Reviews written by Ron
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||4.0|
Before louche: Rating the color gave me a bit of a hard time, but only because the system is really set up to score traditional greens and whites. But, as I understand it, this absinthe is completely naturally colored. It's a beautiful amber, bordering on that feulle morte we love so much about century old absinthes. It's perfectly clear, and free of any sediment. Taking all of that into consideration, I'm giving it a perfect score for replicating a pristine pre-ban look.
After louche: Perfect. Maintains the look of the dead leaf color while adding hints of gold and brown.
Comes along at just the right time. Starts building nicely around 1:1 and layers around 2:1. By 3:1, it's fully louched and beautiful. Opaque, sure, but as noted above there are hints of gold and brown, with the overall feulle morte still being the dominant color. Wisps of olive toward the top, which has more to do with light than it does the absinthe.
Comparing this to an authentic pre-ban absinthe is a double-edged sword, but this is an attempt to recreate a pre-ban style, so here we go. While Stefano has managed to capture essences of the correct aromas, there is just no getting around the fact that this absinthe is young. This bottle was a distiller's proof of the commercial release, so it has the benefit of a little age, but nowhere near 100 years. As such, there is a little heat on the nose from the alcohol, which distracts from the brilliant stuff. Talking of which, the best part about the aroma is that luxurious old leather. Slightly powdery, which is something I love. Nicely perfumed. Not a standard profile, in terms of a really forward anise, but this isn't a standard absinthe. The aroma highlights the wormwood more prominently, and the anise takes a back seat to the leather. Rather earthy and calm, with nothing screaming for attention. If it weren't for the heat, I would rate this a perfect score.
I can taste every many of the similarities that Stefano tried to recreate from pre-ban absinthes. But the first thing I taste is a bit of astringency (not spiciness), which isn't necessarily pleasant. I wanted to make sure it wasn't the alcohol I was tasting, so I added a little more water, no more than 4:1. However, the slight astringency was still there. It doesn't taste like process to me, and certainly not tails. It's definitely something in the herb bill. Sort of a menthol flavor, but not minty. Setting that aside, there is a smoothness and creaminess that is very, very enjoyable with the rest of the flavors. One of the things that pre-ban absinthe has going for it is a hundred years of melding flavors. Some of those flavors surely can't be recreated, as such, but the creator is in the ballpark with all of them. There is also a really good balance of sweet and bitter, vegetal/herbal and floral. I taste a smokiness that is rather enjoyable, which is reminiscent of toasted oak. One could easily imagine this absinthe as being aged in enormous casks.
Absolutely the right amount of numbing, for the right amount of time. It doesn't linger unnecessarily. It's actually replaced by a creamy and delicious mouthfeel. Exhaling brings back many of the best aspects of this absinthe.
Oddly enough, the only thing this pre-ban clone really needs is...more age! Nearly perfect.
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||2.0|
Thank the stars I only bought one bottle
I finally opened my bottle, so it had the benefit of a half year of aging. I was looking forward to being surprised, and surprised I was. As this has a lower abv, I went with less water.
Color: It's clear. What can I say. Good job?
Louche: Started almost instantly with the first drop. Pretty telling. Oddly, even with less water it eventually began to thin out. Not the best I've seen, but certainly not the worst.
Aroma: Huge strike here. Smelled ridiculously weird in the bottle. I thought perhaps the wax around he bottle top was throwing me off, so I poured it out neat and gave it a LONG smell test. Unpleasant is the best way to describe it. Quite possibly tails. Also, it had an odd aroma that reminded me of the oregano tea I prepare when I'm making chili. It's certainly not oregano, but that's what it reminded me of. Just very unpleasant for an absinthe. Could have very easily received a 1 rating from me based on the scoring criteria, but I didn't think it was that bad.
Flavor: Whereas the aroma was ridiculously weird, the flavor was just plain ridiculous. I literally laughed, almost spitting my drink out on my drinking companion. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was a joke. It tasted bitter in the back of the throat and had the distinct flavor of black jelly beans. Absolutely nothing remarkable (in a good way) when I gave it a very long taste. And just to make sure, I struggled down TWO glasses back to back. I honestly wanted it to be better, and gave it much more of a chance than I've given other absinthes which have offended my senses. I can't say anything other than "unpleasant" again here, and this also could have been a 1 based on the scoring criteria.
Finish: Hung around way too long, a little oily and pretty numbing. The only reason I'm not giving this a 1 is because I have tasted worse.
Overall: Quite possibly my least favorite blanche to date. I reviewed St. Antoine last year and rated it down the middle, but after tasting the Edward III, I may go upwardly revise my review of St. Antoine because it's that much better than E3. It's quite good that there was so little E3 made, methinks. I'll probably give it another go in a year to see if more age helps it.
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||3.0|
v. 3 - Middle of the road
Color: The color was nice and natural. Olive with a little straw, and perfectly clear. For a verte, and for being only a few months old, I would expect a bit more green, but nonetheless, it's very nice.
Louche: I loved that the louche was a really nice bottom-up with lovely trails that gradually thickened. However, before even reaching a 1:1 ratio, it was almost completely louched. So a little quick, and ended a little thick. Perhaps the star anise.
Aroma: For me, this was an easy decision to rate. Uncapped, there was very little aroma. While louching, there was certainly no room-filling aroma, but even at 12 inches away, I still couldn't smell anything. After sticking my nose deep into the glass and really pulling in a scent, I was barely able to get much aroma at all. Odd. This changed when the drink warmed up some, and could have been a 3 if it smelled the same at the start. But no other absinthes I've tried have presented so little aroma, which made this rating somewhat easy for me.
Flavor: I gave this a 3 because it just didn't have anything at all that I would call home about. It didn't present anything dramatically, except for the wormwood and a bit of sweetness. They weren't entirely balanced, but aside from that there was a sort of emptiness to the flavor.
Finish: There was quite a bit of numbing here, and it lasted for some time. But otherwise unremarkable.
Overall: Aroma only presented itself as the drink warmed, and the louche was between a 3 and 4 for me. I think tweaking the recipe in these two areas would up the ratings by 1 in each of those rated areas, which would bring the overall up. But as is, the best I can honestly rate this absinthe is basically right down the middle. It's definitely not bad. Not at all. But it could be better, and I'm looking forward to tasting the next batch.