Blanche Traditionelle - Reviewed by Experts and Consumers at The Wormwood Society

4.4 (4)
Blanche Traditionelle - Reviewed by Experts and Consumers at The Wormwood Society

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Editor reviews

2 reviews
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Essai, Essai, Again, Please
(Updated: August 12, 2012)
Overall rating
Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4

Flawless clarity, very bright. Look hard and critically, and it has the very, very, very slightest tint of gold, however, nearly colorless.

At 4:1, milky looking, flat and opaque, showing the slightest gold/bronze tint. At 5:1, it begins to let enough light pass to take on a nice sheen. The tint lessens, and it displays some blue. At 6:1 (and in my opinion, a proper dilution here), the gold tint is barely there, and it develops some pretty pewter highlights with nice violet reflections. A very attractive blanche louche. The action takes plenty of time to unfold (that's 81.3% abv having its way).

Louched, balanced (for what's there), very homogeneous. A very dark-toned nose featuring strong wormwood, chamomile and other plants. Sultry. Anise and fennel support this, and it all impresses as being very clean. Nothing "off" whatsoever. A slight sense of flowers as it warms. Lacking in the typical brighter top notes of quality absinthes, blanches in particular. Not terribly focused, as a result.

Big, round and darkly herbal. A very masculine style. Wormwood, genepi, and chamomile dominate with good support from the anise and fennel. Very clean, with no obvious flaws, but nothing particularly interesting, either. A little hollow in the mid-palate. At 4:1, rather brutish, 5:1, and really 6:1 show much more tamely. At the higher dilutions, and with warming, it reveals a slight mintiness, not quite capable of offsetting its brooding character.

A lot like the palate, nothing wrong, but nothing particularly interesting. Somewhat simple, and a little short, which is surprising considering the strong wormwood .

Solid, dark and monolithic. Again, nothing grossly amiss (evidenced by my total score of 3.7, which places it at the top of the range I would consider mid-market), just none of the delineated details I expect to see in a top quality absinthe. At least it's not an anise bomb. It starts out impressive and then falls a little flat. It obviously has all kinds of good ingredients, just skewed way too dark, ponderous, almost oppressive. There's just no brighter component(s) to balance and focus it. It's not that I don't like what it is, rather, I don't like what's not there. It reminds me of listening to some great music, that I love, with the treble knob turned down 80% of the way. My score of 3 in Overall, reflects my inner debate over a score of 3 or 4 in both Aroma, and Palate. Ultimately, I decided they were both not a 3, but they are certainly not strong 4s.

This all makes me wish I had the other Essais to compare (to my knowledge, only #5 is currently available through standard channels). Maybe I'm in the "just don't get it club" with this one. My disappointment with this stems directly from all the hoopla I've read in the forums and reviews for some time now. I honestly wonder, however, what the general reaction to this would be, traditionally bottled, and proofed to 60% abv. My senses tell me that the packaging (the oyster colored crockery, lab tag, hand tied twine, seal, and wax), and the bottled abv of 81.3%, may be leading some to think that there is something especially alchemical here, and that it possesses some extra "Jo ala Mo" that just isn't there. Remember, the only difference between 81.3% and 60% is the first .35:1 of dilution, so the difference is the difference of your choice, or the distillers choice, of water.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, diluted 4:1, 5:1, 6:1 and no sugar.

Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4, 2/10/10, 3/09/10, 11/06/10, 01/12/11.
All evaluations had consistent notes.
Top 10 Reviewer 53 reviews
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4 reviews
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Essai buy a bottle.
(Updated: March 06, 2014)
Overall rating
Essai #5 from 2009.

Appearance is of course crystal clear neat. With the addition of water, opaque and slightly translucent with gold and amber highlights and the occasional blue tinges around the edges.

Louche layered nicely starting slowly from the bottom with beautiful curling trails with each drip of water.

Aroma Fills the room. Amazingly robust and beautifully floral. I could sit and enjoy the aroma in the glass for hours.

Flavor in this five year old bottle at 4/1 reminded me of lemon cake and hot liquor.
At 5/1 an easy drink that you can savor every sip. Succulent, powerful and delicious.

Finish is quite dry and long lasting.

Overall this is one blanche that stands out in a crowd of monotony and is thoroughly an enjoyable experience.
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A delicious blanche
(Updated: January 05, 2013)
Overall rating
My initial review was written after 2 months of enjoying 6 or so glasses of Essai #5.
This edit is two years later, with my third bottle. What a delicious and interesting absinthe! Though the bottle is only 500 ml, the 81.5 % buys you a lot more glasses. I enjoyed this at 4.5:1, and 5:1 where it is delicate and delicious. I never sugar blanches.

Color: Crystal clear, no sediment. The glass looked empty when the reservoir was full.

Louche: Wonderful. Unlike the majority of blanches I've had, this louche was not in a hurry. Thick, curling, clear trails spun around, winding down, then reaching up from the bottom in smoky wisps with distinct layering above. Like all my favorite louches, I enjoyed the rolling thick cloud-tops just below the clear layer, until it all merged exactly at 4:1. Whites, flashes of light copper and blues swirled around as the louche formed into a lovely white, with the slightest kiss of blue. Just the right thickness, with nice light play filtering through.

Aroma: Due to the high proof, alcohol is clearly present pre-louche. A strong but very promising wormwood is in front, with fennel and anise behind. A quality, classic Swiss la bleue aroma. As water is added, the alcohol subsides giving way to florals and baking spices. The wonderful soft wormwood is always clear in the aroma. So delicate, yet strong and earthy. Nothing out of balance. Enticing and elegant.

Flavor: Superb. Sweet, strong, delicate and spicy at the same time.
Top-notch wormwood and green anise play together like old-friends, fennel is clear and tasty. The mouthfeel is perfect. Plenty of pepper and citrus appear in the mix as well.

Finish: Strong wormwood enters, unfolding to anise, which gives way to spice, lemon and fennel. A delicate slow build, which lingers, then slowly dwindles leaving a light citrus clinging to the back of the mouth. Very nice.

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Fantastic Blanche
(Updated: May 08, 2010)
Overall rating
Color- Perfectly clear. No tint or sediment
Louche- Slow forming; blues, grays, and gold opalescence when fully louched. When louched under natural sunlight purple streaks are formed

Aroma- Lemon balm with wormwood. This absinthe is both fresh and earthy at the same time. The interesting aspect of this absinthe is the addition of a baking spice scent. It reminds me of ginger snap cookies of all things. This all creates a very interesting combination

Flavor- Pungent and flavorful wormwood. Green anise with a slight alcohol bite. Again, there is an accumulation of baking spices that adds a new dimension compared to other blanches I’ve tried. Powdery flavors and fennel also add to the complexity.

Finish- The finish is dominated by the a bouquet of floral wormwood. This slowly gives way to some citrus notes

Overall- I’ve tried about four blanches so far and this is by far the best. Interesting take on such a traditional product yet manages to stay classy.

Note- From 'Essai #5' July 2009 distillation
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The Highly Anticipated Blanche
Overall rating
This review is done upon opening a bottle of 'Essai 4', aged slightly over two years old. Slow, icy cold drip. No Sugar.

Aroma: Removing the cork offers a wonderfully delicate scent of flowers. Even before pouring, the heat of this absinthe gives itself a way on the nose. Once poured and having a chance to breath, the flowers vanish, leaving a strange duet of astringency and something that resembles mashed peas. AS it louches, the flowers reemerge, but are subtle. There is no room-filling cascade of aromas, only a subtle hint of earthy, meadowy wormwood. I just wish it was more pronounced.

Color: Perfectly crystal clear. When it sits perfectly still and is viewed from the side it looks as if there is nothing in the glass at all.

Louche: Sensuous trails hang gently and start to look like ice forming through a high-speed camera. The cloud rises up from the bottom giving the louche the effect of a frosting glass as it rises up to meet the banding line that stays around well through 2.5:1. I develops enticingly slow, and once finished, it ends a thick, flawless snow white. Beautiful!

Flavor: Wow! The first thing you notice is a very powerful wormwood character. For a second it seems as though it will be very bitter, but falls away the instant you take a breath, leaving a wonderful, creamy sweetness. This is a very straightforward drink, but masterfully blended to provide the tongue with an easy to comprehend, but delightfully powerful flavor. All I can say to elaborate is, heavy on the wormwood, but crafted so as to make it sweet and delicate. Fantastic!

Overall: My only previous experience with any blanche is Kubler. I have grown not to enjoy Kubler too much, and was starting to think all Blanches might share the same "twangy" flavor. Blanche Traditionelle 'Essai 4' is one of the most wonderful drinks I've ever tasted, let alone one of the best absinthes. It easily pushed a good number of my favorite vertes out of the top 5 picture. The mouth feel is exquisite, and the flavor is so far beyond my ability to do it justice that I'm almost embarrassed.
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