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EdouardPerneau

Best absinthe in the world

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I was thinking ... what kind of absinthe could be the greatest and best absinthe in the world ... I mean to definite the best absinthe in the world (If you have a brand(of a regular absinthe in prodution ) in mind just tells us ) :

how should it taste ? anisey ,wormwoody ?

Does it's need to be spicied with non-traditional ingredient(cinamon,clove etc)?

and how should be the color ? deep amber feuille morte , vibrant light green ,dark medicinal green etc,

How should be the louche ?

How should be the mouthfeel ?

Does it's need to be distill from wine spirit or grain ?

Does it's need to be in clear or dark bottle and what should be the color of the bottle (green,blue,red,yellow,pink,purple,orange etc?

Does it's need to be bottled (cork & wax, T-cap and wax, screw cap)

Does the label need to be detailled or simple ?

How should be the size of the bottle ( 250ml,500ml,750ml,1000ml,1500ml,2000ml) ?

How much should it cost ?

Where it should be crafted ?

Does it's need to be in traditional style or a modern style ?

 

I think that would give template for the new distiller of absinthe in the state to know what their customer wants ... If I forgot something add on to the list are welcome :cheers:

Edited by EdouardPerneau

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EP, lots of twisty passages there. Let me provide my opinions...

 

First off, to ask "what would the best absinthe in the world be like", is essentially the same as asking "what would the best pinot noir in the world be like" (or best cabernet, or chardonnay, or...). Which I also take as being "different" from asking "what would the best wine in the world be like". Because the best wine, even if it were a Cabernet, might not in fact be the best "Cabernet".

 

I also think you've listed a variety of red-herrings in your line up, because if something were in fact the best absinthe, it wouldn't matter if it were in a dark green, cork stoppered, wax sealed bottle, or a cardboard milk-carton. That's just packaging, and frankly a totally separate discussion.

 

So for me, some of the qualities of "The best absinthe" are:

 

Color:

soft grassy green, with just the barest hint of copper. Not "bright", but still with a crystal clear transparency.

 

Louche:

Slightly gradual to build, with a gentle swirling opalecence. It should have some visual complexity to it and be three dimensinoal.

 

Nose:

Smells of anise and fennel, with a slight complex herbal backbone, and just a hint of sweetness.

 

Taste:

Initial hit of anise, which rounds out to fennel, and an ever so slight bitterness that is detectable in the background. A complex array of herbal flavors that linger and develop.

 

Mouthfeel:

Should have a slight sharpness to it from the alcohol, as well as a very, very, slight viscosity. It, and it's flavor, should coat the mouth and appear to come from all angles.

 

Aftertaste:

Should be long and complex. Different aspects of the overall taste should develop gradually and at different times. A slightly sweet anise flavor with almost invisible bitter undertones should remain throughout.

 

 

Of course all of the above are slightly subjective, and different folks here will almost certainly describe different sensations as being the ones they feel are important.

 

Everything else you list is irregardless of this being a 'best absinthe' or not. However I expect we will be unanimous here that in order to be a 'best absinthe', it would NOT present non-traditional flavors, aroma, or color. Something that did so might be the best "anise flavored spirit", or however else we might want to bucket absinthe, ouzo, pastis, etc. into one big bucket, but it would not be up for 'best absinthe'.

 

-Robert

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I don't know....if you were walking into the Louvre and someone walked up to you and asked, "what would be the best art in the world" what would you say? I'd probably stare at them blankly and feel like they've missed the point.

 

Certainly there are technical qualifications that may be the foundation for consideration, but when it comes down to declaring it "best" the determination would be so utterly subjective and fleeting that it's almost futile to attempt to categorize it.

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EP, lots of twisty passages there. Let me provide my opinions...

 

First off, to ask "what would the best absinthe in the world be like", is essentially the same as asking "what would the best pinot noir in the world be like" (or best cabernet, or chardonnay, or...). Which I also take as being "different" from asking "what would the best wine in the world be like". Because the best wine, even if it were a Cabernet, might not in fact be the best "Cabernet".

-Robert

 

Not quite ... the way you are talking is like every absinthe are the same so If I ask a question :

how should be the better whiskey in the world some would say scotsh other would say bourbon as you see there is quite a ball park to play

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Which is exactly why it's hard to pin down just one 'perfect' absinthe. There are many wines that score a perfect 100, each of them very different. But they all carry the same basic characteristics. I think DB's definition is pretty good.

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Don't forget Dosage there, Timothy. Set, Setting and Dosage.

 

Sounds like someone's doing market research, Eddie. ;)

 

 

"Best" is entirely subjective to the tastes of the taster; and there can be only one "best." "Perfect," on the other hand, is a more a matter of possessing all of the desired characteristics of absinthe while also having no flaws.

 

Here's my opinion of what would constitute a "perfect" verte absinthe, of which there could be many, and according to multiple tasters:

 

 

• how should it taste? anisey ,wormwoody ?

 

Yes. In such harmony that the anise doesn't lapse into the Good & Plenty candy taste, and yet also so that the wormwood doesn't overpower the other botanicals.

 

The true secret of the popularity of absinthe, I believe, is in the way quality, flavorful wormwood blends with the flavor of anise. Skillfully done and with the right herbs, one could make a perfect absinthe with just anise and wormwood, with pontica for color.

 

• Does it's need to be spiced with non-traditional ingredient?

 

No, it doesn't need to be, but skillful blending of traditional flavor notes with non-traditional ones could yield some spectacular results... someday.

 

• how should be the color?

 

Initially, a brilliant, crystal clear, emerald green, which over time mellows to a more peridot hue, and finally to warm amber yellow. Too light is better than too dark.

 

Diamond clarity and brightness is challenging to get in a naturally colored absinthe, but it's do-able.

• How should be the louche ?

 

It could be from light translucent to nearly—but not quite—opaque. When seen against light, it should have nuance and interesting hues, like a fine moonstone. It should not be chalky and flat.

 

• How should be the mouthfeel ?

 

Pleasingly smooth, yet slightly dry and crisp. Not oily, not abrasive.

• Does it need to be distilled from wine spirit or grain ?

 

This depends entirely on the skill of the distiller and how clean the spirit is to begin with. In my experience, a perfectly fine absinthe can be made from any sufficiently neutral spirit, but grape spirits yield the best aromas and mouthfeel.

 

• Does it's need to be in clear or dark bottle and what should be the color of the bottle?

As dark as possible, and of any color that suits the distiller, so long as it efficiently blocks UV light.

 

• Does it's need to be bottled (cork & wax, T-cap and wax, screw cap)

 

Whatever works. It shouldn't be boxed or bagged.

• Does the label need to be detailed or simple ?

 

This has absolutely no bearing on the contents. Are we talking about what makes a perfect absinthe, or a perfect product for marketing purposes?

• How should be the size of the bottle ( 250ml,500ml,750ml,1000ml,1500ml,2000ml) ?

 

Whatever works.

• How much should it cost ?

 

For a perfect absinthe? As much as it needs to in order to assure perfection and give each party along the supply chain a fair piece of the revenue.

• Where it should be crafted ?

 

In a clean and well-equipped distillery.

• Does it's need to be in traditional style or a modern style ?

 

It depends on what you mean by "modern style." Some people are using the term "modern style" as an excuse to produce whatever they want and still take advantage of the marketing appeal of "absinthe." I think this goes back to the non-traditional ingredient question above.

 

 

While some are into the science and chemistry of distilling, I approach it as a culinary art form, like any other sort of cooking or mixology. Above all, what makes a perfect absinthe is harmony. An artfully crafted absinthe is like a gourmet meal: all of the flavors are chosen and paired to best advantage so that they create a remarkable and gratifying experience on your palate.

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but grape spirits yield the best aromas and mouthfeel.

 

I disagree (not only because your absinthe is being made with grape spirits and mine will be made with neutral grain spirits) but because of the word "best" you use. I can be argued to specific flavors to lean towards one or the other. But to state (to make definitive by my reading) that grape spirit yields the best aroma and mouthfeel is your (albeit very educated) opinion. I've had many wonderful absinthes made with grape and grain spirits.

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Skillfully done and with the right herbs, one could make a perfect absinthe with just anise and wormwood, with pontica for color.

 

No, it'll lack the wonders of Fennel.

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I agree with the other posts here . Absinthe is so incredibly personal and subjective that I would think the best thing a distiller could do is follow his or her heart as to what a perfect. It's like asking which is the best painting or music. At the end of the day I think these questions can only be answered by ourselves. That said. a perfect Absinthe for me might be:

 

Aroma:

Anise, Fennel, Floral and Herbal. I love when I can smell a bit of something floral and delicate that may seem far away but isn't over powered by Anise alone. The same with herbal complexities. Soft notes that "fill up a room" without the searing heat of alcohol.

 

Louche:

Lot's of oil trails in the beginning and slow build from the bottom or near center of the glass. I love when I can describe a Louche as billowing clouds or thick waves of smoke that roll inward and out. To me the best looking Louche is like a thunder storm in your glass. The color should have some depth to it a shimmer of opalescence.

 

 

Taste:

A strong Initial hit of anise, with lots of Fennel in the foreground. A sharp bitterness that cuts the natural sweetness of Fennel and Anise but doesn't destroy. A rich dance of hard to identify herbal and floral notes that push the flavor past the first taste and become more pronounced as you get to know the Absinthe. The taste should both expected and a complete surprise, familiar and new at the same time - it should be poetry.

 

 

Mouth feel:

A nice numbing of the tongue, not so thick and "milky" your mouth shouldn't feel coated, dry or sticky as I've found with some Absinthes, even ones I'm quite fond of. I like the bite of Wormwood and the other botanicals feel pleasant and clean - not clinging or pasty.

 

Aftertaste:

I like the after taste to be long enough so that you can still distinguish the flavors you enjoyed after your last sip. But it should be lighter and somehow less dominating. Any funky, powder like or odd medicinal flavor that should remain would be a disappointment.

 

 

Clear or Dark Bottle:

 

I've always been surprised when I see a Verte that someone has worked hard to produce in a clear bottle. I think with a blanche it doesn't matter. From what I've read, getting a gorgeous emerald or Peridot green isn't so easy. And maintaining that color no easy task as one of the elements that's sure to destroy it is light. That said, I appreciate when dark glass is used with a Fine Verte Absinthe. Someone on the forum once said "After all it's the green fairy, not the brown fairy" He was absolutely correct. People associate Absinthe with a beautiful green, I've had some Absinthes that have achieved these beautiful colors when the bottle in dark glass to preserve the color.

 

Does the label need to be detailed or simple:

I think the elegance of design on the outside shouldn't do a disservice to the Absinthe on the inside.

 

How should be the size of the bottle:

750 ML but this is just a guess. 70cl is really very small but again these aren't absolutes. If I love an Absinthe I don't care what size the bottle is. The option for a better value with the choice of larger bottle sizes is always appealing, more for less is good.

 

How much should it cost:

Price should be fair. Not set to compete with other brands but set to make sure everyone along the chain of production, distribution and sales makes a profit. And the consumer feels they've gotten their moneys worth.

 

Where it should be crafted:

 

I don't think this matters. But considering how few US Made Absinthes there are certainly having more US based producers would be a positive step in perhaps keeping costs reasonable and adding jobs to our ailing economy. These days every little bit helps.

I can say as a consumer that where an Absinthe is produced has little if any influence on my decision to buy it.

 

 

Does it's need to be in traditional style or a modern style:

 

I like the complex simplicity of the older, more traditional recipes I've tasted. It sounds like an oxymoron but there's a beauty in something that may seem simple at first but is actually far more complex than you might imagine. I've found this with a few brands all of them based on old recipes.

 

The "Modern" Absinthes with odd ingredients such as Basil, Tarragon, Nettles, Pine and all sorts of spices and flavorings that don't seem to fit are unfortunate. Some people love them, to me based on the ones I've tried the taste has been bearable at best. Architects will always tell you that to design something that's complicated is infinitely easier that something that's simple.

 

In a way, I think this would be true for Absinthe. Recipes exist that have worked for hundreds of years, they must have been doing something right. On the other hand, a producer isn't a Xerox machine, they're artists. So putting their own spin, their own imprint on their own Absinthe is their right. Maybe the answer lays in a sweet and beautiful balance of both.

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How should be the size of the bottle:

750 ML but this is just a guess. 70cl is really very small but again these aren't absolutes.

70cl is only 50mL less than 750mL. That's one drink's difference in size. Maybe you're thinking of the 50cL sizes some of the absinthes come in, which I do think is smaller than I'd prefer.

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Don't forget Dosage there, Timothy. Set, Setting and Dosage.

 

Sounds like someone's doing market research, Eddie. ;)

 

Yes a kind of market research :laugh: and also as I said to help the new american distillerie to give them a ball park of what the customer wants .. since there is so many style if we base on vintage protocols (Pontarlier,lyon,beçancon,fougerolles,neuchatel...) and so many interpretation of the style that could be done ...

 

Also I think that the difference in equiment makes difference in the taste also ... If jade were made in charentais stills it wouldn't taste the same ...

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but grape spirits yield the best aromas and mouthfeel.

I disagree (not only because your absinthe is being made with grape spirits and mine will be made with neutral grain spirits) but because of the word "best" you use. I can be argued to specific flavors to lean towards one or the other. But to state (to make definitive by my reading) that grape spirit yields the best aroma and mouthfeel is your (albeit very educated) opinion. I've had many wonderful absinthes made with grape and grain spirits.

So have I, and I thought I made that clear in my comment: "This depends entirely on the skill of the distiller and how clean the spirit is to begin with. In my experience, a perfectly fine absinthe can be made from any sufficiently neutral spirit, but grape spirits yield the best aromas and mouthfeel," in my experience. We were asked to define what would—in our opinion—make the best absinthe.

 

Skillfully done and with the right herbs, one could make a perfect absinthe with just anise and wormwood, with pontica for color.

No, it'll lack the wonders of Fennel.

Fennel certainly has its use and I agree that a truly traditional absinthe will usually include it, but I think it's far from a necessity.
Lot's of oil trails in the beginning and slow build from the bottom or near center of the glass.
With a slow drip, each drop yields huge amounts of trails.

A lot of people talk about these trails, sometimes referring to them as "oil trails" or something similar. They certainly are mesmerizing and fun to watch, adding to the aesthetic of the experience, and make for great photos, but these really have nothing to do with the quality of a particular absinthe and are not oils. It's merely the result of mingling two fluids with a different refractory index, i.e. due to different densities, light passes through the water and the absinthe differently. You can get the same effect with water and simple syrup.

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how should it taste ? anisey ,wormwoody ?

That is mainly depending on the style it is crafted according to. Generally since from the very beginning it was known as "extrait d'absinthe", I personally would be more for a decisive wormwoodiness in the taste, or at least perceptible on the palate.

Does it's need to be spicied with non-traditional ingredient(cinamon,clove etc)?

Definitely not. If at all, only in homeopathic quantitites so as not to overpower the main wormwood-anise combo.

and how should be the color ? deep amber feuille morte, vibrant light green ,dark medicinal green etc,

All colours are acceptable in the range from peridot-tourmaline-feuille morte. Of course, all of them achieved through one of several the colouring methods as applied in Pernod fils, C.F. Berger or by other smaller producers; bearing in mind that some of the methods will not work in case of the bigger batches.

How should be the louche ?

Again, that should be solely on the style it is about represent. Generally, it should be neither too thick nor too thin. Au courant is a right word for.

How should be the mouthfeel ?

Complex, balanced, harmonious. Wormwood, anise, fennel, pontica should be the most discernible, whereas the rest of the crew should nuanceful but accentuated enough to be discovered. It shall be a symphony of tastes and notes, after all, absinthe herbs should play together without any cacophony.

Does it's need to be distill from wine spirit or grain ?

Someone wise said that it was easier to make absinthe using wine spirit since its flavour can hide flaws of the production, whereas as regards grain, which is rather flavourless these couldn't be hidden what makes it more difficult and more challenging. Any spirit is just fine as long as the producer knows how to handle it. On a personal note, I am not a fan of crap cooked from wine dregs, hence I am wholeheartedly for grain.

Does it's need to be in clear or dark bottle and what should be the color of the bottle (green,blue,red,yellow,pink,purple,orange etc?

That is up to the producer. In fact, dark bottles are nice, but from heyday we have seen several brands in more or less clear bottles, so there is no rule. If the producer's desire is to prevent absinthe from changing its colour by putting it in a dark bottle and that absinthe has not been artificially coloured, that is a good move.

Does it's need to be bottled (cork & wax, T-cap and wax, screw cap)

Cork is elegant, so is a nice wine-like dark glass bottle, it is just a matter of aesthethics.

Does the label need to be detailled or simple ?

It should be nice to look, and at least striving towards the traditional style of the labels.

How should be the size of the bottle ( 250ml,500ml,750ml,1000ml,1500ml,2000ml) ?

Two sizes: 500ml and 1000ml, for kids and for adults :devil:

How much should it cost ?

Enough for the quality it represents, if it represents such, of course.

Where it should be crafted ?

Wherever, recent happenings show that decent absinthe can be crafted even in the Czech Republic (re: St. Antoine)-something that was unthinkable for us years ago. There is no monopoly for absinthe only in France or Switzerland.

Does it's need to be in traditional style or a modern style ?

Personal touches are allowed as long as extrait remains in 90% traditional. Observing the market we can clearly indicate that novelty absinthes, modern styles are short-lived and consumers become more and more fastidious and are after quality and tradition (see the successes of Belle Amie, La Coquette, or even Roquette).

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My preferences:

 

Color- Light green/olive with a slight gold/straw yellow tinge, no haze, transparent.

 

Louche- Should not form immediately, and once it does should develop gradually, with nice trails and layering action reminiscent of storm clouds. Should become thick, but not opaque.

 

Nose- The anise should be the most forward note, but not enough to overpower all else. Right along with it there should be a bouquet of alpine herbs with a forward wormwood presence, underlying Florence fennel in the back round, more subdued. It should be complex and well balanced.

 

Taste- The nose is always echoed in the taste, so again anise should be the most forward note but not overpowering. The wormwood should be forward, fennel in the back round. It should be complex and herbaceous, and not sweet. A couple non-traditional ingredients can be a good thing if done correctly, as long as one doesn't go overboard with quirky ingredients, which becomes distracting and can even inject doubt as to if what you're drinking is even absinthe.

 

Mouthfeel and Finish- I think Drink Boy summed these up perfectly.

 

Bottle Design- I prefer it classy and old school. I think the Jade bottles are very nice, as well as the Roquette, Belle Amie, La Coquette and L' Italienne. I'm not fan of the Lucid & Duplais bottles. I even think the Vdf & Bdf bottles are simple and elegant. Now of course if they were to put Belle Amie in a Hawaiian Punch bottle, I'd still drink it, but the visual appeal of the bottles does mean something to me.

 

Spirit Base- Grape

 

Bottles- I like the 75ml Jade bottles. The size, shape and dark tint are all ideal. I also prefer corks and wax seals. They are more of a pain to open, but make for better seals. The only thing I don't like is that the Jade corks are notorious for being brittle. If not for this I'd say the Jade bottles would be my idea of the perfect vessel.

 

Price- Well since we're talking about the "perfect" absinthe here... Free would be ideal. Realistically though they should be reasonably priced. I believe the Duplais products and the Ike are good examples of fair pricing.

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EP, lots of twisty passages there. Let me provide my opinions...

[...]

-Robert

Goodness almost a "a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."

 

Well, not so all alike.

 

All the same, a nice allusion for us old time techies, Robert.

 

In any case, EP, step carefully in those dark passages, or you may be eaten by a Grue...

 

~Erik

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Yes a kind of market research :laugh: and also as I said to help the new american distillerie to give them a ball park of what the customer wants

 

Now THAT is a horse of a different color.

 

If the objective is to help a new distiller figure out what they want to bring to the market, then the conversation takes a decidedly different turn.

 

First off it would be necessary to know what level of real experience this distiller already has with Absinthe. If "not much", then first objective would be to provide as much experience as possible. Make sure that they get a good well-rounded introduction to what abinsthe tastes like, from the very bad, to the very good. Once that adventure is nearly complete, I'd even recommend springing for a healthy sample of a good pre-ban.

 

Next, or also, it would be important to understand what this distiller really wants to do. Where their head is at. Are they simply wanting to jump on the Absinthe bandwagon with a good product, or are they heart and soul dedicated to producing the best possible product they can, which is as faithful to authentic absinthe as possible. Or perhaps they are mavericks, and want to see if they can "redefine the category" with something bizzare, unusual, and revolutionary?

 

-Robert

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