I’ve been searching for interesting absinthes recently – at work we’ve been trying to get more in, but there’s just not been that much coming into the UK at the moment. Luckily with the arrival of a couple of newbies and a pair of interesting new local entries into the category from Adnams (English absinthe, made by an old school brewer, one of which is red and coloured with hyacinth flowers…) the drought is starting to look like it might break.
However, I got an email a few weeks back from Miriam at Absinthes.com asking if I wanted to have a go with one of their tasting sets, which got me looking around at what absinthes were available on their website. It seems that the Germans beat us when it comes to getting interesting absinthes. Their site rivals Liqueurs de France for range and also sells samples, something of a godsend in the expensive world of absinthe.
Anyways, Miriam sent over a selection of three absinthes, complete with spoon and some sugar cubes, which got to the UK rather quickly with no damage. However, having taken the first test tube of absinthe out of the box when I got it home I managed to throw it onto the hardest bit of floor in my flat, leading to a lovely scent of anis in the air, a pile of broken glass and only two samples to try.
The absinthe I lost to the fickle hand of malcoordination was St Antoine, according to their website the first Proper Absinthe from the Czech republic, better known for their flammable, cold-compounded bottles of evil. They do things properly and even include the e on the end of the name, unlike the artificially coloured absinths that I’ve tasted. It is now on my ‘to try list’ for when I next get a chance to grab some.
First of the two remaining absinthes that I tried was La P’tite from la Distillerie Gaudentia (maybe Glaudentia – I found a few spellings) Pernoz. The distillery is in Fleurier in Switzerland, one of the towns that make up Val-de-Travers, the area seen as one of the birthplaces of absinthe production. It’s a blanche absinthe, more properly called a Swiss Bleue due to its provenance, and is, as expected, a traditionally distilled absinthe. It had a good thick louche, which was just off white with a hint of crème de violette blue. On the nose it had a rich, almost custardy base note, with aniseed toffee, creamed fennel and chamomile flowers. To taste it started off with tongue tingling aniseed balls, a mid palate herbal bitterness and some syrup sweetness. As it warmed in the glass it got both creamier and sweeter. It finished with a light green herby bitterness and a lingering tingle of anis. Sugar brought out more aniseed and green herbs on the nose, more syrup sweetness (as you’d expect) and creaminess in the body, along with sweet black tea, which held on into the finish. This was a solid blanche/bleue but I felt the palate didn’t quite live up to the rich nose. It definitely didn’t need sugar for my taste.
Next was François Guy, a recent arrival at work and one of the earlier commercial bottlings of traditionally produced absinthe to appear when the bans started being lifted around the world. It’s produced in Pontarlier, like the Enigma absinthes that introduced me to the category, and is bottled at a surprisingly low 45%. It louched very quickly, scarcely giving me time to admire the process, and was very pale in the glass, with a blue-green tint. On the nose it was big, green and spicy, with lots of anise, spiced cream and an almost antiseptic medicinal edge. To taste it started off with sweet green herbal notes, underpinned by bitter wormood, fennel tops, sugar syrup, some sour woody roots and lots of green anise. It finished with more anise, aniseed balls shortly after they’ve started being sucked, and a touch of mint cream. Sugar added some more leafiness to the nose but hid any complexity in the body, making it overly sweet. This one was generally a bit sweet for my liking but the green notes were a nice contrast to the richer nature of the La P’tite.
Many thanks to Miriam from Absinthes.com for sending over the samples – if you can’t wait for me to get round to sorting out an absinthe bottle share they’ll be able to sort you out…
When tasting the absinthes I did 20ml absinthe to 60ml of water and when using sugar added one small cube from the absinthe set.
Absinthe La P’tite
Swiss Bleue, 53%. ~$60
Absinthe François Guy
French Verte, 45%. ~£60