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AiO

Vieux Carre

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I was just in Philly for a few days with my wife; on our way out of town this morning, we stopped by Philadelphia Distilling at Rob's invitation for a quick tour.

 

I can't say enough about his graciousness as a host. He just finished bottling a run of Bluecoat on Tuesday and was busy with clean-up yesterday, but still made time (on New Year's Eve, no less!) to show us around the distillery and talk to us about his work.

 

He walked us through the steps he takes in distilling Bluecoat, Vieux Carre, and his Penn 1681 rye vodka (he's got an amazing set-up for a craft distiller, including an enormous custom-made copper pot still he uses for his gin and absinthe and a four column continuous still he uses for his vodka) and allowed us to handle samples of the herbs (both raw and in pure distillate) he uses for the BC and VC. As you might imagine, the place smells amazing, what with the open sacks of herbs laying around and the absinthe that splashes on the floor when he samples it to monitor its development as it ages.

 

I was interested to see that he and his partners have recently changed the lettering on the VC bottles to make it more readable (most prominently, the brand name is now in white rather than black letters); also, he's playing around a little with the coloration process to get more uniformity in the appearance of the absinthe and reduce the amount of sediment in the bottle.

 

What impressed me most, though, was Rob himself. He is clearly a passionate guy who's 100% devoted to his craft. He's also as nice and down-to-earth a person as you could hope to meet. A class act.

 

Cheers, Rob. Keep up the good work! :cheers:

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Sounds like a good time. I enjoy the Vieux Carre. I've commented on the color being a bit dark and dead leaf, and about the sediment, but it's still wondrous. I always like hearing about passionate distillers, too.

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I just picked up a bottle yesterday, it's been a few weeks since I've had it.

To me it seems to be a little different. Usually I decant it in two parts because I feel it helps

mellow it out a little. This bottle was what I thought to be perfectly balanced, it had the color that

it did in the beginning and the flavor was just wonderful. Maybe it's me, but it is best bottle of VC that

I have had to date... And man is it getting empty fast...

:cheers:

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That jives with what AiO posted. Sounds like Rob is continually tweaking it here and there. That can only mean good things for everyone!

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Sounds like a place I'd like to visit! Very cool report, AiO, and...

 

also, he's playing around a little with the coloration process to get more uniformity in the appearance of the absinthe and reduce the amount of sediment in the bottle.

...makes me want to pick up another bottle. :cheers:

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Rob was nice enough to gift me with a signed bottle of the latest run of VC before we left the distillery (a generous guy, like I said).

 

I had a dose left in my last bottle, so I louched it up and did a side-by-side comparison with a glass from the new run.

 

Neat, the new stuff is definitely lighter in appearance; a lovely bright green--just a shade or two darker than true peridot. The old stuff is closer to feuille morte: a rich amber. To be fair, however, I (and others) have noted before that the first glass from a freshly-opened bottle of VC tends to be much lighter in color than the last. I suspect this has to do with the amount of herbal sediment in the bottle. Over time (and perhaps with exposure to oxygen), it darkens the color of the absinthe left in the bottle. Also, unless shaken, the sediment tends to collect towards the bottom of the bottle, so that early glasses tend to be relatively bright and free of particulate, whereas later glasses are darkened by it. Interestingly, the new bottling has very little sediment in it--a light haze as opposed to the "algae blooms" you'd see in earlier bottlings. I'd guess that one way Rob is trying to ensure color consistency (and longevity) is by reducing the amount of sediment in the bottle. I can't know for sure, though, since I didn't have the opportunity to compare my bottle with others from the new run; maybe I just got one that was freer of sediment than others. I will say, though, that it has less of the stuff in it than any other bottle I've seen of VC on the shelf here in PA--and I've seen dozens.

 

I was surprised to find that, louched, the two glasses looked very similar in appearance. The new run was just a tad lighter than the old, though the louche was also perhaps a little thicker and more opaque.

 

And the taste? The flavor profile is more or less the same. The glass from the new bottle does seem a little more wormwood-forward to me. I had the opportunity to play around with samples (raw and distillate) of the excellent and very distinctive A.a. Rob uses in VC and that's what dominates for me here, especially in the finish: sharp, pungent, minty wormwood. The glass from the old bottle is a little softer and more mellow, with A.a playing less of a lead role. I get more of the genepy and the other supporting herbs--those distinctive tea-like notes. Also, the glass from the new bottle seemed a bit more robust to me: I louched both glasses to the exact same ratio (a little over 3:1), but the glass from the old bottle tasted a little watery in comparison. No doubt this has something to do with amount of time the old bottle has had to breathe (a couple of months) vs. the new (which I just opened last night for a little New Year's toast). But there has perhaps also been a minor shift in the balance of the herbs. I'll have to wait and see how the new bottle ages.

 

Bottom line: it was good stuff; it is good stuff. No radical changes, just a few tweaks here and there: labelling and MAYBE color, amount of sediment, and a small difference in the balance of the herbs.

 

I took a few photos for the sake of comparison; if I can figure out how to upload them from my hd, I'll do so.

 

Well done, Rob! Thanks again! :cheers:

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Here are a few pics from my side-by-side comparison of the old bottling of VC versus the new bottling. In each photo, the old stuff is on the left and the new stuff is on the right.

 

DSCN1482.jpg

 

DSCN1479.jpg

 

DSCN1483.jpg

 

DSCN1484.jpg

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AiO! The pics look fabulous. I'd be curious to see what the new stuff looks like with a little time, especially with the sediment question. Your glass on the left was the last bit from the older bottle, and the color may have been affected by the sediment.

 

If there is little sediment in the new bottle, then it's possible it might hold that beautiful color for longer, and that would be fantastic! I think my bottle looked a bit brown even when I first got it. It never looked as nice as your new one. I'm sure that has a lot to do with the work that Rob is doing.

 

Either way, I'm stoked. And I love the pre-louche comparison photos. Thanks, man!

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No problem, Ron.

 

I'm in full agreement with your comment about color and sediment; that's why I was careful to qualify my statements above about the new bottling. IF there is a connection between color and sediment, and IF the virtual absence of sediment in my new bottle isn't just a fluke, then it's possible that the color of this new run of VC will be more stable than in the past. Only time will tell for sure, though. And regular sampling! :cheers:

 

Your comment about the work Rob's putting into VC is spot-on too. Based on my visit with him, it's clear to me that he is 100% committed to making his absinthe the best it can be.

 

 

EDIT: I should probably also emphasize again that, aside from any changes in the appearance of VC, changes to the flavor profile--if there are any; have to wait for it to breathe a little longer to be sure--are minor. I'd compare the relationship between the new and previous runs of VC as being similar (in terms of any difference in taste) to the relationship between the latest and previous runs of Pacifique. And I think Zman summed that relationship up well: it's a "continuation of the same process."

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From your description and the pics, I'm looking forward to trying the more recent batch! To my palate the older one had some grassiness, and if this is connected to sediment, etc., then the new one should be better off in that regard.

 

:cheers: to you and Rob!

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Hey everyone...I just got a bottle from the new batch today, and what a wonderful difference! I liked it a lot before as well, but the color, aroma and flavor were improved (at least to my taste.) The louche is a cleaner whitish green now as well. Good job on the tweaks Robert, and thanks again!

Edited by sbmac

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I WANT THAT MOL JULIE!!! WAHHHHH!!!!!

before MOL: :3869-sadbanana: After MOL :mbanana:

 

I understand next week...

Edited by oglala56

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I had this at a high-end restauarant tasting menu event last year and I have to say that I was rather pleased by it. I'll be visiting my folks in PA later on this spring, and I might have to figure out a way to fly a bottle home with me, since it sounds like this isn't available here in WA yet? I don't know- I have to say the state stores here don't have nearly the selection of ANY type of alcohol that I found in PA, but maybe I just haven't found the right state store yet.

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I had this at a high-end restauarant tasting menu event last year and I have to say that I was rather pleased by it. I'll be visiting my folks in PA later on this spring, and I might have to figure out a way to fly a bottle home with me, since it sounds like this isn't available here in WA yet? I don't know- I have to say the state stores here don't have nearly the selection of ANY type of alcohol that I found in PA, but maybe I just haven't found the right state store yet.

 

Contact http://catskillcellars.com/

They have MOL..WW..Vieux Carre and Pacifique...excellent service..

Edited by oglala56

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Wow. And I thought PA had terrible selection

 

Ditto. In fact, I find it hard to believe there is worse out there. At least y'all have Pacifique and Voyager.

 

Oh, and what B.R. said about DUNY.

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Wow. And I thought PA had terrible selection.

They do, but you can go to the "premium" stores and find some things that are available only there.

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Wow. And I thought PA had terrible selection.

They do, but you can go to the "premium" stores and find some things that are available only there.

 

Yep, the big fancy stores have much more selection. Also the PA stores adjust their inventory regionally- so in the area that I lived in had a wonderful selection of Kosher offerings. Here in WA it seems pretty standard stock regardless of where you go. Means you'll always find the same regular stuff which I guess is nice, but when shopping for the lesser known/lesser used varieties it's kind-of a let down.

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Wow. And I thought PA had terrible selection.

They do, but you can go to the "premium" stores and find some things that are available only there.

 

True, but even the "premium" W&S stores are woefully lacking in both the wine and the spirits departments.

 

Just off the top of my head, a (by no means exhaustive) list of essential spirits and cocktail ingredients that I either have to order online or drive down to Maryland to pick up when I'm out:

 

Rittenhouse Rye (both regular and bonded!)

Lairds bonded applejack (their aged apple brandies too)

Any kind of decent gin beyond Plymouth and Bluecoat

Too many brands of rum to mention (Coruba, Rhum Clement VSOP, Barbancourt, any kind of demerara rum (Lemon Hart, El Dorado, etc.), Wray & Nephew Overproof, just to name a few)

Benedictine

Pisco

Sloe gin

Maraschino liqueur

Any kind of violette liqueur (Creme de violette, Creme yvette, Parfait Amour, etc.)

Any kind of decent liqueur period (Jacquins is pretty much all they offer)

St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Chartreuse (yellow and green)

Velvet Falernum

Any kind of flavored syrup (orgeat, passionfruit, etc.)

Any kind of Italian amer beyond Campari and Averna

Any kind of decent vermouth beyond Noilly Pratt

Any kind of bitters beyond Angostura (Peychauds included!)

 

I could go on, but I won't. It's too depressing. They'll special order some of this for you, but often you have to by 6 or 12 bottles at a time. And this applies to absinthe as well, of course. The only decent brands the state stores carry are Lucid, Kübler, and VC.

 

The one positive thing I'll say about the PLCB is that once a year they reliably get the Sazerac special edition ryes in stock (Thomas Handy and Sazerac 18) and don't charge an arm and a leg for them--just the SRP.

 

End rant.

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Just a side note. My new bottle of VC is quite nice. I found the magic...at 3.5:1 rather than 3:1

(at least for me) the alcohol heat vanishes, the aroma becomes very floral, and the pepper and spice in the flavor still remains full with a nice finish. This totally made this drink wonderful. I'm learning it is a fine balance with each maker to find that sweet spot. 4:1 was way to thin.

 

Nice work folks at Philly.

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3.5:1 was always my sweet spot for VC as well.

 

With this bottle from the new run, though, I find myself going closer to 4:1 with no ill effects; in fact, it tastes delicious when prepared that way. Don't know if it's Rob's tweaks or that the absinthe is still relatively "young"--or whether my palate has changed--but it seems much less prone to over-watering than in the past. Interesting...

 

BTW, the color has deepened slightly since I opened it a month ago, but is still a beautiful shade of green. I'll post another pic when I get the chance.

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A quick update on the color of the new batch of VC about six weeks after opening. Here, for reference, is the original photo I took (1/2/10) of the old VC (left) and the new VC (right) upon opening the new bottle:

 

 

DSCN1479.jpg

 

 

 

And here's a photo of the new VC I took tonight under identical circumstances:

 

DSCN1556.jpg

 

As you can see, the color has remained more or less unchanged so far. Just a shade deeper, perhaps, but nothing on the order of the coloration changes you'd see in older batches. Perhaps if other folks who have received bottles from the new run (white lettering on the bottle is the tell-tale sign) could post pics as well, we could determine if my bottle is anomalous or indicative of a new direction for this absinthe. Interesting stuff!

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Here's the first bottle on the left, and the new batch bottle on the right backlight by a bright window. The colors are very accurate to how they look in the glass. The first bottle was only a week or so old when I took this photo, and that is how it looked the day I got it. The color of the new one is much more inviting, and the louche color is wonderful now. The louche was kind kind of brownish green before, now it sparkles

and shimmers, and is a nice white-green with copper highlights.

VieuxCarre.jpg

Edited by sbmac

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Nice, sbmac! Thanks for the independent confirmation. Same color and it looks like your bottle is mostly free of sediment too--just a light haze, like mine.

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