Tenth Ward Distilling can be found in downtown Frederick, Maryland, where it produces a dazzling array of craft spirits, ranging from honeyjack (distilled mead) to Maryland’s only absinthe. Today we look at a pair of releases from Tenth Ward, the aforementioned absinthe and a genever.
Tenth Ward Absinthe Nouvelle – “Distilled [from a base of cane, grain, and apple] with the absinthe “holy trinity” of wormwood, anise, and fennel. All that emerald and natural green comes from small wormwood, hyssop, and lemon balm.” A pretty shade of greenish gold, the absinthe has a particular fennel bent on the nose, a touch more vegetal and a bit sweeter than the typical bottling. A slight aroma of pepper gives the nose a certain spiciness. Served straight, the 70% abv spirit is naturally quite aggressive, but there’s ample sweetness here, giving the absinthe a licorice candy character. As well, a prominent citrus note brightens up the body. With the traditional water and sugar cube, the absinthe louches only mildly; it’s still largely transparent. And even at 2:1 water to absinthe, I found it a bit too watery for my taste. The more engaging citrus and pepper notes in the absinthe fade away, finishing on a greener, more herbal and more pungent note. Best without dilution, I’d happily use this as a Sazerac rinse. 140 proof. Reviewed: Batch #14. B / $45
Tenth Ward Genever Style Gin – “Distilled from a base of malted rye, malted barley, and cane spirit then vapor infused with juniper, angelica root, orris root, cardamom, elderflower, ginger root, persimmon, chicory root and orange peel.” This is definitely in the genever world on the nose — boldly malty and heavy with cereal, with notes of Triscuits, hemp rope, and a slight lemon peel note. Juniper isn’t immediately evident, with more of a forest floor character dominating the nose. There’s much more going on on the palate, where notes of fresh berries and a significant floral character pair nicely with the more earthy, pastoral elements first revealed on the nose. Slightly doughy, the finish echoes the flowery notes before falling back into the granary for the conclusion — a classic genever move. 90 proof. Reviewed: Batch #3. B / $35