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Vieux Carre

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Lots of interesting points here. I realize we've taken the thread OT, but the admins can split this off if they wish. I find the discussion enjoyable, and I hope other WS readers will put up with it for while yet. ;)

 

Perhaps we can achieve clarity if we redefine our terms somewhat. I was using the term "objective" to mean "free of personal bias and opinion, as in an objective evaluation." Brian and I seem to disagree about the nature WS ratings: it is true that they "give specific instructions for what each quality is, and the respective number for each," but because there is no way to make such evaluations empirically (the instruments are our human senses), I see the rating system as fundamentally subjective.

 

Where I agree wholeheartedly with Brian is that we should try to be impartial by discounting irrelevant factors, such as how we feel personally about the distiller. Blind tastings are a good way to do this, and I daresay that there are several absinthes that would perform very well among their detractors in such an experiment.

 

I think Dakini Painter's assessment is spot on: the implication of an "objective" approach (carried to its logical extreme) is that all absinthes that meet certain essential criteria would get the same rating, though Brian does acknowledge an "element of subjectivity," so clearly WS does not want put the rating system on rails, so to speak. In any case, identical ratings will never happen in the current WS system, because users are free to make evaluations howsoever they wish.

 

This raises yet another subjective evaluation that must be made at times. If, out of total ignorance of absinthe or disdain for Ted Breaux or something, one were to rate Jade Edouard "1" across the board, the editorial board would likely intervene in some way to alert readers to an obviously biased and unwarranted review. If one rated the same absinthe "5" across the board, that review would undoubtedly be allowed to stand. Somewhere between these two extremes is an ill-defined and arbitrary line that the editors would have to draw. If Jade Eddy receives a combined score of 2.5, how should this be handled? What about a 1.5?

 

Btw, I tend to agree with Peridot that the overall value of color could be reduced in the rating scheme, though perhaps with so many reviews on the books, it would be better not to tinker at this point. <shrug> That's someone else's call.

 

[edit] Why does sbmac think this discussion is being conducted in German? :devil:

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If, out of total ignorance of absinthe or disdain for Ted Breaux or something, one were to rate Jade Edouard "1" across the board, the editorial board would likely intervene in some way to alert readers to an obviously biased and unwarranted review. If one rated the same absinthe "5" across the board, that review would undoubtedly be allowed to stand.

Disagree.

 

Having said that, in Brian's position as review editor, he ultimately holds the power of approval on reviews that are submitted. And I'm sure he's developed a sixth sense for suspect reviews, pro and con.

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Why does sbmac think this discussion is being conducted in German? :devil:

 

 

I couldn't find the clip in English, and thought it was funny as Hell in German anyway! (This way we can pretend it's Brian and Marlow discussing absinthe reviews with their respective peanut galleries cheering them on!) Of course, this is my subjective opinion..... :biggrin:

 

Cast: Reverend Lovejoy: Brian

Mr. Burns: Marlow

Barney: Sbmac

Mayor Quimby: Gwydion Stone

Edited by sbmac

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Blind tastings are a good way to do this, and I daresay that there are several absinthes that would perform very well among their detractors in such an experiment.
Oh, the stories I could tell. This has happened MANY MANY times. There are some people (from other forums) who've given such great reviews of products that they profess to hate, that I just haven't had the heart to tell them the truth.

 

If Jade Eddy receives a combined score of 2.5, how should this be handled? What about a 1.5?
My 'job' as review editor isn't to quash anyone's opinion. It's to make sure people stick to the rules and write a fair review. As Ron has mentioned, it's normally fairly easy to pick out reviews that are either 'brand moles' or 'competitor moles', and even those that are done without adhering to the criteria. It would be tough to stick to the criteria and still give Eddy (or DP or Leopold or Marteau, Pacifique, Helfrich, etc etc) a review that low, even if you don't like the product. Based on the criteria, it's practically impossible to have a properly made, distilled absinthe that is naturally colored (or has a color that appears naturally) to score below a 3.

 

I've communicated with several people about reviews that have been given that stand out for that exact reason. Most readers here who have scored an absinthe 5s have heard from me, just to review a few things and make sure they understand the system. If that ends up being their true feelings about the absinthe, then so be it. At the same time, I've asked several people (all of whom aren't regular contributors) to ammend their reviews so that they conform to the criteria.

 

Btw, I tend to agree with Peridot that the overall value of color could be reduced in the rating scheme,

I don't disagree, but I think it would be up to Gwydion to figure out whether that would stand the whole system on its head and screw with existing reviews too much.

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I've communicated with several people about reviews that have been given that stand out for that exact reason. Most readers here who have scored an absinthe 5s have heard from me, just to review a few things and make sure they understand the system. If that ends up being their true feelings about the absinthe, then so be it. At the same time, I've asked several people (all of whom aren't regular contributors) to ammend their reviews so that they conform to the criteria.

 

That sounds like a good approach to me. As I said above, I do think on the whole the WS system is working well. :cheers:

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Agreed.

 

There will never be a perfect review system. There will always be parts that people disagree with. Especially when you have such a wide swath of people, like we have here. The idea is to work with what we have in a way that will reflect a fair review. If there are shortcomings to the numerical system, it can be noted in the typed section.

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I received my fresh bottle from Robert in the post today, and I have to say that -- whether it is due to the old bottle being a bit off, or due to the slight reformulation -- the new bottle represents quite a significant improvement.

 

I tasted a bit next to a small sample I withheld from the older bottle, and the difference to me was pronounced.

 

I'll try to post pics and a more detailed review in the next couple of days, but felt it important to pop on here and relate as soon as possible that this bottle is quite good.

Edited by kaseijin

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I agree...the color was improved, and the louche was fantastic. It was very opalescent with light greens and whites with copper highlights. Just the right translucence. A lot of light effects. This did not happen with my first bottle, in fact the louche was an unattractive color. I modified my review to reflect this. I also felt the flavor was crisper and brighter. The anise is is balanced very evenly with the fennel and herbs. Overall, whatever Rob did, he fine-tuned a good absinthe into a really good absinthe.

Edited by sbmac

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/me scrapes together some cash for this weekend's purchase of a new and improved bottle 'o VC.

 

You may have trouble finding one of those bottles locally, sad to say. Here in York, the premium store is still stocking only the older bottles with the black lettering. I suspect they won't order/receive a shipment of the new stuff until they sell their current inventory. Might be different in your neck of the woods, though. Don't know how fast they go through VC up there in TMI country.

 

To my knowledge, everyone who has commented on the new run of VC thus far received their bottles directly from Rob.

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I believe Julie at Catskill is now carrying VC...might be the new batch!

 

She is, I just ordered a bottle, not sure if the new batch, along with Pacifique..and it has been shipped..

Edited by oglala56

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I believe Julie at Catskill is now carrying VC...might be the new batch!

 

She is, I just ordered a bottle, not sure if the new batch, along with Pacifique..and it has been shipped..

 

My MOL order is shipping at the end of the week...

Edited by oglala56

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I tasted a bit next to a small sample I withheld from the older bottle, and the difference to me was pronounced.

 

I love happy endings. :cheers:

:mbanana:

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Here in York, the premium store is still stocking only the older bottles with the black lettering.

 

I wasn't aware that the lettering had changed. What am I looking for? I didn't see anything in this thread...

Edited by precenphix

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Photos likely incoming either tomorrow or Friday night -- as soon as I can pull them off of my digital camera.

 

But my tasting notes and observations are as follows:

 

The aroma of this bottle of VC is much better. A bit sweeter, I think that accounts for some of why I like it more. There's what I would have called a "swampiness" in the old bottle that is decidedly not present in the latest. I have talked this over with a couple of people and the responses have ranged from "perhaps too much genepi in the coloring" to "maybe the wormwood was a bit off." I can tell in both samples that high-quality herbs were used, yet when I place a bit of the older batch into a spirits tasting glass, I am presented with an almost overpowering nose of mint. Maybe it's an abundance of mint that I didn't care for in the old bottle?

 

The color is not much of an issue to me, honestly. While I *am* a bit concerned when a young absinthe attains feuille mort relatively early in its life, it doesn't affect the flavor... and probably says more about the method of coloring and filtration. The color of this new Vieux Carre is a nice deep olive - a very pleasing and natural green. The color of the old bottle, by comparison, is much more brown... but initially, I recall it being the same color. Perhaps better UV protection on the bottle would help? Regardless, it's more about the flavor, anyway.

 

Taste-wise, there was this sort of grassy funk in my old bottle of VC that is 100% completely abesent in the new bottle. I attributed this taste to the A.a. that was used, but I may be off in that assessment -- especially as I had only ever sampled the one bottle, and was therefore uncertain if the bottle was funky or if the formula just didn't agree with my taste buds. Regardless, the flavors now seem MUCH more balanced, while still retaining the same basic profile. Kudos to Robert for tweaking this! What was something of a chore to drink is now quite enjoyable! I found the new glass refreshing and balanced, and when compared to the old sample, I found it MUCH improved! I really think a lot of people will like it.

 

Interestingly, the new bottle had more sediment than my old bottle. Whatever. At least I know it's a natural product, and I don't really expect commercial distillers to sit on their product and let it settle for weeks on end to clarify. It's good to know that Rob is not abusing it with harsh filters, and I actually kind of appreciate a little natural botanical sediment in a CO as evidence of the process.

 

Fennel seems quite upfront to me, as well as genepi and pontica. I don't know what accounted for the funk I tasted in the older bottle, but it is most certainly gone. Even when tasting them side by side, the difference is very pronounced. The overall flavor profile remains... which leads me to believe that there wasn't a problem with the taste of any single herb, so much as with the balancing. This has a nice flavor.

 

The louche is honestly still a little thin for my taste, though it is much improved. I no longer have to coax it out, and it will louche adequately with a pitcher of cool water as well as a fountain. For my personal tastes, I like a louche you can take a bite out of, but I have to admit that this is a rather beautiful opalescent louche, as these things go... with copper highlights dancing around the drink. The play of light in the glass is very attractive, even if my knee-jerk reaction is still to say "too thin!" And it is markedly thicker and easier to accomplish than the older bottle. Nice improvement!

 

All in all, I have to say that I think there is still a bit of room for improvement -- but this is, regardless, a very nice absinthe...made properly...with quality ingredients and an attention to process. It may not be the tip-top absinthe on my shelf (Daikini gets that honor among CO's, presently), but I will display this new bottle with pride, and feel that anybody who has a collection should do so as well. It is a quality absinthe, made with quality herbs, and Robert's dedication to his craft has more than won me over. It was remarkably big of him to offer to swap me a new bottle when I was critical of his old batch... and that really does count for a whole hell of a lot in my book. I was honestly humbled by the man's manner - he's good people.

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I agree with most of what you've said...that's pretty much exactly what I've noted in the new bottle as well,

but I find the louche just fine as long as you don't go past 3.5:1, which is the ratio I used in a side by side earlier tonight of both.

Edited by sbmac

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I'll be hitting the Lemoyne Premium Selection Wine and Spirits shop after work today, in search of the new incarnation of Vieux Carre. If there's any there, I'll be sure to let my fellow Pennsylvanians know about it in this thread. I'm doubting any of the newer batch will be there, but I'm hoping. I may pick up a bottle of the old just for comparison sake anyway.

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Seeing as how the state stores now have VC on sale for $52.99, there's no reason not to! Interesting that the best absinthe (by a long shot) available in PA is also the cheapest. Let us know what you find!

 

Nice review by the way, Kaseijin. A couple of random points:

 

While I never experienced the swampy/grassy funk you describe in any of my previous bottles, you're right on about mint dominating the nose neat in earlier batches. It's been dialed back some in this latest run.

 

I'm not inclined to think that whatever you found distasteful about your old bottle had to do with the quality of the herbs Rob uses--the A.a. in particular. Knowing how anal he is about herb selection and having had the opportunity to compare the A.a he's been using (and not just with this most recent batch) with a couple of small samples of A.a. he was sent but rejected as being inferior, it's hard to imagine that any issues with older runs of VC had to do with the herbs themselves--the A.a being "off" or whatever.

 

It's quite possible, of course, that those issues resulted from the way that those herbs were used in the maceration or coloration process--that they were imbalanced--but the fact that the experiences that you and sbmac had are so drastically different than the ones had with the 3-4 bottles I consumed (over a period of almost a year) lead me to think that whatever was wrong with your VC, went wrong after it left the distillery. Just my opinion. Taste is subjective, but when you have reviews that diverge so wildly from the mean, it's likely other factors are involved.

 

Interesting to hear about the amount of sediment in your new bottle. It sounds like whatever tweaks Rob has made don't involve more aggressive filtration, which is for the best, I agree. I'd much rather have the sediment, myself. It will be interesting to see how the color of your new bottle changes over time. Mine is still relatively stable 6 weeks in, but there's just a light haze of sediment in my bottle.

 

I think you're right on target with your verdict, overall. VC is (and has always been, for me) a solid, midrange (I'd say "upper middle class") absinthe. I'm proud it's distilled in my state. And Rob is, as has been amply demonstrated here, good people. I wish him all the continued success he deserves.

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No dice on any of the newer looking bottles. But that didn't stop me from picking up a bottle @ $52.99.

 

Edit: Hold the phone here, kids. I didn't really have a look at anything but the labeling while in the store as I was in a rush to get out of there. But upon closer inspection, I think we might have something different here.

 

The trademark verte "coloring mud" that's typically at the bottom of the bottle -- no there. Still a small amount of sediment, but very faint. Every bottle of VC I've bought has had this, leading me to believe this might be a different animal altogether.

 

This might be wishful thinking, but things taste a bit cleaner to me. It seems like he backed off the mint a bit, which makes the wormwood come forward a bit more. That trademark genepy is still there. That hasn't changed at all. As far as I can tell, the color doesn't look any different than any other time I've bought Vieux Carre (in upwards of 8 or so), but I doubt I'd be able to tell without seeing it side by side with something else.

 

Anyone have any other information they'd like to offer? Rob? Or am I just imagining all this...

Edited by precenphix

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Don't really have any hard information to offer, but I would think it's certainly possible that you got a bottle from one of the more recent runs of VC. I didn't necessarily get the sense from Rob that he only began tweaking the formula when he got the new bottles; I think the two happened independently of one another. In other words, all of the new bottles are from the latest (tweaked) run, but that tweaking may have started--probably did start--before Rob got the new bottles. It sounds like you've got a winner there either way. If it tastes good, bottoms up! :cheers:

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.. Hold the phone here, kids. I didn't really have a look at anything but the labeling while in the store as I was in a rush to get out of there. But upon closer inspection, I think we might have something different here.

 

The trademark verte "coloring mud" that's typically at the bottom of the bottle -- no there. Still a small amount of sediment, but very faint. Every bottle of VC I've bought has had this, leading me to believe this might be a different animal altogether.

 

This might be wishful thinking, but things taste a bit cleaner to me. It seems like he backed off the mint a bit, which makes the wormwood come forward a bit more. That trademark genepy is still there. That hasn't changed at all. As far as I can tell, the color doesn't look any different than any other time I've bought Vieux Carre (in upwards of 8 or so), but I doubt I'd be able to tell without seeing it side by side with something else.

 

Anyone have any other information they'd like to offer? Rob? Or am I just imagining all this...

 

Is the liquor inside the bottle green or brown? That's really what to look for, IMO, as that would be the indication of a pretty major formula or process change. The previous bottle I had was pretty darn near full fuille morte while still on the shelf. The new stuff is a somewhat dull but much more appropriate shade of green with some slight amber-ish tones to it.

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