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Vieux Carre

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I would not confuse the quality of an absinthe with whether or not you think it needs sugar! I agree with you; VC is best without. There are some very fine absinthes however, that I do enjoy with sugar. In some cases, it brings out hidden or subtle notes. Don't forget, it was the common way to prepare the best absinthes from the Belle Époque, that we now consider benchmarks.

 

There is a common position among many that they don't use sugar anymore. This is a personal choice, not an evolution showing one's degree of experience or expertise. It is a personal journey of discovering your preferences. I only sugar certain absinthes, but these few open up nicely with sugar, for my tastes.

 

I bring this up only for the reason that some new to absinthe may start avoiding sugar, even though they enjoy it in absinthe, only because some veterans don't use it, and feel it is a goal to reach that position.

 

It’s my opinion that the quality of taste of VC stands great alone, without sugar. When I say of a high quality I am referring to the taste and I am specifically referring to my taste because that is the only taste I can experience. Everyone’s palate is different and taste is highly subjective. I do not doubt at all that there are some very high quality absinthes out there that benefit from sugar. I am neither denigrating using sugar nor the ritual of using sugar. It was the historic ritual of preparing absinthe with sugar on spoons that was one of the aspects that most intrigued me.

 

I noticed when using sugar cubes that the sugar wouldn’t even all dissolve into the absinthe. It was supersaturated with sugar. It was just too much. I also dislike the idea of consuming so much sugar for every glass of absinthe (I felt almost like I might as well just crush it up and snort it). It was this reason as well as for reasons of taste experimentation that I tried it without sugar and good Lord do I like it just fine without sugar.

 

I recall hearing the St. George guy saying that he doesn’t like to use sugar, but other than that I had no idea that there was a move among absintheurs to do away with using sugar. I am unaware of any possible dispute in this area and I certainly don’t pretend to a great deal of experience, let alone expertise (if you know off hand of any references to such discussions I would be interested in reviewing them). VC is the first genuinely good absinthe I have even had.

 

I am intrigued by the history of absinthe and the rituals, but I am more concerned with what tastes good to me. If I have an authentic absinthe and it tastes delicious without sugar I don’t feel any obligation to dissolve a sugar cube into it.

 

Everyone, again, has their own tastes and they are entitled to have their own tastes. I was only speaking for myself and my experience. I don’t want to sound as though I am arguing against using sugar or implying that no one should use sugar with VC. I was only discussing my experience and preference towards it.

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Funny, a little (half cube) of sugar is mandatory for VC in my case. But I do enjoy it a lot. At the moment it is my favorite decanter, a job the bottle does very well. Maybe I need another decanter, one with VC still in it. :)

 

A really fantastic bottle for sure. Very nice design.

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Sugar or sans? Dead horse. Every palate is different. Makes no difference as long as it tastes good to you. 'nuff said.

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It is my firm belief that Vieux Carre is of such a high quality that sugar is something a bit like a perversion.

 

 

The only reason I responded to your post at all was the above quote. I'm sure you can see why that sentence could induce such a reply. Enjoy the journey. Hit the review section and find some more good stuff.

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The first time I tried it with the usual sugar cube per glass and had three glasses. I had only planned on having one or at most two (I could only take one glass of the La Fee at a time and never had more than a few sips of the Pernod) but it was just so damn delicious.

Welcome to the world of real absinthe! There's a reason La Fee and the modern Pernod have the reputations they do, and you've just said it with amazing clarity.

 

The sugar seemed to be a bit much, especially when having more than one glass and using an entire sugar cube per glass.

The sugar thing is entirely a personal preference. I hear rumors about a certain historian-distiller using stacked pyramids of sugar cubes. I don't sugar any absinthe anymore, of course I will eat raw wormwood straight off the stalk and 100% baking chocolate like candy as well so...

 

I almost always drink absinthe in a "punch" ...that is, with sugar, water, lime juice and cucumber slices.

I'll have to try that someday.

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When I first saw this conversation develop, somehow I knew I'd be jumping in.

 

After a few weeks I got out the Vieux Carre again and this time didn't bother with the sugar... I found a very noticeable improvement in taste without the sugar. It was also far easier to distinguish the flavors. The sugar seems to muddy the absinthe.

 

I have the same experience with most absinthes. I have more than once described it to people as "Without sugar, my perception of the absinthe is like looking at and touching a brick wall. Each brick is a different detail, or facet of the absinthe. With sugar, it's like someone skim-coated the mortar to bring it up to plane with the bricks, making it harder for me to "feel" the distinction of each one."

 

Also, and I have said this before; For me, sugar in absinthe is very similar to sugar in coffee (which I don't do). Instead of tasting some new "blended" balance between the sweet and bitter components, I taste each separately, and they seem in conflict with each other.

 

I would not confuse the quality of an absinthe with whether or not you think it needs sugar!... Don't forget, it was the common way to prepare the best absinthes from the Belle Époque, that we now consider benchmarks.

 

We know it was the common way, however it is worth keeping in mind that most beverages were consumed in much sweeter balance at that time. I frequenty use the example of Champagne, which was a sweet wine fully through that time period. Brut Champagne only originated in the late 1800s, and was made only for the British market. It never caught on in the balance of the world until after WWI.

 

There is a common position among many that they don't use sugar anymore. This is a personal choice, not an evolution showing one's degree of experience or expertise.

 

Totally agreed.

 

Sugar or sans? Dead horse. Every palate is different. Makes no difference as long as it tastes good to you. 'nuff said.

 

Obviously not dead, and not 'nuff. This question will always be new to someone.

 

And finally, from the "Absinthe Review Guide", "Tutorial", "Flavor" section;

 

Just as with coffee or tea, whether or not to sugar absinthe is entirely a personal preference and is genetically influenced. Those who perceive absinthe as bitter or astringent enough to always require sugar, as opposed to those who perceive anise as a form of sweetness on its own, don’t simply have differing opinions about an identical experience, they literally experience the taste differently. They are having two different experiences. You may hear someone say that a particular absinthe “doesn’t need sugar” but this is an uninformed opinion. The sugar is for the drinker, not the absinthe!

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Agreed on all points FBP. This is why I always try my first glass of a new absinthe without sugar. There are times, even with the ones I usually sugar, where I want the distinct elements to be free of the sugar's influence, for exactly the reasons you stated. I would almost qualify these moments as being "in a more serious mood". It's hard to describe. When I want a relaxing, happy, comfort-based glass of verte, usually the sugar does it for me. If I'm feeling more in a thinking-zone, or working on a piece of writing or a song, I often leave the sugar out. I must admit however, I do have a bit of a sweet-tooth the majority of the time.

 

It's also critical to have a steady protocol when doing tastings and reviews.

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I think I tried my first glass of absinthe with sugar (Lucid) and since then haven't really bothered. For some reason for me, sugar tastes off in absinthe. It's the same sugar I use in my coffee every morning and I'll eat a cube on it's own once in a while, but it has the strangest taste when in absinthe. Every now and then I'll try a brand with sugar but usually it's not to my liking...that said, Pacifique is like an ultra-decadent uber-dessert with a little sugar. :dev-cheers: I can see where VC would already be sweet enough without sugar...I find the same to be true of most blanches as well.

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Also, and I have said this before; For me, sugar in absinthe is very similar to sugar in coffee (which I don't do). Instead of tasting some new "blended" balance between the sweet and bitter components, I taste each separately, and they seem in conflict with each other.

And I've said it before, "me too". This describes exactly how I respond to sugar in coffee, and absinthe.

 

And then ...

 

A week or so ago, a friend was over and trying his first glass of absinthe (we had MoL). I was getting ready to add the water and he interrupted -- what about the sugar cube? So I got out the spoons, and the sugar, and did the whole thing. I have some little wrapped cubes that I got a long time ago from La Maison d'Absinthe, there are two pieces in the paper, so I just used half. It really wasn't bad. It tasted more "blended" to me this time, more liqueur-like. No explanation for the change in perception. Maybe the small amount of sugar I used, maybe just the setting, who knows.

 

I still prefer without, but after this experience, and I'll probably continue to try sugar occasionally. At least it gives me a chance to play with my spoons.

 

(And then yesterday I inadvertently took a swig of my wife's sweetened coffee -- yeeech!)

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I have a sweet tooth, but I find sugar will ruin certain absinthes. MoL and Ridge V for exame. But in the case of Perroquet, I hated it w/out sugar, but quite liked it with.

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I picked up my first bottle of Vieux Carré today. Opened the bottle and of course took a whiff of the aroma. Not familiar with the "term(s)" used for the description so I'll suffice to say it smelt of liquorice and other stuff. A pleasant aroma all the same. I'm not a fan of liquorice candy so I was anticipating how this would compare taste wise. I had read in a thread that one of the brands had been tried neat so that was my first taste. Thankfully, it was a very small amount. WOW -- very intense flavors. Had read in several threads the differing dilutions and it seemed that about 3:1 was about the most popular. That is what I'm sipping on at the moment. No sugar. The flavors are all there but not over powering. The liquorice is there but not like in the candy where it is just too much. A natural tasting, multi-dimensional flavor profile for which I'm ill-equipped to properly explain. I do experience the numbness on the lips and tongue as well. Overall, much enjoyed and looking forward to comparing VC to other absinthe brands. Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome and the guidance to a very positive first absinthe experience. :thumbup:

Edited by WalkingWolf

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Don't be afraid to experiment with adding a bit more water to see what happens. Sometimes that tiny bit extra will cut back on the alcohol bite without thinning the rest of the elements out too much... this also can open up more floral notes that you may miss at 3:1. A good start!

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I had read in a thread that one of the brands had been tried neat...

I would imagine every brand and type has been tasted and/or tried neat.

I have to confess to be a "lid-licker"... and I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one that does it. ;)

(I still enjoy a bit neat every once in a while too.)

Glad to hear you're enjoying VC. It's a tasty verte. :cheers:

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... it smelt of liquorice and other stuff...

I've noticed that similarity before too! :laugh:

I need to pick up another bottle of Vieux Carre, now that you mention it.

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To those who haven't had VC in a year or more, you may be quite surprised; not only I, but two friends as well, have noticed it has evolved quite a bit. It is now one of my favorite go-tos for American absinthe, and is certainly a bargain. In fact, MOL, Pacifique, Leopold's, Ridge and VC will give a newby 5 very different yet quality profiles. What a great way to start out, and learn the different preferences and personalities.

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They just posted a photo of what looked like absinthe accumulating in a fairly stout see-through pressure vessel. I'm guessing that lowering pressures leads to lowered distilling temps, wich leads to a less 'cooked vegetable' taste? I know in beer making, you want to cool the wort quickly after the boil, or risk a carboy full of cooked veggies.

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VC is one of the few I will occasionally sip undiluted out of a shot glass. It has a sweet finish to it which makes me able to enjoy it undiluted in small doses of course.

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I picked up a bottle of VC at my local PA Wine and Spirits, and reading through this thread I noticed there was a label change a while back. My bottle has the old black lettering, so does that mean it's a couple of years old? Should I be happy to have a slightly aged bottle, or disappointed that it's not the "new and improved" version? There seems to be a lot of talk about it improving since the first batch.

Edited by akumushi

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I've been drinking VC for several years and I don't ever notice a difference. It always taste just as I remember it, which is to say, to my freak of a palate: cucumbers and moss.

I like it and when I'm in the mood for it, it is the only thing that will do. Although I do find myself grabbing that bottle less and less, I do still enjoy it when I drink it.

 

 

Oh, the cucumber and moss thing is in no way an insult or derogatory,

Even quite aside from absinthe, I have a thing for both. :)

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I've been drinking VC for several years and I don't ever notice a difference. It always taste just as I remember it, which is to say, to my freak of a palate: cucumbers and moss.

I like it and when I'm in the mood for it, it is the only thing that will do. Although I do find myself grabbing that bottle less and less, I do still enjoy it when I drink it.

 

 

Oh, the cucumber and moss thing is in no way an insult or derogatory,

Even quite aside from absinthe, I have a thing for both. :)

 

Nice, sipping it now I can definitely taste the cucumbers & moss :laugh:

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You never can tell what she may......

 

 

do or say at any given moment.

 

 

It's all part of my charm...except "charm" isn't the expression I usually hear. :devil:

Edited by Hedonmonkey

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