Time flies, that's a well known fact. It's been nearly 100 years now since absinthe was banned in France. It's also been well over 100 days since I tasted Grön Opal for the very first time. In other words it's about time I post this review.
Grön Opal (Green Opal in English) is an absinthe verte distilled by the little Swedish distillery named Svensk Absint AB. The distillery uses renewable - solar - energy installed at the premises for most of the production and much of the herbs are grown and harvested in their own herbal garden.
Home grown herbs and solar energy alone doesn't make a great absinthe. Someone need to know what they're doing... The question then is - do they? Let's see.
For this review I have tasted both the first inital batch of Grön Opal which had been stored for well over a year before being bottled and sold and their second batch which have been rested and aged only for two months. This is important and very interesting to know because this gives me a chance to recognize if the same quality that was in the first batch is repeated in the second. So then, here we go.
The bottle is a fine dark brown glass bottle with a metal cap over the cork. On the cap the distillery logo is embossed. This adds class actually. It proves that there is thought and pride put into the product. The label, in green colors with silver accents is very nice and with it's non-square shape it catches peoples eye. When I picked up the second batch bottles in the liqour store eariler today the woman behind the counter looked at the bottle and said - wow, that's a beautiful bottle. The bottle itself isn't very special - it's the label that does it.
Opening the bottle and pouring a measure in my tasting glass it reveals an absinthe with a very fine green color. The first batch was a little more brown, which isn't surprising considering the longer time of ageing.
From the glass a very distinct scent rise - absinthe. In all its glory. Even with the glass on the table and myself leaning back in the couch I can detect a wonderful wormwood as well as fennel. Moving closer in on the glass it reveals more and more. Fine notes of green anise mixed with melissa and pontica appear. Taking a slow sniff there's still more...
I start to slowly drip iced water into it and after a little while (the Grön Opal is 72% alcohol... the louche isn't going to be instant) it starts to slowly louche from the bottom up. The Grön Opal is now building up steadily to a very thick and creamy louche. It is amazingly thick and given the perfume lingering out of the glass it's obvious that it is not from star anise. It's simply a great balance of fennel and green anise that produces it.
Making a louche this fine and thick without having overpowering anise or fennel as a result is not a small feat. Very good job. The water helps other scents finish the profile of this drink. I'm impressed, and that doesn't happen a lot these days when it comes to absinthes. As I mentioned the balance between anise and fennel is very good. Add to that the very fine wild wormwood and you have the holy trinity of absinthe in perfect harmony. Then there's a little something hiding in the back. It took me a while to notice it was there but once I did I couldn't just let it go. I could find hyssop, pontica, melissa and so on but this was something else. After several tastings I had it pinned down, and later confirmed by the distillery - it was calamus. It is used in very small amounts I'm sure because it's very fragant in high concentration but it just lends a special perfume - and taste...
Speaking of taste, it's about time some of this nectar finds it way from the glass to my tastebuds. Slowly sipping it, letting a mouthful play around to cover every single one of my tastebuds. The floral beauty of the aroma is transformed into a perfectly choreographed dance of tastes. The wormwood takes the lead role only to invite the ballroom dancing pair fennel and green anise. In a perfect threesome they keep inviting guests. I have a swinger party going on in my mouth! But seriously - it's a very fine mouth feel, very rich and creamy. It fills the mouth with tastes so well balanced. Sure, the first batch that had longer ageing on it was even better than the second one. This second batch is very good and knowing the quality of the first batch I'm certain that this will be wonderful with a bit more time. I'm raving on about how good this is and that is simply because I really like it. Yes - I've had some better drinks in my days but the Grön Opal is definitely going up on my top five everyday absinthes.
Conclusion then - Grön Opal is a very well made handcrafted absinthe verte. Top quality herbs in a near perfect blend. A powerful louche adds to the experience and the overall profile of this drink is very consistent all the way from pouring it from the bottle to louching it and then drinking. A quality product.