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My European Absinthe Report

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First, I'd like to thank everyone that gave me advice for my trip. I took all your advice, went to the shops you suggested, along with the sites. Went to Barcelona, Rome, Naples (and surrounding areas), Florence, Villefranche, Nice, Marseilles.

 

I will keep my report focuses on absinthe, as the rest of the trip would take ages.

 

This first picture has nothing to do with absinthe. However, I was amazed that a glass of Leffe is only 2.50 euros in france! Wow!

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I took a set in Marseilles, France, for a glass of Pastis. In all the cities I visited, I did not find ONE bar that had absinthe. Pastis on the other hand, was all over southern France, as expected.

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Here we see a bottle of the most common bottle I found in Barcelona liquor stores and souvenier shops. I bought a bottle out of excitement, since it was the first one I found. Note, this "Diable Absinthe," comes in all sorts of colors! Green, red, blue, orange, etc.

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I made it to Spirits Corner, in Barcelona, the real store. It is called "La Cava de Los Faros." After walking a few miles to the location, I arrived to a closed store. I was pissed. All this absinthe in the window, and I couldn't get in. However, all stores in Barcelona randomly close throughout the afternoon for extended lunches... or something like that. So I had a few cigs, waited around, and sure enough, the shopkeepers came back and reopened it. There were two elderly folks, a man and a woman. I told them I had purchased from them before, but they did not recognize my name (I haven't ordered from them in years). I only bought a bottle of Montmarte from them while in the store. This picture is the left side of their main ABSINTHE window.

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This is the right side of the absinthe window.

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Store Front

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Store Front

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Here we have another VERY popular absinthe in Barcelona, and in the other cities I visited. Blue and Red Absinthe.

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This is a glass of "louched" Diable Verte, haha, in my hotel room.

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This is me drinking the glass, before I ventured out to a jazz club called Jamboree.

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Here we see another collection of absinthes, I believe in Barcelona. Sorry it's blurry. You can see the Lasala on the right. This was about the most variety I found in Barcelona, other than Spirits Corner. In Italy, there wasn't much variety either, of course. In Italy I did find some Absinthium.

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La Maison du Pastis. A little Pastis shop in Marseilles, France. Had tons of Pastis, and a damn good selection of absinthe. This is where I made most of my purchases. The woman in the store spoke no english, so it was a bit difficult to properly communicate. There were a lot of brands that I had never heard of, but she did not recommend. I made it apparant that I was there for the good stuff, but speaking about different distilleries and making good selections. The store had 2 absinthes, a verte and a blanche, made exclusively for them by Paul Devoille, maker of VDF. I bought .2L samples of them both. I have yet to try them.

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This is what I ended up coming home with.

From left to right: Devoille exlusive verte, Devoille exlusive blanche, Clandestine (Recette Marianne), Jade NO, Montmarte, Duplais, and another strange absinthe I found in Nice, France (to be explained later).

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Here is the label information in english: "La Verte of the Pastis House is a traditional and artisanal absinth recipe. The aromatic plants, great and little absinth, green anis, angelica, melissa, isope are distilled in wine alcohol. Its fine colour is the result of short maceration at the very end of the process.

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Label in english: "Blanche of the Pastis House is a smooth and light artisanal absinth distilled in wine alcohol." Both say "... is an exclusive product distilled by Paul DEVOILLE for PASTIS HOUSE."

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This is an absinthe I found in a little shop in Nice, France, that also sells olive oils, other strange liquors, and vinegar. All the products could be sampled. The absinthe was in a big glass vat, per say. He gave me the sample neat, but I asked for a little water. I couldn't get much out of the small sample, so I just decided to buy a .2L bottle. It is a verte, with a good green color. I just sampled some right now at home, and it has a little heat to it. It is 55% alcohol. It does louche, it is not the most elegant one I've seen, but it does louche. It has this strange.... GREEN APPLE taste to it. Like candy, jolly ranchers. It isn't bad, I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I've never tasted anything like it. I'd love to have someone more qualified than me sample it. It is from a store called "Les Trois Etoiles du Vieux Nice." I also found a sister store in Eze, France, but this store did not have absinthe. The shopkeeper in Nice told me it is made exclusively for them.

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I have some questions for you all.

 

I am trying to figure out which generation my Montmarte is. Here is the information I have:

Product 1440/2000

Creation Tuivel

Diuexeme Edition

03/17/06

 

 

Also any comments on these as far as the quality of the batch:

Duplais Verte 72% - There is a number on it: 0806. Not sure if this is the product number or date. Art Edition 1.

 

 

Jade NO - Oct 2006.

 

 

Also, my bottle of Clandestine, is dated Oct 5, 2005, is that golden or what! However, it is the Recette Marianne, which I just read has little fennel. Has anyone had this? Does it compare to original Clandestine or the grape base? When I bought it, I thought it was the grape base, since the labels are very similar.

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I can't believe they keep bottles in windows! It looks like you had a good trip, but I'd be cringing at the sheer quantity of crap behind those windows.

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I've had the recette Marianne. I think it's a wonderful absinthe regardless of the lower fennel content. The herbal balance is different from normal Clandestine so it's not just a "low fennel" version. I think it's underrated.

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I am trying to figure out which generation my Montmarte is. Here is the information I have:

If that store has any turnover at all, I'd guess it would be the second generation recipe.

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This is a glass of "louched" Diable Verte, haha, in my hotel room.

Maybe it looks different in person, but I'd consider that a near-perfect louche.

 

Sounds like a great trip, but it's a shame about all the crap absinthe out there.

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This is a glass of "louched" Diable Verte, haha, in my hotel room.

Maybe it looks different in person, but I'd consider that a near-perfect louche.

 

Sounds like a great trip, but it's a shame about all the crap absinthe out there.

 

 

I guess the picture does not do it justice. There was no louche, just watered down Hi-C Ecto Cooler.

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This is me drinking the glass

Judging by your expression, I'd say the Diable wasn't the highlight of your trip.

And, yeah, as Absomphe said, the 'Deuxième Edition' on your Monty means 'Second Edition'.

 

I think the reason the Liqueur d'Absinthe from Nice is so candy-like is that it's an absinthe-flavored liqueur, not an absinthe. Try it in your coffee, or over ice cream?

 

Glad you made it to Maison du Pastis. I loved that place!

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So you were able to pack all those in your checked luggage and had no hassles getting them back here?

 

 

I had 2 suitcases.

I had asked the hotel concierge what the rule was on taking liquor on a plane, with check baggage. They said 1 Liter per person, not per bag.

However, that just did not sound right to me, so I winged it.

 

I put my most precious 2 bottles together, the Jade, and the Duplais, making 1 Liter total. To this bag, I added my absinteh glass, and one of the .2L absinthes. Making the total volume of this bag just a little over 1 liter.

 

In the other bag, I put the rest of my absinthes.

1L of clandestine, .5 L montmarte, .2L verte, .2L blanche. this was nearly 2 L.

 

I did not want to risk losing the Jade and Duplais.

 

 

They were all bubblewrapped and securely packed, the labels were not visible.

 

At customs, the guy asked me, are you bringing home any food/liquor/whatever. I said I just have a couple bottles of pastis. He didn't seem to care.

On the customs form, I put that I had 100 dollars worth of pastis, which technically, is right, from the right point of few, haha.

 

They do not XRAY the bag while you are present, which is nice.

 

Anyway, everything was still in my luggage when I got home, horray!

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Let us know what you think of the Recette Marianne.

I really like it.

 

 

I just had 2 glasses, and as expected, it was very enjoyable.

 

It has that creamy mouth feel and well balanced flavor and bouquet we've come to expect from the Clandestine line. However, I still prefer grape base Clandestine, and original over this. This reminds me very much of the La Capricieuse. Not sure how, or why, but it does.

 

Definitely a quality product, but you might as well spend the extra 3 euros and get the grape base.

 

 

I would like to ask though...

The Recette Marianne was made "to meet French legislation" by lowering the fennel content. What does fennel have to do with French legislation? So normal Clandestine can not be sold in France? Can someone comment on this?

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I'm sure others can answer this in more detail, but France has a limit on the amount of fenchone that can be present in absinthe (just like everyone has thujone limits). The fenchone limit is too low for Clandestine to be sold there. Recette Marianne was cooked up so that Clandestine could be represented at the absinthiades a few years ago. And it won a gold spoon (not that that's an indication of quality by any means, but it's good for their marketing at least).

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French government apparently thinks it's really bad for you.

 

Frankie G. is wholly opposed to fennel being used in absinthe. But he's an insane person.

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That looks like a great trip and I'm sure you had a blast! On a recent rip to eastern Europe I only found crappy absinthe in the stores/markets, but I am headed to Paris for Christmas - preceded by NYC. I know where to go in those cities for what I want. I'm especially excited about Paris as I haven't been there in a long stretch. Incidentally, I enjoy the Marianne...

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First off, looks like you had a great trip!!! :thumbup:

 

I pulled the website off the sign in the photo:

 

www.lamaisondupastis.com

 

They actually have that custom verte on the website for sale and the site is also in English.

 

Maybe I'll give it a shot. ;)

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