Mata Hari, New Formulation - Reviewed by Experts and Consumers at The Wormwood Society

2.6 (2)
2.4 (3)

Product Details

Available in USA?
Country of Origin
Wormwood Society Editor Comments
This is a new formulation based on the 1881 recipe and using Petite Wormwood (Artemisia pontica) rather than the artificial coloring of the earlier version. Accordingly it is bottled in dark glass to protect it from UV light.

Editor reviews

4 reviews
Overall rating
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Double Agent... Double Doomed
(Updated: September 13, 2012)
Overall rating
Unlouched, a nice medium green, just a smidge on the forest green side with the slightest bluish underpinning. A little dull (this is a four year old bottle), perfectly clear and contaminant free. Louched, good green retention and nice translucence. Moderate opalescence.

Well, for all the flap about “reduced anise” and “non-dominate anise formula” this stuff louches like nobody's business, and fast... completely louched with a well defined green line by 0.8:1. Final louche displays good translucence and moderate opalescence, much better than I thought it would be, however it leaves a very visible residue on the glass when swirled. The same residue collects on the threads of the screw-cap bottle. In spite of the other acceptable visual characteristics, I feel this residue problem has to be addressed, and I can't think of a more appropriate place to do so than this category. So I am going to give a score of 3 to what might otherwise arguably be a 4, to account for the evidence of some included sweetener, or more likely resin, or both.

Unlouched, anise, wormwood, and cinnamon. Louched, an overall confectionery presence that portends substantial sweetness. When I catch it just right after swirling, I can detect a quickly fleeting whiff of wormwood. I've been nosing hard for 15 or so minutes now. Occasionally I think I detect something like licorice root, mint, cinnamon, or pontica for just the briefest moment, but it disappears in a nanosecond behind the cloak of artificial-smelling sweetener that dominates.

Flavor And Mouthfeel
A smooth mid-weight entry with an odd combination of artificial-tasting sweetness, bitter, cinnamon spicy, and not much else. I honestly wonder if I would identify this as absinthe if I were blindfolded. Mid-palate mouthfeel and flavors have an eerie hollow and artificial quality about them. Warmed up, it's almost candy-like and slightly minty.

Really the same as the palate, and hangs around a good long time. Not pleasant, not ultra-painful, slightly unclean. What characteristics it displays seem in conflict with each other. If I pay attention to the finish long enough, I can barely detect wormwood when I smack my tongue against the roof of my mouth.

Overall Impression
Odd... very little in common with traditional Franco-Swiss absinthe. After a couple of good long looks at this, I guess I've concluded that it is probably identifiable as an attempt at absinthe, but not a very successful one (hence the dominance of 2s in my scoring). What authentic absinthe elements I can detect, while not of abjectly poor quality (I have tasted worse), certainly are not of exemplary quality either.

This is a product that seems to try to straddle the line between authentic and impostor. The trouble is it is likely to do justice to neither. And from what I see (or more accurately, what I'm not seeing of it) on the net, it seems its fate is already sealed. Try to live both lives and the true aficionados will not embrace it due to its peculiarities and deficiencies, and the consumer of impostor products is likely to find it to be overly complicated and challenging.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, diluted 3.5:1, 3.8:1, and 4:1 and no sugar.

Absinthe Mata Hari, 9/1/12, 9/12/12.
Both evaluations had consistent notes.
Top 10 Reviewer 53 reviews
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Not terrible, but not really desirable either
Overall rating
Color: A pleasant enough yellowish green. It's nice to see that they have gone the natural coloration route as opposed to the food coloring of the past.

Louche: Rather thin, but not alltogether unattractive.

Aroma: You get the hints of anise and wormwood, but then you also get some confectionary aromas like cinnamon, candy and powdered sugar. Odd and unique, but not what I'd consider 'intriguing'.

Flavor: Thin and earthy with very little anise or fennel. There is some bitterness and that underlying sweetness. Not really what I'd consider the flavor of an authentic absinthe. As DrinkBoy said below, it's tough to take it seriously.

Finish: Some bitterness and earthiness again, with some cinnamon.

Overall: I really have a hard time calling this absinthe. It tastes more like an aperitif wine or an herbal liqueur.
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User reviews

3 reviews
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Bland and uninspiring
Overall rating
Appearance: a warm forest green color but apparently the best quality mentionable.
Louche: hardly present at all but makes a fair effort at best. Many other even modestly decent absinthes make this attempt laughable
Aroma: it reminds me of cheap mouthwash or something a dentist would shove in my mouth with assurance it tastes just like cotton candy when everyone knows perfectly well it had better not
Flavor: again of mouthwash. It does not sit well on the palate and reeks of artificiality and something oddly chemical
Finish: no worry of impending regret once swallowed; I imagine the feeling one might retain after a free sample of anything at the dollar store
Overall: Offer earnestly to guests to whom you wish a 'good night' and a worse morning hangover. This is rubbish.
Top 100 Reviewer 1 reviews
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The Road Less Traveled - In The Wrong Direction
Overall rating

The bottle is at best unremarkable if not a bit cheesy. I can forgive the silly label but a thin metal screw of cap? That doesn't exactly say quality at a $60 price point. Nor would it at half the price.

A thin stream from a fountain of iced spring water.

Color Before Water
Very attractive and a pleasant surprise. It's a lovely deep, bright Peridot leaning almost towards emerald. Pristine, jewel like and gorgeous an absolute delight.

Aroma Before Water
Odd I knew not to expect a strong nose of Anise, Fennel and the notes of Licorice to be up front. I didn't expect them to be absent. I let the glass breathe for 30 minutes hoping it would open up a bit and become more floral and less awkward and hard to place. But in final assessment the aroma is like a cinnamon flavored gum at the point where little flavor or scent remains. There are fruity tones I can't place which are interesting but left me thinking this was anything but Absinthe.

Nice Louche which began quickly. I didn't see much in the way of trails and rolling clouds but I was pleased with it nonetheless. The finished color isn't as dense and creamy as other Absinthes I've had but it's attractive in it's own right albeit a bit too thin. No real opalescence to speak of and Mouth feel is a bit too watery for my taste.

Aroma After Water
Still odd and candy like with cloying hints of cinnamon. The aroma strikes me as somewhat muddled I definitely missed the luscious fragrance of Anise and allure of sweet Fennel. The herbal tones could be crisper and for lack of a better word cleaner.

Just like the aroma. At first, the flavor struck me as washed out with peculiar notes of herbs that bordered a little on funk, but not terribly so. These issues aside Mata Hari has an acceptable flavor but to me it's pretty far away from what I expect from an Absinthe. If the thinking behind Mata Hari was to tune down the Anise and Fennel to make it a more flexible Absinthe for use in cocktails I have to say I don't see the advantage. For instance in Sazerac you would never know it had been added, and we tried quite a few. Some with an ample 1/2 ounce or more of Mata Harie added directly to the drink as opposed just coating the glass or using an atomizer. It just disappears into the drink not effecting it one way or the other.

The Finish
Clean and smooth with a bit more herbal complexity which was a welcome change from the cinnamon like taste. There was something else too...something borderline unpleasant and hard to pin point.

Final Impression
I can understand tuning down the Licorice notes but I think to make them non existent is a mistake because Absinthe is in itself an Anise flavored drink. If a Gin producer lowered the Juniper in the hopes to win Vodka lovers I doubt there would be much success. Because if you don't like Juniper chances are you're not going to like any gin - even those with a lower Juniper profile. The flavors of Mata Hari do less in the way of presenting the real flavors of Absinthe and lean more towards a drink that may indeed be very enjoyable to some - but I wouldn't consider them a proper representation of Absinthe.
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Perhaps good for beginners?
Overall rating
There were flavors here which weren't necessarily objectionable, but they also weren't necessarily what I was expecting. If you put this product in a taste lineup with the big-boys, it would most likely be hard to take it seriously, but not because it is a "bad" product, just one that doesn't have the complexities and nuances that we are always searching for.

It sort of reminds me of "May wine", a white German wine which has been flavored with woodruff herbs and strawberries. It's a nice refreshing wine, that isn't trying to be taken seriously, but is a great way to introduce people to wine in general since it has some light and spicy/fruity flavors which provide a good bridge.

I hear from many newcomers to Absinthe that they don't like the heavy anise/licorice flavors that they encounter... I see this mostly as them not having built up a palate that can appreciate those flavors yet, just as newcomers to wine can't appreciate a rich and full red wine.

I think Mata Hari would perhaps be a good way to ease these folks into Absinthe, letting them enjoy the sweeter/spicier (cinnamon) notes of this particular product, and then gradually learn to have a better understanding for the underlying anise and wormwood flavors.
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