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Absinthe Review – The Grove Absinthe

absinthesalon

 

The Grove Experience is a distillery based in Wilrabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia – a region more well known for its wine, but this has been significantly changing of late with the proliferation of microbrewery and distillation operations appearing to provide a variety of culinary experiences to the region.

This bottle is from their first production run, a small batch affair of 160 bottles, which for ourselves usually holds high expectation of something artisinal. The production quality of the packaging is certainly high – aesthetically pleasing split front labels with green reflective type face, hand numbering, delivered in a square shouldered 500mL bottle.

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At 50% alc/vol, it is certainly on the lower end of the scale.  Holding the bottle to the light, what is also evident within the dark olive green tincture is floating vegetal detritus. I use this word deliberately because the visibility of wormwood herb, presuming that this is what it is, is a cheap gimmick best left to the worst of the Czech absinth offerings.  It offers no real cues of quality or integrity in my opinion, and Australian producers could do well by leaving this out.

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Opening the top, compositionally it smells about right and quite promising- very rich earthy tones, chocolate and tobacco, an interesting layer of honey. But once I place it in the glass, it smells overly spirituous and the complexity funnelled in the neck of the bottle seems to collapse.

I begin a slow drip from a cold carafe through a cube of sugar, and it seems really slow to provide any convincing evidence of a louche developing. More concerning is mild foaming on the top 1 mm of the pour. I have no idea what this is – it is a clean glass and fresh water. At the completion of the pour I struggle to find any evidence of louching at all. Maybe a slight translucency but certainly not up to reasonable expectations.

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To taste – the bitterness seems unbalanced, almost more like gentian than wormwood.  It is all top tongue bitterness with very little depth – more reminiscent of some oil based Spanish absinthes I have sampled. I am struggling to find anything I would describe as aniseed.

Sadly, I find myself with very little to say about this absinthe, because there is very little to describe.

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I sincerely hope the distillery operation behind this product keeps experimenting and tweaking, being small batch there is the opportunity to change approach. With the boom in craft distilling, Australia needs to develop more local absinthe offerings. While some are clearly hitting the mark, more broadly it is clear we have a way to go before we are on par with Western European benchmarks as the norm.

 

Posted by Jonathan on Dec 7th 2014 | Filed in Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,Distilleries,News,Reviews | Comments (0)

Review – Absinthe Reverie by Distillery Botanica

 

Followers of the site will know that Australia is no stranger to Absinthe production historically, however, it has probably been a little slow in terms of homegrown creations meeting the new benchmarks of commercial production.  No doubt this is probably in part to the enormous administrative burden of getting permission to commercially distill in Australia, a story which has been played out in the emerging Whisky industry, now making its mark in Tasmania.

It is appropriate then that the challenge to produce a high quality domestic absinthe has been taken up by a Master Distiller, Philip Moore, who as been playing with artisan liqueurs and botanical flavours for many years at Distillery Botanica (formally St Fiacres) in Erina, New South Wales.  It is probably a testament to his skill that this new absinthe on the block, Reverie, is already winning accolades at the International Wine & Spirits Challenge and getting some due publicity in the process.

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Reverie is 68 % alc/vol and comes in a 500mL bottle with plastic screwcap. Probably the right size for small batch craft distilling, but maybe the packaging production is not as ‘slick’ as other craft offerings.

Opening the bottle, I was greeted with a strong licorice note followed by a pot pourri of herbal aromatics – distinct dried fennel, a headiness like chamomile azulenes, but certainly no unripe ‘green notes’.  Examining a sample poured into my glass I thought it appeared like a very freshly pressed virgin olive oil, a rich golden green.

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I set the brouilleur in motion with some iced syrup laden water to watch the transformation.  It was a very slow louche, there was no rushing this creature into revealing her wings.  After stretching out the tease, the performance peaked as a creamy, golden buttery louche emerged within the glass, thick enough to obscure a spoon.  There didn’t appear to be a lot of aromatics being released during the dilution, and it really required a long inhale in the glass at completion to start picking apart the flavours, in particular a high sweet lemon note floating on the desiccated herbaceous layer.

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It was a very intense flavour upon first taste – bold on the fennel with the loooong lingering wormwood bitterness that just pleasantly hung around the back of the tongue.  A very comprehensive coating of the mouth, almost tannic but of a more refined kind such as in an older developed wine. The flavour notes were very much on the deep end of the scale – the lighter hyssop chocolate notes I would expect not really coming to the fore.

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But if you give the glass a little time to develop, the extroversion in bold flavours pulls back a little, allowing some talc like minerality to shine through in the middle of the palate.

I have little hesitation in saying in Reverie, we have an absinthe that punches in the same weight division of many quality European commercial absinthes, and is an absolute pleasure to have something of this tier produced in the antipodes.  Maybe we will see  more absinthe experiments from Meister Moore in the future, going farther with his botanical daring do, given he has the expected absinthe foundations solidly laid down? Time will only tell. You can purchase Reverie from Absinthe Salon – be aware it frequently sells out quickly.

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Posted by Jonathan on Jun 16th 2014 | Filed in Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews,Culture,Distilleries,News | Comments (0)

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