Absinthe Review – Jade Nouvelle-Orleans

Jade Nouvelle-Orleans Review 30 March 2009

Jade Liquers Absinthe has had a near mythical status over the past 10 years.  Literally meeting the oft-imagined archetype of mad scientists retro-engineering original absinthe with modern technology, the Jade portfolio of absinthe has had a very difficult birth.  Through government stalling, fluctuating business relationships,  frequent beating of the piñata of popular absinthe myth – the drinks affectionately known to many as Breaux’s Brews (after Jade’s founder Ted Breaux, scientist, absintheur and chiselled Val Kilmer look-alike) is subject of a tale I’m sure that will be told by a skillful raconteur still to come.  Unfortunately many of us involved in the proto-revival are not at an arms-length to the Jade story.  Many were recipients of early clandestine versions, some were avid supporters, some hardened critics.

Even fellow editor Mr Maxwell and myself were subjected to hours of consuming an early version of Jade in a steamy Bangkok summer at the infamous ‘Chateau Jade’ where some early distillation development occurred by the proprietor – but I assure you dear reader that we were there for the good company, Thai food and absinthe, not the dominatrixes in cat suits.  (But they certainly helped the atmosphere of decadence).

That brings me to the actual tasting of Nouvelle-Orleans….

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Jade Nouvelle-Orleans is available in Australia in a 500mL bottle although I believe that a larger (and considerably more expensive) bottle is available in some European markets. And here lies the first issue I encountered.  It would appear the bottler has used the incorrect cork for a 500mL bottle, the dark wax seal on top being broken due to the cork travelling back up the neck.

I believe this is a very isolated batch problem, and may have occurred through the right cork running out towards the end of a bottling run – not an unheard of issue in the wine industry (I know of one case where a run of $200 bottle wine ended up under screw-cap because the corks ran out!).  Given the lush attention to detail in the presentation of this Jade, the stylish filigree motifs in high silver-blue contrast, this minor technical issue is unfortunate.  The main thing is that the absinthe is still well sealed, and awaiting release.

Strong hyssop, sweetened coffee, tobacco box notes and antique leather. Lush. Not persistently so, the initial aroma dispersing and becoming much more subtle – not room filling by any stretch, but a deep inhale over a glass revitalises the memory, but now introduces anisette notes.

The colour is pale, a light amazonite green, but naturally coloured.  The absinthe was diluted using sugar.  Surprisingly it was quite a quick teasing louche, the cold water leaving clear precipitous trails.  There is a nice separation as the louche builds from below, arising upwards.  While the louche was quite rapid it was not overdone as in some absinthe offerings, obscuring but not hiding the spoon, an acceptable degree of translucency refracting some distinct blueish tones.

To the taste I initially thought of garam marsala or chinese spice.  Some other tasters have suggested Christmas pudding, however I think it is much more Asian.  The spice rides on the tip of tongue when first sampled, initially a little dominating to my palate, but this receded throughout the tasting.

The consistency is a little bit thin, skim milk in texture. However there is a nice lingering bitterness around the tongue that stays on after the initial introduction. The wormwood balance is about right to my thinking.

My main critique is that I cannot quite find the narrative of complexity I was expecting. I don’t doubt the complexity exists in context to the whole but I found it difficult to pull out the individual notes in the tasting, the flavour running a race from spice to bitter rather quickly. Anise and fennel are bit part players, with walk on walk off roles rather than contributing any sensorial dialogue.

I feel the need to mention that this review has also been in part the result of two separate tasting some time apart. I am finding value of late in letting absinthe undergo period of “resting” after the initial opening and exposure to air. My initial sentiments to this absinthe were therefore somewhat reserved.  Finishing this review, now on my second glass of the evening, I do acknowledge that it is a very smooth drinking absinthe, and that will be more important for some.

Maybe first impressions don’t last. I’m certainly happy I sought a second opinion.

Jade Nouvelle-Orleans was provided for review by Absinthesalon

Jonathan Mar 30th 2009 10:18 pm Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,Culture,Distilleries,News,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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