King of Spirits
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Country of Origin: Czech Republic
Type: Mixed & Macerated
Alcohol Level: 60 %
Vendors: ♣ Absinthes.com
Description: According to http://www.laboheme.uk.com/ : "Developed from an original Swiss absinthe recipe this Czech absinthe is free of colorings and preservatives. All the essential ingredients and herbs are carefully selected and processed to ensure the unique taste of Absinthe. The delicate process of maceration continues with the presence of herbs (the main one being wormwood) in the bottle."
The following text was submitted to an online poll at the Fee Verte Forum, and then later at the Wormwood Society Forum as well. As of November 15, 2006, 84 members participated in the poll, of whom 93% agreed wholeheartedly, or with only minor reservations, that the text accurately reflected their view of KOS/KOSG. The actual numbers were: agreed wholeheartedly - 72 members or 85%, agreed with minor reservations 9 members or 8%. So it's fair to say this text represents the collective view of our online absinthe community.
King of Spirits (KOS) and King of Spirits Gold (KOSG)
These “absinthes” deserve a special entry, because they’re very aggressively marketed online as “the ultimate”, "the original as drunk by Toulouse Lautrec and Hemingway”, the “only authentic absinthes”. They’re none of these things – on the contrary, they are, in the near unanimous opinion of the hundreds of regular posters both here and in the other independent online absinthe forums, precisely two of the most notorious ersatz products in the entire industry.
To put this in plain language: these absinthes, amongst the most expensive on the market, and certainly the most heavily promoted online, are in reality almost undrinkable, and bear little if any relation to the taste of real absinthe.
KOS and KOSG give the appearance of being widely recommended - dozens of websites and countless blogs mention them, and even supply links to purchase them, giving the impression of a broad consensus as to their quality. It’s not usually clear to the casual viewer that these references are almost always linked to the affiliate programs run by the vendors of KOS and KOSG.
Neither at this, nor at any other well-known, independent absinthe discussion-and-review website are you likely to find even one positive review for these products (this includes sites in France, Sweden and Germany). There are arguments for and against many different brands, and people who strongly favor brands that are otherwise unpopular. But there are no positive reviews for KOS or KOSG on any of these sites. There are no stubborn fans who defend them there, yet many tasters of all stripes who revile them. Why is the consensus here at Fee Verte, and at the other leading absinthe forums that KOS and especially KOSG are to be avoided?
1. The contain little or no anise, which is the primary flavour in absinthe. Absinthe without anise isn’t absinthe, or at least not absinthe as it was ever understood in France or Switzerland.
2. KOS and KOSG are arguably even less authentic than most other Czech absinthes, almost all of which are totally inauthentic. At no time during the Belle Epoque did any absinthe, whether distilled or mixed from essences, naturally or artificially colored, cheap or expensive, contain wormwood leaves or other herbal matter floating in the bottle, as do KOS and KOSG. The best distillers of the time knew better than to refine a bitter plant into a soft, palatable drink, only to ruin the drink by dumping the unrefined plant back into the finished bottle. The less-reputable producers also knew better – gimmicks to sell a product were often seen, but vegetable debris in the bottle would have been so obvious a hallmark of low quality that not even the most disreputable dared attempt such a thing.
3. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. KOS and KOSG are not merely bland, or dull, or a little too bitter – they are frightfully bitter, weird-tasting stuff, to the point of being undrinkable. They’re much easier to spit out than to swallow.
4. King of Spirits Gold appears to be the same foul tasting stuff as KOS, but with the thujone boosted to levels that make it illegal to sell in the EU. It’s sold at nearly twice the price of the finest genuine absinthes. There is no historical precedent for the addition of extra thujone to absinthe, and the most scrupulous recent scientific research has confirmed that vintage absinthe had very little thujone, typically less than 10mg/l. thujone won’t, even in high doses, make you trip, hallucinate, or have any significant drug-like experience. In short, to buy an absinthe with expectation of getting high is to be sure of wasting your money. As the most aggressive online promoter of the bogus thujone myth, KOSG deserves special censure. Read our FAQ for lots more on thujone. See also “What’s wrong with Czech Absinthe” (http://www.wormwoodsociety.org/czech.html) by our friends at the Wormwood Society.
We’d have no problem with KOS and KOSG if they were truthfully marketed for what they are: rather eccentric Eastern European bitters. But to claim, as they do, that they are authentic absinthes, and indeed the ne plus ultra of their type, is a travesty. Avoid them.
Absinthe King of Spirits at Absinthes.com
Reviewed by Gertz 3/19/2005
COLOR BEFORE WATER 5/10
A pale, not very intense green. Not artificial-looking, though.
LOUCHE ACTION 0/10
COLOR AFTER WATER 1/10
A paler shade of the color before water. As mentioned, no louche; the one point is for not looking artificial.
Mostly bad alcohol, with only the slightest hint of some other indefinable chemicals. A few points because the bad things could be more pronounced.
Bitter with bitter and a long-lingering bitter aftertaste. Positively hard to swallow. After five or ten minutes, a slight hint of flavor from bad alcohol shines through the bitterness. Sugar only helps in amounts huge enough to completely mask any other taste.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 0/10
To be avoided at all costs.
Gertz scores Absinth - King of Spirits 13 out of 100.
Reviewed by Bruno Rygseck 4/5/2011
COLOR BEFORE WATER 4/10
Grayish weak green with fennel-seed like herbal particles, certain natural appeal it does have.
LOUCHE ACTION 1/10
Weak louche with slow pour where the seedy fennels turdbulently danced.
COLOR AFTER WATER 1/10
Transparent hazy weak grayish yellow green.
Neat or louched, stomach-upsetting fishy old soaked fennel aroma without anything else.
Bitterness overrides any other mouthfeel sensations.
Disturbingly bitter without any herbal character or sweetness.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 0/10
Bruno Rygseck scores King of Spirits 7 out of 100