Marteau de la Belle Epoque
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Country of Origin: USA
Alcohol Level: 68 %
Vendors: ♣ DrinkUpNY
Description: According to the manufacturer: MARTEAU Belle Époque is made exactly as those of the very best absinthe houses of the 19th century. The traditional anise flavor, supported by robust wormwood, is delicately balanced with other botanicals resulting in a mature and seductive flavor.
Reviewed by Donnie Darko 2/6/2009
COLOR BEFORE WATER 8/10
Green turning to bronze. Not bright or vivacious but pretty.
LOUCHE ACTION 8/10
The louche starts as a misting which gets denser and then substantially dense by about 2.5:1. I wouldn't call the louche "slow and beautiful" as the evaluation guidelines require, but it's respectable in its own right.
COLOR AFTER WATER 9/10
A thick yellowish green, pleasing to the eye. Not luminous but more bright than murky.
Neat, it smells clean with a hint of smooth error-free grape based spirit. Beneath that is an unorthodox musty smell that is reminiscent more of funeral home than of beverage to my nose. Louched, there is some alcohol heat followed by that same peculiar smell I noticed neat, which must be due to an ingredient with which I am unfamiliar. It's not bad at all, just odd. There is no hint of any process problems, and while smelling pleasant overall, it is not room filling nose candy. The best part of the aroma is what smells like wormwood flowers.
While there is more alcohol bite than one would expect at the normal dilution, that subsides and then one gets a sort of velvety spread across the tongue which is pleasant. I think this smoothness must be owed to the grape spirit.
The wormwood in Marteau is very good, among the best quality I have tasted in a US legal absinthe so far. The wormwood is good not only because it tastes like wormwood but because it is quite nuanced, featuring minty, floral and musky aspects of the plant while avoiding being strident or exceedingly bitter. The other herbs, while all seemingly of respectable quality, play 2nd chair to the wormwood. And that peculiar thing in the aroma is there in the taste too, which I guess is Iris, though only because the website mentions it as an ingredient. Having tasted iris/orris in other beverages, this odd flavor I'm picking up on seems different than what I'd normally identify as Orris. The aftertaste is good, lingering on the tongue and becoming soft and smooth as it dissipates.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 8/10
The upside of this absinthe is that it is well made. The downside is that it lacks balance, with the wormwood pushing the other nuances to the side. I also find that peculiar flavor, which I assume to be Iris/Orris, out of place in this drink, though it certainly makes it unique. I have no idea how old the sample I received is, so perhaps it will settle down with age. The wormwood really is excellent quality though. It's nice that this absinthe doesn't shy away from its pre-ban ancestors that unapologetically featured wormwood. The wormwood and smooth dynamic aftertaste make this pleasant overall and drinkable.
This is based on a sample of the new Marteau I received, not the Matter version.
Donnie Darko scores Marteau (US Version) 83 out of 100
Reviewed by absinthist 3/13/2009
COLOR BEFORE WATER 5/10
Very pale green with yellowish tinges. Should be darker assuming the strength. This is the second absinthe today that seems to suffer from faint colouration. Still a tad darker than Vieux Pontarlier I have reviewed before. The pics of Marteau I have seen show olive green goodie.
LOUCHE ACTION 7/10
Very delicate with a nice unlouched film on top. Me likes. Could be thicker.
COLOR AFTER WATER 9/10
Appropriate. Doesn't contain too much of chalkiness or unnatural appearance.
Interesting-melissa married with something that smells like veronica but with a woody, rooty edge to it. It might be the orris root since it is the herb I am not familiar with. There is something floral in the aroma.
Spicy and rounded. Wormwoody and spirituous.
1:2.5 is enough to grasp the potential nuances. The mysterious herb from the aroma is getting more prominent in the taste. Hyssop is nicely pronounced, wormwood is not silenced, anethole buddies seem to be where they belong. Yet there is a long lingering spiciness that makes the initial attack be just a bit too heavy.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 7/10
Not a typically traditional absinthe, but not a skrewed unnatural one as well. Some herbs which are prominent neat get slightly muted when louched, but do not disappear. I like the spiciness in the back and that there is wormwood, I cannot get accustomed to the strong aroma's herb, maybe a bit less of it would help polish the balance. Me and Hiram hardly ever agree but this is absinthe, the herb-bill is intriguing and it is worth trying, obviously not for that price.
absinthist scores Marteau de la Belle Epoque 74 out of 100