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Review Detail

 
La Maitresse Rouge
Traditional Absinthe
Color
Unlouched, crystal clear, natural, sparkling medium caramel color with a slight brassy push. Louched, skim-milky butterscotch/caramel with a slight orange push. Some slight gradients to bluish-white at the edges and meniscus.

Louche
Slow and cold are the operatives to maximize entertainment with this one. Nice trails from the start, and eventually cloudiness builds, and a clear top layer forms. Nice refractions, and everything is visible until it all goes opaque at about 2/1.

Aroma
Prelouche, pleasant anise with balanced wormwood and herbal backers. Louched, generally subtle and delicate, but clearly present. Anise up front, but the very floral wormwood is right there. A slightly oxidized fruity note. Even though it's not a blockbuster, the aroma is detectable 15 feet away. I thought the sweet spot was approximately 3.5/1, where the wormwood took charge, and the anise and fennel provided good support.

Flavor
Wormwood balanced nicely with anise, and a hint of oxidized red fruit (cranberry?). There's a slightly tart fruity/floral sensation on the attack. A milky light-medium weight mouthfeel, and an easy, delicate pull on the palate. I have to figure this is Pontarlier wormwood, but its impression is more lithe and stylish than the other Emile Pernot offerings I have tried.

Finish
An initial burst of tingly spiciness, followed by a fairly rapid fade of all the primary flavors. There is moderate tongue numbing and drying... well controlled, not harsh. Nicely done.

Overall
Worth the experience. The taster almost needs to reset their gauges to accommodate the unconventionality of this.

My Best Advice About La Maitresse
Oxygen is NOT this absinthe's friend. While the above review is based primarily on my final evaluation, it unfortunately doesn't give you a hint of just how satisfying this was upon opening. Every aspect of this offering was far more impressive the day I opened the bottle. Without belaboring it too greatly, a summary of my first evaluation (12/14/08).

Color
Beautiful coral tinged nougat color. Great nuance, with pinkish glints both unlouched and louched.

Louche
Better by means of the superior coloration.

Aroma
Anise, fennel, minty wormwood with a gorgeous undertone of red fruit and floral. A hint of herbal tea character.

Flavor
Great wormwood, anise, fennel balance. Slight spiciness and a fruity roundness. Mid-weight mouthfeel. Assertive without being pushy.

Finish
Spice, mint, dusty florals. Great subtle balance. Slightly honeyed. Subtle "pinch", easy drying.

Overall
Grounded fresh, feminine point of view. "Like a well-aged Bordeaux is to the wine world" (direct quote from my notes).

If I had another bottle of this absinthe, I would only open it in the presence of a half dozen other absinthe drinkers and finish the bottle on that occasion. While still reasonably enjoyable, my bottle currently doesn't hold a candle to the taste I had the first evaluation. It was so profound, that I can remember it like it was yesterday. I want that absinthe back.

Apparently, there is more to the degradation here, than just color. The aromatic and flavor components of the coloring herbs seem adversely affected by time and air. This is not unlike a "well-aged Bordeaux" or an well-aged Pinot Noir, for that matter. Upon opening, these can be some of the most satisfying wines one would ever drink, however a determined pace of consumption is sometimes called for, since oxygen can cause these to fall apart at quite a rapid pace. You just need to beat them to the finish line.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, and diluted 3/1, 3.5/1, and 4/1, and no sugar.

La Maitresse Rouge 12/14/08, 2/22/09, 4/18/09
The final two evaluations had consistent notes.
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Appearance 
 
4.0
Louche 
 
4.0
Aroma 
 
3.0
Flavor / Mouthfeel 
 
3.0
Finish 
 
3.0
Overall 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Michael Meyers April 19, 2009
Last updated: June 19, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (53)

Buy Bottle, Open, Drink, Repeat... With New Bottle

Color
Unlouched, crystal clear, natural, sparkling medium caramel color with a slight brassy push. Louched, skim-milky butterscotch/caramel with a slight orange push. Some slight gradients to bluish-white at the edges and meniscus.

Louche
Slow and cold are the operatives to maximize entertainment with this one. Nice trails from the start, and eventually cloudiness builds, and a clear top layer forms. Nice refractions, and everything is visible until it all goes opaque at about 2/1.

Aroma
Prelouche, pleasant anise with balanced wormwood and herbal backers. Louched, generally subtle and delicate, but clearly present. Anise up front, but the very floral wormwood is right there. A slightly oxidized fruity note. Even though it's not a blockbuster, the aroma is detectable 15 feet away. I thought the sweet spot was approximately 3.5/1, where the wormwood took charge, and the anise and fennel provided good support.

Flavor
Wormwood balanced nicely with anise, and a hint of oxidized red fruit (cranberry?). There's a slightly tart fruity/floral sensation on the attack. A milky light-medium weight mouthfeel, and an easy, delicate pull on the palate. I have to figure this is Pontarlier wormwood, but its impression is more lithe and stylish than the other Emile Pernot offerings I have tried.

Finish
An initial burst of tingly spiciness, followed by a fairly rapid fade of all the primary flavors. There is moderate tongue numbing and drying... well controlled, not harsh. Nicely done.

Overall
Worth the experience. The taster almost needs to reset their gauges to accommodate the unconventionality of this.

My Best Advice About La Maitresse
Oxygen is NOT this absinthe's friend. While the above review is based primarily on my final evaluation, it unfortunately doesn't give you a hint of just how satisfying this was upon opening. Every aspect of this offering was far more impressive the day I opened the bottle. Without belaboring it too greatly, a summary of my first evaluation (12/14/08).

Color
Beautiful coral tinged nougat color. Great nuance, with pinkish glints both unlouched and louched.

Louche
Better by means of the superior coloration.

Aroma
Anise, fennel, minty wormwood with a gorgeous undertone of red fruit and floral. A hint of herbal tea character.

Flavor
Great wormwood, anise, fennel balance. Slight spiciness and a fruity roundness. Mid-weight mouthfeel. Assertive without being pushy.

Finish
Spice, mint, dusty florals. Great subtle balance. Slightly honeyed. Subtle "pinch", easy drying.

Overall
Grounded fresh, feminine point of view. "Like a well-aged Bordeaux is to the wine world" (direct quote from my notes).

If I had another bottle of this absinthe, I would only open it in the presence of a half dozen other absinthe drinkers and finish the bottle on that occasion. While still reasonably enjoyable, my bottle currently doesn't hold a candle to the taste I had the first evaluation. It was so profound, that I can remember it like it was yesterday. I want that absinthe back.

Apparently, there is more to the degradation here, than just color. The aromatic and flavor components of the coloring herbs seem adversely affected by time and air. This is not unlike a "well-aged Bordeaux" or an well-aged Pinot Noir, for that matter. Upon opening, these can be some of the most satisfying wines one would ever drink, however a determined pace of consumption is sometimes called for, since oxygen can cause these to fall apart at quite a rapid pace. You just need to beat them to the finish line.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, and diluted 3/1, 3.5/1, and 4/1, and no sugar.

La Maitresse Rouge 12/14/08, 2/22/09, 4/18/09
The final two evaluations had consistent notes.

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