I can find nothing with which to argue.

However, as I said, my perspective is different. From the first time I even heard about absinthe, my intent was to make my own, according to the old tradition. Since I wasn't prepared to do that at the time, I allied myself with certain people who were already trying and we applied ourselves to the task. Thus, when I first tasted Ted's wares in NOLA, my main interest was to see how the products of my associates stacked up to Ted's. We had no ancient Pernod, so Ted was our benchmark. I was very pleased when I first sipped Ted's elixirs because it showed me that we were on the right track. The stuff we had worked so hard at was a lot more like Ted's than like any thing else in the world today.

With that said, I have to add that Ted's product is unsurpassed. Really good absinthe has a fine scent. Ted's absinthe is like perfume. It has a fine louche. It has no acrid character whatsoever. It is elegant. It is magnificent.

What does all this mean? You CAN do this at home. Can you do it as well as Ted? Probably not, at least not in your first year or three of trying.

And that's the closest to the real truth as I see it that I've revealed here in a long time, so thank you for eliciting the answer, Chevalier.

By Timba on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 04:45 pm: Edit

Haven't tried a lot of these.....
Here goes.....

1. Vintage Pernod (because it's real, and what we are trying to copy)
2. Homebrew 1998
3. Homebrew 2000b

12. Segarra

15. Deva


126. Bud light


90218. Hills

By Artemis on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 04:43 pm: Edit

"As Artemis previously elucidated, the butterscotch' flavor is diacetyl."

Well, that was speculation on my part, based upon what I know about beer. In beer diacetyl (it tastes like butterscotch) is either a fault (through poor yeast and/or fermentation management) or a desirable characteristic (some British ales and U.S. ales attempting the same style). Personally, I like it in ale. I don't like it in absinthe.

When I saw Peter's description of the oak barrels, I gave up my diacetyl theory, but maybe Don knows something I don't. I didn't see how distillation could lend diacetyl when I first posited that theory, but I thought I would throw it out. Again, Don is a chemist and I'm not, so maybe it's NOT the oak barrels .....

By Zack on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 04:30 pm: Edit

"If everybody in the forum contributed to a poll, we'd have a handle on the popular consensus. Of course, I think we already know what everyone likes, but it would be fun to make it official."

The problem would be that people who had not tried a certain absinthe would still give it a ranking. And that ranking would be based on what they have seen here in the, it would just perpetuate the opinions of a few members.

By Timk on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 03:56 pm: Edit

Simon, any chance of some pictures of your vintage bottles, or did I miss them or something? : - )


By Chevalier on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 01:02 pm: Edit

"Spanish crystal"? What's that? A combination of Spanish Fly and crystal meth?

By Simonsuisse on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 12:55 pm: Edit

We'll alright then. You forced me to bore you with my ranking oppinion.
So here goes with the best to begin with:
Vintage(also due to nostalgia)
La Bleue (although they do vary)
Spanish crystal
NS, Segarra
Deva, La Fee
Mari Myans
all the rest are shit!!

I'm still hoping i'll get hold of some of Jade's products. They sound as though they'll be tops. But i'll have to wait till i've tried it.

By Heiko on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 12:13 pm: Edit

What about these three categories:

the real, the not-real-but-OK, the undrinkables.

By Chevalier on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 11:24 am: Edit

Artemis, I'm curious: Did your first taste of Jade delight you as much as it delighted Wolfgang? Or was it "... just absinthe, ok?" At what point does delight turn into annoyance with others who share in it?

By Wolfgang on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:43 am: Edit

Why shall we use so many shades of "bad" ?

Since the Montréal tasting, my rating system have now only 3 catégories : the goods, the bads and the undrinkables.

Useless to say that no actualy available commercial products rank in the first category.

Some "bad" products are still worth trying for comparaison purpose and to truly appreciate the "good" products.

The Spanish absinthe closest to the real thing is NS70 (as far as a monkey looks like a human...) and I haven't tasted Larsand yet. It's not "good" but the herbal taste gives a hint of what should be expected from a real absinthe.

Segarra is almost a "good" product but the music comming out from a "two string banjo" (I'm still laughing at this one) is too booring to realy make it a "good" absinthe. It's a nice drink but not an authentic absinthe.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:27 am: Edit

by historical definition(thanks artemis, i am not trying to give you any lessons), 'ordinary' absinthe
had hyssop and lemon balm instead of fennel and
came out to 46° alcohol...natural coloring was not stable lower than 72°...all the best absinthe recipes had fennel and higher alcohol...take away the lemon balm and hyssop and you have segarra, though i am hard pressed to call it 'ordinary.' i am still blown away by how sweet it is from the anis...i think it really is a mutant product that reflects more the skill of a brandy maker and that the original alcohol adds to its far as i can remember, julian said the barrels were new originally and that he preferred american oak to french because the pores in the wood are tighter(this is common in spanish wine-making)...he pointed to his sweaty forehead to indicate 'pores.'
heiko--pontarlier 'swiss' absinthe:
grand wormwood
green anis
roman wormwood
lemon balm

By Heiko on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 10:09 am: Edit

Even I like Green Chartreuse I must say that I like Segarra (and some other absinthes) much better. You can't say "more herbs = better taste"
There's probably more possibilities to screw up a product using 20 herbs than if you only use two or three and balance them well.

Of course I know what you mean - I'd also like Segarra to be a little more complex (that's why I add a dash of NS or Deva sometimes - gives it some more herbs, even if it's only oils)

btw. does anybody know a number of how many herbs were used in vintage products (average/at most)?

By Geoffk on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 09:32 am: Edit

Well, Segarra doesn't use fennel according to the chert thread. Even if you just use those three ingredients, you're still missing one. I think more herbs would make for a more rounded taste. I read that Green Chartreuse uses something like 137 herbs for it's taste.

Why rate things? Well, even if they're using oils, some still come out better than others. "The best of the worst" so to speak.

My thoughts anyway...

-- Geoff K.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 09:21 am: Edit

As Artemis previously elucidated, the 'butterscotch' flavor is diacetyl.

Overcooked flavors are complex; overcooking a fermented mixture that still contains yeast usually produces furfural (furfuraldehyde). This is undesirable. Overcooking an sbinthe distillation will probably drive a lot of components over that oughn't to be there. Slow is good.

'Chemical' tastes come from oils, mixed with neutral spirits, etc., none of them first quality anyway. This describes 98% of modern absinthes, so why rate them?

Smooth clean rounded tastes and flavors come from pure components and advanced techniques.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 09:05 am: Edit

when i first tried la sala, i felt the fennel flavor seemed more intense than the family cracked a fresh fennel stalk and it was almost identical...

By Artemis on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 08:17 am: Edit

Some points:

Absinthe is Grand Wormwood, Anise and Fennel. Every classic absinthe recipe I have seen contains this holy trinity. Quite a few have ONLY these.

The flavor I instantly recognize now in a lot of absinthe, now that I'm more familiar with it in the raw form, is fennel.

So Bob is correct, that is classic absinthe. Everything else is icing on the cake.

I know for a fact that a very nice absinthe can be made from only those three herbs. The classic coloring herbs are Melissa, Petite Wormwood, and Hyssop. Those of course complicate the flavor profile considerably.

Thanks to Peter, we now know that the "butterscotch" flavor of Segarra, and its color comes from aging in wood. Given the ingredients, it couldn't come from anything else. This may be looked at as a flaw or an endearing flavor attribute depending on personal taste.

Marc is right about "flaws" being a loose term, but there are so many possible ones, and naming them is not for most of us a scientific process (little better than guessing really), it's not an exact science (except maybe for Ted). I don't pretend to be able to tell a distilled product from and oil-mixed product, but the most serious flaw is overcooking the product (nasty flavors come over that should have been left in the still). This is true regardless of whether the product was distilled, or prepared from oils, in which case it was the preparation of the oils that was careless. Deva is guilty. La Fee is also, to a lesser extent.

Other characteristics are not necessarily flaws, but bad judgement - too much star anise (MM and Deva). Too much anise (almost everything). Adding that weird lemon stuff (as I think Peter also discovered on his trip to Spain - he is the Christopher Columbus of the absinthe forum) such as Lasala and probably some others.

By Heiko on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 07:29 am: Edit

Bob and Peter,
right! I also wanted to say that. Better absinthe that is distilled from anise and wormwood than any of the oil mixtures. Some La Bleues only contain 4 or 5 herbs INCLUDING anise and wormwood. Segarra gets its additional flavors from the oak barrels, not too much difference, IMO.

I only had two or three sips of La Fée, but I thought it had the kind of herbal, soft/warm yet refreshing taste that real absinthe has while NS has this kind of sharp, chemical, citrussy underlying taste that you also find in Montana.

Where do you guys get the Larsand from?

By Geoffk on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 07:08 am: Edit

> Aren't you more disappointed to find out that
> Deva et al. are simply mixed from oils like
> mouthwash is made?

> BC

Well, yes, but at least I think they use more than two oils... The whole idea of absinthe is that it's a delicate and exotic combination of different herbs for flavor. Anise and wormwood are the two most important, but that doesn't mean the others are irrelevant. In fact, people have said that the anise taste in vintage Pernod isn't really dominant.

If I just want to taste Anise, I'll buy a pastis. Segerra does have some Wormwood in it, so it's a bit more complicated than Ricard or Pernod, but an oil painting in two colors is still not true to life.

The remarkable thing is, it's still supposed to be quite good in spite of this.

-- Geoff K.

By Absinthesque on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:28 am: Edit

Larsand is also my current favorite of the commercially available absinthes, and I even prefer to some La Bleues, though it is in the Spanish style. I'm inclined to think it's distilled, but I honestly don't know if my palate is sophisticated enough on that score. I haven't tried the NS 70 yet.

As for the rest, I prefer Serpis to the other Spanish brands, and I think Segarra loses points for its very low (for an absinthe) alcohol content. I had some the other night for the first time in a while, and liked it a little less than I used to. I'd prefer it to NS but not by much.

Finally, I think La Fee is vastly over-rated, and I would rank it below Serpis but above Deva, probably about equal with NS and certainly not worth the price.

Just my 2 cents.


By Petermarc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:23 am: Edit

i was about to say the same thing...(well, not about the deva, but that,too...and not the one-armed thing , get the point!)

By Zman7 on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:08 am: Edit

In answer to your question about Larsand, it does taste similar to NS70, however it has more complex and herbal notes. The color is lighter than NS. There is no harshness, but I would not be surprised if it was made from oil mixing as opposed to a true maceration followed by distillation followed by an herbal coloring step.
All in all I like it the best of all the commercially available absinthes today.

By Bob_Chong on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 06:07 am: Edit

I was very disappointed when I found that [Segarra] has only anise and wormwood in it. That's absinthe, but just barely.

Sounds like textbook absinthe to me. (One-armed definition nitpickers excepted.)

Aren't you more disappointed to find out that Deva et al. are simply mixed from oils like mouthwash is made?


By Heiko on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 05:39 am: Edit

"That would leave Deva in a class by itself, which I'm not sure is justified."

That's right - Deva, NS, Serpis and maybe MM must be in the same category (3), while Segarra is in (2) on its own.

btw. I've had La Bleue that was - in a direct comparison - not as good as Segarra. Segarra was smoother. This certain La Bleue isn't very complex and is far from excellent, on the other hand it was cheaper than the Segarra...

By Marc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 12:40 am: Edit


The testing has begun.....

By Marc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 12:36 am: Edit

As good as the buyers guide is, its still the opinion of a 3 or 4 people. If everybody in the forum contributed to a poll, we'd have a handle on the popular consensus. Of course, I think we already know what everyone likes, but it would be fun to make it official.

I am going to to do a tasting of each of the absinthes I own. I own all the commercial brands and several bootlegs. This will take a few days.
I will then post my ranking and reviews. Wish me luck. If you don't hear from me again, its because I died in the search for the truth.

By Marc on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 12:30 am: Edit


As I said, its a good starting off point. And for
that you should be commended. I wonder if it is possible to come up with a ranking based on a
voting process conducted within the forum.
The votes would have to be accompanied by brief reviews of each absinthe. Seeing as most of us are fairly experienced absinthe drinkers, this would be as definitive a consumer report as exists on the planet at this time.

By Geoffk on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 11:56 pm: Edit


I agree completely with what you're saying, but that's not why I did this. presumably the Buyer's Guide (and/or the archive) would have complete reviews and information. This is just a quick summary of what's good and what isn't. If somebody wants to get more information, then it's out there, but this tells them the consensus of what to look at first.


-- Geoff K.

By Geoffk on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 11:44 pm: Edit

Thaks to everyone for the input. I'm still trying my first batch from SC, so I certainly defer to other's opinions at the moment. With respect to Segarra, it is certainly in a different class than Serpis or NS in terms of personal care, preparation and price. However, people are rather sharply divided on the taste, with many claiming to disliking a certain "butterscotch" quality. Even though they consider it a quality product, there are folks who would prefer to drink Serpis or NS instead, given the choice, hence the "equal" rating. Personally, I was very disappointed when I found that it only has anise and wormwood in it. That's absinthe, but just barely.

Larsand is pretty new here. The initial comments seem to be favorable, but I couldn't say where to rank it on what I know right now.

I may have ranked MM and/or Herring too high. I know that Heiko has second thoughts now about Herring (and yes, I was thinking of him when I ranked it). That would leave Deva in a class by itself, which I'm not sure is justified. Still, I think it's better than Lasala or Montana, but I don't think it's quite as good as Segarra, so there you go.

Thanks again for all the input (and zero flames--whee!)

-- Geoff K.

By Marc on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 11:32 pm: Edit

The list is accurate in its ranking, based on conventional forum wisdom, but not that informative. Too vague. The terms "some flaws" and "some serious flaws" doesn't tell us much.
What are the flaws? Too sweet? Not herbal enough?
Downright puke inducing? No louche? No secondary effects? Radioactive?
This is a good starting off point. It needs elaboration. Could a definitive list be arrived at through forum consensus? Or is it all waaaay too subjective?

By Perruche_Verte on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 10:59 pm: Edit

Nice work on the ratings. However, I do agree with Heiko. I'm a Serpis fan, but I wouldn't put it in the same category with Segarra, which is not typical of the current Spanish absinthes.

I am looking forward to trying Larsand to see how well it compares. Cristina says they'd like to offer it through the SC website but need to make arrangements with the producer. If it's anything like Segarra, it is probably made in comparatively small amounts.

You guys who've tried it: Does it taste smooth and distilled, or does it have that uneven edge that I'm beginning to associate with products mixed from oils? I find this edge even in a
good, well-blended product, like HB pastis
or Absinthe NS.

I'm not 100% sure that I could taste a new absinthe and tell straight off whether it was distilled; it would still be a guess at this point. But there are certain flavors beginning to stand out. Probably these are oils used by all the Spanish producers in their recipes.

By Zman7 on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 02:12 pm: Edit

For the most part I agree with your ranking and assessment. I think once you actually start getting some, you will probably revise your rankings. I'm with Bryan, if you can get it Larsand is an outstanding (as far as commercial products go)absinthe. It, along with NS70, have a somewhat more "herbal" bouquet without the black jellybean flavor. Get yourself to SC ASAP.

By Verawench on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 10:29 am: Edit

Geoff, the thread-spawning newbie.

Anyway, Art is right, you've done your homework and we're all very impressed at your ability to civilly express your opinion, be it on absinthe or pubic hair.

By Heiko on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 09:31 am: Edit

I'd move Herring to category 4. (judged by taste only). Then I'd move NS and Serpis down to three and remove the attribute "cheap" from 2. - Segarra isn't cheap!

Maybe my own posts made you think Herring is more desirable than Montana or Lasala - I found out it isn't. You can drink a lot of it and it keeps you awake. The effects on me are good, but so are those of Montana as well (and Montana is even a little better than Herring).

Hereby I state that I'm not going to buy Herring anymore - my next order will be NS (both), Deva (both) and Segarra. Nothing less than that anymore. If Herring and Montana were much cheaper it would be something else - but they aren't...

By Artemis on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 08:41 am: Edit

Geoffk, I hereby nominate you as the newbie most undeserving of the flames, "HE WHO HAS DONE HIS HOMEWORK" etc. etc.

I find your ranking amazing in its accuracy. I wouldn't argue with a word of it. If you wanted to include non-commercial products, the best ones are in Category 0, and are also virtually unattainable.

By Bryan on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 04:13 am: Edit

Yeah, and the older I get, the more of a picky snob I become. When I was a little younger, (not all that long ago) I could drink extremely cheap beer all night long, no longer is that possible.

By Geoffk on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 04:06 am: Edit

Well, I don't agree with that. I love 22 year old Bowmore scoth, but at $100+ a bottle, it's expensive--too expensive to drink every day. I may decide to drink it anyway, if I really like it. If I'm especially picky, I may decide that reasonably priced scotch isn't good enough for me anymore. And it's a low-volue, high-quality product. The price is fair for what it is. Still, the fact remains that it's a very expensive drink.

Just because you have expensive tastes, doesn't mean that something isn't expensive. However, as you say, it may be worth it to you.

-- Geoff K.

By Bryan on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 04:00 am: Edit

I think the bottom line is, you have to try them all yourself to see what you like and don't like, then, you can better base an opinion whether or not it's expensive. It wouldn't really matter if the only absinthe you liked was $100 or $200 per bottle, if that was what you like then it may not matter what the cost.

By Geoffk on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 03:47 am: Edit

1. La Fee
That is correct. It goes for about $55 for a 700 ml bottle. Compared to NS at $22 per liter, that's fairly expensive. Moreover, compared to things like whisky or even Chartreuse, it's still fairly expensive.

2. La Bleue
I understand what you are saying. Howeer, I have never heard of any really negative reviews for any genuine La Bleue. While I'm sure some are better than others, I have been lead to believe that all are fairly good. As for the price and availability, it's cheap if you have the right Swiss friends. Otherwise, as far as I know, it's still either expensive or difficult to get.

3. Jade
I'm sure it's coming soon, and I'm sure that it will be good. Still, not for sale (right now) means not for sale, hence (right now) unavailable.

As for the stratification, I guess that's the whole point of making a ranking. If you can't say "This is better than this" at some level, than it's meaningless. Obviously, between La Fee and Hills, nobody needs a ranking. What about between Serpis and Segarra? Ok, both of those have fans, so probably they're too close to rank. What about Serpis and Deva? I think, at this point, you could probably get a consensus that Serpis is (to some degree) better. The groupings that I made are ones that I felt people had shown some degree of agreement on.

Of course, the opposite argument is "All of this Spanish stuff is mediocre, so fine distinctions are a waste of time". I agree as far as that goes, but I still think it's helpful for people to have a ranking of sorts when they're going to choose something.

Thanks very much for the comments!

-- Geoff K.

By Don_Walsh on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 03:05 am: Edit

"Expensive" is a very subjective term. You call La Fee 'expensive' but it isn't, it's about $55-$60 retail in UK. And a lot of that is tax. I haven't found it hard to get UK based friends to carry a bottle to me now and again, and I'm in Thailand not USA. One would think that with a little creativity and determination, anyone could do the same.

Likewise you categorize La Bleue as if all LB's are the same, they are not. And LB in Switzerland, IF you know what you are doing and have friends, is $30. IF you mean buying from US resellers, then yes it is expensive. BUT there are other (non US) choices that can get the cost of LB down to same range as say La Fee, if you employ the same techniques that are routinely used to make buying from SC more cost effective -- buy several bottles at a time, to reduce shipping costs per bottle, and get a better net price per bottle. Feedback from the archives ought to help decide whose LB is worth the trouble.

The Jade products are not so unobtainable as you state, the list of people who have been able to sample these is growing steadily -- the NOLA gathering, the UK visit, the Montreal visit and a couple of folks who dropped by here in Bangkok. Anyway we will be on the market and readily available sooner than you might expect. Sorry I can't be more precise, don't even ask.

As to the rest, you seem to be attempting to interpret the archives into a quantitative comparison and that is really tricky and fundamentally flawed. I doubt that Serpis really has that many fans, and I suspect that Mari Mayans has slipped a lot in the last 12-24 months. And very very few people have had the opportunity to taste Larsand, so it is premature to put it on the shelf next to the very popular Segarra.

As to your bottom grouping I would say there we are more in agreement, insofar as the ones I have tasted anyway, and the general run of opinion.

I just don't think you need so may shades of mediocre in between.

So while I thank you for your effort and for placing our products on the Top Shelf, I do question the methodologies and arbitrary stratification further down in the middle.

By Bryan on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 02:25 am: Edit

Looks like you have been doing alot of reading in the archives. One you forgot. Larsand, hard to get but not too expensive. I would put it slightly above the N.S. and Segarra, although I have just recently tried it so maybe time will tell. Personally, Segarra isn't my favorite.

By Geoffk on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 01:31 am: Edit

There was some discussion a little while ago about absinthe rankings and recommendations. I don't think you'll ever get everyone to agree that (say) Serpis is better than Segarra or (say) NS is better than Serpis. On the other hand, eeryone seems to more or less agree on the fact that these three products are in the same general ballpark (as opposed to Jade on one side and Hills on the other). With that in mind, here is a general "category" ranking based on posts that I've read. Note that products within each category are presumed to be roughly equal in quality.

My asbestos undergarments are now in place. Here goes:


This category is nearly perfect absinthe which is basically unavailable (at the moment)
00. Vintage Pernod
00. BEL/Jade

This category is excellent absinth which is mostly unavailable/expensive.
0. La Bleue

This category is very good absithe which is expensive (for US drinkers, also hard to get).
1. La Fee

This category is good, cheap, available, drinkable absinthe with some flaws
2. Segarra
2. NS (50/70)
2. Serpis

This category is fair to good, cheap, available, drinkable absinthe with some more serious flaws
3. Deva (50/70)
3. Heering
3. Marti Mayas

This category is cheap, available absinthe which is mostly drinkable, but seriously flawed.
4. Lasala
4. Montana

This category is unusual, available, flawed and rather expensive absinthe (but still mostly drinkable).
5. Sebor

This list is "absinth"-like products which are generally regarded as not enjoyable at all to drink.
10. Staroplezensky
9. Hills
8. Neto Costa
7. King
6. Schultz
5. Trenet
4. Logan
3. Original
2. Hapsberg
1. Farao
0. Amargo
0. Prague

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