Absinthe - Versinthe La Blanche
Liquoristerie de Provence, Aix-en-Provence France
Versinthe, Liquoristerie de Provence, Aix-en Provence, France
PROOF: 114 (57%)
TYPE: French,White (Blanche),30-33 mg/kg Thujone, Macerated and Distilled
PRICE: $40.00 500 ml (roughly) plus shipping
Note: This is a French Absinthe distilled in Aix-en-Provence, a small city near St. Remy and an area where you can find many different Absinthe and Pastis distilleries. This is the clear macerated and distilled version in which no sugar is added. The distillation is done in a partial vacuum (like some perfume distillations so lower extraction temperatures can be used for better extractions of essences using as little damaging heat as possible). It is more of the swiss style of absinthe in the extra distillation and being clear rather than green. Nearby Marseilles and Antibes are two of the places to find a large variety (in the hundreds) so spend some time exploring - preferably on foot.
First Impression: Nicely balanced and complex, if not awe inspiring. A nicely balanced aroma of wormwood, gentian, verbena, coriander and anise among other things. There are 20 different botanicals used in this blend and you can pick up on most of them.
Appearance: Clear, bright. On swirling, leaves a thin coat on the glass with scalloping and very thin legs developing. Louche is good (turns opalescent).
Taste: Rather complex and multifaceted- especially compared to some we have been trying lately. Interesting bitter (wormwood and gentian), played off with the mint, verbena and sugar with star anise both in front and on its heel coating your tongue while the coriander, dill and rosemary dance around in different areas of the tongue blending and playing off each other. The anise is more pronounced in this version along with the wormwood and alcohol. Very pastis-like ending (think Pernod) with a pleasant bitter finish and less licorice coating than some. Well made and layered enough in flavor be interesting.
Drinks: The French absinthe ritual involves water fountains, sugar, spoons, and you pour the absinthe in the glass then put the spoon over the glass put a sugar cube on it and drip water from a purpose built fountain over until it louches (opalesces, turns cloudy, etc.) and the right amount of dilution (to personal taste-variable) is reached.
There are a number of websites that show you how (check our Absinthe Links Section) and to get all your gear check La Maison d' Absinthe . For other drinks such as a Death in the Afternoon, or a Sazerac, the Versinthe worked well and added a lot of complexity over a absinthe substitute. This one again has more of a anise spin to it and also yields a much drier version of any cocktail over its green sibling.
Other: I recommend a 6-1 dilution - they call for a up to 10-1 ratio) - if you must add water.
Bottle: Clear glass wine bottle shape - much in the style its forebears with a old style label. Cork closure and wood cap.
Final Thoughts: One of the better absinthes on the mass market now. Distillation is good, reasonably complex but balanced. Easy to find overseas.
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