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Review Detail

 
Blanche Traditionelle
Traditional Absinthe
Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4

Color
Flawless clarity, very bright. Look hard and critically, and it has the very, very, very slightest tint of gold, however, nearly colorless.

Louche
At 4:1, milky looking, flat and opaque, showing the slightest gold/bronze tint. At 5:1, it begins to let enough light pass to take on a nice sheen. The tint lessens, and it displays some blue. At 6:1 (and in my opinion, a proper dilution here), the gold tint is barely there, and it develops some pretty pewter highlights with nice violet reflections. A very attractive blanche louche. The action takes plenty of time to unfold (that's 81.3% abv having its way).

Aroma
Louched, balanced (for what's there), very homogeneous. A very dark-toned nose featuring strong wormwood, chamomile and other plants. Sultry. Anise and fennel support this, and it all impresses as being very clean. Nothing "off" whatsoever. A slight sense of flowers as it warms. Lacking in the typical brighter top notes of quality absinthes, blanches in particular. Not terribly focused, as a result.

Flavor
Big, round and darkly herbal. A very masculine style. Wormwood, genepi, and chamomile dominate with good support from the anise and fennel. Very clean, with no obvious flaws, but nothing particularly interesting, either. A little hollow in the mid-palate. At 4:1, rather brutish, 5:1, and really 6:1 show much more tamely. At the higher dilutions, and with warming, it reveals a slight mintiness, not quite capable of offsetting its brooding character.

Finish
A lot like the palate, nothing wrong, but nothing particularly interesting. Somewhat simple, and a little short, which is surprising considering the strong wormwood .

Overall
Solid, dark and monolithic. Again, nothing grossly amiss (evidenced by my total score of 3.7, which places it at the top of the range I would consider mid-market), just none of the delineated details I expect to see in a top quality absinthe. At least it's not an anise bomb. It starts out impressive and then falls a little flat. It obviously has all kinds of good ingredients, just skewed way too dark, ponderous, almost oppressive. There's just no brighter component(s) to balance and focus it. It's not that I don't like what it is, rather, I don't like what's not there. It reminds me of listening to some great music, that I love, with the treble knob turned down 80% of the way. My score of 3 in Overall, reflects my inner debate over a score of 3 or 4 in both Aroma, and Palate. Ultimately, I decided they were both not a 3, but they are certainly not strong 4s.

This all makes me wish I had the other Essais to compare (to my knowledge, only #5 is currently available through standard channels). Maybe I'm in the "just don't get it club" with this one. My disappointment with this stems directly from all the hoopla I've read in the forums and reviews for some time now. I honestly wonder, however, what the general reaction to this would be, traditionally bottled, and proofed to 60% abv. My senses tell me that the packaging (the oyster colored crockery, lab tag, hand tied twine, seal, and wax), and the bottled abv of 81.3%, may be leading some to think that there is something especially alchemical here, and that it possesses some extra "Jo ala Mo" that just isn't there. Remember, the only difference between 81.3% and 60% is the first .35:1 of dilution, so the difference is the difference of your choice, or the distillers choice, of water.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, diluted 4:1, 5:1, 6:1 and no sugar.

Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4, 2/10/10, 3/09/10, 11/06/10, 01/12/11.
All evaluations had consistent notes.
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Appearance 
 
4.0
Louche 
 
4.0
Aroma 
 
4.0
Flavor / Mouthfeel 
 
4.0
Finish 
 
3.0
Overall 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Michael Meyers January 12, 2011
Last updated: August 12, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (53)

Essai, Essai, Again, Please

Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4

Color
Flawless clarity, very bright. Look hard and critically, and it has the very, very, very slightest tint of gold, however, nearly colorless.

Louche
At 4:1, milky looking, flat and opaque, showing the slightest gold/bronze tint. At 5:1, it begins to let enough light pass to take on a nice sheen. The tint lessens, and it displays some blue. At 6:1 (and in my opinion, a proper dilution here), the gold tint is barely there, and it develops some pretty pewter highlights with nice violet reflections. A very attractive blanche louche. The action takes plenty of time to unfold (that's 81.3% abv having its way).

Aroma
Louched, balanced (for what's there), very homogeneous. A very dark-toned nose featuring strong wormwood, chamomile and other plants. Sultry. Anise and fennel support this, and it all impresses as being very clean. Nothing "off" whatsoever. A slight sense of flowers as it warms. Lacking in the typical brighter top notes of quality absinthes, blanches in particular. Not terribly focused, as a result.

Flavor
Big, round and darkly herbal. A very masculine style. Wormwood, genepi, and chamomile dominate with good support from the anise and fennel. Very clean, with no obvious flaws, but nothing particularly interesting, either. A little hollow in the mid-palate. At 4:1, rather brutish, 5:1, and really 6:1 show much more tamely. At the higher dilutions, and with warming, it reveals a slight mintiness, not quite capable of offsetting its brooding character.

Finish
A lot like the palate, nothing wrong, but nothing particularly interesting. Somewhat simple, and a little short, which is surprising considering the strong wormwood .

Overall
Solid, dark and monolithic. Again, nothing grossly amiss (evidenced by my total score of 3.7, which places it at the top of the range I would consider mid-market), just none of the delineated details I expect to see in a top quality absinthe. At least it's not an anise bomb. It starts out impressive and then falls a little flat. It obviously has all kinds of good ingredients, just skewed way too dark, ponderous, almost oppressive. There's just no brighter component(s) to balance and focus it. It's not that I don't like what it is, rather, I don't like what's not there. It reminds me of listening to some great music, that I love, with the treble knob turned down 80% of the way. My score of 3 in Overall, reflects my inner debate over a score of 3 or 4 in both Aroma, and Palate. Ultimately, I decided they were both not a 3, but they are certainly not strong 4s.

This all makes me wish I had the other Essais to compare (to my knowledge, only #5 is currently available through standard channels). Maybe I'm in the "just don't get it club" with this one. My disappointment with this stems directly from all the hoopla I've read in the forums and reviews for some time now. I honestly wonder, however, what the general reaction to this would be, traditionally bottled, and proofed to 60% abv. My senses tell me that the packaging (the oyster colored crockery, lab tag, hand tied twine, seal, and wax), and the bottled abv of 81.3%, may be leading some to think that there is something especially alchemical here, and that it possesses some extra "Jo ala Mo" that just isn't there. Remember, the only difference between 81.3% and 60% is the first .35:1 of dilution, so the difference is the difference of your choice, or the distillers choice, of water.

Done with a 1 ounce dose, diluted 4:1, 5:1, 6:1 and no sugar.

Blanche Traditionelle Essai #4, 2/10/10, 3/09/10, 11/06/10, 01/12/11.
All evaluations had consistent notes.

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