Color: Clean and deeply colored, a fairly dark green/yellow (perhaps a bit more yellow than green.) Very nice.
Louche: REALLY nice trails and swirling, having fully developed around 1:2. Beautifully multi-faceted. Sadly, I had difficulty keeping it from getting too thin when diluted to higher ratios, really wished it were a bit thicker. Finally got a great louche by using an *extremely* slow, cold drip.
Aroma: Spicy and peppery, and already has the sweet smell I associate with sugar-cubed absinthe, eventually rounding out, with new scents coming forward at different water ratios.
Flavor: Each sip is a new flavor: sometimes it's clean and fresh, sometimes it's sweet and heavy, bitter, spicy, flavorful green-ness, mouth-numbing mintiness, all with slight hints of alcohol at lower dilutions.
Finish: I can only describe it as filling my entire mouth...I feel like the flavor of most of the absinthes that I've tried only fill the front of my mouth. It's tingly and fresh, yet warm and smooth, with a (good) earthiness, and it's almost citrusy-sweet.
Overall: Complex, wonderful flavors. I like that there's a slight alcohol taste, enough to remind that it's an alcoholic drink but not in an overpowering way. At higher dilutions the thinness made it difficult to enjoy completely, even though the flavor and scent still held up very well. I felt like sometimes I had to sacrifice either toning down the alcohol flavor with thickness at times, but was much better when I carefully louched it, but still not ideal. Immediately after drinking my last glass of this, I made myself a glass of the absinthe I usually drink, and was hugely disappointed.
*Edited after enjoying a new batch of Marteau, made in 2012. My first review was from a bottle made in 2008.
Served Initially at 3.5.1 with 1 sugar, I took this up to 4:1 with no sugar, which is how I enjoy it most.
Color: A clear, natural light green.
Louche: Developed slowly and evenly with thick swirling trails, smoky puffs and clouding, nice clear layering, ending in a wonderful translucent louche. Just the right thickness so light had fun as it bent through the glass. This new Marteau seems to have a slightly thicker louche, which I like.
Aroma: Clean, lovely and inviting. Fresh and crisp. Hints of baking spices. Some of the herbal punch has faded from the previous batch, which for me is an improvement. This aroma is more traditional and classic of a French verte.
Flavor: Herbaceous and balanced. Spice, light mint, herbals and citrus. It is tough to pull out all the elements one by one, as there is so much going on. The previous batch had a punchy powerful herbal edge that was a bit grassy and vegetal... Bottom line: New batch= balanced, more traditional, and quite tasty. I feel it is hands down an improvement in flavor.
Finish: Clean and soft. Tingly unfolding layers ending in a powdery spice and light citrus. Lasting linger. Satin-like mouthfeel. I also am finding a gentle pull and build that is more enjoyable in this new bottle.
Light emerald green, a lovely color. The louche starts as a faint cloud and then gets denser, and then very dense, slow and exact layering. Color after water is a green with lighter green tints. The aroma is very clean with varied herbal alpine notes, anise and citrus. After louche, a pleasant alpine aroma with strong after hints of wormwood, faint citrus. The mouth feel is velvety and smooth with a slight numbing. The taste is herbal with a very pronounced presence of wormwood, with additional wormwood notes, minty, complex and floral. The after taste is lingering, soft and smooth, spicy presence with final wormwood. The wormwood is exceptional. Its contribution in combination with the anise is excellent. It is obvious that this is a very well made product.
Color: Marteau starts off very beautiful. A deep yellow-green that is clear yet solid. A very nice almost precious stone look, as if it was jewelry in my glass.
Louche: The louche is wonderful when done properly with a slow cold drip. Anything other than that seemed to cause Marteau to be thin. It is also thin when a higher ratio is used. At 1:4 with an ice cold slow drip it louches like a dream though. Lots of oil trails dance around so it is wonderful to watch. One for sitting down and enjoying the experience, not a quick glass to pour.
Aroma: The aroma is nice, it can be smelled from a nice distance from the glass but doesn't fill the room. Marteau has a certain spice to it as well as the herbs. The aroma itself is complex which can be tasted later. Intentionally taking a whiff will get you some alcohol heat, but just letting the smell hit your nose is very pleasant.
Flavor: Wonderful flavor. This is herbal and spiced at the same time. With each sip I tried to pick out a new flavor, which is hard since it is so well balanced. At lower ratios it has some of that alcohol heat that you can smell which I prefer in my drinks. More water will bring out more flavors so adding more is not a bad idea for taste if you don't mind losing the alcohol flavor.
Finish: The finish is a cool finish with some dancing of the flavors but overall it is as complex as the initial flavor is and doesn't change much else. There is a nice numbing sensation just a bit. Not as much as some other absinthes but still nice.
Overall: This is a high quality absinthe with a wonderful taste and initial color. The louche is wonderful when done right but could use a bit more versatility. Aroma, Taste, and Finish are all done well which makes this absinthe a wonderful experience for the night.
Bottle purchased November 2008, sample(s) louched November & December 2008.
Marteau Absinthe de la Belle Epoque has been a long time in preparation, and the wait has been worth it! I picked up my first bottle at the distillery release party, when I had my first small sample served by the hand of Mr. Stone. It was alluring in small sips, and I couldn't wait to get home and try a full glass.
In the glass neat, Marteau is a beautiful green, somewhere between olive and emerald in color. The pre-louche aroma has notes of orange, cream, and coffee. I take my absinthe sugared, and cold water dripped over the spoon creates marvelous "oil trails" that start at the bottom of the glass and build slowly until a 2:1 dilution is achieved. There is a marked line of separation between the louched/unlouched alcohol, and it fills the room with a creamy, anise-y aroma.
Others have noted that Marteau is an absinthe that can be diluted with varying amounts of water to great effect. This very evening I have had a glass at 4:1 which was spicy and quite enjoyable. Afterwards, I louched up a glass at 5.5:1,. and it was even creamier on the tongue, with a bit less alcohol bite.
The first sip is very intriguing. The expected wormwood bitterness is apparent, yet it quickly recedes and fennel's sweetness moves to the forefront. Mid-palate is a delightful mintiness, while on the finish, I detect the wormwood again, backed by sweetness. There is no end to the flavors, and they work very well in concert.
This is one marvelous beverage to sip. It also is excellent as a rinse for Sazeracs and other absinthe cocktails. Highly recommended!