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Brian Robinson

Epoque by Alandia

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Of course there is NO wormwood (except pontica ;) ) in the coloring process. I don´t like absinthes where grande wormwood is used in the coloring process or sugar is added, so I would never do this in one of my recipes.

Duly noted and as assumed.

 

I'm not trying to start a fight or to make you feel like I'm attacking you but both the Maison and the Epoque are not only very similar but smack of using wormwood in the coloring step.

 

To clear things up, how else would the end product be so intensely bitter? When compared with absinthes such as CLB, the Jades, Montmartre, VdF, LeMercier products (even their "Amer" was not even CLOSE to as bitter as this), and HG's I've tried...it is MUCH too bitter.

 

Is there some reason that the taste is so unbalanced? Is there a process in the distillation that would allow for such bitterness? Normally distillate comes out a fragrant and very non-bitter substance no matter how much wormwood one uses. This leads me to believe that you could not have distilled this absinthe to be so bitter and it therefore must have happened in the coloring process -- and if it happened in the coloring process there's only one way I know of for it to have happened: wormwood. In fact I've had the misfortune to taste Ordinaire's Blunder too many times to NOT know what it tastes like; however, I am open to other reasons for such a bitter final product so please impart as much as you can upon me without giving away distiller's secrets.

 

Aaron

 

NOTE: I drink *everything* without sugar...hence my sensitivity.

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You use 96% spirit during the maceration and distillation? The recipes I recall seeing in Duplais and DeBrevans use 85% spirit. I think I remember a recipe from Monzert that called for 95% spirit.

No sir. He didn't state that, specifically... though he may choose to macerate at that strength, his absinthe would be an anisated vodka if he "use[d] 96% spirit during... distillation," especially at so slow a rate.

 

It's an estimate, but going with 28 liters at 96° (using Gilpin's tables instead of G.L.s), that's pretty close to 31.6L at 85°. Even at 50L, 8-9 hours is taking things slow.

 

Stay in touch, deep forest. I'd like to swap some ideas and mull over things with you. Have you heard from Arthur or Ponti lately?

Edited by Grim

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In fact I've had the misfortune to taste Ordinaire's Blunder too many times to NOT know what it tastes like; however, I am open to other reasons for such a bitter final product so please impart as much as you can upon me without giving away distiller's secrets.

It could be as simple as an alternate cultivar of A.a. and/or more water in the distillation; carrying the whole distillation further than you're used to while letting it rest to mellow any phlegmatic contribution to age out. You never considered that?

Edited by Grim

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To tell you the truth, I put more water/alternate AA aside due to the probability of that being the issue. If that IS the issue, I guess probability does not always mean actuality, right?

 

However, as a distiller who is employed by a large distributor, I have to question the final decision to release such a bitter absinthe as "top shelf?" Were I a professional still master, I would never let a product go to market that would even HINT of such a novice blunder.

 

However, that's just me.

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Yes, water is the shit there. Just a little, never toooo mcych.

 

If 97%, 98% and lowwr do require dilution boere startin the process.

 

Dilution afeter the process in facyt is also not that desired unless the distllatye coming from the still is at 65-67% what might happen. AS it goes, let it be. (Apologies I am drunk).

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Yes, water is the shit there. Just a little, never toooo mcych.

 

If 97%, 98% and lowwr do require dilution boere startin the process.

 

Dilution afeter the process in facyt is also not that desired unless the distllatye coming from the still is at 65-67% what might happen. AS it goes, let it be. (Apologies I am drunk).

 

Sorry, not following you mate...maybe you should clear this up tomorrow, eh?

 

Cheers!

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Hopefullyu i have not written any nosnesense?

Not at all. You make perfect sense as usual.

 

Must be the hat, and it's not even aluminum foil.

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I would never let a product go to market that would even HINT of such a novice blunder.

Blunder's a pretty strong word unless you can qualify it. Calamus alone could account for an aggressive, earthy quality if the spirit is not allowed to rest for a spell - quite a few absinthe distillers I've met choose to omit it completely from their receipts. It's an obvious herb when overdone and therefore demands balancing wtih respect to the long-haul in order to be effective. With 12 herbs making up the bill, there's quite a bit of reason to let such an absinthe rest before moving on, especially if others roots are incorporated. If it's well past 6 months of age maybe an aggressive root isn't the whole of the problem, but having dealt with deep forest in the past, I'd never consider him a blundering novice.

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While it may seem as if I was calling him a novice, I was not. I was speaking to the novice blunder of letting such an unbalanced product go to market.

 

Further, unless Calamus can account for an overtly bitter tone which tastes exactly like macerated AA, then I have to ask why it was brought up.

 

Have you tasted the product? Perhaps I could give you a sample, or you could buy your own if not. If Sweet Flag can truly impart the same bitterness as AA, then I stand wholly corrected.

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I was speaking to the novice blunder of letting such an unbalanced product go to market... If Sweet Flag can truly impart the same bitterness as AA, then I stand wholly corrected.

That's what I'm driving at. True herbal balance and finesse, where a decent absinthe is concerned, takes time - can't think of one 19th century authoritive text that doesn't agree. The vast majority of products hit the market fresh off the pot, each one an absinthe half herself in a torpid kind of youth. Some herbs lend "acridity," more or less according to the quantity employed, more or less according to their type. Roots tend to outbitter seeds of the same plant, and roots of any herb tend to be more potent than fennel or anise seed. Even fenchone-laden fennel can taste so bitter as to overthrow the subtle bitterness imparted from pontica or A.a..

 

Another trend to consider is that more than a few familiar makers are attempting to produce wormwood bombs as of late. Some, like one Swiss distiller, even use wildcraft A.a. that is truly rough stuff from the bec to the pinkie.

 

At any rate, have it as you will. Just my thoughts, nothing more.

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You use 96% spirit during the maceration and distillation? The recipes I recall seeing in Duplais and DeBrevans use 85% spirit. I think I remember a recipe from Monzert that called for 95% spirit.

No sir. He didn't state that, specifically... though he may choose to macerate at that strength, his absinthe would be an anisated vodka if he "use[d] 96% spirit during... distillation," especially at so slow a rate.

 

Grim, I intentionally posed the question that way. I fully expected to hear that the spirit was reduced to approximately 60% just before distillation, but was hoping Deep Forest could elaborate. I was more interested in the likelihood the maceration proceeded at 96%. I'm curious whether this significantly accounts for the louche intensity and the generally "sweet" profile (more "solubilization" of important flavors/oils...) or is it something else about the distillation process itself. I know, the herb composition is key as well, just trying to put things in context (in my own mind anyway). Does using a slow distillation technique yield a richer "tail" and does this require using a slower temperature gradient (rather than an "instant" heating ala steam)?

 

If calamus is a likely contributor to bitterness and aging will mellow its bite, then I assume it is susceptible to artificially enhanced aging using UV/sunlight exposure or the oxidative Cusenier process?

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True herbal balance and finesse, where a decent absinthe is concerned, takes time - can't think of one 19th century authoritative text that doesn't agree. The vast majority of products hit the market fresh off the pot, each one an absinthe half herself in a torpid kind of youth.

Agreed. Many of us know first hand what 6 months of aging will do for a fresh CO but how many of us have absinthe that's over 5 years old? Most of us wouldn't consider buying a scotch that's less than ten years old...maybe, fourteen...but I'd make a blind guess, less than 5% of us have absinthe that old.*

 

My point is, the best is yet to come. I try to put a couple of bottles back whenever I can, planning for five and ten years from now.

 

 

*Leaving out you fortunate schmucks hoarding bottles of pre-ban. ;)

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Yes, water is the shit there. Just a little, never toooo mcych.

 

If 97%, 98% and lowwr do require dilution boere startin the process.

 

Dilution afeter the process in facyt is also not that desired unless the distllatye coming from the still is at 65-67% what might happen. AS it goes, let it be. (Apologies I am drunk).

 

Sorry, not following you mate...maybe you should clear this up tomorrow, eh?

 

Cheers!

 

Of course. I would not start distillation with such a high percentage and have never seen a recipe for any of spirits at that.

 

Thus, macerate should be diluted a bit before starting the distillation, the percentage for liqueurs/cordials is either 45% vol or 5 litres of 95-98% vol diluted with 4 litres of water.

 

In case of these herbs-based, the percentage should be higher in the range 50-85% so as to first: extract the essential oils, second: after the distillation get a more refined product.

 

Hence, achieving it at 70%-82% vol, further dilution would flatten the taste-depends on the clientele it will be served to. IMO.

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Now that you mentioned the star anise, could you identify one of the Eichelberger absinths that have it.

Well, the Eichelberger 70 contents star anise. :cheers:

 

I have to say that I really like a "strong" wormwood (only distilled) and herbal taste in absinthes, so I don´t think that the taste is unbalanced. :) I think that the bitterness depends on the wormwood amount in the distillation process, but there are some other herbs which give the absinthe a bitter/herbal taste too.

Of course we pull down the 96% to a moderate level before we start the distillation. ;)

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I have to say that I really like a "strong" wormwood (only distilled) and herbal taste in absinthes, so I don´t think that the taste is unbalanced. :) I think that the bitterness depends on the wormwood amount in the distillation process, but there are some other herbs which give the absinthe a bitter/herbal taste too.

That's what I thought. There's no A.a. used in the colouring step and I don't find the Epoque disturbingly bitter at all. I've only tried it once, under suboptimal conditions. What stroke me was the strong anethole presence, while the typical green anise flavour was not very pronounced. Could have been the impression of the moment though. I'll definitely give it another try.

Of course we pull down the 96% to a moderate level before we start the distillation. ;)

Um, yes. You'd better.

 

(Which reminds me. We have a professional distiller in the Netherlands who manages to blow up his still even at less than 30%. He has blown away the stained glass windows of his historic premises without losing his licence. It's an art.)

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Now that you mentioned the star anise, could you identify one of the Eichelberger absinths that have it.

Well, the Eichelberger 70 contents star anise. :cheers:

 

I have to say that I really like a "strong" wormwood (only distilled) and herbal taste in absinthes, so I don´t think that the taste is unbalanced. :) I think that the bitterness depends on the wormwood amount in the distillation process, but there are some other herbs which give the absinthe a bitter/herbal taste too.

Of course we pull down the 96% to a moderate level before we start the distillation. ;)

 

So then, could you clear up that it might indeed be Grim's theory of Calamus please? If so, I'd gladly remove my comments based on a clear answer.

 

Further, the taste, in general would be well balanced if it weren't so bitter in the aftertaste. I can smell and taste hints that there is much potential for both the Maison and the Epoque (especially when compared with other things Alandia sells), but in comparison to the other top offerings right now, its aftertaste without sugar is simply too bitter.

 

I will note that I had a few glasses last night with sugar (which I never do) in the interest of truly trying to bring out a good flavor and they were excellent; however, it is my personal opinion that one should not be forced to add sugar to make an absinthe whole; it should be whole from the distiller, sugar to be added at drinker's discretion.

 

And by the by, I do apologize for any of this sounding like I'm personally attacking you as I know that I do speak strongly.

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It's true, however, no answer will truly convince me, but I'll edit the comments heavy on the focus of it being a blunder at least. I'm not going for bad press here for the product or the distiller...but the logic is as so:

 

1. Alandia hypes thujone and wormwood

2. Alandia commissions a "high quality" drink to be made to "help" their image

3. While wanting to have a high quality line/drink they've still got to stick to stereotypes of what absinthe "should" taste like to those who are still their principal buyers

4. Alandia wants the absinthe to be "bitter, like it was before the ban...because of the wormwood and the thujone" so a product is made which can masquerade as super-bitter-thujone-hyped garbage in keeping with their creed AND as a "high quality, superior absinthe" to lure in the newbies.

5. Welcome Epoque/Maison

 

__________________________

 

So, if this in any way sounds too far fetched for Alandia to pull of, please let me know if I sound like a conspiracy theorist.

 

I know Deep Forest has something of a decent reputation around here (although, I do not know much more than that), but the fact remains, Alandia still doesn't.

 

Hence my not being convinced they didn't want AA used in coloring. Just a smige, just enough to boost "thujone levels" and just enough to fit their idea of how absinthe should still taste...

 

So, forgive me if it sounds off a little, but I still can't see Alandia as a straight shooter in the absinthe game, maybe that's my downfall.

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I'd say that's a reasonable, if biased, point of view and one which I tend to share.

 

However, if a someone commissions an absinthe from a distiller and has specific ideas in mind, it's up to the distiller to make what they want. He can hardly be blamed for it, nor have his expertise called into question because he was willing to make for someone else what he might not necessarily release on his own, especially if he's release earlier products which confirm his level of expertise. Just an additional thought.

 

By the way, there are many ways of making a spirit bitter without using Aa in the coloration. Gentian is one, as is cichona or even plain quinine. I doubt however that any reasonable amount of Aa in the distillation is going to provide anywhere near that type of bitterness, since the absinthins stay mostly in the pot.

However, as a distiller who is employed by a large distributor, I have to question the final decision ... However, that's just me.
Whoa, that's news. I thought you were in the navy? What distillery are you working for?

 

Speaking of which, I wonder if it's at all possible for you guys to make it a little more obvious?

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This calls for Grim's elevation from "Advanced Member" to "Grand Theorist", though many more alternatives come to mind. :devil:

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I'd say that's a reasonable, if biased, point of view and one which I tend to share.

 

However, if a someone commissions an absinthe from a distiller and has specific ideas in mind, it's up to the distiller to make what they want. He can hardly be blamed for it, nor have his expertise called into question because he was willing to make for someone else what he might not necessarily release on his own, especially if he's release earlier products which confirm his level of expertise. Just an additional thought.

 

By the way, there are many ways of making a spirit bitter without using Aa in the coloration. Gentian is one, as is cichona or even plain quinine. I doubt however that any reasonable amount of Aa in the distillation is going to provide anywhere near that type of bitterness, since the absinthins stay mostly in the pot.

However, as a distiller who is employed by a large distributor, I have to question the final decision ... However, that's just me.
Whoa, that's news. I thought you were in the navy? What distillery are you working for?

 

Speaking of which, I wonder if it's at all possible for you guys to make it a little more obvious?

 

HAHA. You know what I meant Hiram. Or, well, that was kind of confusing...sorry. Erm, I meant that "If I were a distiller who was employed by a large distributor (i.e. maybe Deep Forest?) I'd have to question the final decision." Sorry.

 

And I didn't mean to call the distiller's expertise into question so much as I meant to call Alandia's, I'm sorry if it seemed I was after "Deep Forest" as a person, I was not. Looking back, I could have been a little less crass in my skewering of Epoque. I could have also been more focused in how I directed my posts.

 

__________________

 

 

On another note, the bitterness does not seem to be gentain or quinine, tastes I feel I've had enough of to know. It seriously tastes like AA. I'm not kidding. Gentain, quinine and the various other ways of adding bitterness have certain semantics to their tastes...ones I don't detect in here.

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So it's been three years since this thread was posted in, and much has changed in the absinthe world. Alandia itself has even seen some changes, including starting the absinthefm site, which has all but removed the thujone hyping stuff. Even Alandia's main site has made several improvements.

 

So I was inclined to try the Epoque and Maison Alandia again, as well as several other things that will have reviews and brand threads created soon enough.

 

I was very pleasantly surprised by the new bottle of Epoque I received. The flavor profile was SIGNIFICANTLY improved. Quite enjoyable in fact. I wouldn't call it a very complex absinthe, but there aren't any of the detectable flaws that were mentioned previously.

 

So, for those of you who have just read through the entire thread, I apologize for resurrecting this thread, but in the interest of continuity, I thought it would be best to post in here instead of starting a new thread. It keeps all of the info about the brand in one place.

 

So take the original postings with a grain of salt.

 

I'll be updating and linking my review sometime soon. :cheers:

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