Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times took on absinthe this week.
In Eric Felten's piece in the Wall Street Journal, he tried just a few absinthes and admitted to not liking it generally. No surprise then that he picked Mata Hari absinthe as his favorite, as it has very little anise, the primary flavoring component in most absinthes on the market. After sampling it several times I came around to it myself, but still have a hard time calling it absinthe.
Mata Hari $52.99
A distinctive and appealing alternative for those of us not quite so ambitious in the absinthe department. Light on the licorice with a muted and subtle herbal complexity. Can be drunk, with ice water and a little sugar, with something resembling pleasure.
Potent, viscous, and herby in the extreme. A favorite of hard-core absintheurs.
Classic anise-forward absinthe. Flavorful without being strident. Could do without the yellow dye that brightens the green liquid.
Approachable Alpine meadow flavors balanced against the licorice. This Swiss product is a "white" not a "green" absinthe—a colorless liquid that, when mixed with water, looks like Milk of Magnesia.
Le Tourment Vert $49.99
Redolent of Vicks VapoRub. Dreadful chemical color. Who knew there was a distillery at Love Canal?
In the New York Times, a small panel of testers sampled 20 absinthes and chose a top group.
4. Émile Pernot (Vieux Pontarlier)
5. St. George
6. Jade Nouvelle-Orléans
8. La Clandestine
The rest of their tasting notes are here.