Even if you haven’t tried Leopold Bros absinthe before, you’ve almost certainly seen some of this distillery’s products.
In addition to absinthe, Leopold Bros also produces whiskey, vodka, gin, and liqueurs and are telling quite the “little distillery that could” story while still holding themselves to a very high standard.
But we’re focusing on their absinthe here.
Expectations are high going into this review as this is a brand that has developed quite a cult following.
So, let’s uncork it and dive in!
What is Leopold Bros Absinthe Verte?
Leopold Bros Absinthe Verte is distilled by the Leopold Bros Distillery in Denver, Colorado.
Back when the absinthe ban in the US was finally lifted in 2007, this distillery was one of the first American distilleries to start distilling their own absinthe.
You see, Leopold Bros knows that it’s the little details that matter most…
The absinthe is distilled in small, numbered batches and uses no artificial ingredients, flavors, or colors. It has an ABV of 65% (130 proof) and is made with a grape spirit of Chilean Pisco.
For example, the bottle that I’m reviewing is specifically from batch #117.
Somewhat curiously, Leopold Bros absinthe is sold in clear bottles instead of the typical dark glass bottles. I assume this is meant to show off the absinthe’s eye-catching peridot color.
Just take extra care that you’re storing it properly.
This is an absinthe and distillery that have built a reputation for their artisanship. You don’t want to let that go to waste!
But all in all, there is a comforting feeling of care and “cleanness” to Leopold Bros that’s apparent just from looking at the bottle.
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There is a slight bit of astringency to the aroma of Leopold Bros absinthe, but it’s not enough to overpower the herbal scents.
The aromas here are fresh, crisp, and clean with delightful notes of citrus and mint really standing out.
Beneath these notes is the unmistakable aroma of fresh grande wormwood which might catch you slightly off guard.
It’s very rare for these aromas to stand out in an absinthe the way they do with Leopold Bros and it might smell “off” to you if you aren’t familiar with the sage-like scent of wormwood. It can be especially surprising as a follow-up to the top notes of citrus and mint.
But don’t worry! Not only is the wormwood supposed to be in there, but I’d be furious if it wasn’t!
Of course, the real magic happens once you start to prepare the absinthe.
If the aroma profile of Leopold Bros absinthe verte starts out as a single violin, the louche process transforms it into an entire symphony!
As these aromas billow out of your glass, they will quickly fill the room!
Regular readers will know how much I love this as a sign of quality in a good absinthe. You know what they say, the nose knows!
Color & Louche
So my expectations were pretty high going into this review and the aroma was certainly a large part of that.
Before preparation, Leopold Bros absinthe is a brilliant peridot color as you can plainly see in the clear glass bottle.
Adding water, I was actually very surprised at just how thin and pale the louche is.
With most absinthes, there’s usually an element of suspense as you watch the louche build and build. With Leopold Bros, it’s kind of a “blink and you miss it” situation.
Expect the louche to start almost immediately when the water hits the absinthe.
Curiously, while the louche itself is very thin, it’s most certainly not from a lack of oils. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there is a thick layer of the absinthe’s natural oils swirling at the top of your glass.
I usually roll my eyes when there’s a weak louche, but this was a notable exception. Despite an underwhelming louche, this oil content gave me hope that my expectations weren’t misplaced!
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And, of course, we come to the thing that matters most of all: the flavor.
As with the aroma, Leopold Bros absinthe verte has a very clean taste profile with the citrus, coriander, and mint particularly standing out.
To me, however, what really sets this absinthe apart from most others is how pronounced the wormwood is. In the middle and finish of each sip, you’ll be greeted by the playfully bitter taste of grande wormwood.
The Chilean pisco grape base that is used to make this absinthe does a lot of lifting throughout the entire experience.
While the wormwood might normally be somewhat overwhelming, the grape spirit base does a wonderful job of bringing all of the flavors together neatly.
As the bow on this neatly-tied package, Leopold Bros absinthe boasts an excellent mouthfeel with thick oils that linger nicely on the palate.
If I had to choose just two words to describe the experience, they would be “pleasant” and “clean.”
But there is a certain elephant in the room, isn’t there?
You might be wondering how we’ve nearly reached the end of this review and I’ve mentioned nothing about another key ingredient in any absinthe: anise.
The thing that I found most shocking about Leopold Bros absinthe is just how hidden the anise is. It’s barely detectable in the aroma and only mildly present in the actual flavor.
This is an important detail and where personal preference really comes into play.
Personally, I love a rich, strong anise flavor in my absinthe. However, you might not be so keen on the “black licorice” flavor of anise but still want to find an absinthe you can enjoy.
While the anise is most certainly present in Leopold Bros, it’s light enough that those who don’t love it could still find it accessible.
Short of options like Mephisto/Montmartre which don’t use anise at all, Leopold Bros would be the best option for those who are okay with a little bit of anise flavor but want a lighter option.
Conclusion – Reviewing Leopold Bros Absinthe Verte
I feel confident in giving Leopold Bros absinthe a solid 4-star rating. While I personally prefer a stronger anise flavor, this is still a very enjoyable absinthe.
It particularly stands out as something that would be great for new absintheurs or those who like the flavor of anise in small amounts.
Not to mention, it’s also a great option for cocktails where you want the anise flavor to be a light accent and not have a starring role. A couple that come to mind are the ever-refreshing Black Fairy and the curiously delicious North of the Border.