This past weekend I went to a wonderful absinthe event; The Inaugural Great American Absinthe Festival! It was a weekend filled with tons of fun, absinthe, surprises, knowledge, and a somewhat hazy memory. Thankfully people brought cameras.
The event was put on by The Wormwood Society and held at the beautiful Kandahar Lodge in Whitefish, Montana. Having been to absinthe gatherings in nearby towns of Montana I already knew that the scenery was going to be beautiful. So when this event was announced there was no hesitation to my registration.
I won’t bore you all to death with talk of each of the events and seminars that were held, but there was one very illuminating event that occurred. At a seminar by a Wormwood Society Reviewer about how to use the WS scoring system and evaluation guide. This was followed by a round of blind judging from a panel of experienced reviewers and also the crowd, many of whom had never reviewed a thing, let alone absinthe, in their life.
It all sounds like a usual seminar and nothing special. But when the crowd was asked to share their scores with the experienced panel something amazing happened. There was a large amount of cohesion in the scores with only a tenth or so of the final score deviating if any at all. Of course there was an outlier or two but for the most part the system worked just as well for over thirty newcomers as it did the four experienced reviewers.
Nothing like validating a scoring system by throwing it to the wolves. Of all the systems on the internet that I can think of, I’ve always thought that the WS guide was the easiest to use and most detailed. If you use it according to their evaluation criteria then it is easy to come towards an overall quality rank. It is not, however, simple appearing but don’t let that scare you.
There’s lots of talk about reviews on any absinthe website and it is helpful to remember that taste is personal and subjective (with proven genetic and sexual variations, but that’s another post). However when a standard crosses the subjective barrier and demonstrates its objectivity, it can be a wonderful thing.
Each night there was an amazing meal prepared by “Chef Andy” who has some connection to some “Beard Foundation” without having facial hair (if you know let me have my fun with those who don’t). What better way to round out a day filled with great absinthe than with a great meal.
Speaking of great absinthe! One of the many reasons you should come to absinthe gatherings is the opportunity to taste a variety of absinthes. Whether for a side by side comparison or just to try something new, the green fairy is usually very carefree and available at such events. Just be careful as she can be mischievous.
The rest of the festival was informative and fun as hell. Including the requisite debauchery at the after party unofficially known as Ronapalooza now, but what went on there stays there.
In all, I had a blast and spent some quality time with some great people from America and abroad. Everyone should keep their eyes peeled for this event next year, rumored to be somewhere Pacific Northwest next time.