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Leopold Bros Absinthe


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#1 bksmithey

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 12:16 PM

I was at my local liquor store the other day picking up some beer to pay a small debt to a friend. On the way in took a peek into the cabinet where they keep the Kübler and Lucid, and surprise!, there along with them was a bottle of Leopold Bros. Absinthe Verte, batch 4. Of course it went home with me.

Got home, grabbed a couple of glasses, and poured up a dose of each the Leopold Bros. and the Sirene. I'm still very much a newbie taster so it's good for me to have something to compare with when tasting a new absinthe. So here are tasting notes, mostly focusing on the Leopold Bros.

First of all, the bottle is gorgeous. It is short, maybe a little taller than the St. George bottle. Round like the St. George, but tapered, wider at the top and narrower at the bottom; maybe it's the love child of the St. George and Sirene bottles? Clear glass, and the dark green spirit inside gives it a very gem-like look. Very eye catching.

In the glass, neat, the colors are pretty similar. Both the Leopold and the Sirene are on the dark side, with a hint of olive-brown, the Leopold slightly darker than the Sirene.

Aroma, neat. Wow. The Leopold is incredible. At 65% alc., it seemed quite volatile. There were times when I had to take my nose away from the glass. I wouldn't really call it an alcohol "burn" as it wasn't unpleasant at all, just very intense. There was anise there, but not as up-front as I'm used to in something like the Kübler or even the Lucid. What I was really noticing was an aroma that came across to me as honey, sweet and delicious. Might this be a character of the Pisco base? Whatever it was, I really liked it. The Sirene again had a good anise aroma with some gin notes behind it, and I thought I caught a whiff of celery seed at one point. But already my nose is starting to get fatigued ...

Louched both glasses up to about 4 or 4.5:1. The Leopold took quite a bit of water before it started to cloud, but then it started clouding all at once. I was going pretty slowly, dripping ice water from a sports bottle. The Sirene was showing a nice separation, clouding from the bottom up, but I never got any separation in the Leopold. Could have just been sloppy technique on my part. When finished, the Leopold was a bit dark, and leaning towards the brown, while the Sirene was a bit lighter and greener, with a nice ring of almost blue right around the surface. Neither was as light pale green as Lucid when louched with the same amount of water. I must say that when finished, the Leopold was probably the least attractive glass of absinthe I have louched.

Aroma after louche. I'm still not familiar with the absinthe herbs, so I just have to go with descriptors that are familiar to me. After the wonderful pre-louche aroma, the Leopold didn't disappoint. The honey-ish aroma that I detected was still there, muted a bit but still very obvious. Anise is maybe coming through a bit more, but still not as up-front as I would expect. Lots more herbal character coming through now, I though I picked up orange at one point (my wife thought she detected citrus as well), and maybe dill? At one point I was reminded of pickles, not that it smelled like a pickle but that's what got me thinking dill, although I never got it that strong again, even when I was thinking about it and looking for it. Overall, a very nice aroma, easily my favorite absinthe aroma to this point, although more anise would probably be more appropriate. The Sirene at this point is coming through with more anise, the gin smell has moved to the background, and now picking up some mint. Very nice as well, but seems much easier to pick out distinct aromas, while the Leopold is coming across as more complex and more rounded.

Flavor. The Leopold hits immediately with what to me was a huge wormwood character, more bitter than any absinthe I've had. The mouthfeel is very nice, I think I'm finally starting to understand what people describe as "creamy", this one doesn't have the immediate clinging-to-the-sides-of-the-tongue that I've noticed with some of the others. As hinted at by the aroma, the anise is not as strong as I'd like, but it is there. There seems to be lots of other herbal character there, but it's unfamiliar to me and I think I'm a bit overdone at this point. Very pleasant to drink, I don't think it's necessarily too bitter but it would be improved by bringing the anise character up quite a bit to stand up to the other flavors. The Sirene is very tasty as well, and having it there for comparison probably makes the Leopold seem even lighter on the anise than it is; the Sirene isn't heavy, but it's nicely in the front, I don't have to go looking for it.

Finish. Leopold has a nice long finish with drying bitterness, but I think it's a nice bitterness, lingering but not too astringent. Again, anise is weak, but other herbs are there and the finish is complex and enjoyable. The Sirene is made to feel a little flabby at this point by comparison with the lively bitterness of the Leopold, but it's not really fair to be comparing at this point because I know I've really enjoyed the Sirene in the past.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Leopold Bros. Absinthe. The aroma is incredible, it's worth getting a bottle just for the aroma. Not so sure what happened with the louche, I'll try again and see if I have a nicer, prettier louche experience next time. Finished color is not as appealing as others. Flavor and mouthfeel are very nice, and if the anise were kicked up a bit, I think I could finally say that I have a favorite.

#2 PeterL

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 01:08 PM

Excellent review!

It makes me want to run out and buy a bottle but unfortunately I haven't seen the Leopold locally. I think you're dead on about the bottle, it's quite beautiful most definitely very unique and upscale looking.

I also like the fact that you find it more on the bitter side. I rarely if ever use sugar as I've found just about every Absinthe I've tried to be sweet enough without it. So this sounds like it'll hit all the right notes with me. I can't wait to try it.
""Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life,define yourself."

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#3 leopold

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:51 PM

Well, I'm glad the review didn't wind up saying "Leopold's doubles as a fine drain cleaner".

FWIW, you picked out the same two flaws that have since been corrected: the color and the anise character....which leads to the louche issue. You did a fine job of adding water, I am sure.

The initial batches I did had too heavy (IMHO) a louche. So I started steeping around just half of the total charge of anise in spirit (after cuisinart). Problem: less anise character, and the louche suffered. In other words, I swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. This has since been fixed, so from batch 7 onward, you'll find a better louche, more anise, and a better balanced spirit. Or at least that's my opinion. The nifty oil meniscus and nice separation is back.

As for the color: yep, it's too dark. Left the coloring herbs in contact with the spirit for too long. This has also been corrected from batch 7 on. The color is, IMHO, lovely now.

I'm really happy you got the wormwood character. That took some tweaking with my stillwork. To give you an idea as to wormwood:anise ratio, it's 2.5:4.5

So, really, lots more anise than wormwood, and yet with some adjustments to the distillation process, you get a really nice wormwood profile. Neat, huh?

It's been interesting in that I've gotten feedback from several Absinthe nerds (I'm one too, obviously, it's not intended as derogatory), and they've all had the same exact criticisms. That's a good thing, in my book.....especially since I identified the same doggon problems. And fixed them.

Glad you like the bottle. That's my brother's choice. He does all the packaging. Who'd have thunk that an engineer would have good (or any) taste! ;)

Greatly, greatly appreciate the input and criticisms. You're helping me make a better spirit. Thank you.

#4 Brian Robinson

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:54 PM

Is batch 7 at Best Cellars yet? I'm dying to try some.
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#5 speedle

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 04:10 PM

Amazing. Very good review, and excellent answer as well, I might add. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Compare that answer (and others) from Leopold to any other comment any other distiller has made here or elsewhere. Very uncommon and forthright, very refreshing.
- cogito ergo louche

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#6 Wilson

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 04:19 PM

I want some of this so bad. My mouth is just watering reading the review.

#7 buddhasynth

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 04:49 PM

yeah, yeah, I know................

I'm getting used to it. :blink:
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...because shoddy absinthes will be flavored with the lubricator of take the lead anise.

#8 OMG_Bill

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 05:00 PM

Okay, I'm a pretty lazy guy but that review was well done. Now then, where can I get some of this?

I'm anxious to give it a test drive. Sounds delicious. :twitchsmile:

Another thing, the fact that the maker participates in this forum makes me want it that much more.

Until next time... :cheers:









Yes I've been sipping. :wave2:
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#9 peridot

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:29 AM

I want some Leopold Bros Absinthe. Now.

Oh, and leopold, your response is awesomely open and detailed. I recognise you don't have to give us all those details, but as a total absinthe nerd I just love hearing about the process, especially the adjustments and fine tunings. And I also appreciate your commitment to improving the product.

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#10 scuto

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:36 AM

What they all said!

I look forward to when Leopold will be available in the land of the Puritans.
"The Saint when he is drinking/Is also pleasing God/As if he were praying and singing." - Angelus Silesius, quoted in Simmel's On Individuality and Social Forms, p.391. (Yay for classical sociology!)

"Full bottle in front of me/Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work/And after many glasses of work/I get paid in the brain" - They Might Be Giants "Your Own Worst Enemy."

"I've an absinthe factory in my head" (jcbphd, 2009). [Liberties taken. -ed.]

#11 bksmithey

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 04:07 PM

Greatly, greatly appreciate the input and criticisms. You're helping me make a better spirit. Thank you.

As others have said, it's really cool to have you here and sharing so much detail about your process. And then to hear that our comments are helping you make a better spirit, that's just awesome. I'll be keeping my eyes open for batch 7!

And to those who have commented that they'd like a sample, I have a second bottle of batch 4 that I'd be happy to send out samples. I haven't done this before, and I'm pretty busy with a house guest and other obligations, so I can't promise that it'll be quick. So those interested, mention here and I'll see what sort of response I get, and then we can PM and work out details. Any suggestions on where to get sample-sized bottles and best way to mail would be appreciated. I'd like to keep it to 12 or fewer, 2 oz. samples. I may be interested in trades as well as cash reimbursement.

#12 OMG_Bill

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 04:23 PM

You have a PM. :cheers:
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#13 Absomphe

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 04:46 PM

What they all said!

I look forward to when Leopold will be available in the land of the Puritans.


What you said.

This state is also land of the Puritans, only after a hypothetical migration westward, and I'd be willing to bet good money that it NEVER becomes available here.

Which doesn't mean better (I'd also wager good money on that) won't be available here in the not-to-distant future.

Yes, I'm Krinkles the Clown on an absinthe a beer bender.

You got a problem with that?


#14 Hans Conried

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 05:11 PM

Who knows, you might be surprised.

I thought Virginia would be last, seeing as the gov't has a monopoly on liquor stores, and, well, it's Virginia. But lo and behold, we have had Kübler and Lucid on the shelves for a little while now. I have been talking with an absinthe-friendly sales person at one store, and am trying to get them on the ball with domestically produced absinthes.

#15 Zman (Marc Bernhard)

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 05:26 PM

Which doesn't mean better (I'd also wager good money on that) won't be available here in the not-to-distant future.


;)

If you don't like anise at all, you're not likely to care for any decent absinthe, as absinthe is an anise flavored drink. It's kind of like asking if there are any good beers that don't taste like hops or malt.----Hiram

Marc Bernhard, owner and Master Distiller of Pacific Distillery LLC
Maker of Pacifique Absinthe and Voyager Single Batch Distilled Gin
Woodinville, WA, USA
www.pacificdistillery.com


#16 leopold

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 06:37 PM

I thought Virginia would be last, seeing as the gov't has a monopoly on liquor stores, and, well, it's Virginia. But lo and behold, we have had Kübler and Lucid on the shelves for a little while now. I have been talking with an absinthe-friendly sales person at one store, and am trying to get them on the ball with domestically produced absinthes.


We're shipping a few cases to VABC this week. You can special order it. They actually keep track of requests for spirits, so if you have a favorite Absinthe, keep asking for it.

CA leaves this week. Batch 8.

We're still worming through the paperwork for WA, Absomphe. Fun fun!

BKSmithey, I'm just trying to participate in the WS. There's nothing really for me to add....guys like Oxy, Mr. Breaux, and Hiram have brought far more to the table than I have. I'm just mucking in is all. I don't mind playing second bassoon in the FV and WS orchestra.

And of course your comments are helping. It's kind of fun. You guys aren't at the wheel, but it helps to get milemarkers every now and again to keep the damn car on the road, right? Why not take advantage of the help? I'm just waiting for one of you to throw a tire iron at me and tell me I'm going the wrong way ala Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I'm tough, so I can take it.

#17 LeRoy

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:21 PM

Who knows how long Leopold will take to get to MN, so I would definitely be interested in a sample, bksmithey. :cheers:

Lucid is the only absinthe to make it here, so far.

"We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight"
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#18 Hans Conried

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:47 PM

Thanks for the heads-up, Leopold. I have already sent them a list of absinthes, including yours, via their comments link on the VaABC site. I'll put in a request for a bottle as well.

:cheers:

#19 Trid

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:37 PM

CA leaves this week. Batch 8.


*perk*

Happen to know what outlets will carry it? If it winds up at Hi Times Wine, I'll have to dispatch minions to fetch me a bottle.
Some people are like slinkies....not really useful for anything, but you can't help but to smile when you see them tumbling down a flight of stairs.

#20 biznacho

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:52 PM

CA leaves this week. Batch 8.


Do want!

#21 Jonathan D.

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:03 PM

CA leaves this week. Batch 8.


You're killin' me leo, don't tell me you're only sending it to those commies in the north?

It blows me away, we still don't have any absinthe bars here in OC, I'm tempted to open one, it would do bonkers for business.

#22 zouave

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 02:47 AM

Hmm.. maybe with VABC on the ball in the Old Dominion, maybe some will trickle over here to the Capital of the Free World - ???

#23 Brian Robinson

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 04:10 AM

You're behind the times friend...

Best Cellars in Dupont.

Here's some more DC info.
Answers to common newcomer questions.

List of WS articles from across the web.


Help other absintheurs and newcomers by submitting a review. Click here to go to the main review page to submit your entry.

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#24 Rimbaud

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:16 PM

Got any pictures?

Reviews are nice, but pictures complete the story.
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#25 bksmithey

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 04:50 AM

Hi Rimbaud,

Sorry, didn't take any pictures the first time. But that gives me an excuse to louche up another glass in the near future! Watch this space, I'll get some pictures up when I get a chance.

#26 zouave

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 05:13 AM

You're behind the times friend...

Best Cellars in Dupont.

Here's some more DC info.



Thanks! I was referring only to the Leopold Brothers getting to DC.. So far I've only encountered Lucid, St. George and Kübler in local stores..

#27 LeRoy

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 01:03 PM

A big thank you to bksmithey! I got home and found a sample of Leopold verte waiting for me. :cheers:

"We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight"
HP Lovecraft


http://yourinspirationathome.com.au


#28 bksmithey

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:32 PM

:cheers:

#29 Brian Robinson

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:42 PM

Thanks! I was referring only to the Leopold Brothers getting to DC.. So far I've only encountered Lucid, St. George and Kübler in local stores..

Scroll down on the link I gave you. Best Cellars carries Leopold Bros.
Answers to common newcomer questions.

List of WS articles from across the web.


Help other absintheurs and newcomers by submitting a review. Click here to go to the main review page to submit your entry.

Rantings of a DC Gourmand.
WS on the Mutineer Blog!

#30 Meatwaggon

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 04:28 PM

I find the Best Cellars website to be extremely user unfriendly and have no way to know which of their silly wine categories to classify absinthe into. An advanced search of "absinthe", "Leopold", "Leopold Bros", and "Leopold Brothers" turned up 0 results.
"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Helfrich verte" - Anthony Hopkinns
"Leave the gun. Take the Rossoni" - Peter Clemenzza
"Give me wormwood, or give me death!" - Patrick Henrry
"I find your lack of louche....disturbing" - James Earl Jjones
"No maceration without distillation!" - Reverend Jonathan Mayhhew
"It is by absinthe alone I set my mind in motion" - Frank Herrbert


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