Color: A few shades darker than lime. A clean green hue, like a gemstone... beautiful.
Louche: Strong point in the perceived oiliness with trails visible right away. Very slow to turn with a visible band. Looking relatively thick at the end. Close to the best but not quite- It seems like the absinthe appears a little less 'milky' than what I would give a 5...
Aroma: Probably the most complex I have ever drawn in my nostrils! I can sense the classic alpine herb bill, a fresh talc scent, and strong citrus. There is something I pick up that is reminiscent of La Coquette & it's the Pdv. quality I like. It smells rich & strong neat. The aroma remains complex after the ice water is added, with the 'fresh' aspect dominating. I can't wait taste this!
Taste: Very balanced - Tastes just like the aroma - perfect! No one thing dominates, such as anise or wormwood, however their presence is noted. I actually prefer to have a little sugar in this one. There's a little heat & punch at the start... a good strong drink! I tried different amounts of water - it doesn't seem possible to ruin it!
Finish: Nice and lasting, very full, great feel. It has a subtle & seductive pull on my palate.
Overall: I approached this tasting with an impartial head - I did not want to have unrealistically high expectations about it just because G. Stone also happens to be the founder of the web's best forum for absinthe education. Group mentality would state that one has to love this absinthe. Well, with that out of the way, I can honestly and safely say I absolutely love it, it's worth every penny, and is one of the absolute best absinthes that I have ever had - that's saying a lot! I look forward to tasting the handiwork of other U.S. craft distillers as well!
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.
The Marteau is a very, very nice absinthe. It begins a natural olive green and louches to a very attractive jade, with golden undertones. The louche builds very gradually, with the expected heavy "oil trails" and associated visual effects. Before water, the aroma is surprisingly faint and indistinct, but as the louche forms the absinthe releases a wonderful and complex herbal fragrance. Indeed this may be the nicest scent from any glass I've ever louched.
The flavor is likewise very excellent, blending the herbal complexity of the aroma with an underlying bitterness that I found very enjoyable. There is also a spiciness there, but not too much. The finish is quite complex, lingering, and interesting, and I have learned that a little extra water (say 4:1 rather than my usual 3-3.5:1) eliminates most of the grassiness that occurs in the finish.
This absinthe ranks both at the top of US products and can stand up with anything coming from Europe as well. It is good just minutes out of the bottle, and I expect it will become even better with time.
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!