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St. George Spirits Absinthe Verte Available for Order

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I picked up a bottle of this from my local Beverages & More, they looked to have about 10 bottles on hand, selling for $77.

 

I've only had a handful of absinthes (the ones readily available here), but so far I like St. George the best.

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This last weekend I was rounding out a motorcycle trip up to the Santa Cruz mountains, and I figured the real frosting would be a trip to the St. George microdistillery. It was worth the freeway miles! We skipped the absinthe tasting offered on site, but had a tasting of the rest of their lineup, and bought a bottle of Absinthe.

 

The distillery is awe inspiring. It is a true juxtaposition of a set of tiny distillery stacks, with level after level of levers, abolutely dwarfed by the airforce hanger it's perched in. All the drinks I tried were top notch, their vodka was eminently sippable, and even moreso thevintage whiskeys we sampled.

 

There is truely something to be said of a craft distiller with eight full time employees who puts this much care into making a product. I asked about changes from one batch of absinthe to another and was informed that there will be minor variences as this is NOT a computerized process, but the recipe won't be changing any time soon. All infusions are made with whole plant instead of oils, and Grand wormwood is infused int ehprimary and secondary infusion. a gutsy manuever as this offers a bitter flavour that is definately of aquired taste.

 

A few days after Absinthe was legalized in the states i had a tasting party at my house with Kübler, St. George's, and some blatantly illegal Czech drink called absinthe that was 140 proof and probably very unhealthy to ingest. Naturally we had that one flaming... Since, I've got Lucid as well as La Tourment Verte. The Lucid ad the St. George's are most similar in their louche colour and flavour, with the St. George's edging out the Lucid in louche since the Lucid's is too delicate almost requiring a dropper to get a clear line. The Tourment is best served cold and neat. Or maybe on ice...

 

All in all, I think the St. George's proved worth the premium however. It's the only absinthe I've had that I'm sure is distilled from Brandy. And I for one, like the fact that the masters at Hanger 1 have an origional recipe that caters to their own tastes rather than being softened for the masses. I also prefer the classic styling of the bottle. Absinthe is a unique drink and none to subtle... If there is one thing it DOES NOT require, it's a flashy package. Reserve that for lesser drinks that need colorfull slogans and print adds to amke themselves seem cool and palatable. You won't find vintage Whiskeys or Ports that are worth a damn in cartoonish eyecatching containers, and I think the same goes for Absinthe. There's something to be said about a brand that places it's chances of success on the quality of their product.

 

A final note. For anyone who doubts there is grand wormwood in this absinthe, I dare you to go tour the facility. And while you are at it, you can pick some of the grand wormwood from the plant next to the outside sitting tables.

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There's A.a. in the St. George coloring step? And no one's mentioned tasting it? I don't believe it. But if it's true, and I'm not saying it is, but if it is then I'm going to need a hammer for that final nail.

 

But, yeah, the bottle looks really sweet.

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That would make sense. I can't imagine St. Geo having two maceration/distillation steps prior to coloring and I didn't pick up near enough bitterness to suggest A.a. in the coloring process.

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You guys wouldn't tell me if you did.

 

 

It would have come up before. I already said I don't believe it. Pontica sounds a lot more reasonable.

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AA? Everytime I read this I think you mean the club for drinkers? What is this AA?

 

According to one of the people at St. George's the coloration occurs in the secondary infusion, which includes Grand Wormwood for the second time in the distillation.

 

 

As for the drinking... It's fun!

 

With a good louche (not at all difficult with SG) and I cheat here and add about half a cube's worth of confectioner's sugar into the undiluted absinthe then swirl till it's dissolved, then dribble veddy cold water to about a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio dependent on my mood, the first sips of the unlouched top bit are powerful and a litle oiley. This all mellows once you enter the louche, but without losing a slightly astringent note. Not bad, but not for the weak of taste buds. It 'could' be characterized as overpowering, if I believed in such a thing. This is the most intense of the absinthes I've enjoyed. But I prefer intensity.

Edited by smokescreen

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Aa refers to Artemisia absinthium, or Grand Wormwood.

 

Either someone at St. George is confused, or the amount of Aa in the coloration is microscopic.

 

There is no second time in the distillation. This is the process:

 

Primary maceration

Distillation

Secondary maceration

Dilution to bottling strength

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I went ahead and transcribed the video from the St. George website into text, so we would have a record here of how exactly they say they make it, for future reference:

 

Lance Winters (vice president/distiller): "Absinthe is in my opinion the pinnacle of the craft distiller's art form. It's the Holy Grail for a distiller to really be able to accomplish something, it's what to the alchemist of old was the philosopher's stone or being able to change lead into gold. It's so layered, and so complex and interesting.

 

Dave Smith (assistant distiller): "Here at St. George our approach to absinthe is based on an old recipe, so roughly turn of the century recipe, using fine [grape or grain, couldn't tell what he said] brandy."

 

LW: "We choose to use a brandy because it contributes a much better mouth feel, it's a nicer base for all the other flavors to really step up. On top of that, we do a first infusion of three main herbs: fennel, star anise, which brings not only the anithol characteristics that we associate with things like licorice but it also brings in some really beautiful citrus notes, ah, and then wormwood, which has some of its own anithol characteristics, but it takes it way beyond that.

 

Those three components go into the still with the brandy, they soak for 24 hours, and then at that point we start to apply heat. That heat drives the alcohol into a vaporous form and when it does that it also brings with it all the volatile components, the essential oils from the star anise, the fennel and the wormwood. So that aroma is locked in with the alcohol vapor much like a perfume maker would take aromatics and capture those in an alcohol base, that's the same thing that we're doing. Once that's distilled off, we'll separate a portion of that, and that will be re-infused with a number of other herbs, that's where we put in the Artemisia pontica, which is also known as roman wormwood, pontic wormwood, or petite wormwood, lemon balm, hyssop. And then we go on from there and branch out a little bit into stinging nettles, and meadowsweet, and opal basil, and Ricola mint, and tarragon. And it gives this really, really beautiful big bold picture; each of those ingredients has a little bit of a foot in the same flavor realm as the main ingredients do, but they also take it out a little ways."

 

DS: "That second infusion, really it's the chlorophyll that is part of what's leached out of the herbs in the secondary infusion and that's what gives absinthe, good absinthe at least, its green color and a lot of that sort of essential oil viscosity that you'll find with a really quality absinthe."

 

LW: "Absinthe has a bit of a history. One of the reasons that we want to drink it, one of the reasons that I want to make it, is to connect with that history. A lot of the reputation that it has is deserved, a lot of the reputation that it has is not."

 

DS: "What it really comes down to is that absinthe and its banning in America and around the world has a lot more to do with propaganda than anything else. It has a lot to do with the wine industry, and absinthe stealing a lot of market from the wine industry in France sort of at the turn of the century."

 

LW: "The deserved portion because of the fact that you are talking about a drink that artists clamored for, and it fueled a lot of their artistry. So artists that were brilliant in what they did, like Van Gogh, artists like Oscar Wilde who were just penning amazing things…ah, Hemingway. These were all people that were fueled in their craft by absinthe. What really fueled them about it I'm sure was the fact that it was poetry in a glass, they were drinking a distiller's poetry and it inspired them and filled them up with the desire to do more of what they did. You can enjoy it any old way that you want. If you're sipping it neat at 120 proof and that's something that gets you going, by all means, rock on, just do it. But one of the ways that traditionally is enjoyed is to take your absinthe, pour some into a glass, and then put some ice water into that glass, to trickle it into the glass. One of the things that that does for you is it allows you to see what's called the louche effect take place. And what the louche is is a clouding that takes place in the absinthe as this water goes in."

 

DS: "As the water and the absinthe are mixing, the essential oils that are soluble in alcohol that have been through distillation and infusion have been pulled out of these herbs; they're soluble in alcohol so it's a complete liquid, but they're not necessarily soluble in water. So the louche is actually these essential oils precipitating out of solution, they're actually turning back into small solids….

 

LW: "…and they cloud it up. And so what you're seeing there is all these little droplets making clouds in there. And it's an indication of how much is there in the way of essential oil."

 

DS: "Poor quality absinthe doesn't have a whole lot of essential oils to it, it's going to be a lot thinner and it's not going to louche that well. Really high quality absinthe though, it's going to louche really well, you should take a sip of it and it's going to leave this coating, essential oil, in your mouth, it's going to leave an impression, it's kind of a slap in the face in a lot of ways.

 

LW: "For me what absinthe represents for me, is the pinnacle of the distiller's art form. It's layers and layers of very powerful flavors and aroma that all have to be woven together with great care. It showcases what we do from start to finish as far as selecting the appropriate types of raw material, measuring out the appropriate amount of raw material, and then shepherding those raw materials throughout the process, until they show at their peak at the end of the distillation process, and then taking additional herbs, weaving those in, not having any one stand out too much on its own but having them all play off of one another beautifully. That's philosophically what absinthe is all about to us, so it's a great pleasure to be able to make it, but even moreso to be able to share it with people."

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Thanks for that, Doc L.

"...that will be re-infused with a number of other herbs, that's where we put in the Artemisia pontica, which is also known as roman wormwood, pontic wormwood, or petite wormwood, lemon balm, hyssop. And then we go on from there and branch out a little bit into stinging nettles, and meadowsweet, and opal basil, and Ricola mint, and tarragon..."

 

Wholly crap, Batman! They're coloring with all that stuff? No wonder the color is so murky.

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According to the beginning of the above article, the recipe is based on a turn of the century recipe. That said, they posted early on, on their own site that they'd spent a long time before the ban was lifted experimenting and changing things to 'perfect' their recipe...

 

Also the secondary infusion (maceration) will add flavour to the drink. It's where the colour is derived to be sure, but undoubtedly it changes more than just the colour of the drink.

 

But, also in the article, the secondary maceration is petite wormwood. My mistake.

 

However, I'm not sure what 'murkyness' you've noted. murky means hazy, dark and cloudy. The colouratino is pronounced, undoubtedly. This stuff ain't white. But I've yet to see a bottle with any particulate murkyness in it. Just a very dark green hue. Definately natural in it's appearance. Not the listerine green of la tourment verte (which 'could' be naturally occuring, there are more vivid greens than that in nature).

Edited by smokescreen

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Yes, I just didn't know if in De Brevans or Duplais if there was any reference to them and I can't look at them right now because I am not at home. I know the coloring step adds a certain amt of flavor, that's why I was wondering if anyone historically had used tarragon in the step because of its somewhat anise like aromatic properties.

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However, I'm not sure what 'murkyness' you've noted. murky means hazy, dark and cloudy.

A poor word choice on my part. Drab would have served better. Drab before and after louching. Granted, it does look natural, just not very pretty. That's nothing more than my personal opinion.

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According to the beginning of the above article, the recipe is based on a turn of the century recipe.

Every absinthe known to man is based on an old-as-hell recipe. At least that's what the marketing says. I say that when you use an herb bill that different you should just say, "Dude, I totally winged it. I read some old recipes but only used them as a reference point. I came up with something that is totally unique and modern, and I think it's really cool. Give it a try but keep an open mind."

 

Based on a turn of the century recipe my ass.

 

By the way, it's not a liqueur. It's a liquor.

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Also the secondary infusion (maceration) will add flavour to the drink. It's where the colour is derived to be sure, but undoubtedly it changes more than just the colour of the drink.

Of course it does.

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With all this anti-SG talk, I made up my mind to better spend my money elsewhere. But those photos did put a tinge of intrigue in my spine...

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I started looking more closely at that first one and started seeing some interesting things in the spectrum of colors on the left. I made the executive decision that it was just cause to have a second glass :cheers:

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