Review – Mansinthe 66.6%, Not A Copy Of An Imitation

I’ll get to the point up front – this is a decent Swiss absinthe.

Adorned with a slightly surreal painting by Manson of himself in old age, one might become suspicious that this is largely a ‘vanity label’ or ‘celebrity brand’. But rather than just another product looking for a celebrity endorsement, we have a much more interesting story of a modern entertainer who has worked hand in hand with a traditional distiller to produce something that maintains the right aesthetic for both.

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I would generally like to avoid using the term ‘brand’ here because Manson’s portfolio of interests is extending well past music into art, film, literature and now absinthe – would it be fair to call ‘Andy Warhol’ a brand? Well, yes, the Warhol Foundation has seen to it that it is now through extensive licencing.

So if Manson must be conceded as a brand, thank goodness it is a brand with certain minimum values.

I remember reading a story about Mr Manson ‘holding court’ with fans on an occasion – and at this meet and greet, the truly tragically gothic and beautiful were overlooked in favour of the geeky and awkward. And here is a dichotomy I think some people miss with Manson – for all the ‘distinctiveness’ he projects, I don’t believe he seems himself as forsaking society like some ascetic, but to evolve as he is ‘within’ the confines of that society. He is not inaccessible.

I’m trying to use this anecdote as a metaphor for saying that Manson has put his name to an accessible absinthe – with a quality and price point that allows anyone, the geeks, the goths, the “it must be French/Swiss” absintheur and even the “woohoo! absinth shooters!” consumer to try it (and hopefully change the behaviour of the latter).

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In fact, accessibility seemed to have part of the very intent in the crafting of this absinthe by Swiss distillery Matter-Luginbühl AG. Read the history and you will see this product is as much about a family tradition as it is about a man with his name on a bottle.

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The tinted glass bottle has its neck wrapped in a foil capsule that requires a little grunt to remove – it is quite thick and well sealed. The stopper is a wooden base with a cork closure (glued) inside, which makes for easy opening and closing.

Upon opening a fresh aroma wafts out, but is not room filling – the bitter note of wormwood is strongest, followed by a fresh sweet fennel note, lastly followed by anise. Another interesting note that came through was chocolate covered licorice – or at least a sweet licorice – which may be hyssop.

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After pouring into a Pontarlier glass, the colour was a clear, almost neon green. The product is naturally coloured, however not traditionally coloured, probably supplemented by a naturally derived commercial chlorophyll as there was a certain brightness you would not expect from traditional colouring.

Strong grassy notes were beginning to emerge but were not obtrusive. The green anise tones certainly seemed the weakest of the herbaceous notes. The aroma profile came in waves and washes, shifting from one to another in rapid succession like a little aromatic symphony.

Taken with sugar, the louche was quite slow to emerge in a mid 1:3-1:4 dilution, with the oil and water swirling, occasionally seeming to coalesce into distinct globules of white which quickly dissipated. When the louche did emerge it came on very strong, obscuring the spoon even with direct afternoon sunlight.

The taste is creamy and thick, the bitterness tasted around the edge of the tongue and to the back. It has a clean taste with no alcohol burn.

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Much like the aroma, certain flavours started to peek out and retreat in a tantalising fashion – the mineral note, fresh mint, and a woody taste – again the latter two may be hyssop. The taste and smells blend and shift between prominence and obscurity. As it warmed I believe the bitter wormwood note became more distinct to my nose.

The aforementioned quality and price point means it is an absinthe to be drunk regularly or with friends, without feeling one is sacrificing quality for a regular tipple, or bankrupting oneself for the sake on entertaining. If this is the product to succeed in knocking a few of the dreadful macerated products off the shelves of bars and clubs who prefer a high turnover product, that would also be a welcome development.

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Mansinthe sells between $130-150 for a 700 mL bottle. It is marketed by Markus Lion’s Absinthe.de and distributed in Australia by Absinthesalon, who generously supplied the bottle for review.

Jonathan Jan 13th 2008 02:41 pm Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,People,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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