This summer I had received two gifts from one of my readers, namely Alexander aka lookovka from Krasnodar, Russia. There were three (in sum) small bottles with various homemade absinthes made by Alexander. I’m not familiar with absinthe-consuming culture as earlier I had have a little experience with two Czech-style absinthes and nothing more than that.
So I just tasted all the absinthes and wrote my impressions below. Hope it will be useful for Alexander and also it signs that not only vodka is produced in Russia.
I have no intention to talk here about ingredients, proportions and technology. I find it a quit useless for starters such me as often we just love good spirits and don’t care why it’s so good. I know that these absinthes are based mainly on local herbs and produced accordingly absinthe-making classic technology and that’s enough for me.
So I have three samples numbered in the order of receiving. One yellowish absinthe in a small 3oz bottle and two greenish ones in 8oz bottles. All absinthes are about 60-70% ABV. I’ve tasted it neat and with water two times in a week and then compiled a small report that you’re reading right now.
Homemade absinthe sample #1
Produced somewhere in May, matured for 4-5 months.
Appearance: transparent yellowish oily liquid, no louche effect after adding water.
Nose: anise and fennel – both strong, licorice, caraway, faint sage and peppermint.
Mouthfeel: thick, oily, medium burning, astringent in the end; loses body dramatically after dilution.
Taste: sweetish, light, with deep anise and caraway notes. Fennel and licorice in the end, no medicine aftertaste at all. Delicate finish: sweet anise with a hint of hyssop. After dilution (15ml water for 30ml absinthe), the taste became more drier and lost some depth as fine undertones merged in dry herbal background with strong astringent aftertaste of licorice.
Homemade absinthe sample #2
Produced in July, matured for 2 months.
Appearance: transparent yellowish-green liquid, not as oily as sample #1. No louche effect too.
Nose: hyssop, anise and wormwood. Very fine herbal background, I wasn’t able to identify all undertones as it varies from time to time.
Mouthfeel: harder than the first sample. Burning is stronger but it’s usual for a spirit with such alcohol content. It’s palatable neat in small quantity without any damage to nose or mouth. After dilution I had have here the same thin body while the taste got flattened much more than sample #1.
Taste: herbal sweetness in the start and no anise/licorice domination. Fennel, anise and wormwood are most prominent as later hyssop replaces fennel and anise bring more flavour on the swallow. The same herbs are in aftertaste where anise works well with hyssop and wormwood. Dilution merges all flavours together in one seamless composition but the taste loses something like depth or brightness so I can say that dilution wasn’t good here too.
Homemade absinthe sample #3
Produced in July, matured for 2 months.
Appearance: transparent green liquid with faint yellowish tint, not as oily as sample #1. No louche effect at all.
Nose: dried milfoil, mint, fennel, potato plants, hyssop, wormwood, anise.
Mouthfeel: medim burning and faint oiliness. Quite hard on the tongue but becomes more friendly after dilution.
Taste: bitter, very bitter, so bitter that bitterness masks alcohol burning. Bitter flavours in the aftertaste: wormwood, oak bark, acorns, silverweed, milfoil tincture. Wormwood is also in the finish alongside with hyssop, anise and licorice. Dilution softens bitterness and brings some limpidity to the taste as anise flavour starts to flourish at the background. Aftertaste become similar to Fernet Branca: clear velvet bitterness with faint peppermint hints. Bitter finish brings more wormwood flavour as well as anise, mint and something smoky and solanaceous.
It looks weird but two samples were better tasted neat rather than diluted with water in traditional way. A few drops of water soften alcohol burning but further dilution damages taste very much. The third sample benefits from dilution as water helps to smooth powerful bitterness. On the other hand after dilution all these absinthes became a bit unpleasant in mouthfeel so that spoils overall impression.
I can’t see me drinking the absinthes neat in the meantime. Not because of their quality, not exactly. It’s mainly just because I’m not ready yet. Maybe I would drink it in future but now I’m successfully using samples #1 and #2 in cocktails where absinthe (or pastis) is required. It works there very well, much better than Pernod pastis or Czech absinthes in my opinion.