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m.a.mccullough

Question on louche ratings

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On what basis are you fellow absinthuers rating the louche of absinthes? I found it strange that Vieux Carre gets consistant good louche scores but the louche never changes to a milky white it just changes the green color to a thick yellow green. And then on the other hand La Charlotte gets lower ratings when it actually goes from green to milky white with blue hues. Is this not how a proper louche should look?

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Here is an interesting website with a fairly good description. ;)

 

Personally, I tend to lean toward a thicker louche. Absinthe that needs to have the louche coaxed out with a super-slow drip piss me off. Others disagree. Meh.

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I appreciate a louche that doesn't come on to quick and just barely thick but opalescent.

 

St. George was too thick and sudden for me. It had no opalescence. It wasn't pleasing to me. Some of the others were a bit thinner but very attractive and the opalescence was quite attractive. Something right in the middle works for me. I need to practice more. <shrug>

 

JMHO

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I like a fairly thick louche as long as it doesn't come with an overbearing anise hit. I love to see a louche come up thick and rolling like storm cloud. Captivating! It should stay mixed as it sits - even for an hour - always a shame when a louche fades/thins a bit. I like a mild opalescence, however, an oily look or residue isn't very nice and neither is a milky film inside the glass.

 

The WS guidelines are perhaps a tad harsh on the thick louches, but I can see why the guide was written that way. In most cases those suggestions will be right on the money. Sometimes I find a thick louche just needs to breathe a bit before tasting its best. For me, if the flavour is balanced then the louche can be just about any thickness, but you'll never catch me trusting a watery looking glass...

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I like for absinthe to louche thick, but I don't consider that better or worse than an "almost thick" louche that still has thin points around the edges. But one thing I don't like is a thick louche that just goes *BAM* and it's there. There needs to be slow, building action and clear definition. Some thick absinthes just completely louche to the appearance of skim milk by 1.5:1 and it's so fast that there was no cloud-rolling action.

 

And remember that batches vary and sometimes your experience with an absinthe is different than others'. Of course, you rate your glass because it's what you payed money for, and variation will be clear from conflicting reviews. But things like louche thickness and colour might be different from batch to batch.

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m.a.mccullough, based on your description alone, the Charlotte is the more correct. Retaining that much green is a sign of over-coloring and will lead to a heavy, grassy, vegetal flavor. The thickness indicates too much anise which predicts an unbalanced, "black licorice" flavor.

 

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with any of the above preferences voiced, but I need to interject that there's a difference, and often great distance, between a given person's preferences and the actual correctness of character in an absinthe. This depends on the expertise of the taster.

 

There appears to be much confusion about the difference between consumer ratings (preferences) and proper evaluations of quality and correctness.

 

The results of the New Orleans and OC tastings and many of the comments on the site reviews shows that a large proportion of participants are influenced more by uninformed forum chatter than they are by actual experience tasting absinthe. There are comments that harshly penalize perfectly well-made and traditional absinthes for the characteristics they should have, while praising them for characteristics that are actually flaws.

 

This is unfair to producers of exemplary absinthes and is harmful to the category in general. We need to correct this situation if we're going to have public tastings and publish official WS ratings. Inexperienced or misinformed tasters should not be put in a position to give consequential ratings.

 

The criteria in the WS Evaluation Guide are based on the characteristics of pre-ban absinthe. Modern absinthes made very strictly according to pre-ban protocols will, in the hands of an experienced distiller, invariably have characteristics identical to those of pre-ban. I can count the number of qualifying modern commercial absinthes on one hand.

 

 

On the Louche in General.

There is no one perfect louche, but there is a correct range of opacity and character.

 

According to Maison Pernod Fils—the standard by which all absinthes have always been judged—a correct glass of absinthe should be six ounces and about 11.3% ABV. This is a 68% absinthe at ~5:1. To get similar results with a 45% absinthe, one would mix it at 1.5 to 4.5. One needn't split hairs or use ml calibrated graduated cylinders to measure, but this should be taken as a general range of dilution.

 

Absinthe was not intended to be drunk as a strong liquor, it was intended to be a mild aperitif. If you prefer a stronger mix, that's fine, but that's not how it's intended to be mixed and it shouldn't be judged at that ratio.

 

If an absinthe is mixed so that it's 11-12% and is thin and flavorless, or has a very thin louche, that's a flaw. The punch should be from flavor, not alcohol.

 

Louche "Action"

This is an arbitrary and meaningless criteria in terms of quality. This is a carry-over from the FV system and has no place in the WS evaluation system. All it means is that the absinthe provides the kind of show the person wants to watch. It can be entertaining and quite beautiful, but it's not a characteristic that is in any way linked to the quality of the absinthe.

 

How quickly an absinthe louches is affected by so many variables that it really isn't an indicator of anything. Water temperature, method and speed of pour, the amount of turbulence caused by the pour, ABV, amount of anethole and its source (star, green, or oil), all of these combine in so many ways that louche action doesn't mean squat. Please reserve your opinions on action for the comments section of the reviews and score only on the finished louche.

 

Drip Speed

In the pre-ban era, only wankers and show-offs obsessed over super-slow drips. It just was not the usual MO. Absinthe spoons didn't come into common use until the 1870s and fountains even later. By far the most common method was to hand-pour from a carafe or pitcher. A slow but steady thin stream of water is slow enough if the sugar is mostly dissolved before the correct water ratio is reached.

 

Thickness

Absinthe was most often described as jewel-like and opalescent. Opalescent is the opposite of opaque here. Opaque means you can't see through it at all: chalky, flat, and dense. You should be able to see an absinthe spoon sitting in the glass. If you prefer your absinthe thicker and strong that's fine, but it shouldn't be scored as though thicker is always better.

 

Creaminess

I hereby abolish this criteria. Absinthe should not be creamy tasting or feeling. It should be smooth, yes, but crisp, clean and refreshing. I believe this entered the vernacular from a visual perspective, but has grown in use to describe mouth-feel.

 

This is unfortunate because uninformed palates have begun to interpret the inappropriately buttery, mouth-coating, thick sensation given by tails as "creamy."

 

That long-lingering, slick, thick, oily feel in your mouth is from tails. That's a serious flaw. It's usually accompanied by the flavor and often aroma of over-cooked cabbage or artichokes. It's grassy and vegetal and acrid, not fresh and herbal.

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Nw thats a reply! Thank you. So I guess the answer is as I guessed, everyone rates on there own preference rather than a guideline. Can we maybe get a guideline for rating or a more thorough checklist for rating so that the WS ratings can be a more authorative say on what the best absinthes out there are?

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Not to drift too far of track but G.Stone mentioned creaminess. Even though the drink was meant to be light, similar to wine, there are those days when I have my water/absinthe ratio a bit closer and the finish is creamy to me even though the alcohol is a bit higher. I may not be wanting to get drunk faster but that may be the way I enjoy a particular brand of absinthe. Of course I won't be rating or judging that particular drink but merely enjoying certain qualities.

 

A tailsy finish is unpleasant and more, it is misunderstood. Does that make sense?

 

Not a rant just a view.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Cheers!

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This is unfortunate because uninformed palates have begun to interpret the inappropriately buttery, mouth-coating, thick sensation given by tails as "creamy."

Not begun to. People have been doing so for years, without anything to the contrary being put out there during any of that extended period of time.

 

It's kind of like walking around with a smudge of dirt on your face while you hang out with a friend all day long, and at the very end of the day he says, "hey, you've got something on your face."

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I'd consider the entire Jade line, both DP offerings, pre-ban PF c. 1910 and the pre-ban Eddy c. 1905 all to be creamy absinthes, just to name a few. Those are all almost universally considered to be absinthes of the highest caliber, so I'm not sure I can agree with the description of creamy meaning that the absinthe is flawed.

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I guess I'm the other side of the coin. I have enjoyed all you have listed and quite a few other pre-bans and would never describe them as "creamy" or thick. I've always likened the the texture to be more light/velvety as opposed to the texture of cream. When I hear something being described as creamy, I think of the mouthfeel and texture of real cream. Most absinthes I've had that I would describe as having the texture of cream have been those that either were badiane bombs, or have pushed collecting the distillate way past optimum. I guess in something so subjective as taste and sense of texture there will always be many opinions.

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The only absinthe I've tasted that I'd describe as truly creamy was Berger, and that was fitting, because it was a great stand-in for port as an outstanding accompaniment to a fine cigar.

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I have enjoyed all you have listed and quite a few other pre-bans and would never describe them as "creamy" or thick.

Indeed. I would describe the pre-bans I've had as delicate. Certainly, I would not describe the Jades that way. However, I have enjoyed creamy (pleasant, substantial mouth-feel) absinthe that was neither a badiane bomb, nor having pushed collecting the distillate.

 

These words are all rather odd and subjective. I have had many creamy desserts that were certainly delicate, too. Fortunately, we have several different styles of quality absinthe from which to choose. I would rather have a strong louche and a spicy flavor than a weak, thin glass of absinthe-water. It's little more than personal preference.

 

Perhaps creamy isn't the best descriptive word since it seems to be used interchangeably for both the appearance of the louche and the quality of the mouth-feel.

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Thickness

Absinthe was most often described as jewel-like and opalescent. Opalescent is the opposite of opaque here. Opaque means you can't see through it at all: chalky, flat, and dense. You should be able to see an absinthe spoon sitting in the glass. If you prefer your absinthe thicker and strong that's fine, but it shouldn't be scored as though thicker is always better.

Excellent, detailed response. I'd like to add to the discussion of the above quote. Opalescent is not necessarily the opposite of opaque if degrees of opacity are discussed, and I think a certain 'degree of opacity' would be what I would think of rather than assume that a person meant the glass of absinthe was without any translucency. It's like saying that a car is gray in colour, but the difference between a 10% gray and a 90% gray is vast, yet they are both gray. If described as aluminum or pencil lead, one has a much better idea of gray. Saying an absinthe has a 'nice, opaque quality' is lazy. Saying, hypothetically, an absinthe has a 'pleasing, medium degree of opacity' is not better than a photo, but conveys more of a mental picture. Even better still would be to distinguish if you (just an example): can't see the spoon, see the spoon, or can do the crossword by looking through that glass. Not many people will go to that extent in a description though...

In looking up the definition of opalescence: "There are different degrees of opalescent behaviour. One can still see through a slightly opalescent phase." & "showing varying colors as an opal does."

That's the way I think of it, and the level or degree of opacity I think of with an absinthe has more of that and less of a 'milk' look. Milk is uninteresting and flat (even chalky) but a glass with a "slightly opalescent phase" and a thickish (but not milk) louche suits me fine. Can I describe it? Maybe, but I am pretty sure I gravitate towards a more pre-ban acceptability than not. But, unfortunately, without doing all this louching in a group*, the imagination (and in some cases, misinformation/inexperience) is hard to combat, correct, or discuss. Lazy descriptions will mean we all fill in the blanks based on our own experiences.

 

I'll shut up now. ;)

 

I would rather have a strong louche and a spicy flavor than a weak, thin glass of absinthe-water. It's little more than personal preference.
Ditto.

 

*Being on the other side of the Atlantic makes attending the tastings and meet-ups a bit difficult for me. You're all welcome to crash at my place if you find yourself in England though! :D

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Having read over the above remarks, I found myself perplexed last night as I studied my glass of PF 1901. At 3:1, then 4:1 it was still quite opaque compared to BA1. And the BA1 pours and retains a notably deep olive color with a relatively thin, in comparison, louche. In the end much of it is a personal thing, but it would be interesting to see a truly scientific evaluation. But then, how would the standards be set?

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Well, if you wanted to go all high-tech, you would get a spectrophotometer equipped with an opacity tool. That way you could measure color as well as opacity.

 

I certainly understand why some would describe a velvety smooth absinthe as creamy, and I've done so myself. The reason I think it may be inappropriate is simply because it is so easily misinterpreted.

 

Perhaps also the reason I'm more sensitive to it now is because there are a couple of very widely distributed (European) brands that I've seen get high praise for containing ungodly amounts of tails. I'm not going to name names for obvious reasons, but one of them literally tastes like bottled tails. I just might bottle my next tails and include them in a tasting kit.

 

On opacity/opalescence, I feel it suits our purposes more to use the term translucence rather than opacity. This seems like only a semantic difference, but generally one uses the ideal as the term of reference. Referring to "translucence" as a virtue to be judged informs that this is the quality sought. Using "opacity" does the same, but with negative results.

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Perhaps also the reason I'm more sensitive to it now is because there are a couple of very widely distributed (European) brands that I've seen get high praise for containing ungodly amounts of tails. I'm not going to name names...
Tease! Actually, I had one the other day... mucky. (I'm not namin' either! ;) )

 

On opacity/opalescence, I feel it suits our purposes more to use the term translucence rather than opacity. This seems like only a semantic difference, but generally one uses the ideal as the term of reference. Referring to "translucence" as a virtue to be judged informs that this is the quality sought. Using "opacity" does the same, but with negative results.
Either can be positive or negative, but perhaps it should be limited to one or the other for consistency. It still depends on the reviewer to express himself properly. Damned complicated language, English. :rolleyes:

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Perhaps also the reason I'm more sensitive to it now is because there are a couple of very widely distributed (European) brands that I've seen get high praise for containing ungodly amounts of tails. I'm not going to name names for obvious reasons, but one of them literally tastes like bottled tails. I just might bottle my next tails and include them in a tasting kit.

I certainly understand why Gwydion isn't in a position to make negative comments about specific competitors' products, but if anyone else would feel at liberty to mention some CO spirits (doesn't even have to be absinthe!) that have a strong tails-y character, that could be pretty educational, at least for me.

 

And the tasting kit idea is an excellent one. I know years ago when I was active in homebrew clubs we'd have occasional tastings with beers demonstrating different flaws. I believe the American Homebrewers Assocation even had instructions for creating these flawed beers, everything from leaving green-bottled beers in the sun for a few days (skunky Tsingtao anyone?) to adding flavoring extracts to commercial beers.

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Well, if you wanted to go all high-tech, you would get a spectrophotometer equipped with an opacity tool.

Wow, a spectrophotometer. Brings back some memories. Used one at one of my earliest jobs back in the 60's when I worked as a chemical analyst for a film processing lab. I'm sure they're much more evolved now.

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I need to interject that there's a difference, and often great distance, between a given person's preferences and the actual correctness of character in an absinthe. This depends on the expertise of the taster.

 

There appears to be much confusion about the difference between consumer ratings (preferences) and proper evaluations of quality and correctness.

 

The results of the New Orleans and OC tastings and many of the comments on the site reviews shows that a large proportion of participants are influenced more by uninformed forum chatter than they are by actual experience tasting absinthe. There are comments that harshly penalize perfectly well-made and traditional absinthes for the characteristics they should have, while praising them for characteristics that are actually flaws.

 

This is unfair to producers of exemplary absinthes and is harmful to the category in general. We need to correct this situation if we're going to have public tastings and publish official WS ratings. Inexperienced or misinformed tasters should not be put in a position to give consequential ratings.

 

The criteria in the WS Evaluation Guide are based on the characteristics of pre-ban absinthe. Modern absinthes made very strictly according to pre-ban protocols will, in the hands of an experienced distiller, invariably have characteristics identical to those of pre-ban. I can count the number of qualifying modern commercial absinthes on one hand.

 

 

On the Louche in General.

There is no one perfect louche, but there is a correct range of opacity and character.

 

According to Maison Pernod Fils—the standard by which all absinthes have always been judged—a correct glass of absinthe should be six ounces and about 11.3% ABV. This is a 68% absinthe at ~5:1. To get similar results with a 45% absinthe, one would mix it at 1.5 to 4.5. One needn't split hairs or use ml calibrated graduated cylinders to measure, but this should be taken as a general range of dilution.

 

Absinthe was not intended to be drunk as a strong liquor, it was intended to be a mild aperitif. If you prefer a stronger mix, that's fine, but that's not how it's intended to be mixed and it shouldn't be judged at that ratio.

 

If an absinthe is mixed so that it's 11-12% and is thin and flavorless, or has a very thin louche, that's a flaw. The punch should be from flavor, not alcohol.

 

Louche "Action"

This is an arbitrary and meaningless criteria in terms of quality. This is a carry-over from the FV system and has no place in the WS evaluation system. All it means is that the absinthe provides the kind of show the person wants to watch. It can be entertaining and quite beautiful, but it's not a characteristic that is in any way linked to the quality of the absinthe.

 

How quickly an absinthe louches is affected by so many variables that it really isn't an indicator of anything. Water temperature, method and speed of pour, the amount of turbulence caused by the pour, ABV, amount of anethole and its source (star, green, or oil), all of these combine in so many ways that louche action doesn't mean squat. Please reserve your opinions on action for the comments section of the reviews and score only on the finished louche.

 

Drip Speed

In the pre-ban era, only wankers and show-offs obsessed over super-slow drips. It just was not the usual MO. Absinthe spoons didn't come into common use until the 1870s and fountains even later. By far the most common method was to hand-pour from a carafe or pitcher. A slow but steady thin stream of water is slow enough if the sugar is mostly dissolved before the correct water ratio is reached.

 

Thickness

Absinthe was most often described as jewel-like and opalescent. Opalescent is the opposite of opaque here. Opaque means you can't see through it at all: chalky, flat, and dense. You should be able to see an absinthe spoon sitting in the glass. If you prefer your absinthe thicker and strong that's fine, but it shouldn't be scored as though thicker is always better.

 

Creaminess

I hereby abolish this criteria. Absinthe should not be creamy tasting or feeling. It should be smooth, yes, but crisp, clean and refreshing. I believe this entered the vernacular from a visual perspective, but has grown in use to describe mouth-feel.

 

This is unfortunate because uninformed palates have begun to interpret the inappropriately buttery, mouth-coating, thick sensation given by tails as "creamy."

 

That long-lingering, slick, thick, oily feel in your mouth is from tails. That's a serious flaw. It's usually accompanied by the flavor and often aroma of over-cooked cabbage or artichokes. It's grassy and vegetal and acrid, not fresh and herbal.

 

This is an excellent bit of information that clears up a lot of misunderstandings i had. And i especially like this part :devil:

In the pre-ban era, only wankers and show-offs obsessed over super-slow drips

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m.a.mccullough, based on your description alone, the Charlotte is the more correct. Retaining that much green is a sign of over-coloring and will lead to a heavy, grassy, vegetal flavor. The thickness indicates too much anise which predicts an unbalanced, "black licorice" flavor.

 

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with any of the above preferences voiced, but I need to interject that there's a difference, and often great distance, between a given person's preferences and the actual correctness of character in an absinthe. This depends on the expertise of the taster.

 

There appears to be much confusion about the difference between consumer ratings (preferences) and proper evaluations of quality and correctness.

 

The results of the New Orleans and OC tastings and many of the comments on the site reviews shows that a large proportion of participants are influenced more by uninformed forum chatter than they are by actual experience tasting absinthe. There are comments that harshly penalize perfectly well-made and traditional absinthes for the characteristics they should have, while praising them for characteristics that are actually flaws.

 

This is unfair to producers of exemplary absinthes and is harmful to the category in general. We need to correct this situation if we're going to have public tastings and publish official WS ratings. Inexperienced or misinformed tasters should not be put in a position to give consequential ratings.

 

The criteria in the WS Evaluation Guide are based on the characteristics of pre-ban absinthe. Modern absinthes made very strictly according to pre-ban protocols will, in the hands of an experienced distiller, invariably have characteristics identical to those of pre-ban. I can count the number of qualifying modern commercial absinthes on one hand.

 

 

On the Louche in General.

There is no one perfect louche, but there is a correct range of opacity and character.

 

According to Maison Pernod Fils—the standard by which all absinthes have always been judged—a correct glass of absinthe should be six ounces and about 11.3% ABV. This is a 68% absinthe at ~5:1. To get similar results with a 45% absinthe, one would mix it at 1.5 to 4.5. One needn't split hairs or use ml calibrated graduated cylinders to measure, but this should be taken as a general range of dilution.

 

Absinthe was not intended to be drunk as a strong liquor, it was intended to be a mild aperitif. If you prefer a stronger mix, that's fine, but that's not how it's intended to be mixed and it shouldn't be judged at that ratio.

 

If an absinthe is mixed so that it's 11-12% and is thin and flavorless, or has a very thin louche, that's a flaw. The punch should be from flavor, not alcohol.

 

Louche "Action"

This is an arbitrary and meaningless criteria in terms of quality. This is a carry-over from the FV system and has no place in the WS evaluation system. All it means is that the absinthe provides the kind of show the person wants to watch. It can be entertaining and quite beautiful, but it's not a characteristic that is in any way linked to the quality of the absinthe.

 

How quickly an absinthe louches is affected by so many variables that it really isn't an indicator of anything. Water temperature, method and speed of pour, the amount of turbulence caused by the pour, ABV, amount of anethole and its source (star, green, or oil), all of these combine in so many ways that louche action doesn't mean squat. Please reserve your opinions on action for the comments section of the reviews and score only on the finished louche.

 

Drip Speed

In the pre-ban era, only wankers and show-offs obsessed over super-slow drips. It just was not the usual MO. Absinthe spoons didn't come into common use until the 1870s and fountains even later. By far the most common method was to hand-pour from a carafe or pitcher. A slow but steady thin stream of water is slow enough if the sugar is mostly dissolved before the correct water ratio is reached.

 

Thickness

Absinthe was most often described as jewel-like and opalescent. Opalescent is the opposite of opaque here. Opaque means you can't see through it at all: chalky, flat, and dense. You should be able to see an absinthe spoon sitting in the glass. If you prefer your absinthe thicker and strong that's fine, but it shouldn't be scored as though thicker is always better.

 

Creaminess

I hereby abolish this criteria. Absinthe should not be creamy tasting or feeling. It should be smooth, yes, but crisp, clean and refreshing. I believe this entered the vernacular from a visual perspective, but has grown in use to describe mouth-feel.

 

This is unfortunate because uninformed palates have begun to interpret the inappropriately buttery, mouth-coating, thick sensation given by tails as "creamy."

 

That long-lingering, slick, thick, oily feel in your mouth is from tails. That's a serious flaw. It's usually accompanied by the flavor and often aroma of over-cooked cabbage or artichokes. It's grassy and vegetal and acrid, not fresh and herbal.

 

I was going to say all of that exactly just like that but Mr. Stone beat me to it.

All joking aside - that is one helluva post and needs to be stickied. Thanks.

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