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> Absinthe Helfrich 68%, Reviewed
hartsmar
post Jan 29 2006, 11:05 AM
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Clint Wormwood
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From the manufacturer's website: Absinthe Helfrich is a distilled absinthe, made with merely natural compounds and based on nineteenth century recipes. It is the very first contemporary genuine absinthe that is manufactered in The Netherlands. The rich scent, full taste and spring green colour can be carried back to the use of carefully selected herbs. These herbs have first been macerated in a high quality base alcohol such as has been applied in the Dutch liquor tradition for centuries. The macerate is being distilled, so that unpleasantly bitter and harsh compounds remain in the still while the desired aroma's find their way into the distillate of Helfrich absinthe.

AVERAGE SCORE 81


Reviewed by Wild Bill Turkey 4/16/2007

COLOR BEFORE WATER 8/10
Very attractive natural olive green, not too yellow.

LOUCHE ACTION 8/10
Oil trails for days. This is one I want Moschops to photograph, the oil trails just keep dancing, deep and well-defined, right up until the drink becomes too cloudy to see them. I see what Hartsmar means about the lack of cloudiness, the drink just becomes generally more opaque. But since the oil trails are thick as jello the whole time, I see this as a very entertaining louche.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
Retains a nice lively green tone after water, more towards the olive end, but still not too yellow. Wish I could give it 8.5 here.

AROMA 24/30
Fruity and harmonious. The aroma is tricky to score because it smells very, very good, but not very strong. The aroma is just delicious. To be honest, I wish it tasted more like it smells. Before water, it smelled so good I had to taste it neat. I was glad I did. Not room-filling like the fatter Jades, but so sweet and inviting. The coriander is more evident in the aroma than in the taste, and the wormwoody smell is also fruitier in the aroma than in the taste. Overall, the aroma before and after water is sweeter and more harmonious than the taste.

MOUTH-FEEL 6/10
My bottle doesn't have a back label with instructions to use 4-6 times the water for dilution. I'm glad. I stopped when it looked and tasted best to me, and it was around 3:1. Even so, it seemed a bit thin to me, but I think it's in the character of the drink, not the dilution. The louche wasn't especially thick, and neither is the mouth feel, and virtually no numbing of the toungue.

TASTE 16/20
I taste a lot of quality ingredients hollering for attention. When I first opened this bottle a few weeks back, it read as random spiciness, but since it was so obviously too fresh, I put it away until now.

Now there are more clearly defined tastes, there is a sweet coriander, but not in anything like the quantity found in the Duplais Balance, which this absinthe reminds me of. There's a good strong grand wormwood, and the coloring pontica, which I'm finally beginning to be able to identify, is noticeable in the mix.


OVERALL IMPRESSION 7/10
I would put this absinthe in a group with the Montmartre, Eichelberger, and Balance. But unlike those others, it doesn't have a distinct, defining taste profile. It isn't coriander-driven, like the Balance, or dominated by a quirky taste like cinnamon or pine.

But it's clearly an artistically produced absinthe, using good ingredients and made with skill. There are no bad tastes in this bottle. It seems to lack direction, maybe? It isn't what I'd call balanced, which is fine. The Montmartre isn't "balanced" either, it's a cinnamon bomb. But the Helfrich isn't distinctive in that way. It tastes to me like many great herbs fighting for attention.

But as I said, this is hugely matured compared to the way it tasted to me when I first opened it, and there's every likelihood that it will settle into a more distinctive character with more time.

PERSONAL NOTES
On the G&C scale: Drink it. I'll drink it till it's gone, and then I'll order more.

Wild Bill Turkey scores Absinthe Helfrich 68% 77 out of 100


Reviewed by Bruno Rygseck 4/24/2007

COLOR BEFORE WATER 7/10
Natural olive green, bright and vivid. Clear, no sediment could be seen.

LOUCHE ACTION 8/10
First glass with impatient pour: good solid louche with clouds but not much oil trail play on the surface, nice anyhow. Second glass with more patience: snow-like precipitation, clouds with turbulence and thin oil trails. Very satisfactory.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
Light absinthe green, fully opaque, nice.

AROMA 22/30
Before water: Fruity and appetizing, with distinctive tangerine aroma surrounded by nice wormwood and the other herbs, maybe fennel on the top. After water even more so, fills the room while pouring water.

MOUTH-FEEL 6/10
A little tingling from the spiciness, could be creamier; nice anyhow.

TASTE 16/20
Spicy but clean and balanced, not overloaded with anise. Some fruity citrus (not lemon balm but "real") with some licorice aftertaste, good.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 7/10
Helfrich Verte is a nice and complex absinthe, fruitier in aroma and spicier in taste than many other vertes. It will be interesting to see how aging will affect it.

PERSONAL NOTES
According to the back label this batch was distilled in March 2007.

Bruno Rygseck scores Absinthe Helfrich 68% Verte 74 out of 100


Reviewed by Hartsmar 4/25/2007

COLOR BEFORE WATER 6/10
It could be greener but it's clearly natural and the brown shade could be just my sample .

LOUCHE ACTION 8/10
A nice steady louche which slowly builds up and ends in a nice thick light green green. It only lacks that last bit of reeal creaminess.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
A really nice light green came out of that previously brownish liquid. Nice.

AROMA 26/30
Before water it presents a ver nice, room filling aroma. A nice herbally complex one with fennel, pontica, citrus, wormwood and mint up front. Quite nice.
After water is added the citrus notes come out even more and the mint is also enhanced. Behind that a rather nice wormwood waits to come out.

MOUTH-FEEL 6/10
A nice and full mouth-feel which after a short while gets a bit too "stingy" and with an odd harshness on the tongue. Slightly dry finish but otherwise ok.

TASTE 14/20
The well carried out aroma seems to be just that - aroma. The taste is less well balanced and could definitely use a more mellow approach. There's so much going on and so many herbs and spices that stand out that it simply becomes overwhelming. There is always one or another herb trying to take over... The after-taste is really pleasant though and certainly proves great potential.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 7/10
A nice absinthe with a lot of promise. Personally I think it lacks only that bit of balance to keep the "stronger" herbs in place.

PERSONAL NOTES
With sugar added much of the harshness in the mouth-feel is gone, and also it counters some of the herbs fighting for too much attention. In this case, I think sugar made it better - plain and simple.

Hartsmar scores Helfrich Verte 68% 75 out of 100


Reviewed by absinthist 11/22/2007

COLOR BEFORE WATER 10/10
Very delicate green with slight yellowish haze, very natural and eye-appealing.

LOUCHE ACTION 10/10
Slowly forming, at 1:2 there is very meticulous line left unlouched, whereas the rest is getting in the register of being semi-opaque but in absinthe sense not absenta's. The louche reminds me of one extrait I am fond of. At 1:4 absinthe is ready to be savoured, so messieurs, c'est l'heure!

COLOR AFTER WATER 10/10
It starts as yellowish opal hue which soon transforms to be on greenish side with very tiny gold nuances.

AROMA 25/30
It has very intriguing aroma flying over the glass which gets slighly tonned down after louching. That aroma delivers strong wormwoodiness, some anethole buddies, spiciness that will be discussed later and not obtrusive citrusy note in the end. Aroma is rich, yet subtle; quite unique.

MOUTH-FEEL 9/10
Taken neat, it delivers very likeable alcohol bite, everything is on its place, if the aforementioned spiciness is at that stage too dominant. Taken sans sucre 1:4 it is very nice and foremost, either neat or louched, it is not about aniseed or sweetness, these notes are discrete and do not overpower the herbal punch Helfrich offers.

TASTE 19/20
The spiciness which I believe comes from coriander (but still a nice note, similar to well-made pastis alike), citrus peels and a snitty pontica that wants to be in the front are the main players in that game, if their coach is still that notorious wormwood. The rest of the crew stay in the back, angelica and Roman chamomile enrich each other, but do not let the main orchestra to be silenced.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 10/10
Helfrich absinthe is better than most of commercial offerings due to the simple fact, it is made by a real passionate who knows how to appeal to even the most demanding customer. That absinthe is for connoisseurs who will discover its complexity, finesse and abundance of nuances, I am ashamed of myself I could only track that few herbs used in it, but their place is not changing.

PERSONAL NOTES
Keep it up, Serge!

absinthist scores Helfrich verte 93 out of 100



Reviewed by Green Baron 8/31/2008

COLOR BEFORE WATER 9/10
Extremely clear, almost refractive dark peridot/olive. Natural and beautiful. A touch darker than many quality vertes, but still one of the most gorgeous unlouched colors I?ve yet seen.

LOUCHE ACTION 7/10
Nice cascading tails, some orange and blue highlights that appear in the louche when backed by strong light. Not much layering or cloud roiling action however. Full louche at about 1.5:1.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
Very attractive milky olive with appropriate depth.

AROMA 27/30
Before Water- Foral, vegetal and herbal notes, backed by lemony citrus. After Water- More the same notes that presented themselves neat open up; the floral notes and fresh green herbs, lemon. If the A.A. would be a little more floral and be more detectable in the nose, I would bust out a full 30.

MOUTH-FEEL 8/10
A decent, creamy body is present, but it is not obvious due to the explosion of spicy herbal notes that are all over the pallet. A nice dryness in the finish.

TASTE 19/20
Big, spicy, herbaceous tones upfront with what I can only describe as green fruit and lemon flavors (I?m not sure, but I think I?m experiencing lots of pontica? I've heard folks say they get a lot of Veronica flavor here. Whatever it is, it's snitty in a good way). This is followed by big, assertive, bitter wormwood in the back and finish. I was not expecting the amazing green-powered herbs that were a bit more herby and fruity than ?alpine? to me. It manages to be ?pungent? in the best sense of the word, and is distinctive from the 20+ modern CO?s I?ve tried thus far.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 10/10
Did I mention how herbaceous and green tasting it is? It does have a citrus/sweet vs. bitter contrast, and I suppose it?s possible that it COULD be more balanced. But that might ruin the wonderful, bold herbal complexity. It may not appeal to everyone, but it?s definitely a favorite of mine.

PERSONAL NOTES
Bottle Date 30 March 2008. Bottle opened June 2008, tasted Aug 2008. Louched 3:1 with medium fountain drip and pinch of sugar (aprox 1/8th sugar cube).

Green Baron scores Helfrich Verte 68% 88 out of 100



Reviews below are for the first comercial batch of the Helfrich verte, released December 2005. Average score above reflects score-sheets for the new version only.

AVERAGE SCORE 73


Reviewed by Spoon 01/08/2006

COLOR BEFORE WATER 8/10
The color is vivid but natural-appearing yellow-green, sort of halfway between the color and yellow and green chartreuse. There is no sediment. Slight deduction because it appears more yellow than green, but very attractive color.

LOUCHE ACTION 7/10
Very nice louche. Initially the water drops sink to the bottom and do not readily mix but the liquor remains clear. After some addition, the liquor clouds quickly and there is no separation line after about 1:1 dilution. There is a gradient, opaque at the bottom and translucent at the top. I diluted about 1:2.5 using a very slow drip from a fountain with ice and spring water and no sugar.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
Fully louched, it is nearly opaque, a creamy yellowish-green color. It is bright and attractive but not spectacular.

AROMA 20/30
Before adding water I can smell a nice grape alcohol with wormwood and other floral notes.
After adding water the alcohol recedes, and there is a pleasant herbal floral scent but it doesn’t bloom quite as much as I would like. There is no trace of funk or unpleasantness.

MOUTH-FEEL 7/10
Nice and full, not at all watery but it could be creamier.

TASTE 16/20
The taste is clean, crisp and refreshing. The flavors are well blended and harmonious, and no herb is overdone. Even with the melissa and tangerine, the citrus notes are fairly subtle. Up front the taste is floral, but the finish is very dry. A lovely dry herbal wormwoody taste remains on the tongue a long time. The taste is better than the aroma, at least for me on this occasion.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 8/10
A very nice absinthe which I would definitely buy if it were more readily available. Rather spectacular for a first effort, and I congratulate our friend Helfrich.

PERSONAL NOTES
Browsing a few reviews others have done for other absinthes, I realize I have been more critical and stingy with points than others. Let me make clear, I like this absinthe very much, and would highly recommend it. Perhaps I over-penalized on aroma and taste.

Spoon scores Absinthe Helfrich 68% 74 out of 100


Reviewed by Hartsmar 2/7/2006

COLOR BEFORE WATER 8/10
Green olive-tint. Perfectly green. Quite nice.

LOUCHE ACTION 7/10
A slowly rising louche which ends up just fine but there could be a bit more "action" to it. It just louches and sort of lacks the weird cloudy patterns building up. Either way the result is very nice.

COLOR AFTER WATER 8/10
Still a nice color leaning a bit too much to yellow to get another point though.

AROMA 22/30
Before water, a fine blooming fruityness from wormwood mixed with fennel which makes me want to drink it right away. After adding water it's still there but it flattens a bit. A nice herbal complexity though.

MOUTH-FEEL 5/10
This is where I was disappointed. I was expecting more but it was a bit too harsh and spicy for me. It didn't quite fit in the aroma profile.

TASTE 16/20
The spicyness sort of reminds of the Montmartre and the Duplais only not quite as well balanced. There's a more bitter finish to it but not actually a bad bitterness.

OVERALL IMPRESSION 6/10
Pretty good with much potential. It needs some work to be more balanced but otherwise ok.
Note that with some sugar added the part that I found a bit too harsh was mellowed out.

Hartsmar scores Absinthe Helfrich 68% 72 out of 100


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zachM
post Jan 29 2006, 11:13 AM
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If only I could find a sample.


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hartsmar
post Feb 7 2006, 08:47 PM
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Clint Wormwood
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Updated...


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Helfrich
post Feb 26 2006, 08:53 PM
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Hey Hartsmar, where on earth did you obtain your sample? And from which batch was it taken?


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Steve
post Feb 26 2006, 10:01 PM
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I sent the sample to Hartsmar, so it was the same 02 DEC 2005 batch.

If I were reviewing it again, it would score several points higher. I think I liked it a little better than Hartsmar did, and I would definitely buy it.
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hartsmar
post Feb 26 2006, 10:30 PM
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Yes, I got it from Spoon.

I did like it and I would buy it if I could, no doubt. There were a few things that I would like to see change but that might be my personal taste... I don't know how much you have to do with the actual process of distilling but I think a few parts of the process could need work and the balance of the flavor could be just a little improved.

Those are things that caused me to lower the scores a little bit. With that in mind I still think that it can go a long way after a couple of batches and with minor changes to the ratio of the different ingredients.

To do a deeper analysis I would have to get a full bottle which I would like to. I just need someone to sell it online already.

Helfrich, this is a good product absolutely but I feel it would benefit from some work as described above.


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Helfrich
post Feb 27 2006, 02:15 PM
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I'm hardly involved in the distillation process. I brought in some knowledge and a recipe -- that's about it. After a fairly good first batch last October the distiller started to apply his own insights (or whatever) and the product steadily went downhill, as the distillate became meagre and the balance was disturbed, to reach its lowest point in January when I decided to withhold it from online distribution. The latest batches are significantly better but still not fully satisfactory.

Meanwhile I am looking for a possibility to improve the production process of the commercial Verte. Actually I've already found it, but we are still awaiting approval by the Dutch authorities.



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hartsmar
post Feb 27 2006, 02:40 PM
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Ah, sounds good.


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jacal01
post Feb 28 2006, 05:38 AM
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Helfrich-
Do you happen to know if there are any retail outlet bottles of the present run still available in Amsterdam?
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Helfrich
post Feb 28 2006, 10:28 AM
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Sure, you can find them here: http://www.helfrichabsinthe.com/index.php?link=verkoop (the page is in Dutch but you'll easily pick out the addresses).


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jacal01
post Mar 1 2006, 02:46 AM
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Well, my friend tried Slijterij Ton Overmars, and they didn't have it. He didn't get out to Slijterij Menno Boorsma, being too far "outside the loop" from his house. I was just wondering if you had any personal experience or knew of any other shops near the inner city that might also carry it.
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Helfrich
post Mar 2 2006, 10:56 PM
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Sorry, I'm afraid your friend is raving. Ton Overmars does carry it.


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jacal01
post Mar 3 2006, 03:57 AM
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Hmmm... Thanks.
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Steve
post Mar 3 2006, 05:34 AM
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My friend got it at Overmars, if that's the place near-ish to the Museumplein. He said they had a really great selection of wine too.
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jacal01
post Mar 3 2006, 04:32 PM
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My friend is sticking to his guns. Also says that Overmars is not exactly "near-ish" to the Museumplein, either, that it's a good mile, and on foot a fairly hefty hike from where he lives.

Is absinthe like an "undercounter" sale there, where you have to be a local customer in good standing, and not some suspicious looking foreigner who can't even speak Dutch, much less get the g's to roll fluently? wink.gif
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