Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Week 16: Vit Opal [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Vit Opal

Overall Rating: 4.6
Appearance: 4.5
Louche: 5.0
Aroma: 4.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.5
Finish: 4.5
Overall: 4.5


Style: La Bleue      
ABV: 56%
Country: Sweden          
Distillery: Svensk Absint


Appearance: Exceptionally lustrous and clear.
Louche: Very strong trails that dynamically form to billowy clouds. Thick with a perfect hint of translucence.
Aroma: An alpine blossom that spread and held even while sitting outside with a breeze. There is something floral that sits among a wonderful balance of the Holy Trinity of Anise, Wormwood and Fennel. Mesmerizingly appealing.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Somehow this seems like a traditional bleue that has a good bit of it's own character to make it stand out. Freshly well ballanced with a hint of mint and a wee bit of pleasant bitterness. It's exactly as thick as I like an Absinthe, creamy without being milky.
Finish: The minty bitterness stays on a slightly numbed tongue while the back of your mouth holds some of those characteristic herbals.
Overall: I knew from the moment I opened the bottle and the aroma wafted in the breeze I was going to like this. I wish I had more experience to be able to relay what it is about this Absinthe that makes it unique to others but I'm not that skilled. It's fresh, dry and well balanced but the blend of herbs used are just different than other Bleues I've tried without stepping so far from the norm that it's out of the field.

This may be the first review I've done of an Absinthe I've never tasted before doing the actual review. I received several new bottles I've never tried this year already and the Absinthes from Svensk Absint were highly recommended. I decided to try the Vit Opal before the Grön Opal (Svensk Absint's Verte) since I've seen a bunch of others try the Verte and haven't seen as much chatter on the Bleue. This is the second brand I've had from Sweden and from what I can tell, these Swedish Absinthes  are here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And they're all out of bubblegum.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Subset Cocktail: Southside

2 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillery Greylock Gin
1/2 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 sprig Chocolate Peppermint

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a mint leaf or 2, smacked to release the oils.

I've seen this cocktail listed with lemon juice instead of lime and/or the addition of club soda but this version suited me well. I had a lime I needed to use up, recently got a new gin that mixes well and a new lovely chocolate peppermint plant. I did cut back on the lime juice by a half since it was a small lime and I always like to cut back on the citrus in drinks anyway.




Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 15: St. George [52 Whispers From The Muse]

St. George

Overall Rating: 3.9

Appearance: 3.0
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 3.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.5
Finish: 3.0
Overall: 4.5


Style: Verte
ABV: 60%
Country: USA
Distillery: St. George Spirits


Appearance: A crystal clear dead leaf yellow on the verge of brown. If the color had a hint of green I would have rated it higher.
Louche: Active and dynamic with a slow, cold drip. Rolling clouds that end in an opaque tan. It may be a bit too thick for some but I do like it.
Aroma: Strong on the nose with a very forward Anise and spice. After louche it tones down a bit with an odd hint of honey sweetness behind Anise and Fennel. The Wormwood is there somewhere behind the spiciness.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Powerful flavor with that significant spiciness most forward. Anise and Fennel are next along with that honey flavor but somehow without the sweetness. I wish I was better at breaking down the spices as it seems cinnamon like but I know that there is no cinnamon in it. The thickness of the louche reflects in the thick texture of St. George. I like it, though any thicker and it might be too much.
Finish: The powerful flavor drops off quickly with a significant tongue numbing. The spice pops across the tongue as the tastes fade to a warm bitterness.
Overall: St. George is far from a traditional Absinthe and people’s love or hate of it reflects that. It’s bold and spicy in a way that no other Absinthe is and that separates it from all other brands while still maintaining its standing as a true Absinthe.

St. George Absinthe is one of my top 10 favorites even though it’s 3.9 rating here probably won’t put this in the top 10 best based on numbers alone once all of these reviews are done. I’ll admit that scoring the “Overall” category at 4.5 was definitely padding to raise the Total Overall Rating score to express my experiences and joy of drinking it since the scoring is for judging against traditional expectations. I often recommend it since it's good, available, and meets a nice price point but always with the understanding that it is unique and not indicative of its more classical family members. I love its place as a unique, modern Absinthe. This is probably my fourth or fifth bottle.

I decided to review St. George despite recently receiving a ton of new bottles I haven't even tried yet and having already done a couple of American Absinthes very recently (Vieux Carré and Leopold Bros). I wanted to do some reviews of brands I'm very familiar with while catching up since I've had no internet at home and have been writing the finished write ups from tasting notes in a coffee shop with free wi-fi. Also, it was exactly 3 years ago that I took this pic of St. George in L'viv, Ukraine.

A photo posted by JS W (@mindlessheron) on

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Green Ghast: Sunset Cocktail and Newest Absinthe Mythos Cocktail

2 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillery Greylock Gin
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz St. George Absinthe

Rinse a chilled coup or cocktail glass with a couple barspoons of Absinthe (but don't toss it away, you fool!) Mix all other ingredients over ice and strain into said Absinthe rinsed glass. Fhtagn.

"After a moment something about the size of a small horse hopped out into the grey twilight, and Carter turned sick at the aspect of that scabrous and unwholesome beast, whose face is so curiously human despite the absence of a nose, a forehead, and other important particulars."
—H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

This may just be a newest addition to my list of Mythos Absinthe Cocktails. Based on the Green Ghost Cocktail found on Kindred Cocktails (http://www.kindredcocktails.com/cocktail/green-ghost) this trades Lemon Juice for the Lime and adds an Absinthe rinse to the glass (which I felt it desperately needed). I was getting a little low on Gin so I picked up a bottle of Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillery today. I've been meaning to pick one up for a while now to support a local distillery and I must say that I'm impressed with how well it mixes. This may be my new go-to dry Gin.

Despite the name of this drink, it's not ghastly at all.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 14: Roquette [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Roquette
(pre-new management. See below)
Overall Rating: 4.2
Appearance: 4.0
Louche: 3.5
Aroma: 4.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.5
Finish: 4.5
Overall: 4.0
Style: Verte
ABV: 75%
Country: France
Distillery: Emile Pernot
Appearance: A crystal clear olive-yellow with an inviting vibrancy.
Louche: Slow to build with a very slow, cold drip but starts to fill out towards the end, between 2 to 3 parts of water per part of Roquette. It ends up being thin but perfectly nice as it is.
Aroma: Strong, minty and significantly floral with a hint of fruitiness but that just may be because of the contrast between this old bottle and the much newer bottle I tested this against… but I’ll get into that a little later.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: The floral from the aroma is first and foremost. The flavor is as strong as the aroma that hits with a dryness but follows sweetly as the Anise follows in.
Finish: The florals linger with you for a good long while ending in a nice, slightly bitter mint and tongue tingle.
Overall: Powerful taste that makes me feel like this is one of those recipes reminiscent of what could have been a more medicinal tonic than a recreational libation. This was a bold Absinthe with tons of character. Maybe not a good introductory Absinthe for someone new to the game but I guess that may not be an issue anyway.
I was going to hold off on Roquette for a while as I’ll be doing another Emile Pernot Absinthe early in May but some mention of a certain trick came up in one of the Absinthe groups I’m in and I wanted to give it a try. See, the bottle of Roquette that I used for a review was an old bottle I bought several years ago. As the bottle started to get low I ordered a replacement as the bottle I had was a great, bold Absinthe that I felt I always wanted in my collection. I say ‘was’ because the replacement bore absolutely no resemblance to the original. I tried one drink of it and never poured another until this review. It was terrible.
Chatter on the web verified that I was far from the only one to have this happen and it seemed to be endemic of many of the Emile Pernot house brands after a supposed management change. I guess some of the other Absinthes that are produced in the distillery, such as the La Maison Fontaine which I’ll get to eventually, are luckily still as good as ever.
3 Roquettes: Old, New (nuked), New (as is)
Some time passed and I read a post that talked about a magical microwave trick that Marc Thuillier of Absinthe Originals posted. The suggestion was to microwave a dose of affected Absinthe, mostly working on grape based, for 15 seconds, transfer to another glass to cool and then dilute as usual. Like I said, this topic came up again recently so I decided to try it now with the Roquette.

Original Roquette vs New


I prepared a glass of the original I had, a glass of the new version and a glass of the new version after microwaving for 15 seconds and allowed to cool. The differences across the board were unbelievable. First impression was the color, though this could easily be because the bottle I had was several years old, opened frequently and now nearly empty. The old Roquette on the left has a nicely yellowed green while the new version was a much more rich peridot green. This is by no means a complaint as the peridot was gorgeous and some difference was to be expected.
I made the mistake of trying the un-nuked new version first. The aroma had a strong burst of alcohol heat and was extremely earthy. Not herbal or vegetive but earthy like dirt. It louched very quickly and thick, much differently than the older Roquette. The mouthfeel was fine if you could separate the experience from the taste. The taste was heavy with alcohol burn and a bitter, murky funk. It instantly numbed my tongue to the point of complete numbness which took me a while to recover from. I couldn't continue with the others for a little while but after some time, water and Cheerios cleansing the palate I was ready to try the nuked version.
I had my hopes up for the microwaved Roquette even after nearly burning my nostrils out right after removing it from the microwave while it was still warm. After cooling, though, it no longer had the strong alcohol dirt aroma of the un-nuked Roquette but instead it was much milder The dirt toned down to a chalky scent. The terrible burn was gone from the taste as well and it tasted much more like Absinthe. I was hoping that microwaving didn't just burn out all of the alcohol content. It wasn’t amazingly striking at all but I didn’t realize how off it was until I tried the old bottle. None of the bold florals were there, none of the herbal nuances or mintiness… it was kinda dull and the Roquette of old was anything but dull.


This is a complete tragedy and maybe someone out there who knows something can clarify what actually happened to the distillery. Unfortunately I can’t see myself buying another bottle of this, Authentique or any of the house Emile Pernot Absinthes any time in the near future. Luckily, as it was also stated recently in one of the Absinthe groups I'm in, we're living in a Golden Age of Absinthe with so many great brands available. These will be missed but there are many more to be explored.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Week 13: Leopold Bros [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Leopold Bros.

(batch 68)

Overall Rating: 4.0

Appearance: 4.0
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 4.5
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 4.0
Finish: 3.5
Overall: 4.0


Style: Verte
ABV: 66%
Country: USA
Distillery: Leopold Bros.


Appearance: Out of the bottle it's a light green with a hint of yellowing. I've had this first bottle for a while and when compared to a new bottle it looks like it may have yellowed a bit in the clear glass bottle. Still quite clear and pretty though, nothing to complain about.
Louche: Slow but fulfilling to watch the thick trails form and swirl. I'm going to have to try this in the Slipstream.
Aroma: This is a room filler. I love room fillers. As the bottle is opened the aroma spreads out sharp and fresh and seduces you with Anise and Citrus. I love being seduced.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Very fresh and a bit spicy with a solid Wormwood mintiness behind a bold Anise along with a hint of Coriander? Thick and full without being milky.
Finish: The Anise hangs for a while with a slight, pleasant numbness and a tad of bitterness. I expected a longer finish based on the bold aroma.
Overall: This is another beautiful Absinthe from here in the States that I often seem to overlook. It's readily available in a store by my old job where I often pick up most of my other spirits. It's price is right and I should slot it in in my regular rotation of casual drinking brands.

The bottle reviewed was batch 68 (my new bottle that I used for the pictures is batch 88 since 68 only had one dose left) and, as far as I can tell from what others have said, it just got better and better from the earlier batches. I didn't have the privilege of trying earlier batches but I would have loved to track it as they improved. There is definitely a lot of love that goes into this brand. I did have their New York Apple Whiskey once in Boston which was nice (despite my general loathing for flavored whiskies), I feel like I have to try more of their products. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 12: Vieux Carré [52 Whispers From The Muse]

Vieux Carré

Overall Rating: 3.6

Appearance: 2.5
Louche: 4.0
Aroma: 4.0
Flavor/Mouthfeel: 3.5
Finish: 3.0
Overall: 4.0


Style: Verte
ABV: 60%
Country: USA
Distillery: Philadelphia Distilling Company


Appearance: A dark, dead leaf brown. While not unpleasant, I had to knock it down for the color and there was some sediment in the bottle that I tried to not get into the glass.
Louche: Very thick and rapidly formed. It was a dynamic but quick show in the bubble glass ending with a light amber.
Aroma: Anise with a significant floral bouquet and a bit of mintiness. After louche the Anise tapers off to an herbal mix that still maintains a bit of that mint.
Flavor/Mouthfeel: Well balanced but very unique. The Anise is a bit forward and sweet, but not overwhelming. As far as I can tell the most forward Anise taste is a Star Anise but it blends well and works perfectly.
Finish: It sits pleasantly on the tongue with a slight numbing. There is a faint bitterness that lingers after the sweet but I wish it lingered a little longer.
Overall: Vieux Carré is a very easy Absinthe to drink. Very mellow, balanced and just enough different to set it apart from others as it's own. While I love the bottle, I guess my only complaint is that since the bottle is clear the color of the spirit brows and darkens considerably over time. I've had this bottle for just under 2 years and it went from a slightly greenish amber to a rich brown. It still tastes just as good as it ever did so there is really not much to complain about.

I did pick this bottle up just before visiting the Distillery in Philadelphia a couple of years ago and from there brought home their Bluecoat Gin (which was my gateway Gin as it's even more mellow than Hendrick's), Penn 1681 Rye Vodka (which is the cleanest, most neutral Vodka I've had outside of Eastern Europe) and a lovely XXX Shine White Corn Whiskey (that I won answering a trivia question during the tour).