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Brian Robinson

The Art of Blending Distillates

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i just can't get over the name change. I know, it's petty, but meh.

 

Having said that, Grim and I got into a bottle of the VdF at a good friend's home in Bern. I was reminded how good it was.

 

I still have one bottle left of the VdF. I know Nathan was a huge fan. Or maybe it was the blanche. Regardless, I've not bought a bottle since the name change. Marketing sometimes works against the product as well. I also don't buy Mansinthe.

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I'm definitely NOT going to be trying to duplicate the La Charlotte, though... :no:

 

Haha. As I recall, you and I both bought two bottles since the price was curiously cheap. I still have both of them. Full.

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I'm playing with the anis, fennel, and wormwood distillates on their own. Started with a 1/3 oz of each neat, smelled and tasted that, then added about 1/4 oz water, smelled and tasted that, added another 1/4 oz water, lather, rinse, repeat. I'm really excited about using these to get to know the role that each component plays in a finished absinthe. I feel like I just got an adult chemistry set!

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I haven't checked to see if you have smaller bottles of them. Maybe if there were smaller bottles I should add them to my next order.

enigma_flask_combo.jpg

these are our 'fun sized flasks' :twitchsmile:

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i just can't get over the name change. I know, it's petty, but meh.

 

Marketing sometimes works against the product as well. I also don't buy Mansinthe.

 

I hear what you say, I really do. But imagine sitting in countless meetings with Asian distributors saying "this is 'Verte de Fougerolles' absinthe, pretty soon everyone is going to be brand calling it" and then the guy from 'La Fee' walks in and says...

 

Anyway, I guess the thing to do is start selling it with the old labels and call it our 'retro' range

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Haha. Touche! I'd be okay with that marketing. It's funny you mention that, too. I prefer the "retro" labels on the Duplais to the artwork style.

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I have a couple of noob questions about distillates, because it sounds to me like mixing distillates is just the next obvious step in creating a faux absinthe. You know... Ansinthe; The Mixed Drink!

 

What is the alcohol content of these distillates and could someone explain exactly how they would be mixed and with what (if anything)? For instance: Would I take a couple of flavors, mix them, and be done or would I mix the flavored distillations into a readily available adult beverage and what would that beverage be?

 

Last question... preferably for someone with a lot of experience using them.

 

In theory, if someone could recreate the flavor of a brand name absinthe, how would the appearance, louche, and aroma compare to the original?

 

-SD-

Edited by SadistDave

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Mixing distillates of the constituent absinthe herbs is not the same thing as mixing oils and vodka. So fear not! It's not a strictly modern method either. It's called an assemblage. Devoille absinthes are assemblages, for instance, which is why it was only natural for them to start bottling and selling their individual distillates. If you've ever tried any of the older in the Parisiennes line from Vert d'Absinthe, you're familiar with the output that can be had from assemblages. Or even the above mentioned Verte de Fougerolles.

 

It's not my preferred method of producing absinthe, but it's a valid one. All of the herbs are distilled to their fullest potential, which prevents overcooking one botanical while trying to get the most of another.

 

Leopold do the same with their award-winning gin. I believe Todd has talked about it a little here.

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As to recreating brand names, I'm assuming you mean modern brands. Recreating vintage brands brings an entirely different set of questions into the equation in terms of look, smell, taste, etc.

 

You could get in the ballpark if you were trying to attempt recreating modern brands, but most modern commercial offerings use other ingredients not available in this set of individual distillates. This set includes some of the most common baseline botanicals found in traditional recipes.

 

Added to that, and more importantly, is the process by which the distillation occurs. Every distiller has a preferred method of production, with an enormous amount of variables...the most important of which are skill and knowledge. So two exact recipes given to two different distillers could bring two completely different absinthes, if that makes any sense.

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I have a couple of noob questions about distillates, because it sounds to me like mixing distillates is just the next obvious step in creating a faux absinthe.

 

Mixing distillates isn't akin to creating a faux brand. In fact, as Ron has mentioned, several COs are made via assemblage.

 

Another strategy, mixing extracts and oils with a base alcohol is what we call (surprise surprise), an oil mix.

 

The former can lead to acceptable, and quite tasty products. The latter, not so much. :cheers:

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What is the alcohol content of these distillates and could someone explain exactly how they would be mixed and with what (if anything)?

Sixty percent. You could drink one straight if you're comfortable with that level of alcohol, but you'd be better off mixing it with water first. The idea is to learn what an alcoholic extract of a given plant smells and tastes like (which is not necessarily a lot like the plant itself smells and tastes). Or at least, that's what I thought the idea was when it was first discussed, but I see now that the web page calls it an "absinthe blending kit". Botanical Extract kit would have been a better name for it in my opinion.

Edited by Artemis

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Botanical Extract kit would have been a better name for it in my opinion.

Agreed!

But they are catering to a lot of folks that may be fairly new to absinthe. Personally, I have tasted similar extracts and with a bit of water and some sweetener, some could make delightful liqueurs.

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Like arak? I'm very interested in tasting plain arak. I do like the Artemesia and fennel flavored Araks that I have tried. :)

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Botanical Extract kit would have been a better name for it in my opinion.

Agreed!

But they are catering to a lot of folks that may be fairly new to absinthe. Personally, I have tasted similar extracts and with a bit of water and some sweetener, some could make delightful liqueurs.

It was originally designed as an absinthe blending kit (hence thread title) but the alternative uses have been multiplying ever since. The distiller's manuals that provide absinthe recipes have lots of interesting recipes for liqueurs, bitters and eaux de vie that use the same botanicals.

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I can see a whole range of herbal distillates in the future... I am pretty sure I can think of a few people who would buy pretty much anything you offered (this guy)

 

Once people start getting a handle on the basic ratios, you could start introducing experimental flavours, in like a monthly club or something. It could lead to quite a collection of herbs to play with. And I like being in clubs :thumbup:

 

:cheers:

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The distiller's manuals that provide absinthe recipes have lots of interesting recipes for liqueurs, bitters and eaux de vie that use the same botanicals.

That will be on my next order. Thank you.

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I've never had the Enigma/Verte de Fougerolles
:shock:

 

I know, Ian - I'm shocked myself! I've tried about 50 different absinthes over the past few years, but there are still a whole lot more that I haven't yet got around to. Not due to lack of interest, mind you, but rather the shallowness of cash-flow. Dropping a wad on this blending kit (and the 3 additional distillates) doesn't help the cause, but it will help ease the pain :cheers:

 

I'm definitely NOT going to be trying to duplicate the La Charlotte, though... :no:

 

Haha. As I recall, you and I both bought two bottles since the price was curiously cheap. I still have both of them. Full.

 

Mine are gone. I managed to use it for cooking, and as the "afterburner" on weekend party nights when I'd already had a few drinks and was looking for the proverbial "one more." At that point of the evening (midnight? 1am?), the tongue is nearly numb from the previous 3 to 5 drinks, so the overwhelming bitterness of La Charlotte is more palatable then. Too bad, since I like the name, unlike you and your Enigma aversion.

 

[snip] I'm really excited about using these to get to know the role that each component plays in a finished absinthe. I feel like I just got an adult chemistry set!

x2

 

Botanical Extract kit would have been a better name for it in my opinion.

Agreed!

But they are catering to a lot of folks that may be fairly new to absinthe. Personally, I have tasted similar extracts and with a bit of water and some sweetener, some could make delightful liqueurs.

I'm excited about that possibility, too. I'll probably preserve a 1oz portion of each distillate in a sample bottle for future reference with the aroma, and then have at it with absinthe, liqueur, and (possibly) bitters experiments.

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Just wondering how everyone is getting along with their distillates?

My girl and I very much enjoyed opening them all a couple of weeks ago and sampling the aroma and taste of each one individually. It was an eye- and palette-opening experience! :cheers:

 

Your post is very timely, since my first experiment was to put together a Montpelier-style absinthe just today. In addition to Pacifique, I recently acquired a little "non-CO" Montpelier-style, and I wanted to have a tasting of all three together. [incidentally, what you have printed as the recipe for that style of absinthe on the insert doesn't match with what I have as the recipe from Duplais and Bedel - is yours a different version, or is the amount of Coriander listed simply a typo?]

 

I second Marc's inquiry into a little bit about the esprit vert. Of course, I understand you don't want to give out too much in the way of detail, but can we assume that it contains hyssop and lemon balm? Also, I noticed that it's about the color of a good verte as is, so when mixing with the distillates in gets a good deal lighter - how much of the vert do you recommend including when mixing absinthe?

 

As for me, I went with the Duplais/Bedel proportions for Montpelier, and put an amount of esprit vert in proportional to the grand wormwood, which seemed to match the proportions of the "coloring" step in those manuals. All three were different, but I'm happy to say all three were very tasty! I wonder what bottle-aging the distillate mix for 6 months or a year would turn up...

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As a suggestion, try just buying the 3 coloring herbs, and making a concentrated tincture of each. Just figure out how much is in a given amount (say a drop from an eye dropper), and factor that into your experiments. I already have the herbs sitting here waiting to do just that. (or just color the distillates directly with the herbs, I like eyedroppers though, because it feels more scientific :tongue: )

 

 

As an aside, I am a bit concerned about possible early browning of this method, due to the high concentration of chlorophyll... I have seen an absinthe that was way waaaaaay over-colored turn a very definite and dark fuille morte in a very short amount of time. it was stored in a dark amber bottle in a cold dark basement.

 

Either way, next payday the distillates are mine! :b-day:

 

:cheers:

 

EDIT: For the less mathematically inclined, take the amount of herbs used, and divide that by the volume of extract. You have 28 grams of pontica in 200ml alcohol, that would make an extract with a concentration of 140mg/ml (0.14g/ml). For more precision, figure out how many drops per ml, and divide 140mg by that number. The numbers here are arbitrary, the final concentration just depends on how much you use.

Edited by AFO

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I second Marc's inquiry into a little bit about the esprit vert. Of course, I understand you don't want to give out too much in the way of detail, but can we assume that it contains hyssop and lemon balm?

 

I know some people have sensitivities and/or allergies, so that's probably not a bad question to ask.

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Can you give a few details about the verte?

I've tried to get information but Hugues says that it is a trade secret. Judging from the nose and what we know is in the Enigma verte I could make some guesses though.

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Just wondering how everyone is getting along with their distillates?

[incidentally, what you have printed as the recipe for that style of absinthe on the insert doesn't match with what I have as the recipe from Duplais and Bedel - is yours a different version, or is the amount of Coriander listed simply a typo?]

 

Well spotted! I went back and checked my Brevans and due to the old typography a 1 and a 4 look very similar, so yes, it should be 100g

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I second Marc's inquiry into a little bit about the esprit vert. Of course, I understand you don't want to give out too much in the way of detail, but can we assume that it contains hyssop and lemon balm?

 

I know some people have sensitivities and/or allergies, so that's probably not a bad question to ask.

 

I'll see what more info I can get in the interests of health and safety. Deductive reasoning would certainly favour melissa and A pontica though...

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I'm absolutely not asking for anyone to disclose trade secrets, to be sure! I just know some people, including members on this forum, have allergies and/or reactions to hyssop as an example. None of these colouring herbs are very secret, of course, nor would anyone need to be told proportions or amounts used in the product. I would think just an acknowledgement of the presence of certain problematic botanicals may be good sense.

 

I would hate to say to the ordering public here that they should just order it, try it, and then report back what they've managed to deduce...such as constricted airways and the like! :fork:

 

I'm looking forward to ordering all these and comparing them against the ones we did a couple years ago!

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Just wondering how everyone is getting along with their distillates?

[incidentally, what you have printed as the recipe for that style of absinthe on the insert doesn't match with what I have as the recipe from Duplais and Bedel - is yours a different version, or is the amount of Coriander listed simply a typo?]

 

Well spotted! I went back and checked my Brevans and due to the old typography a 1 and a 4 look very similar, so yes, it should be 100g

Thanks for the confirmation of the proportions, Ian (and for the hints on what's in the esprit vert). I wanted to be sure I wasn't missing out on a Goldberg variation of the Montpelier recipe ;)

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I spoke to the people at Devoille and made a few suggestions as to what I thought might be in the esprit verte.They want to maintain their secrets but there will be nothing in there that wouldn't be found in a 'regular' absinthe verte made at Devoille so there should be no cause for allergy worries (unless Enigma or Coquette et al brings you out in a rash!) One thing they did confirm though is that there is no badiane.

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I think it would be helpful with these to suggest liquid measures for the distillates, when blending to achieve these recipes. Giving the weight of the herbs themselves doesn't really translate into how this kit works. For instance, suggesting in ML how much of each, for the various recipes to attain enough for say a 50 ml end result, which would equate to 2 glasses of the combined elements. Just a suggestion!

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