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Review Detail

Traditional Absinthe
My first supposedly high quality absinthe
(Updated: February 18, 2009)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Appearance 
 
5.0
Louche 
 
4.0
Aroma 
 
3.0
Flavor / Mouthfeel 
 
5.0
Finish 
 
3.0
Overall 
 
5.0
This first taste glass of Vieux Pontarlier was prepared with ice cold water, no sugar, and very slowly dripped.

Aroma pre-louche: I think it is important to experience a new absinthe's aroma upon opening the bottle and give a very first impression. Upon opening the bottle a familiar and expected wormwood-heavy aroma was omnipresent. It smells enticing. Upon pouring, the heavy wormwood aroma fades and takes a back seat to something more complex. Alcohol is, however, very apparent.

Color:

The color is by far the nicest I've personally experienced. It is crystal clear with no sediment, and represents for me a perfect coloration. It looks the most natural, and most absinthe-y I have seen yet.

Louche:

For me one of the most important characteristics. IT began as magnificent oily trails that seemed to conjure up the jade opalescence from somewhere unseen within. A bit quick to erupt, the full louche began almost after the blink of an eye and filled all but the top layer until around 2.5 it was complete. It's fantastic green color set in nicely and never move towards being too much white. It was so pretty at the start that I wish it lasted longer. The aroma was like cold candy canes, and while pleasant was not very powerful. Stopping the drip at around 3 or 3.5-1 I quickly stirred. Utterly gorgeous.

Flavor:

A fantastically blended flavor. Wormwood--so far as I believe it to be--jumps right onto your tongue and riding quickly in tow is a smooth mix of fennel and anise. I have no qualms about saying that, on instant reaction, this is the most fantastic thing I've ever tasted. It blends all the qualities of my previous absinthes and gives me a stern, yet enjoyable lesson in what absinthe should taste like. The texture on my tongue is of perfect creaminess. No biting alcohol. Although I do miss the nice numbness I've come to expect from others.

Finish:

The finish is quick and clean, almost as if the flavor completely vanishes leaving only a refreshing afterthought. It is naturally sweet in a way that sugar could ruin it. I would have liked the flavor to linger a bit longer, perhaps with a nice numb reminder on the tip of my tongue.

Overall:

This is delicious. It seems to be a perfect blend of all dominant absinthe flavors, and yet in some way I am almost missing having one jump out over another. I think that perhaps a lesser water ration might benefit this absinthe as it might allow for a more sharp bite to the tongue. Of course, this could just mean that it really is a very high quality absinthe with a particularly refined character. Overall, the best I've had so far--it doesn't cry out for sugar--and an absinthe that I have no doubt will replace at least one of my current mainstays.

*EDIT* So I tried one with sugar and, exposing my complete absinthe naivete, it isn't bad at all. The wormwood comes out a bit more, but the anise vanishes and you only get a hint of fennel. Not as catastrophic as I thought. I'm a bit confused now.
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