Reviews written by Anstis LaPointe
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||3.0|
Better Than Lucid, But. ...
My review is mostly a comparison with Lucid, since these are the only half-real absinthes available in most all New Jersey liquor stores. I must either travel to NYC or order mail order to get high-quality absinthe here.
Color: The color is a nice bright green, but it's artificial and that fact is reflected in my score.
Louche: Very nice louche, oily trails take time clouding up into an opaque, lime green color. Good show.
Aroma: Hot alcohol aroma from bottle, but anise and lemon balm (?) seem quite apparent. Not unpleasant.
Flavor: I haven't tried it neat, but louched the citrusy flavor is pleasant when compared with Lucid. I taste some wormwood, certainly anise and lemon balm (?).
Finish: Better than Lucid, which seems to insist on using an inferior beet liquor base that causes terrible hangovers. Citrusy notes linger and are quite pleasant. No bad aftertaste but strong alcohol flavor stays on the tongue along with some wormwood flavor. Pleasant "secondary" feeling.
Overall: I hate Lucid, even though I gave it about a "C" for its naturalness. Maybe I'm personally allergic to some of the ingredients of Lucid? I don't know, but Pernod has better flavor and the liquor seems cleaner. I know there are "natural flavors" added and the artificial coloring is obvious to see, but to me it still beats Lucid for flavor, after effect, side effects and secondary "buzz." Need a good sugar cube to cut bitterness. It is over-priced though. For something mass produced, it shouldn't cost more than $4o, unless they're not telling us something we should know about the ingredients. Maybe it's my mood, maybe it's because I just took an allergy pill, but I like this. It deserves at least three points overall.
Last updated: April 26, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||5.0|
Underrated â€” Different, Very Natural and Tasty
Color: A nice greenish amber. Very nice. After louche, a thick completely opaque green, not the most attractive, but I am not bothered by this.
Louche: Some nice oil trails end quickly with a thick cloud-forming louche. Drink ends up quite opaque. Not as delightful as say, Pacifique or Absinthe Duplais Verte, but so what? The show is only a small part for me.
Aroma: Wonderfully complex. Peppery basil up front, some sweetness from a very high quality brandy. Non-offensive, classic brandy/alcohol odor, but it's clearly not overpowering.
Flavor: The very nice combination of the herbs listed on the label â€” "Star Anise, Mint, Wormwood, Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Meadowsweet, Basil, Fennel, Tarragon, and Stinging Nettles" â€” would seem to be all apparent; admittedly, I forget what Meadowsweet tastes like. This is an original recipe and I think it's very special. Certainly, the star anise, mint, lemon balm, basil and fennel are apparent, and the wormwood, which I tend to feel more than taste is certainly apparent. The fact that this is an original American recipe should be celebrated. What makes it sooooo American? The stinging nettles. It's native plant. (It's also native in other areas of the world, too). I consider St. George Absinthe Verte to be on a par with Pacifique, only different. Pacifique is an excellent American take on the classic French absinthe. It's the most "French" of the absinthes that I've tasted, even considering some supposedly authentic French ones. But this St. George has fine qualities, and would seem to go better with Italian food than anything I've tried. I'm not thinking red sauce, but perhaps sauteÃ©d garlic, olive oil and then fresh Parmesan cheese over linguine, with a side arugula salad? It would be fab no doubt. St. George is a superior spirit in general â€” and it IS true absinthe!
Finish: One is not left with as intense of a wormwood numbness after imbibing St. George, as compared with some of the other higher rated brands. But sometimes such an overpowering feeling is not desired. The herbs are fresh and clean and leave no bad aftertaste. The brandy is quite fine. Very good, but could it possibly benefit from a bit more grand wormwood? Too much wormwood is not desirable for me!
Overall: What the heck, there is no 4.5 score here, so I'm going to give it a 5. It's just a very fine drink engineered apparently by a true master. Very clean and fresh, the herbs are all tasty, apparent and desirable. The brandy is absolutely fine. This is an American original! I'm much more impressed than I thought I would be based on the reviews of others. More grand wormwood might help it slightly, but it's debatable point. I am not complaining one bit! Thank you Mr. Winters.
Final note: Drink was prepared in an absinthe glass with brouillier at about 3:1 dilution. Two "dot" sugar cubes were used, but one might do. Sweeten to your own taste. St. George is not so good when it is over-diluted, and it needs at least some sugar to more fully bring out its unique and excellent flavors. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Last updated: April 17, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||5.0|
No Blues with 'Clandestine La Bleue'
Prepared 1:4 with small "dot"-sized sugar cube. Pontalier-style glass with matching brouilleur (dripper)
Color: Perfectly crystal clear pre-louche; after louche I would not consider this particularly creamy, but very nice opalescence and blue tints are impressive.
Louche: Great oil trails, but it doesn't last long. It's better to start with quite a slow drip to catch the "show." A billowing cloud appears in center of liquid after some time, and it's an impressive development.
Aroma: Very nice balance of the "trinity" with clear floral notes. Quite a fresh, natural aroma of mountain herbs and flowers. No alcohol odor present in bottle or glass.
Flavor: Fresh floral notes shine through the "trinity" superbly. Some vanilla notes, but nothing like Absinthe Duplais Blanche. Not too sweet, excellent balance of flavor. Hints of rose petals?
Finish: Flavors linger fresh with no bitter aftertaste. Grain alcohol quality is fine (no hangover after five glasses), wonderful fresh mountain floral complex stays with you. Different than Absinthe Duplais Blanche, better than KÃ¼bler.
Overall: Very, very good. Another one I must always have in my liquor cabinet.
Next day note (April 17, 2010): Sugar is not a must for La Clandestine. The natural balance of sweetness and bitter notes is wonderful. Sweeten only if you must.
Last updated: April 12, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||5.0|
The True 'French'-Style Absinthe I Was Waiting For
Color: Pacifique Absinthe Verte Superieure has a nice clear green color with yellow hints pre-louche; nice greenish opalescent color when louched, some pepper (?) sediment on top. Looks perfectly like a glass of fine, classic French absinthe.
Louche: Very nice oil trails take their time for a fine show. Once clouds start to form it louches quickly, but there's still some complexity there. Classic layer of clear green liquor on top of louche. Quite nice.
Aroma: Once you get passed the alcohol odor the "trinity" has a fresh fragrance. Other herbs are noticeable, too. Some pepper, light vanilla notes, add to a quality fragrance. Pacifique Absinthe Verte Superieure also contains angelica, coriander, hyssop, melissa and petite wormwood imparting a well-rounded herbal flavor.
Flavor: Nice grain spirit imparts no bad taste or aftertaste. "Trinity" is good and balanced, what most reasonable people would want from a French-style absinthe. Perfectly good, herbs taste fresh ... but could the "trinity" benefit from being be slightly stronger? I haven't tasted a better French-style verte, so I stand by my rating here.
Finish: Very fine, wormwood coats the tongue nicely but is not overwhelming. Other ingredients come together nicely. No ill aftereffects. Another good, clean grain spirit base that does not interfere with the stars of the show, the fresh herbs, some of which are allegedly organically grown at the distiller's estate.
Overall: Pacifique has earned a fan. I would like to have some of this on hand at all times. It is THE absinthe now commercially available in the USA that is closest to the true 19th century French style â€” and the herb complex is most fresh. "Il est sans parallÃ¨le." Once again, with this absinthe there is no hangover after drinking reasonable quantities because of "clean" quality of the grain alchohol base. Thank you Pacifique for a superior experience.
Last updated: April 17, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||5.0|
As Good as Duplais' Blanche, But More Complex
From first taste of Absinthe Duplais Verte it is immediately understood that it is essentially Absinthe Duplais Blanche that's been put through a second distillation process with macerated herbs for the verte color and added flavor complexity.
Color: Before louching the color of Absinthe Duplais Verte is a lovely fresh green, and not yellow at all. It looks to be a "clear," pure green ... simply pristine and what I'd hope to expect from a recent offering of a verte. No sediment â€” A slight sediment doesn't bother me, but it is undetectable here. Again, this is what I would consider a very "clean" Absinthe verte. After loucheing the color turns to a fresh yellow-green. You see the "Green Lady" that is the filled, ready-to-drink glass, and it's quite pleasing.
Louche: The louche is good. Complex oil trails into the green liquor provide a nice complex show, louche is not slow but takes its time well enough to see pleasant cloud swirling formation before full louche. Ends with layer of clear-green liquor on surface, as may be expected is from a quality absinthe verte.
Aroma: Anise and fennel dominate with some hints of vanilla or a vanilla-like tasting herb. Bottle has strong alcohol odor, which is to be expected since Absinthe Duplais Verte is 68 percent alcohol. Excellent aroma in the glass, a fresh "trinity" is there plus vanilla notes and some natural sweetness from the herbs. Some alcohol aroma, as it is 68 percent alcohol afterall.
Flavor: The vanilla or vanilla-like notes are tamer here than it is with the Duplais' Blanche version. Rather, the difference seems to be in the second distillation process; the added herbs complete a more complex flavor, making it not as sweet and a tad more bitter than the Blanche version. Excellent.
Finish: Strong alcohol content leaves behind an imperfect taste, but still not bad. Strong alcohol content also preserve the freshness of the herbs and the truly exceptional green color (the chlorophyll â€” it is alive! it seems). Very fresh taste of anise, fennel and grand wormwood. Tongue is left quite numb.
Overall: Another high-quality product from Duplais. I also consider the quality of the alcohol. After five drinks last night I woke up with zero hangover, which tells me that the grain spirit is of high-quality and is "clean." (Disclosure: I'm particularly hangover-prone. If I don't get a hangover from five drinks, then the spirit is no doubt quite pristine.) The norm should still be five Absinthe drinks maximum, I wouldn't push it but, nonetheless, this is an impressive drink. It's up there with Pacifique for me.
Final note: This is strange for me because I think Absinthe Duplais Verte is one of the best, but Absinthe Duplais Blanche is THE finest blanche on the American market, insofar as I know. The Duplais Verte reminds me of its blanche base. Simply put, I'm not certain if I desire to mix both worlds. This is a great drink and I will have some on hand for guests and myself on occasion, but I hope to drink Absinthe Duplais Blanche on a more regular basis, especially when it's warm and sunny outside. I may prefer Pacifique slightly as the "go-to" verte. But when I want to show a newcomer to absinthe a fine example of a traditional green, "Green Lady," then I will bring this one out. Absinthe Duplais Verte is very refined, top-shelf classic verte, a better introduction for beginners than anything I can think of and satisfying to those who know absinthe.
Update April 16, 2010: The score remains the same, but I reverse my sentiments slightly. The Absinthe Duplais Verte is more the go-to absinthe for regular use, and the Absinthe Duplais Blanche is more of a special occasion drink, when "sweets for the sweet" are in order. Absinthe Duplais Verte is a great, somewhat unusual absinthe. The vanilla notes, while less apparent than in the blanche version, make it different than anything else on the market, but it is still something I would find satisfying most any time I desire absinthe. It's good to have both this and Pacifique on hand. Pacifique satisfies when you truly desire the classic 19th century French Absinthe taste made from the highest quality herbs. The Duplais is different, but of no lesser quality. Perhaps the Duplais is simply more Swiss ... and contempory? (Absinthe Duplais Verte and Pacifique Absinthe SupÃ©rieure will be in my cabinet at all times.)
Last updated: April 12, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||4.0|
Good Everyday Absinthe
Color: Completely clear pre-louche, pure white when louched with hints of a complex opalescence.
Louche: Quite fast but not bad. Show is over quickly. I don't know that this is a bad thing, but the finer louche-ing absinthes â€” I'm especially thinking of the Absinthe Duplais Blanche as a comparison, as it is a blanche â€” provide a more interesting and delightful eyeful.
Aroma: Nice, mild, certainly not overpowering. Anise and fennel are most apparent, other herbs are there. Bottle has fresh herb smell, alcohol is apparent but not overly intense.
Flavor: Grande wormwood, anise, fennel, hyssop, lemon balm, coriander, star anise, artemisia pontica and mint are all in this drink, but besides the grande wormwood, anise and fennel I notice some hints of lemon balm, coriander and mint. Quite nice and fresh tasting. Benefits from using a smallish "dot" sugar cube when louche-ing.
Finish: Very nice! No bad aftertaste, the spirit base (made from wheat combined with herbs) seems quite clean and of good quality. The fennel and anise linger, grand wormwood numbs the tongue but thankfully takes its time doing so.
Overall: A good choice for people who would drink absinthe everyday. This is not a one-drink whopper type of absinthe. Rather, enjoying at least three glasses (no more than five) achieves what I expect from a good Swiss blanche absinthe: the requisite "trinity," a very good complement of fresh Swiss herbs, a pure spirit-base, and a fine feeling of vitality that does not degrade two hours later into a hangover. Again, the alcohol base seems quite clean. Not quite as excellent, interesting or refined as Absinthe Duplais Blanche, but what blanche on the American market is?
Last updated: April 17, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||5.0|
The Perfect Blanche?
Color: Perfectly clear distilled blanche. Color is perfectly white when fully louched.
Louche: Nice complex oil trails followed by complex swirling cloud activity. Very good overall. Louche is not slow, but not so fast when compared to KÃ¼bler. Pleasing louche show for a blanche.
Aroma: Nice fresh anise and fennel, hints of vanilla. Other fresh herbs are present, the aroma is fresh and crisp. Bottle has strong odor of alcohol. Normal? It would seem so.
Flavor: A tad sweet. Does not need sugar. Complex fresh herbal background makes it quite special. Vanilla- or vanilla-like overtones would make it an excellent refreshment for summer days. Fine grape-based spirit seems a perfect complement for the fresh herbs. Simply excellent.
Finish: Absinthe Duplais Blanche is very special. The freshest herbs and vanilla- or vanilla-like overtones are combined with a nice grape spirit-base that causes no bad aftertaste. The finish matches the beginning and "middle:" simply refreshing, simply delicious, a very fine elixir indeed.
Overall: Can Absinthe Duplais Blanche be more excellent? I haven't experienced a better blanche, not even close. Thank you Duplais. If others know of a better blanche, then please tell us. At this time, I don't think it can get better than this. This gets my highest rating, except the louche is not quite as good as some "verte" styles that I've tried. No big deal there. Otherwise, it's five stars all the way.
Update April 16, 2010: I'm not changing my score, but I give this high marks mostly as a "dessert absinthe." It would go great with fine pastries. It is quite sweet and the taste of vanilla is undeniable. I might not give La Clandestine as high scores, but it would more likely be my go-to blanche for regular consumption. I'd prefer to save the Duplais Blanche for special occasions, when a "dessert absinthe" is desired; or when "sweets for the sweet" is in order.
Last updated: May 23, 2010
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||2.0|
Nice louche, but. ...
Color: A mostly yellow-yellow-green, clear liquid. I see some opalescence after the louche; the finished glass of Lucid is mostly white with some blue and green highlights. It's acceptable.
Louche: Glass brouilleur was placed over my classic Pontarlier absinthe glass, which has a nice glass bubble on the bottom to hold and measure the correct amount of absinthe. Sugar cube was put into brouilleur and filtered ice water was poured in. A small stream of iced water poured into the Lucid through the brouilleur. (I can control the drip of the brouilleur by placing it flush over the top of he glass to create a tight seal. The water won't drip then. I slowly slide the brouilleur to open the seal to control the flow, from drip to slow stream.) This time I simply went with the slow stream all the way. Surprisingly, the louche took its time finishing. Nice oily trails appeared through the lower "bubble" in the Pontarlier glass, for what seemed a goodly time providing a nice show ... before turning into some lovely swirling white clouds, which went on for longer than usual before finally turning to an opaque, mostly white drink with very slight blue and green highlights.
Aroma: Strong anise and fennel aroma that is slightly peppery. Not very complex, but not bad.
Flavor: Again, strong anise and fennel taste, slightly peppery. Wormwood clearly numbs the tongue, so it's present. The "trinity" is there â€” it's a real absinthe â€” but I can't tell what are the other herbs. Not very complex is the main thing. Problem? Aftertaste is quite poor, perhaps due to the beet-based alcohol. Mouth ends up quite numb with not the most pleasant taste.
Finish: I'm through with the first glass and waiting for the second. Aftertaste of the first is a bit unpleasant and now I'm considering the elixir quality. So far it's mediocre. However, my mouth is numb; in that way, the slightly unpleasant background taste is thankfully minimized.
Minutes later ... OK, I've had most of the second glass. Again, it's a real absinthe, the "trinity" is there, my impression is slightly "complex," better than after just one. Still, the low quality of the beet-alcohol base is too evident. Why use beets and charge this price? There are plenty of wine- or brandy-based spirits in France, this country of elite alcohols, aren't there?
Overall: Again, it's a real absinthe. Lucid leaves you with not the most complex or pleasant taste, but a slightly complex "impression." It's very average, not the type of thing I would want to have at a sunny cafÃ© late in the day, but rather something desired in a blues bar late at night while wearing dark glasses, if it was on "special." It is quite overpriced: I paid more than $80 including tax at a local liquor store in New Jersey for it. At this price range, I would certainly consider other absinthe "vertes," such as the Duplais Verte or the Pacifique Verte, a Swiss and an American brand respectively. They are far superior choices. Lucid's louche is nice, yes, but the beet-based alcohol has been cited as the main issue here concerning poor aftertaste, and it might be. Still, I'd cite the lack of excitement concerning the herbal ingredients as the main determining factor in giving this an average to slightly below average score. Also, the bottle with two light green eyes on a dark green bottle â€” the "green lady," is it? â€” with the word Lucid in dripping green, it's all a bit purposefully creepy. It makes what's in the bottle seem sinister. The half-empty bottle is going to the back of my liquor cabinet, a souvenir of the first offering of a real absinthe in the USA in a very long time.
Update May 20, 2010: This is often the best choice in liquor stores in New Jersey, as it beats out Pernod and all of the hyped Czech brands. New Jersey liquor stores have yet to catch up and it seems very, very few carry the superior brands, such as Pacifique, Walton Waters, Absinthe Duplais Verte (or Blanche!), La Clandestine, et al. But Lucid is usually stocked â€” So far, it's invariably the best thing on the shelves here, and it's a reasonable choice.
Update May 23, 2010: If it's Lucid or Pernod, then get the Pernod. Both are subpar when compared with Pacifique, Walton Waters â€” the "boutigue" brands â€” but he Pernod was just better for me for taste, aftertaste, and secondary effect. The Pernod's liquor base is also "cleaner" IMO. Still, these are very average brands, and I recommend St. George, Absinthe Duplais varieties and La Clandestine (as a blanche) as more better choices. All are far superior to Lucid or the current Pernod offering.