Decently made if not overly exciting. High proof compared to many others for the price
Note: This is a French absinthe distilled in Forcalquier a small city in Provence, one of the historic areas of absinthe production near St. Remy and an area where you can find many different absinthe and pastis distilleries. We wanted to visit this distillery last time we were in the area, but the distillery was closed and was not responding to emails, so we were forced to skip it. This is the macerated version of absinthe in which some sugar has been added. It also uses Artemesia Vulgaris a reputed aphrodisiac since ancient times.
First Impression: Nicely balanced and reasonably complex. A nicely balanced aroma of wormwood, mint, anise, lemon balm, among other things. This has a high proof and the alcohol presence makes itself known in the bouquet – but not in the overwhelming way which one would expect. While the alcohol does express its presence it is not overwhelming but does warn you this is serious stuff.
Appearance: Clear, bright green tint/cast to it. Nice, appropriate color without resorting to the cheap poisonous dyes that are used in some of the cheaper overseas absinthe that is still banned in the U.S. On swirling, leaves a thin coat on the glass with scalloping and beading/droplets forming. Louche is good (turns opalescent).
Taste: Rather complex and multifaceted- especially compared to some we have been trying lately. Interesting bitter (wormwood and gentian), with the mint, balm, anise and sugar with star both in front and on its heel coating your tongue. The anise is more pronounced in this absinthe than some of the other recent imports along with the wormwood and alcohol. Very pastis-like ending (think Pernod) with a pleasantly semi bitter finish and some anise coating. Decently made and layered enough in flavor to be a contender on your bar counter
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 web sites 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 Grande Absente worked well, and added a lot of complexity over an absinthe substitute.
Other: I recommend a 6-1 dilution – up to 10-1 ratio – this is the original heavy-duty proof of that absinthe was originally made to. This stuff is flammable, too! Don’t smoke or use open flame near it.
Bottle: Clear glass standard Pastis bottle shape – much in the style of its forebearers with a old style label (although we have to say we are disappointed with the design as it is a single label amalgamation rather than separate labels affixed in layers in the old fashion). Gold neck foil and paper band on neck. Real cork closure and gold plastic cap.
Final Thoughts: One of the better absinthes on the mass-market now. Distillation is good, reasonably complex but balanced. Easy-to-find overseas.