Think of this as a New World Absinthe.
Note: This is a Absinthe microdistilled in a former naval aircraft hangar in Alameda, a small city near San Francisco, and the home of Hangar One Vodka and St George Spirits.
First Impression: Balanced and complex,interesting bouquet to it. A nicely balanced aroma of wormwood, anise, lemon balm, and basil among other things. There are a number of unique botanicals used in this blend- such things as meadowsweet, lemon balm, basil, tarragon and stinging nettles and you can identify most of them in the melange. Interesting! Very green, herbal and leafy notes to it, the sweet,bitter and savory seem to chase each other with the brandy base notes adding further depth.
Appearance: Clear, bright, pond scum green cast to it -which is actually the color it should be – it is not an indicator at attempts to color or dope it with dyes which to me is a good thing. One of the very few absinthes that are not colored with some scary looking artificial coloring that makes it look more like mouthwash or radiator fluid than a drink. On swirling, leaves a thin coat on the glass with scalloping and very thin legs developing.
Nice louche with water- looks like the antique absinthe ashtray I have from my travels that was made from vaseline glass and perfectly captures the color of a absinthe louche. Entertaining swirls, as you add water and a rapid pool and swirl effect when the louche kicks in and the absinthe starts to opalesce.
Taste: Very herbaceous start followed by basil, a rush of anise/licorice followed a sweet lemon and a mix of formic acid and wormwood bitterness that leads to a interesting rush of sensations in your mouth and palate. Only negatives might be the tarragon and basil make it a trifle to herbaceous – bordering on something to put on a salad (there’s a thought hmm…). Well made and relatively complex with a entertaining mix of ingredients with a range of olfactory and sensory amusements for both nose and tongue.
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. There are a number of web sites that show you how (check our Absinthe Links Section) and to get all your gear check La Maison d’ Absinthe . For other drinks such as a Death in the Afternoon, or a Sazerac, the Saint George adds some very unique nuances and works well with other ingredients rather than overwhelming them as many absinthes can.
Other: I recommend a 4-1 dilution – of water, slightly less than the traditional 6-1.
Bottle: Clear round cylindrical glass bottle with a sharp shoulder and short neck shape – much in the style its forebears with a old style label. Cork closure is a major pain in the ass to open- you have to remove the wax button , then use a thin bladed (double prongs of thin metal) corkscrew to get the cork out intact to reseal the bottle (assuming you and hopefully, some friends, are not intending to drink it in one go). It would be nice if they supplied a stopper of some sort to recork the bottle with so we could dispense with the special tools. See our solution here.
Final Thoughts: One of the better Absinthes on the mass-market now. Distillation is excellent, reasonably complex, balanced, interesting if not a traditional expression that is well done. Easy-to-find, a touch pricey compared to some, but this is handmade in small batches and it shows.