Jump to content
Green Baron

My anitclimactic pre-ban experience

Recommended Posts

I’ve been meaning to share this experience for a while. Buddhasynth made a great post sharing his 1910 Penod Fils experience, it inspired me to get off my butt and share mine. I apologize for the wall of text attack, but I gotta let it all out.

 

Both his tasting experience and photo composition were better than mine (per the timing of his pre-ban posts, I believe that his and my samples were both from the same bottle from the Palazzo cache), so I encourage readers looking for a proper pre-ban tasting to visit his thread here.

 

I am not going attempt to rate it in the guide, as I feel this tasting was atypical and did not truly represent a well preserved pre-ban.

-------------------------------------------------------

 

I had ordered the sample a month prior and waited until I could sit down with a friend who’s shared the most interest in my absinthe exploration journey so far. First off, we louched a glass of Jade PF1901 to get into to the spirit, and to have a little comparison.

 

Then I poured 25ml of my 50ml sample and began to louche a slow drip for a carefully measured 3:1 ratio (no sugar).

 

I was quite startled by the very rapid, dramatic and extremely thick louche cloud which virtually exploded in the glass like flash flood clouds materializing over an arroyo. Definitely beautiful and exciting, but much quicker than my reading had led me to expect.

 

post-1712-1219034417_thumb.jpg

post-1712-1219034424_thumb.jpg

post-1712-1219034541_thumb.jpg

 

 

Much to my surprise, I found the flavor and aroma to be very mild- even downright faded. I could appreciate how amazingly smooth and clean this beverage was, but I was completely let down by the lack of floral, herbal punch or complexity- like 4 or 5:1 Kübler.

 

In puzzlement, we decided to louche the last 25ml at 2:1. At this ratio, the spiciness and herbal complexity just started to approach that of Jade PF1901. There was also an interesting sweet note, which I initially I felt was similar to the red fruit/flower flavor in Matriesse Rounge. However, later, after tasting a Temblement de Terre, I now recognize it as an echo of the rich butterscotch I often see mentioned in many pre-ban tasting notes.

 

It WAS amazingly smooth and seamless. It disappeared quickly despite our attempts to draw out the experience and got the most out of it. Unfortunately, I never experienced the full herbal power, butterscotch, Rolls Royce leather/antique book splendor that I was expecting. And the finish certainly didn’t linger for hours as Buddha had tasted.

 

Ironically, I can get a whiff of these things when I smell the empty sample bottle.

------------------------------------------------------

 

From the comparison, the Jade seemed fairly close, but has more of a particular honey perfume. Where as did not detect a bunt taste or “funk” in the Jades, I can now see what people talk about when referring to Jades tasting burnt or funky. I still find it pretty minor and inoffensive, personally.

 

As I said before, I’m pretty sure Buddha’s and my samples came from the same bottle of Pernod Fils, so I’m not saying that pre-ban must suck. Nor do I blame Absinthe Originals.

 

I did my best to store it in a room temperature, temperature stable closet. I can only speculate why my experience was what it was. I wonder if the conditions during shipping may have affected it? It WAS fairly warm (for Seattle) the day they delivered it. The cap felt a little loose the day of tasting (I checked upon arrival and it was tight)- maybe the seal failed?

 

Alas, I have journeyed to the tower Orthanc to make love to the green fairy. She met me at the door and kissed my check. But the she disappeared back inside and whole bunch of sickly looking cave goblins barred the entrance.

 

I’m glad I got that off my chest. I guess at least I have bragging rights that I’ve tasted original 100 year old absinthe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first thought was that you over watered it. Maybe you didn't in the second glass...

However, I think you expected too much from it all, really.

 

You won't be truly let down until the day you spend a smaller fortune on a bottle of some vintage absinthe and realize you sink the first drink you have from it because it truly sucked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear. I'm glad you related your experience though, when the day comes I finally try a vintage absinthe, I'll be sure to water with care.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My first thought was that you over watered it. Maybe you didn't in the second glass...

However, I think you expected too much from it all, really.

 

Thanks for the feedback Hartsmar. I really value your experienced perspective. I've definitely been asking myself if my high expectations were the cause of the disappointment, or if the subtleties were lost on me.

 

Buddha's review made my mind up to post in such a fashion, however. I read a fair amount of what he writes, and I felt that if he experienced something that was tasty enough to pretty much warrant 5's more or less across the board on the WS rating system, I would at least have been able to see where he was coming from.

 

I was tempted just to write a couple of lines, such as "yeah, I had my pre-ban sample too, it was awesome!" I believe I just didn't experience the same quality of flavors.

 

But then again maybe you're right. I've read so many people saying that high quality pre-bans are so appreciably superior to most, if not all modern CO's. I guess I figured I'd feel the same. With taste being so subjective, I guess it's just plain hard to tell.

 

That being said, I apologize if I come off as being crass or whiny in any way. I am certainly glad that I tried pre-ban at all, rather than never. I really appreciate that I had the rare opportunity experience a true piece of the Belle Epoque.

 

My all your future pre-bans be wonderful, and never stinkers or sinkers. :euro:

 

My empty sample bottle still smells pretty damn good though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate your honest assessment, Green Baron.

 

By reading any other review one would think that pre-ban was the nectar of the gods. It might very well be, I cannot say.

 

I'm not sure if I'm curious enough to try some. I spend enough as it is on post-drought absinthe.

 

Maybe it's just sour grapes on my part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if having the PF1901 beforehand affected the outcome? The two times I've had pre-ban, I made sure not to have anything before and for quite a while after.

 

Pernod Fils 1910 really did work its magic on me, though, and I'm not a very experienced absintheur. Raymond Thi 1914 wasn't as revelatory (having lost my pre-ban virginity), but I love the fact that I've experienced secondaries from something almost 100 years old.

 

Sorry your experience wasn't what you'd hoped for. I hope this doesn't stop you from drinking more pre-ban!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe it was a 1910 Pernod Fils that he tried.

If he had experienced THAT with the Dornier Tuller, I'd say his tastebuds are shot to hell. The D-T is one of my absolute top five vintage absinthes! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what I thought too, but the louche seemed peachier than the 1910 I've had. It looked much more like DT, but rereading the intro to the post, I see you are correct.

 

And yes, the DT was amazing. :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've read so many people saying that high quality pre-bans are so appreciably superior to most, if not all modern CO's. I guess I figured I'd feel the same. With taste being so subjective, I guess it's just plain hard to tell.

That being said, I apologize if I come off as being crass or whiny in any way. I am certainly glad that I tried pre-ban at all, rather than never. I really appreciate that I had the rare opportunity experience a true piece of the Belle Epoque.

I wonder if having the PF1901 beforehand affected the outcome?

I doubt the PF1901 affected the outcome. My first pre-ban experience was in La Chambre de Hiram after tasting quite a few modern COs.

 

With all the pre-ban hype we have here, I can see how on a first tasting anyone would expect a blast of trumpets and angels singing the Hallelujah chorus. Instead of bold or spicy, I was struck (almost dumbfounded) by the subtlety and delicacy. Indeed, the age had mellowed the absinthe into a light nectar not devoid of taste but more akin to highly nuanced but understated art. Anyone anticipating an explosive herbal bomb would have been disappointed.

 

I don't think there's anything crass or whiny in your post, GB. It was the truth of the moment as you saw it. Also, I don't blame you for your decision on the second glass but in hindsight, I would have recommended saving it for another day when your approach may have been more positive to tasting what the glass had to offer.

 

Sincerely, I think there is a great learning opportunity for anyone getting ready to sample their first pre-ban. Approach it with an open mind and savor every drop of what was made a century ago. While girding yourself as Retrogard has done may be a bit excessive, I still smile at the memory of OMG, ShaiHulud, Pensieve, Maggie and I watching with rapt attention as MTGrayling carefully added ice water drop-by-drop to the American pre-ban. The experience of the moment rivaled the experience of the absinthe and both were appreciated equally.

 

That's enough poetic waxing for a Monday. Carry on. :cheers:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...I still smile at the memory of OMG, ShaiHulud, Pensieve, Maggie and I watching with rapt attention as MTGrayling carefully added ice water drop-by-drop to the American pre-ban. The experience of the moment rivaled the experience of the absinthe and both were appreciated equally.

 

That's enough poetic waxing for a Monday. Carry on. :cheers:

 

I know it's something I'll never ever forget. The fabulous company certainly heightened the experience greatly. :cheers: My first and second pre bans both on the same night, 1914 cache courtesy of OMG Bill and a dose of the only bottle found of the remarkably floral American made Mohawk courtesy of T73 and Maggie. I still cannot believe my great fortune. You really don't know what pressure is until you louche an Absinthe nearly a century old in front of discerning connoisseurs. Thanks everyone for a perfect night at a Missoula hotel :wave2:

 

http://wormwoodsociety.org/forums/index.ph...st&p=103833

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well. For starters, I got my sample in the fairly early morning(before noon) when it was still a bit cool. I stored it pretty much immediately and didn't even sniff it for a couple of months. Pretty much once I paid for the stuff I figured it'd be prudent to save it till later when I'm not sticking 300 bucks worth of expectation into each shot. Having splurged in big way for tattooing(and eaten crackers and ramen noodles for months afterward) in the past, I know that financial beatings, like physical pain, go away sooner or later. So thats how I approached it on that level.

 

As far as taste goes thats a tougher call. I don't think the PF 1901 affected your tastebuds negatively, although I have yet to pick up the infamous Jade Funk so maybe thats our first difference. But still, there is quite a bit of leeway for personal preference, and a properly made Absinthe will have no problem asserting itself. On that note as well, I like my drinks a bit stronger than most, 3:1 is usually as far as I go. Maybe for tasting purposes I'll go a bit furthur but that's truly a rarity for me. I was extra careful not to over water these babies. I know some might think its macho-trippin' but thats just the way I like it. Once an Absinthe has too much water it starts to fall right apart for me...Like margarine spread over too much Weight Watcher's bread.

 

But physical variables aside, there is the infernal power of Expectation. I mean, delicious as it was/is, it's still only Booze. Once again with the tattooing, I've gotten worked on by artists who do work that is amazing, its tough not to think all sorts of stuff about'em but when you meet them they're just guys(or gals) doing their thing, and not some frickin' Rockstar Art God...well, the ones I've gotten work from anyway.

What I'm getting at is reminiscent of a comment from Peridot not to make it into work. Here is a guy who tastes things quite differently than me and thinks my favorite CO tastes like Armpit--God knows what I would think of his favorite. Individual differences will always be a factor, as well as the possibility that your sample was a klunker. Not knowing your taste profile or how many flavors youve had I can't comment on your level of subtlety, but I wouldn't worry about that, I can't really pinpoint things like some of these other, obviously more experienced and leftbrained individuals here can but I can tell you if it was worth my while or not and that seems to work.

 

I didn't find your post crass or whiny, A guy's gotta tell it the way it is. Actually I was wondering who would be the first to say it wasn't all that. Somebody's gotta do it. That said, better luck next time.....you know, after the price of pre-ban drops to that of Kübler..!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With all the pre-ban hype we have here, I can see how on a first tasting anyone would expect a blast of trumpets and angels singing the Hallelujah chorus.

 

Yes that's exactly what was missing! I was also expecting to gain the ability shoot feuille morte hued lasers out of my eyes afterwards! Instead, my cat just began avoiding me after all my intense staring at him.

 

Seriously though, I want to thank you folks very much for your kind, informative replies.

 

I'm glad I didn't come off the wrong way, and I can't stress enough how lucky I feel to have actually sampled the REAL, one and only Pernod Fils that travelled so far across history so that I would be able to taste it.

 

And you can definitely see how beautiful it was in the pictures.

 

I still don't know if I was just expecting something different or my sample was off. That being said, I certainly don't regret the purchase. If economic opportunity and availability coincide once more, I wont hesitate to get another sample. I'll be approaching it with even more care and a more open mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today, there are several really good distilled absinthes on the market, and more to come. The gap between what was made back then in the olden days and what is made now is much narrower than a few years ago, when people would wax really lyrical about tasting pre-ban. It hasn't grown worse, but we are used to better stuff now, and that makes the experience less mind-boggling compared to our everyday drinking. Still, it's a piece of liquid history, and it's a special feeling to drink stuff made back then. If today's absinthes are so good that the pure tasting experience seems less extraordinary - well, we'll just have to live with that ...

 

I had my first taste of pre-ban in 2004 after sipping samples of Un Emile, Libertine and the likes, it was in Paris, and the taste was still lingering in my mouth, when I visited the Musée d'Orsay afterwards. That's the setting outstanding experiences are made of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×