Absinthe - La Valote
Willy/Bovets/Francis Martin, Switzerland
La Valote Authentic Premium Absinthe
Willy Bovets/Francis Martin, Motiers, Val-de-Travers, Switzerland
Importer: Unique Imports, Victorville, Ca.
PROOF: 104 (54%)
TYPE: Swiss, Clear, Distilled
PRICE: $58.99 750 ml
Note: This is a Swiss Absinthe distilled in Motiers,Val-de-Travers, Switzerland - considered by many to be the birthplace and home of absinthe.
This is a blend of two products/distillations from a cooperative that uses very small (25-90 liter) copper pot stills and locally grown herbs to maintain a high quality, authentic product. Formerly clandestine distillers, when absinthe was legalized they went mainstream so their product is now more easily available. Please note this review is for the U.S. version - Swiss and other versions are slightly different - and we will review those too when we get our hands on them.
First Impression: Anise, fennel, hyssop, lemon balm following on closely- fair amount of wormwood in a nice earthy herbal way. Mint and alcohol in background rather than foreground. Nicely if not overly complex has a good balance of herbs with a nice fennel rather than anise forward bouquet.
Appearance: Clear, bright, almost thick sap like appearance to it - reminds me a bit of Arak that way - clear but thick looking. As with most Swiss absinthe it is clear rather than green - a style referred to as Le Blue in some circles. Upside of this is that there are never any fake colorants added to it and no natural ones that might turn brown later- downside is a lot of people like their absinthe green no matter where it comes from.
On swirling, leaves a thin coat on the glass with bead like edge line (with the beads growing a bit with time and thin legs developing. Louche is very quick (a touch disappointing- I like to see swirls and pools) almost like a class lab demo-clear to milk bang! Louche is properly opalescent and color is good. As a side note for people who like to play with their drinks if you add a single ice cube to it and look closely you can see the oils start to twirl, pool and start to form slightly colored lines almost filaments, and if you swirl the glass you can watch them gather like a miniature tornado.
Taste: Very fennel and anise with wormwood following on in a pleasantly drying and bitter way. Finish is long and lingering with lemon balm and hyssop providing very pleasant floral citrus to counterpoint the wormwood peppermint adds a little tingle but is not overdone like some.
Drinks: The French absinthe ritual involves water fountains, sugar, spoons, and you pour the absinthe in the glass then put the spoon over the glass put a sugar cube on it and drip water from a purpose built fountain over until it louches (opalesces, turns cloudy, etc.) and the right amount of dilution (to personal taste-variable) is reached.
The "Czech" method (actually created as a marketing trick by an Englishman) is more fraught with danger (especially if you have had a few already) as it involves fire and highly combustible liquids. Caution must be exercised to avoid spilling the flaming liquid or having the glass shatter from the heat. Frankly I find the Czech method showy, dangerous, and tedious, all at once - not to mention a waste of good absinthe.
May be useful in cocktails where absinthe or a bitter is called for and you are looking to not have a a good absinthe flavor without overwhelming a cocktail. Can also be used as a vermouth substitute in a martini
Other: I recommend a 3 to 1 dilution- sugar very optional.
Bottle: Clear glass wine bottle shape - much in the style its forebears with a old style label, real cork closure and cap. Very nice and humorous retro looking label with black cat drinking a glass of absinthe and old gold neckwrap.
Final Thoughts: Distillation is excellent. While not the most complex absinthe I've had, it is very nicely balanced and easy to drink. The mix of herbs and the overall quality are quite good. Low-to-mid range price and quality make it an attractive starter absinthe. A bit light compared to some absinthes makes it a good choice for those seeking a balanced but not overwhelming absinthe for their next acquisition.
Website : http://www.absinthe-lavalote.ch
Like the absinthe, a bit minimal but informative (if you can read French or German) - also, you can use Bing for a good translation.