Reviews written by beowulfgang
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||1.0|
I got a bottle of this a while ago from a friend who knows I like absinthe. A nice thought, and appreciated as such, but now I'm torn. Revealing my true thoughts after sampling the gift would risk insult; not to do so risks it becoming an annual tradition. I can usually find something positive to enjoy in any food, wine, or absinthe. This product strains that ability.
Appearance: Blue. As in, the blue of Scope mouthwash. Electric blue, of the sort you'd find in the specialty box of novelty crayons. The bottle was somewhat creatively designed, at least, if one wishes to count that toward the single point it scores for appearance.
Louche: Yes, it did louche. Poorly, but once coaxed into it, the louche was at least full and milky bluish-white, of a color not nearly as offensive as its original state.
Aroma: The theme of Scope mouthwash continues, without much exaggeration. I wouldn't have been able to even detect that it was intended to be an absinthe substitute.
Flavor/mouthfeel: This is where the title of this review comes in. Truly, surprisingly bad. Disappointing. When drinking beer, I appreciate nearly any old beer for what it is - not every beer needs to be my favorite homebrew. I feel the same about absinthe, but found it difficult to appreciate anything about this abomination. It tasted and felt much like it looked and smelled - like mouthwash. Fine, if I wanted mouthwash, but not so good for something I was about to drink.
Finish: Some moderate improvement. Once swallowed, a hint of minty freshness lingered as if I had just rinsed with - you guessed it - Scope mouthwash. Not much in the way of unpleasant aftertaste, but not what I would expect from absinthe or even an absinthe substitute.
Overall: Poor. I wanted to like it, if for no better reason than it was a gift and I had noticed that it seemed readily available locally. I'll save the pretty bottle, but not its contents.
While I may be a "glass is half full" sort, I'd rather this particular glass remain empty or be refilled - and imbibed - by someone other than myself. Preferably not someone who wants to actually enjoy his or her drink.
Last updated: December 30, 2008
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||2.0|
Better than Czech, but still not quite there...
I struggled with rating this a 2 or a 3 overall. Just doesn't have much character as an absinthe, but would make a fine pastis, I suppose. In fact, it really isn't a far cry in taste from Pernod. A little one-dimensional. Nevertheless, at the time I purchased it (early 2008), it was the closest thing to "real" absinthe available on US shelves. Probably will be rapidly outpaced by Lucid, Kubler, and others coming into the market, and rightly so.
Color: Artificial and neon. It may have the peridot color, but it's a little electric at that, and the knowledge that it's FD&C instead of natural blows the effect. I found an interesting parallel between the artifical color and the VERY artificial (and somewhat tacky) bottle with the fake cancellation/importation/certification stamps - rather "Disney does Absinthe."
Louche: This is where Absente stood out for me. Very nice, attractive louche, and even though artificially "enhanced," it made a beautiful, pearly opalescent eye candy.
Aroma: Not bad - before water, it promises a strong nose of anise and fennel, on which it indeed delivers - yet from the bottle, there seems also a promise of some underlying herbal notes that don't make it to the nose of the louched drink; the anise and fennel overpower. Hence my biggest criticism - NOT subtle.
Taste: Tongue numbing, even at 4:1 dilution. The anise, and fennel to a lesser degree, are overdone. If there are herbal notes there (and there initially appear to be in the aroma from the bottle), they fail to survive the harsh environment of anise and alcohol. However, knowing that some folks new to absinthe won't understand the taste of some of the spicier notes of a more complex absinthe, it might be good for an introduction to someone moderately interested, in order to get them intrigued enough to try something a bit nicer.
Finish: Despite the somewhat disappointing power of the anise and alcohol over the other ingredients, the taste lingers a bit to actually produce a rather pleasant finish. I found it to be a pleasant surprise that brought the character of the drink up just a notch from what otherwise would have been ho-hum.
Overall: If it were half the price, I'd keep a bottle on hand for the curious to try so as not to waste more complex (and expensive) absinthe if they don't like it. As it is, not much reason for me to buy another bottle with a couple of good traditional absinthes (e.g. Lucid, Kubler) on the market and the promise of some other good ones coming soon.
|Flavor / Mouthfeel||4.0|
A Pleasant Experience...
What you really want to know: No, you won't go wrong buying a bottle. Very much worth it. If available, look for the gift set that includes two nice reservoir glasses and a spoon for the same price as a bottle ($57 USD). Overall, you can get better, but it's far from being a low-grade disappointment. Good basic absinthe that will stay stocked on my shelf. If I had to sum it up in a word, it would be "natural." If you're the kind of person who thinks a woman smells better with a pint of perfume and looks better with two hours of makeup than when she first steps out of the shower, this might not be the drink for you; stick to Pernod or Absente.
Color - Light olive... in fact, perhaps a bit too light, but I was very pleased to see no use of artificial dyes. I don't like my absinthe to wear makeup. Natural and correct. Almost, but not quite, a 4 rating. Had it been artificial, I never would have rated it above a 1.
Louche - Immediate, nice oily trails at first, good blossom of the louche. Like the color, though, the louche is a bit light; doesn't quite hit the opalescense that I was expecting.
Aroma - Very nice. If you're used to a pastis like Pernod, or other substitutes like Razzouk Arak, you will be very pleasantly surprised with its complexity, both before and after water. It's not the most complex, but there are some definitely interesting and correct notes. Predominately anise and fennel, of course, with a decently forward wormwood nose and something definitive about it - couldn't quite discern if it was coriander or perhaps cumin. Not much of a floral bouquet, but very interesting and spicy.
Flavor - Enough of a coriander and wormwood nose that there was a pleasant herbal taste, almost a hint of celery, but not grassy. Of course, coriander sometimes gives the illusion of saltiness, but it wasn't overly powerful, just enjoyable. A huge step up from the one-dimensional taste of Absente, Pernod, or Razzouk. Each taste was a bit of an experiment, trying to put words to exactly what was being tasted. If I had to identify room for improvement (and to be honest, I would definitely not characterize the experience as a disappointing one overall) it would be the relative lack of some of the more floral notes in both the aroma and flavor. Still, a flavor that kept me intrigued and ready for the next sip.
Finish - Spicy, herbal (think gourmet cooking spice, not floral candle shop) pleasant aftertaste that lingered just long enough. For my second glass, I added a bit more water to 4:1, the better to lighten the alcohol and try to separate the flavors.
Overall - Heads and tails above any of the pastis or other absinthe "substitutes." I like pastis and arak for what they are, but this is a very positive and uniquely absinthian experience. Also, hands down, better than anything I've gotten off the shelf in the US as of the end of 2008. I haven't yet tried the other T.A. Breaux designs (the Jade line), but if they really are quite pleasantly superior to Lucid, I suspect I'll be extremely happy with them even at a higher price. I'll be buying Lucid again soon (unfortunately, probably very soon, as it seems I'm going through it a bit quickly - a tribute to its interesting character.)