Absinthe - Père François
François Bezencon, Switzerland
Père François Premium Swiss Absinthe
François Bezencon, Val-de-Travers, Switzerland
Importer: Unique Imports, Victorville, California
PROOF: 110 (55%)
TYPE: Swiss, Clear, Distilled
PRICE: $45.99 750 ml
Note: This is a Swiss absinthe distilled in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland - considered by many to be the birthplace and home of absinthe. François Bezencon is a family distiller who has been in business for about 40 years or so.
First Impression: Anise and mint - alcohol in background rather than foreground. Sweetish pastis / licorice, star anise smell overall, sweeter smell than most.
Appearance: Clear, bright, quicksilver appearance to it. As with most Swiss absinthe it is clear rather than green. On swirling, leaves a thin coat on the glass with bead like edge line scalloping and thin legs developing. Louche is very quick (a touch disappointing- I like to see swirls and pools) almost like a class lab demo - from clear to milk: bang! Louche is properly opalescent and color is good.
Taste: Not overly complex- a kind of minimalist style with a more pronounced wormwood bitter taste than anise. Large dose of mint and wormwood leaves the mouth tingling with anise following on with fennel and other herbs. Decently made, if not overly complex. A bit spare and lean compared to some others.
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.
The "Czech" method (actually created as a marketing trick by an Englishman ) is more fraught with danger (especially if you have had a few already) as it involves fire and highly combustible liquids. Caution must be exercised to avoid spilling the flaming liquid or having the glass shatter from the heat. Frankly I find the Czech method showy, dangerous, and tedious, all at once - not to mention a waste of good absinthe.
May be useful in cocktails where absinthe or a bitter is called for and you are looking to not have a lot (or at least less) anise flavor. Can also be used as a vermouth substitute in a martini.
Other: I recommend a 3 or 4-1 dilution) sugar optional.
Bottle: Green/brown glass wine bottle shape - much in the style its forebears with a old style label,cork closure and cap. Nice retro looking label and green turquoise neckwrap with humorous design.
Final Thoughts: A simple, slightly wormwood heavy absinthe , as such it will probably appeal to more Americans than the older, more anise forward style types. Rather reminiscent of Mata Hari Absinthe in that way but costing about $10 less per bottle. Distillation is good. Low-to-mid range price makes it an attractive starter absinthe.
Like the absinthe, a bit minimal, but informative (if you can read French).