Swiss La Bleue, circa 2001 - pre-legalisation
Alcohol Level: 54 %
Description: Prior to re-legalisation in Switzerland there was a lot of clandestine distillers operating. Some of their products made it outside of the Val-de-Travers and were famous for their good taste and high quality.
Neuchâtel is in the Western, French speaking part of Switzerland. This Absinth can't be purchased in any shop but only privately through friends of friends... The annual production is estimated to be around 20,000 bottles and you will pay around CHF 50 for 1 litre. (USD 30).
La Bleue -- 54-56% alcohol (tested with my trusty Proof Hydrometer).
This is a review of Betina's La Bleue. The vast majority of the product that she's selling will come from the same distiller in the Val-de-Travers, so this review should be broadly applicable.
Straight, seems that this absinthe is totally unsweetened, though there is the slim possibility that there is a tiny amount of sugar, which would render the alcohol concentration above inaccurate. The straight color is virtually crystal clear with negligable hints of yellow, and the aroma is pure anise. The straight flavor is fractionally bitter, but lacking the woodiness of absinthe with a strong coloration step.
When water is added the aroma comes into broad bloom, sharp and clean smelling, moderately anise, but almost fruity, Very fresh with the slighest hint of sourness. The color once louched is milky white, with a gray core (though the imagination could easily imbue it with the quality of blue-sky breaking through storm-clouds). There is good separation as the water drips into the drink, almost as pronounced as Mari Mayans 70%.
The flavor is mild, fresh, and broadly anise with good roundness in the mouth. It's less complex than Deva, which has the back of the mouth woodiness which is added by it's good coloration step. Overall it's texture and flavor are similar to the standard Mari Mayans, but fresher tasting, the quote about bottled summer/spring leaps to mind. It is floral tasting (in that it tastes like the scent of fresh cut flowers), but in a less complex way than the very best Spanish brands. While it lacks a certain woody fullness, which is imparted by the coloration step, it more than makes up for it with it's stunning crisp clean aromas.
After one glass -- I was very present, after two -- extremely present, after three -- stone-cold sober and very light sensitive, and after four -- I was starting to have difficulty with spacial relationships, but was still very mentally focussed. Based on that personal experience, I'd guess that it's quite high in thujone, at least as potent as Deva, if not more so.
All-in-all a delicious example of La Bleu that competes favorably with the best Spanish brands.