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Double Dutch Part 2 – Akveld Absinthe (Blanche)

 

One good turn deserves another – double your pleasure and double your fun – and insert your own witty proverb about twins.

It is a nice when an absinthe producer experiments with crafting both a Verte and a Blanche of an absinthe recipe, which are seldom just monozygotic twins minus the Roman wormwood –  often there are twists and turns to produce a different sort of fraternal sibling. With good luck, a dark seed.

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Akveld’s blanche offering comes in at 60% alc/vol, so a touch lighter than the predecessor reviewed. Popping the cork, the aroma didn’t quite leap out of the bottle as the Verte, I needed to really stick my nostrils close to inhale a very pleasant chamomile – reminding me a little of the style of Blanche De Fougerolle, however, whereas that absinthe is overtly floral, Akveld’s is very tight and secretive. Being unwilling to flaunt her wares, we need to explore deeper.

 

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I pour the crystal clear liquid into the glass- I’m presuming this used an eau de vie grape spirit in the production? As the alcoholic vapour is released, I get a firm sense of this foundation spirit. I try and detect the other botanicals, but it is not being very giving in the glass. (Note: as a postscript to this experience I have since returned to the absinthe and used a narrower tapered wine glass rather than the wide rimmed Pontarlier glass and got a totally different aromatic experience – rich mixed botanicals. the chamomile again supported on a sweet hyssop and fennel/anise bed.)

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Upon dilution through sugar, I am finding the louche is considerably in more of a rush compared to the Verte, which may be a factor arising from the lower alcohol content. The conversion has fully taken hold before I have even diluted halfway. It is, however, a much thicker louche than its predecessor, the spoon is completely shrouded within its mercurial veil.

Upon tasting, rather than the expected wormwood bitterness and anise front notes, I’m greeting by fresh alpine mint flavours, an unexpected, surprisingly dominant sapidity. A wash of Angelica, baby powder minerality in the middle, lingering back-of-the-tongue notes of Fennel after the ambrosia has been swallowed. Wormwood is there, but she plays second fiddle – holding the harmony together.

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Liquorice-phobes would well find this an absinthe to their liking. It does have a thinner mouthfeel, it doesn’t linger quite as long as the Verte, but attenuated in some well iced water this perhaps makes for a quenching long absinthe for a summers day. We have plenty of those ahead in Australia…..time to pull out the water fountain and assemble friends around this bottle.

 

 

Posted by Jonathan on Dec 27th 2015 | Filed in Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,Distilleries,News,Reviews | Comments (0)

Double Dutch Part 1 – Akveld Absinthe Verte

Ever notice how small children are time killers? Apologies for the absence, fellow absintheur, however anyone with children 6 and under with understand the effort involved just to find 5 minutes to relax with a beverage of choice, let alone think about what you are drinking and describe it with any erudition.

But thanks to the baby sitting marvel that is an Android tablet, I can bring you this, the first part of a dual review of some Dutch-produced absinthes I procured when visiting Amsterdam.

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Absinthe has an interesting recent history in the Netherlands, being formally banned in 1909, with this prohibition being repealed in 2005 on the back of a court case with a victorious wine merchant.  This opened the way for many a poor quality absinthe to enter the Netherlands, like so many other new markets, but the gem amongst the rough was a locally produced artisan absinthe from the genius of distiller Serge Helfrich. Regrettably he has since ceased producing absinthe, however his old webpage lives on and is worth visiting for the history, his methods and recipe.

The story might end there if it weren’t for fellow distiller, Ton Akveld, who picked up the Helfrich recipe and mantle of custodian to ensure continuity of supply from his charming operation near Rotterdam. He has a website here showing his lovely still, however you will need to translate from Dutch if you would like to read the site in depth.

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To the tasting.
The Verte comes in at 68% in a 500 mL dark glass bottle. I unfortunately found the plastic hood an absolute battle to remove to get to the t-cork.

First impressions – rich treacle, chocolate and Port Royale tobacco. This is perhaps one of the most intense bottle openings I have experienced from memory, and I hope bodes well for what will be experienced in the glass.

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In the glass the hyssop laden aromas give way to more a substantially grassy meadow but with honeysuckle-like floral notes. This absinthe is traditionally coloured, using Grand Wormwood for the flavouring and the traditional Roman Wormwood for colouration – the colour in my glass is however more a garnet yellow, which is certainly not unacceptable. This bottle was produced in 2014 so it would be interesting to see the colouration of a much fresher bottle.

I begin a careful carafe dilution over sugar, and am pleased to see the louche is subtle and slow, oil trails and emulsification arising from the bottom of the glass.

It isn’t until halfway through the pour that the louche kicks over to completion,  and while not the thickest louche there is significantly opacity nonetheless.

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To the initial taste the Lemon balm is hard to miss. Distinct salted liquorice comes next in the midst of a creamy mouthfeel, with very long finish across the whole tongue.  As I drink, the residual flavour (maybe aniseed, fenugreek and fennel in concert), is in fact a little too cumulative in the palate which makes it a little overpowering.  There is no doubt you need to give a moment or three in quiet contemplation between the sips to let the flavours fade and decay. It is a slow drink.

After about 10 minutes the bouquet in the glass has largely dissipated, but the flavour to the taste is still very good and undiminished.  On reflection, with sugar I have found this absinthe to perhaps be a little cloying given there is a lot going on flavour wise  – it would be worthwhile to try without sugar, as a dry drink.

Nonetheless it is an excellent absinthe all round, probably not an entry level absinthe and I would hazard not for those with overt liquorice aversions.  But an wonderful example of small scale production hitting the right benchmarks in quality & complexity.

 

Posted by Jonathan on Dec 24th 2015 | Filed in Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,Distilleries,Reviews | Comments (0)