Tag Archive for anise

La Clandestine Absinthe Superieure

La Clandestine Absinthe Superieure
Switzerland
ABV 53%

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Right on the label, La Clandestine boasts of using herbs from the Val-de-Travers, which I must admit makes me pretty excited being as it’s the homeland of absinthe and wormwood. Apparently, the recipe used by distiller Claude-Alain Bugnon is rumored to have been used since the 1930s, and his spirit first circulated through less-regulated means during absinthe’s prohibition, which is not a bad urban legend for a company to start about liquor whether or not it’s true. That, my friends, is a well-done bottle description!  I’m raring to try this elixir, and the multiple fantastic reviews for it only raise my expectations.

Its appearance is completely clear.

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I appreciate the whimsy of La Clandestine’s blue bottle, but I appreciate them not adding coloring to the absinthe even more. The nose is fantastic. Anise hits me right off the bat as well as whipped sugar, pine, and grass. The alcohol heat is present but not overwhelming. Moderate to thin legs, so I’m thinking it’ll be a little sweet, perhaps just enough to enjoy it straight. Sipping proves that to be true — I could take a shot if needed, but boy would my mouth be on fire. The alcohol turns up as a punch of cinnamon. Anise lingers once the burn subsides.

After the louche, La Clandestine is smooth but full of personality.

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Anise is the star as it should be. An underlying sweetness makes it easier to drink – probably all from my sugar cube. My mouth pleasantly tingles all over with it. Cinnamon is barely there with a hint of its woodsy bark, offering extra oomph like it to does to hot chocolate. La Clandestine doesn’t have the earthiness I expected from the nose, but I don’t mind those dashed expectations because this is what absinthe should be at its simplest. It only takes a few sips to put a smile on my face and for that happy float of an absinthe buzz to kick in.

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Ridge Distillery Absinthe Blanche

Ridge Distillery Absinthe Blanche
Kalispell, MT
116 proof

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This absinthe is completely clear, as I’d imagine the blanche designation indicates. It has few legs to speak of when swirling it in the glass and is a completely blank slate based on appearance. Its particular anise smell reminds me of the thick, black, candy bites of licorice mixed with a dose of peppermint oil. There is no notable alcohol heat when sniffing, which is a good thing for me.

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Sipping it straight is all cinnamon, a Red Hot without the sweetness. The missing alcohol heat from the nose is in full effect: you taste cinnamon, feel a wave of heat, then feel your tongue tingle. In other words, I would not recommend drinking it prior to the louche unless you’re looking for a stiffer version of Goldschlager.

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After the louche, no color changes occur except the expected milkiness. Thankfully, the anise flavor that was imprisoned by the straight sip has been released. However, all other potential flavor enhancers are now subdued. Almost all I taste is sugar (I used one cube during the louche) and very subtle anise. That’s not enough to warrant this bottle’s price tag for me.  Perhaps there is a difference in style for crafting a blanche absinthe that I need to read up on…and avoid. This was my first.

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Meadow of Love Absinthe Superieure

Meadow of Love Absinthe Superieure
Delaware Phoenix Distillery
Walton, NY

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Let’s be real — Meadow of Love is a very hippie name for a spirit. And let me be realer — hippie names speak my language. I went to college in Santa Cruz, people. I’m not an ideal hippie myself, but the culture is part of my lifeblood. Meadow of Love is made in a pot still with grand wormwood, anise, florence fennel, roman wormwood, hyssop, lemon balm, and violet. I haven’t even uncorked the bottle and I’m already wishing I had patchouli lip balm on and was lazing among the wildflowers, enjoying a Pacific Ocean sunset from the sun-drenched Oakes Lawn at UCSC.

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The absinthe’s color pre-louche is a lovely pastel yellow with a halo of mint green at the edges. Soft legs indicate the presence of sugar but not in large volumes. The nose of a straight shot borders on nail polish with sweet violet, anise, and mint, though the mint is likely a tingle from the lemon balm that my tongue misconstrues. It has the melting, airy texture of Laffy Taffy. Sugar dominates at first sip, but alcohol takes over with bitter floral notes and evergreen. Its potential is obvious, but a louche is definitely needed to mellow this absinthe out.

Following the bottle’s instructions, this absinthe should be louched with 3 to 5 parts water, leaving out the customary sugar cube. After my first post-louche sip, I’d agree. It has a natural sweetness, and more sugar would take away from the multiple herbal layers.

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The color post-louche is nearly completely milky, preserving only a hint of yellow-green. While I do like a vivid imbiber, I appreciate the lack of chemicals in this spirit. Stick closer to a 3:1 ratio for water to absinthe; at 4:1, the flavors aren’t prominent enough. At 3:1, the alcohol is tamed and the natural sugar tantalizes, making the fennel and violet notes float down almost too easily. The texture is velvety. Grassy floral notes and licorice rise up after the sugar takes a backseat, and they beckon for a second sip, and a third … and a fourth.

Meadow of Love is perhaps a tad too at one with itself, bordering on a blend that makes those layers nearly indistinguishable. But it’s groovy, man, groovy.

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