Color should be CLEAR, BRIGHT and NATURAL LOOKING.
Clear (BLANCHE) and Green (VERTE) are the two classic colors, but other colors such as orange or red are also acceptable.
VINTAGE ABSINTHES may have faded to an amber brown.
A light haze should be penalized, as should be any excessive sediment or obvious plant material. Old vintage absinthes will usually have thrown a slight sediment.
An unnatural ARTIFICIAL LOOKING COLOR – neon or fluorescent tones – is NOT acceptable, and should be heavily penalized.
A SLOW, BEAUTIFUL LOUCHE is desirable.
An artificially fast or instantaneous louche may be penalized.
If the glass is left to stand for a time the absinthe must stay louched – ie it must not partially or entirely re-clarify.
COLOR AFTER WATER
After addition of up to 3 parts ice water (the exact amount at the taster’s discretion) the absinthe should be PARTIALLY TRANSLUCENT OR ALMOST OPAQUE.
Points should be deducted if the absinthe it is still fairly clear and transparent after the addition of water.
The louched color should have COMPLEXITY and NUANCE.
The nose should be sampled both BEFORE and AFTER adding water.
COMPLEXITY AND HERBAL INTEREST are important.
Fresh green anise on the nose is good, excessive star anise is not.
Points may be deducted for some non-herbal characteristics – eg obtrusive citrus or grassy notes – although floral notes are generally desirable.
Any smells indicative of distillation problems (muddy swampy smells, wood alcohol smell) should be heavily penalized.
Note that this excludes taste, and refers only to the feel of the drink on the tongue. THE MOUTH-FEEL SHOULD BE FULL AND RICH.
The flavor should be CLEAN, CRISP AND REFRESHING.
There should be NO TRACE OF PROBLEMS ARISING FROM IMPROPER DISTILLATION.
There should be no excessive sweetness, NOR ANY EXCESSIVE BITTERNESS (sometimes indicative of the use of artemesia absinthium in the coloring step – or Ordinaire’s Blunder as it’s technically known).
The drink should have a classic absinthe character:
REFRESHING, SUBTLE, COMPLEX, HARMONIOUS.