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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Vintage Absinthe
Gertz
... but the glassware and its content was about a century older. I was in a too lyrical and awestruck mood to analyze and think in scoresheets, but I managed to put down a few notes.

First a sip of Premier Fils. The colour was amazingly well preserved:

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The aroma had this note of something, well, old. Like breathing the air in some old room with old wooden furniture. Apart from that, the wine base was evident.

It had a nice louche. As has been noticed by others, it's not one of those thick, heavy kickass louches; it leaves an ever so slight transparence, but it simply looked pretty, and that's good enough for me. If the stuff tastes good, I feel no need to go all "my louche is thicker than yours".

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The taste had, just like the aroma, a strong note of the wine base. Should the base be an active player in the overall flavour profile? Well, in this case, it definitely was. It was almost like a grappa (a damn good one, I should say) with added herbal notes. The wormwood was most prominent by itself - the other herbs blended into a balancing sweetness, in which it was hard to pick out specific flavours. It's like the makers really wanted to make sure that we realize they're not using the first, the best crappy alcohol and then covering it up with massive doses of herbs. I am not able to tell whether the herbal flavours have faded during the years, but the bottom line is that it's still a very enjoyable drink, substantially different from what's on the market of today.
Gertz
Next in line - a Pernod Fils sample, with an aged feuille morte colour.

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The aroma was rather subtle - less pungent than I had expected, but full of the nobility of age.

When water was added, an ever so slight shade of green seemed to linger.

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... depending very much on the angle and how light struck the glass.

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The first sip gave the word mouthfeel an entirely new meaning. An incredible smooth and soft caress of the palate. Again, the taste of a high-quality wine base was apparent, but here, there was more of a herbal punch going on besides than in the Premier Fils. There were multi-facetted, rich, but never obtrusive or unpleasant notes of bitterness, perfectly balanced by a discreet sweetness. I've had some absinthes that was a dance with The Green Fairy. This was sex with her.

Of course, knowing that it's pre-ban, made while a young Picasso roamed the streets of Montmartre and all that, adds to the experience. I could probably tell my self to put on a matter-of-fact attitude and analyse it just like I would with any sample, but hey; this is the stuff legends are made of. I'm not going to waste my occasional fits of objectivity on that.
The Standard Deviant
It sounds like you enjoyed every moment.

It seems strange to me that the Premier Fils, which (judging from the photographs on www.oxygenee.com) is in a light green bottle, should retain a green colour, whereas the Pernod Fils, from a dark bottle, should go brown. I suppose it must be due to reactions in the bottle which aren't due to UV dissociation. (Gertz: I apologise for being objective.)
sixela
Not all the Pernod Fils is that "feuille morte".

Not even all the bottles of the Cannes cache of Pernod Fils were as green as the others.

Mine looked awfully green - less so than Gertz's Premier Fils, but with only a hint of feuille morte that was completely gone when it had louched. Hiram says his sample was nowhere as green.

I think storage has a lot to do with it...and even within one cache, I expect bottles on the top or the bottom could well have aged slightly differently - the ullage of the Pernod Fils bottles in the Cannes cache wasn't the same either for all bottles, to give another example.

Donnie Darko
Many people seemed disappointed by the Premier Fils, but I was very impressed by it. It's not an anise centered absinthe, which fits given that it was marketed to women, who usually aren't big anise fans. The emphasis instead was on a wormwood/lemon perfume and a very sophisticated alcohol base, and both of them were like nothing I'd ever experienced. The base was delicate, smooth, clean and multi-dimensional and it could easily be compared with top Armagnacs. It's admirable that a distiller out there decided to abandon tradition and craft an absinthe in which alcohol was the centerpiece, in contrast to most absinthes where the emphasis is on herbal nuance and alcohol plays a subservient role.
Oxygenee
QUOTE(The Standard Deviant @ May 6 2006, 03:39 AM) *

It seems strange to me that the Premier Fils, which (judging from the photographs on www.oxygenee.com) is in a light green bottle, should retain a green colour, whereas the Pernod Fils, from a dark bottle, should go brown. I suppose it must be due to reactions in the bottle which aren't due to UV dissociation.


The Premier Fils bottle when originally found was entirely covered with a thick layer of cellar dust, which had formed a sort of opaque crust, covering the entire bottle. I removed it by carefully swabbing the bottle with a damp cloth before taking the photographs. This level of dust and encrustation is an indicator that the bottle had lain completely undisturbed for at least 50 years, and probably the entire 90 odd years since it entered the cellar. It would also have shielded the contents almost completely from light. So in short, the contents of this bottle had had the optimal storage conditions possible.

Oxygenee
Great tasting notes by the way Gertz! Can you PUHLEEZ put them more or less in the standard format and email them, together with your photos, to Hartsmar, for inclusion in the Buyers Guide? We want to expand the section dealing with vintage absinthe.

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Oxygenee
QUOTE(Donnie Darko @ May 7 2006, 12:49 AM) *

It's admirable that a distiller out there decided to abandon tradition and craft an absinthe in which alcohol was the centerpiece, in contrast to most absinthes where the emphasis is on herbal nuance and alcohol plays a subservient role.


This is a fascinating area of inquiry. We unfortunately don't know nearly enough about the range of tastes possible in vintage absinthes - since 80% of surviving bottles are either Pernod Fils or Edouard Pernod, our idea of the "typical" flavour profile is heavily weighted in their direction.

I don't know for instance anyone who's tasted (from well preserved full sized bottles) Cusenier, or Junod, or Joanne, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if at least some of these also proved very different from the classic Pernod benchmark.


Oxygenee
QUOTE(sixela @ May 6 2006, 04:08 AM) *

I think storage has a lot to do with it...and even within one cache, I expect bottles on the top or the bottom could well have aged slightly differently - the ullage of the Pernod Fils bottles in the Cannes cache wasn't the same either for all bottles, to give another example.


My impression is that minor differences in ullage are not correlated with differences in taste - ie a bottle with a lower level may well taste fresher than another, from the same source, with a higher level. In this respect absinthe - presumably on account of its very high alcohol level and much lower susceptibility to oxidation - is different to wine, where the ullage is a very accurate indicator of the state of the contents.

But exposure to light is a different matter - almost without exception, the less light exposure, the better the absinthe. I think chlorophyllic decay is the number one ageing factor with vintage absinthes. So as you say, a bottle stored at the bottom of the cellar bin, underneath the others and this largely shielded from light, will generally be the pick of the bunch.
The Standard Deviant
Ah, dust! For some reason that didn't occur to me, despite the Pernod Fils bottles being covered in it in the photos. I must admit the clean Premier Fils bottles did seem a bit strange. Thank you for taking the time to explain.

Does anyone have any idea how much absinthe there might be out there, hidden away? As cellars are explored and supplies dwindle, prices will increase. Perhaps to the extent that only the super rich would be able to afford bottles, as a way of showing off. I can only hope that if there is no vintage absinthe by the time I would be able to afford a sample, there will be modern commercial products out there accurately reproducing or improving upon the contents of bottles being found now. There are more important things in life to worry about than being able to afford vintage absinthe, however.
louchednparadise
I share your sentiments SD!

Thanks Gertz, for the vicarious experience with the pre-ban samples abs-cheers.gif
Gertz
QUOTE(Oxygenee @ May 7 2006, 11:18 AM) *

Great tasting notes by the way Gertz! Can you PUHLEEZ put them more or less in the standard format and email them, together with your photos, to Hartsmar, for inclusion in the Buyers Guide?

I will in the first-coming spare moment.
Heure Verte
QUOTE(Oxygenee @ May 7 2006, 01:46 AM) *

But exposure to light is a different matter - almost without exception, the less light exposure, the better the absinthe. I think chlorophyllic decay is the number one ageing factor with vintage absinthes. So as you say, a bottle stored at the bottom of the cellar bin, underneath the others and this largely shielded from light, will generally be the pick of the bunch.


The alcohol proof is important too : chlorophyl will resist 2 years in green absinthes with at least 65% alcohol proof. With 72%, the old books says that chlorophyl won't decay.
hartsmar
I find that hard to believe... It's clear in the findings made so far that the way it's been stored has a lot of impact on color. Not necessarily on taste though.
Greytail
So, how long would one need to let the UV shine in on a bottle of CO absinthe today to get that fuelle morte color? I guess that would be a good test for whether or not la fee is naturally colored or not.
hartsmar
A better and quicker test is to read the codes for the artificial colorants on the back label...
Absomphe
QUOTE(Greytail @ May 17 2006, 08:19 PM) *

So, how long would one need to let the UV shine in on a bottle of CO absinthe today to get that fuelle morte color?


My sample of Absinthe Duplais came pre-fueille morted.

Is that quick enough?
Fredie
QUOTE(Gertz @ May 5 2006, 02:57 PM) *

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This is such a beautiful picture.... The lighting in particular.
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