Marteau Verte Classique

God Bless America! Not only has the U.S. decided to slowly lift its ban on absinthe, but some of the best new absinthes on the market have American ties.

As I’ve already posted, one new absinthe, Lucid, is already available in the U.S. This creation is the brain child of New Orleans native Ted Breaux, who might be better known for his other absinthe creations like Jade Edouard and Nouvelle-Orleans. Well, we now have another absinthe that has almost finished passing the rigors of the FDA and about to be released: Marteau Verte Classique.

Billing itself as a Swiss-style absinthe, this is the brain-child of a Washington resident who, for now, shall remain nameless. A work of love, it is my understanding that experimentation was done under a full moon, with a single hidden still, until the desired effect was achieved (much poetic license used). And what an effect, indeed!

As I’ve stated before, my exposure to absinthe is fairly limited. I’ve only tasted maybe 20 or so absinthes, and with few exceptions haven’t had the opportunity to have more than one serving of each brand. Having said that, let me state that Marteau Verte Classique is easily one of my favorites. I was lucky enough to taste this once before, so when I received a sample bottle of the finished product I was very excited to say the least!

Stating that it will be distilled in Switzerland at 136 proof, the label also informs me that it will be hand made with copper alembics in very small batches of several hundred liters.

After pictures were taken, the more enjoyable task of tasting ensued. Pouring the absinthe into my newly acquired absinthe glass and adding sugar and water, I was rewarded with a beautiful louche.

Louching, for those who don’t know, is what happens when the clear spirit clouds, or becomes milky, when water is added to absinthe or pastis. Marteau’s louche made me truly realize, for the first time, the connoisseur’s obsession with the pearlescent glow of a well-made absinthe.

Sipping the green nectar, my taste buds were enveloped with a strong minty wormwood flavor, with anise playing a back-up roll followed by a nice long fennel finish. Every sip seemed to coax out a different nuance out of this herbaceous beauty. If the Czechs would have produced an absinthe 1/50th as good as this one, the absinthe revolution would be at a full-steam roar right now, instead of in its infancy.

Marteau Verte Classique is set to be released in the very near future, so when you see it online, snap it up, as it is only made in small quantities, and it is too tasty to hang around for very long.

On another absinthe note, Okanagan Spirits, out of Vernon, BC has also just released an absinthe. Their first of two varieties, Taboo is a white absinthe which is minty and delectable. This spirit louches very quickly, is 60% ABV, and is sweet enough for me to say that you don’t need to add sugar to it. An interesting thing about this absinthe is that even though its thujone count is at an insanely high 35mg/L, it is not bitter at all. It is very apparent that stillmaster Frank Deiter used fresh wormwood, and the prevalent minty-ness suggests that hyssop was used in greater quantities than the fennel or anise.

The remarkable thing about this product, is that it is officially the first and only, truly Canadian absinthe. Not only that, but Frank gets all of his ingredients (including the grape-based spirit) from local growers in the Okanagan valley. This first bottle (which I was lucky enough to get hold of, even though the labels and bottles are still in production) will be sold for only $50 CAN. If you are aware of how insanely overpriced alcohol is in British Columbia (the taxes pay for our Medicare) you will realize what a fantastic deal that is. I am personally hoping that he will one day be able to export to the U.S., as it would probably go for only $35 down here, a price that would make it the best deal in absinthe to date.

To wrap up, let me say this is one of the times that I am extremely grateful to be in the Pacific Northwest. While, as a bartender, I sometimes see advantages to being in New York or San Francisco, this week has shown me that in addition to be surrounded by some of the best vistas the world has to offer, I now also get the scoop on the Green Muse that wouldn’t have happened if I lived in either of those places.

Picture taken by:
Jamie Boudreau




~ by Jamie Boudreau on July 17, 2007.

6 Responses to “Marteau Verte Classique”

  1. I’d love to cover the news on Marteau on my blog.

    But I’m confused. You seem to be saying two different things.Is Marteau Swiss-style, distilled in the USA or is it distilled in Switzerland.

    You write:-

    1. Billing itself as a Swiss-style absinthe, this is the brain-child of a Washington resident who, for now, shall remain nameless. A work of love, it is my understanding that experimentation was done under a full moon, with a single hidden still, until the desired effect was achieved. And what an effect, indeed!


    2. Stating that it will be distilled in Switzerland at 136 proof, the label also informs me that it will be hand made with copper alembics in very small batches of several hundred liters.

  2. Marteau is Swiss-style. It may have been distilled in the U.S. by an individual for private use, but now that the government has started to allow absinthe in the country legally, this individual has gone to one of his friends in Switzerland to have it distilled in a larger, more commercial facility than, let’s say, his house. (Not that anyone would do such a thing) It will be available in certain States right away, but not available in Washington for approximately one year.
    Just like the Jade products were a U.S. (private) product until it went commercial, so is Marteau.
    Washington does not have any distilling licenses for sale (that I know of anyway), and who better to trust with your formula than a Swiss friend who already understands absinthe.
    This is the information as I understand it, and until I hear otherwise, or am allowed to say otherwise, I will stand by it.

  3. Available immediately, eh? In what states?

  4. oog,
    I received my Lucid from New York. I believe the site was called Drink Up NY, and they offered free shipping.
    Taboo can be purchased from the Okanagan Spirits distillery right now, and be available soon in B.C. liquor stores.
    Marteau, as stated, will be available shortly.

  5. Thanks for the great write-up Jamie!

    As is often the case with absinthe news, particularly of this magnitude, there’s so much information to assimilate and so much excitement that’s it’s easy to misunderstand small but important details. I take responsibility for any misunderstandings, as I could’ve probably made myself clearer when I talked with you and the folks at Tales of the Cocktail.

    I’ll of course be writing much more at length over at the Wormwood Society, but I’ll excerpt the most important bits here:

    Marteau Verte Classique is being distilled in Switzerland by the Matter-Luginbühl distillery by Oliver Matter, the award-winning distiller of the Duplais line of absinthes as well as Marilyn Mason’s Mansinthe, Giger’s Brevans and the Brut d’alambic.

    I developed the formula over the last three years myself and then commissioned the distillery to make it, strictly according to my recipe and protocols. My intent is to eventually establish my own distillery and take over production personally. As an interim measure. I’m in the early stages of working with an American distillery to begin production myself, stateside. No idea yet on time-frame.

    While this absinthe is distilled in Switzerland, “Absinthe Suisse” refers to a specific traditional distillation procedure and designates a customary quality category of absinthes. The extra steps involved in creating a true Absinthe Suisse assures a depth of character and quality that wouldn’t have been found in an “absinthe ordinaire”, “absinthe demi-fine” or “absinthe fine.”

    Based on traditional recipes from the 19th century, this is the first absinthe, since the 1912 ban at least, that was developed specifically for use in classic cocktails. As you know, it’s very good as a drink on its own, but I chose the specific botanicals in proportions to lend a more savory and aromatic component than other traditional absinthes, which can often be too candy-like. Rather than cut back on the anise, I’ve worked with other herbs and brought them forward to compliment it and surround it in a bouquet, rather than push it into the background.

    The sample which you have and which the 150 people at the Forgotten Ingredients panel discussion at Tales of the Cocktail were from my prototypes, since the end commercial product has not yet been released.

    Artisanal products, particularly new ones, are subject to change. Different apparatus, different regional herb sources, different water, these are the variables we have to work with. The first release of Marteau Verte Classique will possibly be slightly different in character than the samples, but every effort is being made to bring it as close as possible given the conditions. Future batches will be adjusted if necessary to achieve the desired profile.

    For now, starting probably in early October, it will be available exclusively from Markus Lion at, distributing from Germany; it might be picked up by other vendors later.

    It will first be done in very small batches, approximately 200 liters and will be sold in half-liter bottles. We’ll increase production according to demand.

    It should fit into roughly the same price range as the other Matter absinthes, but the final tally is not in yet. The process is a little more complicated and there are a number more botanicals in it than a lot of other absinthes.

    No samples or labels have been submitted to the TTB yet. (FDA sets the standards, but in spirits, approval rests with the TTB).

    Washington does provide distiller’s licenses, and has licensed several distilleries in the past few years, but the qualifications to run a distilled spirits plant are somewhat intimidating and expensive. If you have plenty of cash and hire an attorney who specializes in the spirits industry, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

    However, Washington also has a Chemist Distiller’s permit for only $20 a year, available to commercial chemists and developers who are not manufacturing spirits for sale.

    I hope this helps some.


    Gwydion Stone aka “Hiram”

  6. “An absinthe which launches itself with an attack – why bother?”

    I’d like to point out that the comment referenced here was Jamie’s personal opinion, not part of Marteau’s launch.

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