There’s a lot to be said of “shelf appeal.” More often than not, absinthe bottles are either dark or clear. This makes the brilliant blue bottle of La Clandestine stand out all the more!
But this isn’t just another pretty bottle! La Clandestine is an absinthe with a story to tell and a curiously refreshing taste.
It’s one that I’ve been excited to review for some time now!
La Clandestine Absinthe Review
The recipe behind La Clandestine absinthe goes all the way back to Switzerland in 1935.
At the time, Absinthe was very illegal though it was not uncommon for bootleggers to distill clear absinthes (instead of the famous green colored ones) which were called La Bleue. The idea was that a bottle could more easily be passed off as something like gin or vodka if only being subjected to a visual inspection.
This is the tradition behind La Clandestine which finds its roots in what is considered to be the birthplace of absinthe: the Val-de-Travers region. In fact, when the Swiss absinthe ban was lifted in 2005, La Clandestine was one of the first to be legally produced.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s an absinthe with history!
La Clandestine stems from a noble (though not exactly legal!) tradition. But just how does this rebellious spirit measure up?
Let’s get into it with this review of La Clandestine absinthe!
La Clandestine has one of the most hypnotic louches that I’ve ever seen!
The absinthe itself goes from a perfect sparkling, crystal-like appearance to being filled with rich, creamy swirls as it louches. The louche itself also has delicate swirls of blue which give it such a powerful presence as the water reacts with the absinthe.
Expect the louche to come on strong and allow yourself to be enchanted by the delicate swirls that give La Clandestine a well-rounded visual accent.
Flavor & Aroma
Of all of the absinthes I’ve had, La Clandestine stands out for its clean and fresh taste.
Everything about La Clandestine’s flavor and aroma is delicate. The subtlety paves the way for a journey of flavors that gently kiss the palate before moving on. What results is an absinthe that is refreshing and floral.
The anise and fennel take the lead with La Clandestine and maintain a clear but not overdone presence throughout each sip. You are then quickly greeted by the fresh tastes of the lemon balm and mint that give this absinthe such a fresh feeling.
There is a slight bitterness from the wormwood on the back end of La Clandestine. However, that’s hardly a bad thing and forms a ready invitation to fully experience it all again with the next sip.
Despite having an ABV of 53% (106 proof), there is no alcohol burn in La Clandestine. It’s immaculately smooth!
These same notes are present in La Clandestine’s aroma. La Clandestine is a type of “what you see is what you get” absinthe or, rather, “what you smell is what you get.” It’s simple, delicate, and a shining example of what a good absinthe blanche should be!
I will note that La Clandestine is best experienced without using sugar. This fairy is delicate, charming, and prefers to be au naturel with only water! While I used sugar my first time preparing La Clandestine, the second glass (without sugar) is where all of the flavors really came into their own.
Personally, I enjoyed La Clandestine most with a dilution of around 3.5:1 water to absinthe.
Related: The Guide To The Styles of Absinthe
La Clandestine is an absolute credit to the Swiss absinthe style.
Generally speaking, I usually find blanches to be pretty hit-or-miss, but this is definitely a hit! The flavors and aromas exist in a delicate balance that leaves the palate feeling clean and refreshed.
There’s just enough complexity here to be interesting, but not so much that it tries to be more than what it is: a very good absinthe.
It is a little on the pricier side at around $80-$90 for a 750 mL bottle most places I found it online. I wasn’t able to get a larger bottle for myself thanks to my state’s draconian alcohol laws, but I was fortunate enough to find 200 mL bottles available for around $20-$25.
For an absinthe of this quality, however, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable price.
If you can get your hands on a bottle of La Clandestine, I’d say go for it. It’s an absinthe blanche that is very accessible in every regard and is sure to leave you (and your palate) satisfied!