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Daniel

Is any of the stuff available at Bevmo good?

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As I make my slow limping return to absinthehood, I've decided to shop locally until I can afford to order from overseas. Our local Bevmo has several brands of absinthe now available; when I first entered the scene they only had Lucid which I have always considered "trendy", and kinda...well, "we buy this because we don't have anything else".

 

In my city, Sacramento, they now have many brands, some of which I've never heard of. I'm not too terribly interested in the St George (I've not heard enough good about it), as I said Lucid strikes me as a bit trendy... but the one I'm most curious about is Kübler. The price isn't bad and the reviews I've seen on it are mostly favorable. And it seems to be the one that best fits my current budget.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by Daniel

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5 years of Green Hours (including 3 Rocky Mountain Green Hours and last year's GAAF) and the bottle still isn't empty.

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I just took a look at the inventory at both Sacramento stores. Most of it is in the "don't bother" category for me. The ones worth considering, in my opinion, are Lucid, Kübler, Ridge and La Clandestine. Of those, the clearly superior ones are Ridge and La Clandestine. I see they have the 200ml of LC for $25.99, that would be a great way to try it without bringing your banker. Personally, I think St.George is just weird, however they have a 200ml for $19.99. It would be a good way to try it without committing to a bottle. Come to think of it, I would say 200ml is about what I've managed to gag down from the bottle I've had laying around here for about five years.

 

If the bottle Joe is talking about in the last response is the Kübler, and it's the bottle we used in last year's blind tasting, I can understand why it's not empty.

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Same problem at my (two) local BevMos. Which is why I've been stocking up at Astor, and more recently Oxygenee in Germany. (I hope they're right that international shipments are efficient and painless -- I have 4 bottles en route that should get here next week.) My two orders from Astor have been reasonably priced, quickly processed, and safely delivered to my door. The first (as a new customer) even had free shipping, though their rates on 2 or more bottles are reasonable anyway.

 

I see no reason to buy from BevMo even if there's one within walkig distance of my house. With a weeks' notice I can get really good absinthes from Astor, and for less money. (My BevMos don't stock Ridge -- if you can get it in the Sacto locations then that's the one worth springing for. But I'd wager it's cheaper at Astor.)

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I'll second Astor - quick delivery and a nice selection. The only absinthe I buy locally any longer is Leopolds. Otherwise my local selection is similar: Lucid, Kübler, and Pernod.

 

Sounds like you might have access to Ridge locally though? YUM.

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I know Kübler gets a bit of a bad rap around here but I never had a problem with it. I think it's refreshing and mild and a good solid summer absinthe. Are there better? Of course. But I wouldn't let anyone deter you from trying it or liking it.

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Thank you; I rather figured they were the "don't bother". But I will try a couple of the "not so bad" ones just so I can say I did it...

 

What's Astor?

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N

Thank you; I rather figured they were the "don't bother". But I will try a couple of the "not so bad" ones just so I can say I did it...What's Astor?

Sometimes before you try the high end brands like the Ridges, Jades and Marteaus you need some good base brand experience. Otherwise how can you measure the high end ones? There is nothing wrong with the Lucids and Kublers of the world. Moreso if you continue to enjoy them even after trying the really, really good stuff.By the way, Astor is good but drinkupny and Catskill cellars are also really great vendors too. I have had great experience with Absinthes.com for the stuff you can't get in the USA. They do sell some Czech crap, so just know what you are ordering. Edited by King_Stannis

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Sometimes before you try the high end brands like the Ridges, Jades and Marteaus you need some good base brand experience. Otherwise how can you measure the high end ones?

Yep. And even once you've moved on to high end brands, there's nothing like the occasional Lucid or Kübler to put everything back in perspective.

 

If you want a more detailed version of my take on Kübler read this and this. My last comment in post #3 in this thread is explained in the second of those links.

 

 

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I'm still speaking as a novice to this scene but my take on Lucid, after trying a number of much finer absinthes, is that it's sort of the equivalent of comparing Beaujolais Nouveau to Grand Cru Bordeaux. It's in a different ballpark, but it's not terrible. It's perfectly tasty as a simple, lighweight, but enjoyable drink when you aren't in the mood for 'serious' tasting. A pleasant, casual change of pace. It won't blow you away, but it won't leave you wincing either.

 

Pernod, on the other hand, tastes worse every time I go back to it. That is a perfect reference point for truly poor quality. Lucid isn't the best of the lot but I'm not ashamed to drink or serve it. It's not complex but it's honest.

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If you want a more detailed version of my take on Kübler read this and this. My last comment in post #3 in this thread is explained in the second of those links.

 

 

Hehe, nothing like picking at old wounds. :D

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Pernod, on the other hand, tastes worse every time I go back to it. That is a perfect reference point for truly poor quality. Lucid isn't the best of the lot but I'm not ashamed to drink or serve it. It's not complex but it's honest.

 

I'd say that the job for vets around here vis a vis newcomers is to tell them what brands are NOT absinthe but masquerade as it. Then to tell them the brands that use artificial coloring, include sugar and generally take shortcuts. After that it should only be a matter of taste. There's no reason in the world to turn people off of the decent brands that are available at their local store. Sure, order online and get great stuff there if it isn't offered at your local store. But there's no reason at all to feel ashamed of picking up a bottle of Lucid or Kübler on the way home from work and enjoying it in the evening if you like the taste. It would really be sad if someone thought they shouldn't enjoy something because some people online didn't like it or had sort of graduated away from it.

 

Edited by King_Stannis

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Pernod, on the other hand, tastes worse every time I go back to it. That is a perfect reference point for truly poor quality. Lucid isn't the best of the lot but I'm not ashamed to drink or serve it. It's not complex but it's honest.

I'd say that the job for vets around here vis a vis newcomers is to tell them what brands are NOT absinthe but masquerade as it. Then to tell them the brands that use artificial coloring, include sugar and generally take shortcuts. After that it should only be a matter of taste. There's no reason in the world to turn people off of the decent brands that are available at their local store. Sure, order online and get great stuff there if it isn't offered at your local store. But there's no reason at all to feel ashamed of picking up a bottle of Lucid or Kübler on the way home from work and enjoying it in the evening if you like the taste. It would really be sad if someone thought they shouldn't enjoy something because some people online didn't like it or had sort of graduated away from it.

 

I wouldn't personally purchase a bottle of Kübler or Lucid again simply because I have access to labels which I much prefer over these - but I would absolutely have a glass with friends or order in a bar and not be ashamed. Both brands are solid introductions to the world of absinthe and fine to enjoy when in a pinch! There are much, MUCH worse offerings out there :p

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I wholeheartedly agree. I have both Lucid and Kübler in my bar. They have been there quite a while and I have enjoyed quite a few glasses of each, especially a few years ago when the pickin's were slim. I'm just saying, when my bar is open my guests choose other brands. It's not what I would choose to spend my money on now even though I certainly have in the past.

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I wholeheartedly agree. I have both Lucid and Kübler in my bar. They have been there quite a while and I have enjoyed quite a few glasses of each, especially a few years ago when the pickin's were slim. I'm just saying, when my bar is open my guests choose other brands. It's not what I would choose to spend my money on now even though I certainly have in the past.

 

Well sure, for someone who's been around for as long as you have in the world of absinthe it only makes sense that your palate is going to be a lot more discerning now. You and Gwydion and some of the long timers here will probably forget more about this stuff than many of us will learn. So it's good to hear that you are still open to some of the basics even if they don't get much personal use these days. ;)

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Pernod, on the other hand, tastes worse every time I go back to it. That is a perfect reference point for truly poor quality. Lucid isn't the best of the lot but I'm not ashamed to drink or serve it. It's not complex but it's honest.

 

 

I'd say that the job for vets around here vis a vis newcomers is to tell them what brands are NOT absinthe but masquerade as it. Then to tell them the brands that use artificial coloring, include sugar and generally take shortcuts. After that it should only be a matter of taste. There's no reason in the world to turn people off of the decent brands that are available at their local store. Sure, order online and get great stuff there if it isn't offered at your local store. But there's no reason at all to feel ashamed of picking up a bottle of Lucid or Kübler on the way home from work and enjoying it in the evening if you like the taste. It would really be sad if someone thought they shouldn't enjoy something because some people online didn't like it or had sort of graduated away from it.

 

I wouldn't personally purchase a bottle of Kübler or Lucid again simply because I have access to labels which I much prefer over these - but I would absolutely have a glass with friends or order in a bar and not be ashamed. Both brands are solid introductions to the world of absinthe and fine to enjoy when in a pinch! There are much, MUCH worse offerings out there :p

 

Oh yes. Having had to struggle through some cheap Absente in VA on vacation I can attest to that.

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Well I also think its a matter of perspective and personal tastes. As I've pointed out before (and back in 2008 when I was first active on this board) my favorite is Serpis, and I know many think it worth nothing more than flushing out the sink's drain; whereas I personally didn't care for Jade Nouvelle Orleans.

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Personal taste is the ultimate bottom line, isn't it? What could be more important than whether or not you enjoy it?

 

I wholeheartedly agree. I have both Lucid and Kübler in my bar. They have been there quite a while and I have enjoyed quite a few glasses of each, especially a few years ago when the pickin's were slim. I'm just saying, when my bar is open my guests choose other brands. It's not what I would choose to spend my money on now even though I certainly have in the past.


Well sure, for someone who's been around for as long as you have in the world of absinthe it only makes sense that your palate is going to be a lot more discerning now. You and Gwydion and some of the long timers here will probably forget more about this stuff than many of us will learn. So it's good to hear that you are still open to some of the basics even if they don't get much personal use these days. ;)

At least you didn't call us old-timers! Hell, I'm happy if I leave the house wearing pants. Seriously, I think it's important to taste as many offerings as your budget will allow and your curiosity brings you. (Where is that Guilty Pleasure thread?) :cheers:

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Well I also think its a matter of perspective and personal tastes. As I've pointed out before (and back in 2008 when I was first active on this board) my favorite is Serpis, and I know many think it worth nothing more than flushing out the sink's drain; whereas I personally didn't care for Jade Nouvelle Orleans.

 

I think I made the mistake of trying jade no too soon. I liked it but I'm not sure I appreciated it... I think I needed some broader experience.

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Lots of opinions here. Here's a few more of mine:



Pernod, on the other hand, tastes worse every time I go back to it. That is a perfect reference point for truly poor quality. Lucid isn't the best of the lot but I'm not ashamed to drink or serve it. It's not complex but it's honest.


I don't disagree with this at all. Actually, if you dig back through many threads here over the past few years, you'll find that I am consistently one of the ardent supporters of Lucid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is "It's not complex but it's honest."

I'd say that the job for vets around here vis a vis newcomers is to tell them what brands are NOT absinthe but masquerade as it. Then to tell them the brands that use artificial coloring, include sugar and generally take shortcuts. After that it should only be a matter of taste. There's no reason in the world to turn people off of the decent brands that are available at their local store... But there's no reason at all to feel ashamed of picking up a bottle of Lucid or Kübler on the way home from work and enjoying it in the evening if you like the taste. It would really be sad if someone thought they shouldn't enjoy something because some people online didn't like it or had sort of graduated away from it.


My first response in this thread actually took all this into consideration, however I only named, by name, the offerings at BevMo that would not be included in your first two conditions (in other words, the quality authentic ones). I also agree with you completely that the more experienced folks here should be chary of dissuading others from experiencing certain absinthes just because they don't suit their personal tastes. I personally think sometimes there is too much of that kind of opinion here.

Here's the breakdown, IMO, on the BevMo inventory available at the Sacramento locations:

Not Absinthe - A "Masquerader" as you would say.

Green Moon Vodka L'absinthe

Low Quality, but arguably absinthe - artificial coloring, sugar, or shortcuts.

Grand Absinthe
Pernod Absinthe
Mata Hari Absinthe
La Fee Absinthe Parisienne
Grune Fee Absinthe (I have no experience with this one, same producer as Mata Hari and Mephisto, both absinthes that walk the barely authentic/impostor line, IMO)
La Muse Verte

Quality Distilled Absinthe, highly idiosyncratic

St. George Absinthe Verte

Quality Distilled Absinthe, traditional profile

Ridge Absinthe Verte
La Clandestine Absinthe
Lucid Absinthe Superieure
Kübler Absinthe

Some comment about a couple of these:

La Muse Verte - I have only tasted this once, about four years ago. It is actually one of the better oil-mix absinthes I have tried. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. However, at the price, unless one is just so curious and can afford the price of entry, it is my opinion that at the price you would be better served to spend your money elsewhere.

Kübler - My second link in post #12 explains it. But to expand on what is my obvious reluctance to wholeheartedly recommend it, it has everything to do with the quality of the distillation protocol. I have seen far too many flawed bottles of this brand. Now again, if one is just so curious that you must try it to feel your absinthe experiences are complete, then have at it. And if you get a good bottle it will be pleasant. However, be advised that at least in my experience (and others that I know of) you have about a 50% chance of buying a flawed bottle. I guess it just all depends on one's motivations. Personally, I don't grouse about the 'tailsy' bottle I have because it is what helped me to learn to recognize tails. But I realize that not everyone is that academically motivated with regard to their drinking activities.

I agree that if someone likes the taste of anything that they should not be ashamed to pick it up and enjoy it. I do think, though, that with a product as variable (bottle to bottle) in quality as this one, that this kind of information is fair, and it's not motivated by my simply having "graduated away from it".

I think I made the mistake of trying jade no too soon. I liked it but I'm not sure I appreciated it... I think I needed some broader experience.


I think a lot of people make that mistake (myself included, a long time ago with Champagne). In the top offerings of any kind of beverage there are very subtle nuances that become apparent to most people only with a good experience level with the more fundamental offerings. There are a lot of things I like about the Jades, but one of the more profound is just the whole firmness of structure and build quality that I have seen in only a few others. It's a fairly elusive quality I think would be lost on most newcomers.

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Muse Verte in the 'arguably absinthe' column? Just curious why.

 

I bought a 20cl bottle in France and the back label says "sans sucre, sans colorant, ni conservateur." It sounds like it's naturally produced, and I didn't see anything in the reviews to the contrary.

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Because its an oil-mix, to my understanding. It is also heavy with star anise. I suppose I could have included a category of "Better Quality Oil-Mix" before the Quality Absinthe categories. The comments I made on that and one other absinthe were precisely because I felt there was additional information necessary to clarify. In the case of La Muse Verte, I think it's probably the best choice from that list in that category. Conversely, I think Kübler occupies the bottom, in quality, of its list.

 

And you may find this amusing; If I had to buy a bottle and all the store stocked was La Muse Verte, Kübler, and St. Hor-Hay, I'd probably pick up the bottle of La Muse Verte.

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And you may find this amusing; If I had to buy a bottle and all the store stocked was La Muse Verte, Kübler, and St. Hor-Hay, I'd probably pick up the bottle of La Muse Verte.

 

That's in line with my thinking. I've drunk more than half my 20cl bottle of Muse Verte and find it pleasant enough. Since my local BevMo does stock it I had figured that's what I'd fall back on for everyday enjoyment. But then I discovered the online options and realized I don't need BevMo.

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I dug up an old Muse Verte thread here

http://wormwoodsociety.org/forums/topic/4030-la-muse-verte-absinthe-traditionnelle/?hl=%2Bmuse+%2Bverte

 

and in particular post 121

http://wormwoodsociety.org/forums/topic/4030-la-muse-verte-absinthe-traditionnelle/page-5?do=findComment&comment=146310

 

It seems that it is a partial macerated absinthe, different herbs are macerated individually into its own liquor, and each is blended in, without distillation. Many of the flaws that come from this method would be somewhat similar to the flaws of an oil mix. (flavors and textures best left behind in the still)

 

Muse Verte is one I have never tried. So I can't comment on how it tastes. (Actually I am now curious)

 

As for the others on the Bevmo list, I would go with how fingerpickenblue grouped them above, except I might slide Mata Hari into the "Not Absinthe" section. (It is just too strange: I imagine a 140yr old blind Frenchman, still in good drinking health, being offered this in a bistro and saying "waiter, what is this? I ordered absinthe!" )

 

Anyway, here is my short and dirty review of the Bevmo list:

Green Moon, not interested. Never tried it, never will. It is flavored vodka, why bother.

 

Mata Hari: I could not finish the glass, it has horrible cinnamon taste- and I usually like some cinnamon flavored spirits. This cinnamon tasted like toothpase to me . And I understand that Grune Fee has some of that cinnamon flavoring in it, so I am going to pass.

undrinkable.

 

Grand Absinthe
Pernod Absinthe: Both are just substandard, and almost undrinkable. I finished the bottle because I am cheep, and will never buy again, not even a glass if it was the only brand available at the bar. Free glass? maybe, just to be polite.

 

La Fee: Just a little (not much) above those two, because I found it flavorless. Just a tiny bit flavors, and a lot of alcohol heat, and a cheep alcohol taste at that. The color is disgusting.

 

 

Kübler: Not the best, but worth a try.

Lucid : is good. I just like a lot of other things in the same price range better. It has all the right flavors, but a bit rough.

St George: I like it, just for a change now and then. Opinions are divided, so give it a try, it is a quality made spirit.

Of those three, you will find only a minority of strong opinions, for or against. So you are kind of on your own. Try them.

 

Ridge Absinthe Verte
La Clandestine Absinthe: World class spirits. The best! I love them!

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It seems that it is a partial macerated absinthe, different herbs are macerated individually into its own liquor, and each is blended in, without distillation. Many of the flaws that come from this method would be somewhat similar to the flaws of an oil mix. (flavors and textures best left behind in the still)

 

Muse Verte is one I have never tried. So I can't comment on how it tastes. (Actually I am now curious)

 

Yes, and sorry for calling it "oil-mix". But you correctly point out that the deficiencies in the quality of a macerated absinthe would be similar to the deficiencies of an oil-mix (in either method the entire spirit is not re-distilled after adding all the component flavorings).

 

Like I said, it's been four years, however I remember it being solidly within the profile of authentic absinthe, a little star anise heavy, and a little rough and unrefined, but much better than I expected it to be. I actually remember making that comment to the brand rep that was present at the event.

 

 

As for the others on the Bevmo list, I would go with how fingerpickenblue grouped them above, except I might slide Mata Hari into the "Not Absinthe" section. (It is just too strange: I imagine a 140yr old blind Frenchman, still in good drinking health, being offered this in a bistro and saying "waiter, what is this? I ordered absinthe!" )

 

And of course there will always be differences of opinion. One thing I am always cautious with is my categorization of an absinthe, and to make sure I categorize it based on our standard of correctness and character, and not my personal opinion of it. Mata Hari is a real tough one and I gave it every benefit of the doubt. As I stated it "walks the barely authentic/impostor line". My assessment of where it belongs is because it contains anise and wormwood, and it louches. If you want more detail my review can be found here. At 2.5 Total Score, that means I found it to be below commercial acceptability. In fact, the only criteria that scored better than 2 with me were the two appearance categories.

 

 

Green Moon, not interested. Never tried it, never will. It is flavored vodka, why bother.

 

I have two bottles here (used to work for a potential distributor). Thank God I never had to sell that stuff. I could send samples, but it's not worth the shipping.

 

So Daniel, enough opinion about Kübler here for you? :twitchsmile:

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I'd say that the job for vets around here vis a vis newcomers is to tell them what brands are NOT absinthe but masquerade as it. Then to tell them the brands that use artificial coloring, include sugar and generally take shortcuts. After that it should only be a matter of taste.

 

And there is one more step to that. Every spirit category as some kind of understood "shelf rating"

 

Bottom shelf. well drinks

Middle shelf

Top shelf or premium

then above that super premium and luxury brands.

 

 

Some producers are perfectly happy selling a bottom self-er and selling it at bottom shelf prices.

Some will try to fool you. I don't think I would get much argument if I said 'La Fee is a bottom shelf-er at a mid to premium price"

Now look at the most extreme example: KoS gold is garbage, below bottom shelf sold at a luxury price

 

 

There is a level of objective standards. (that is *mostly* objective, and some subjectivity) So what constitutes phenomenal vs middle of the road?

And that starts with the producer. (or should)

Kübler and Lucid both know they not top shelf-ers. The WS members and experts are not insulting them by calling middle of the bar.

Jades are top super premium.

Marteau is being offered at different levels. http://wormwoodsociety.org/forums/topic/6377-absinthe-marteau-and-gnostalgic-distillery/page-10?do=findComment&comment=293808

 

 

What 'shelf' any one consumer drinks at is up to your tastes, frequency of purchase, and budget.

 

Amber, as an example, is an occasional tippler, and says stay top shelf. Works for her. Might work for someone else.

Me, I got my (almost) daily drinkers.

then my 'occasional treats' because they are more price-y , then the once or twice a year splurges. And at any given time, I will have one or several brands at each of these shelf levels in my stock.

 

So back to the original point, I think something more is needed than just to say something real vs not real.

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