Review Detail

3.6 1 0.5
Challenging but worth the effort
Overall rating
Flavor / Mouthfeel
I picked this up on vacation based on the fact that it was one I hadn't tried and because the label showed it won an award. I got it home and enjoyed the look of the bottle and the slightly dark color, but the aroma was almost medicinal, heavy on the alcohol. With an ABV of 74%, I supposed that wasn't much of a surprise. It had a fast but decent louche, but the aroma didn't come forth much.
Full disclosure: I usually drink without sugar and about a 4:1 ratio for an ABV this high. That "without sugar" part would haunt me. The first sip nearly knocked me down.
The only way I can describe it is imagine taking several large grapefruit and carefully removing all the white pith from the fruit. Discard the fruit and soak the pith in alcohol until it dissolves. It was the most bitter, vile absinthe I'd ever tried, and that's saying something! I only got to my third sip. The next day, I tried it with sugar. No better. One last try with TWO sugar cubes and a little extra water. Still, it was bitter beyond any sort of reason with a slight grapefruitish citrus note and not much else. At least I managed to choke down the glass, where the first two had simply gone down the drain.
I was surprised, then, when I went for a nice glass of absinthe after work, to find myself reaching for Abyss again. Two sugars, a little extra water, and a steely-eyed determination to not gag on it. Not only did I manage to get the glass down, but I poured myself another. What is this obsession with the hard-to-drink elixir?
Flash forward a week. Each night, I've tried to find a magic ratio of sugar and water to make this stuff palatable. Each night I fail. Each night, I find that there is simply nothing that can be done to make it any less bitter, any less challenging, any more like the complex subtleties of the green fairy that I enjoy so much.

...but I also found that in spite of all that, I have grown to love this stuff. It was a long, difficult road to travel in the process, but I can honestly say that once this bottle is empty, I'll be replacing it with another. It is, I am almost ashamed to say, one of my top four favorite brands (the others include La Clandestine, Vieux Carre, St George, to give you an idea of my taste). It's certainly not for everyone, and definitely not for anyone who's new to absinthe. It's very, very hard to love this one, but once you acquire a taste for it, a glass at the end of a long day is reward, indeed.
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