Premier Fils, circa 1910
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Country of Origin: Switzerland
Alcohol Level: 65 %
Description: From Oxygenee.com: Premier Fils, based in Romans, was a high-end producer whose absinthe commanded a premium price, and was one of the relatively few absinthe distillers that used an entirely natural herbal coloration process, something they proudly advertised on their label.
Reviewed by Deluge 12/2/2005
COLOR BEFORE WATER 6/10
The color of this sample seemed to have been preserved fairly well. The bottle made note that the coloring process was entirely natural so it's pretty amazing that the color was still a bit green. I gave it a six because I felt that even though it had been naturally colored, visually it seemed rather unimpressive. It was similar in color to Un Emile with a slightly greener hue. Perhaps originally it was much more vibrant?
LOUCHE ACTION 5/10
Slowly adding ice-cold water from an absinthe fountain brought forth a louche that was particularly slow and weak. The swirl of gradient lines gradually twirled about the glass before the contents became semi opaque.
COLOR AFTER WATER 5/10
The color of this absinthe after water was a slightly cloudy yellow green. Again it seemed similar to the louched quality of the older Un Emile's.
The nose of this sample neat reveals a nice wine spirit. It was a bit heady and in my opinion it masked a lot of the other fragrances. Its bouquet was indeed more floral than it was spicy. I could smell a hint of that aged hyssop "baby powder" scent but it was far less pronounced than it was in vintage Pernod Fils or Edouard Pernod. All in all the aroma was very nice.
The Premier Fils was just not a very full-bodied absinthe. It was however very smooth and pleasant to drink, it just did not have the incredible silkiness of the Pernods.
Wine spirit. A lot of wine spirit! Behind the wine sprit, the flavor like the aroma had more of a floral nuance. The taste was pretty simple, not as complex or spicy as other absinthes. The bottle notes that it was in fact flavored with alpine flowers and other natural herbal aromatics. I have a feeling that over time the flowers used to flavor the Premier Fils had mellowed considerably behind the flavor of the wine spirits. Almost fading their essence’s away.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 6/10
Although age has not had a major effect on the color of this absinthe I believe that it has mellowed the aroma and flavor to a point where the alcohol base overpowers the floral nuances that I believe once set this brand apart from some of the other absinthes of its day. The wine spirit was of good quality but I feel that it was a bit stronger than the other flavors and aromas. I am not disappointed in this absinthe by any means. The low score reflects the louche and the way I “think” age has effected this absinthes taste and aroma. I can’t wait to see what others thought of this rare spirit!
Deluge scores Pre-ban Premier Fils circa 1910 61 out of 100
Reviewed by JMFranc 12/8/2005
COLOR BEFORE WATER 6/10
Being 100 years old and well preserved the color, very similar to the original, was more yellow than green and somewhat unimpressive.
LOUCHE ACTION 6/10
Louche was simply thin and very gradual. No swirls of thickness and no visible "cloud" that usually forms. It just changed to an off-white gradually.
COLOR AFTER WATER 7/10
This was not bad at all but did appear thin - even when just watering until the thin clear layer was gone.
The nose was nothing like I had expected. Incredibly light and I would describe it as a watered-down perfume that was originally a light floral.
Not as thin as it looked but had far to go before I would consider it "thick", still, not that bad, I had to score it at least a 7.
Here is where the lowest marks are to be given. You almost swear that a perfume was part of the mix. It lacked any clear characteristics but "sweet liquorish" and "perfume" and was simply not that pleasant. Thank God they don't all taste like this.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 5/10
I am not that sorry to say that I will probably never finish what I bought (except for the price) - it's one you could avoid while looking for vintage Edouard Pernod and Pernod Fils. This seems like a drink that somehow got watered down and then spritzed with a thin floral perfume. Save your money.
JMFranc scores Pre-ban Premier Fils circa 1910 62 out of 100
Reviewed by Gertz 5/9/2006
COLOUR BEFORE WATER: 9/10
A freshly made absinthe shouldn't be ashamed, if it had this colour. It is amazingly well-preserved.
LOUCHE ACTION: 7/10
When water is added, it gradually turns cloudy. 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".
COLOUR AFTER WATER: 8/10
Cloudy more than opaque, but a very pretty, pale green.
The aroma had this noble 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, while the herbal content was less apparent.
Nice, smooth, nothing edgy or obtrusive. Not the same kind of an overwhelming, thick velvet-like feel as in a Pernod Fils, though.
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 if its current state isn't too far from when it was made, it is certainly an unorthodox and interesting take on what an absinthe could also be. With a wine base of this quality, I like that take.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
The "overall impression" of pre-ban absinthe isn't just the sum of the parts. It's also about sipping a rare drink - not a resurrected legend, but the legend in its first coming. Even without that extra something, though, the Premier Fils is an extraordinary drink. It is substantially different from what's on the market of today, and I'd like to see some of today's makers try the same approach, which certainly allows no compromises, when it comes to the base alcohol.
Gertz scores Pre-ban Premier Fils circa 1910 85 out of 100