Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Georges Meliès

Jumping into the pre-ban pool

Recommended Posts

I was planning to wait a few more months before opening the first of my pre-ban samples but the siren call became irresistible. Now that I've tasted a wide range of modern brands, ranging from barely okay to fantastic, I felt it's time to establish a reference point.

I opted to open the Georges Pernod since it's the one "unknown" of my pre-ban samples. I'll save the well-known greats for a later, more auspicious occasion. According to David Nathan-Maister, only one bottle of the Georges Pernod has surfaced. No label, but embossed in the glass:

 

P1080121MS.JPG

Since each pre-ban sample is 50ml, I did a short pour. I want to get 3 tastings from each of these in order to get the broadest experience possible, as well as a chance to re-compare the different pre-bans down the road. I measured very carefully, using 16mm of absinthe. I started with a precisely-measured 2.5:1 dilution, with just tiny bit of sugar. I went light on the dilution because this is reported to have only 53 degrees alcohol. I used an original handblown antique absinthe glass that has a small 15ml reservoir, and an original feuilles #7 spoon in order to be era-appropriate as I enjoyed this. I'm very anal about details...

The color was certainly autumnal, a lovely, crystal clear light amber, no trace of green left.

DSCN4967.jpg

The louche came up very quickly and became a milky off-white with still some gold tone:

DSCN4972.jpg

But at the end, it was rich and milky with just a very faint hint of yellow-green:

DSCN4975.jpg

The louche was certainly very attractive, but what really grabbed my attention was the aroma. Wow! So many things going on, and changing
with virtually each drop of water.

I savored the first sip. This was epic absinthe! So much going on there. But after a couple of sips I raised the dilution to 3:1. The alcohol struck me as tasting higher than 53 degrees. The tiny bit of additional water made a stunning improvement, increasing both the aroma and complexity. That strikes me as somehow oxymoronic -- dilution should weaken a solution, not make it richer. Obviously absinthe is in a class of its own.

Now I completely understand the excitement that pre-bans generate in books and on the forum. It really was incredible, and not merely for the fact that it's more than a century old. Still, even though I had tasted literally hundreds of ancient wines when I was in that business years ago, the psychological allure of having a glass of the very same absinthe that people drank in France during the Belle Époque was undeniably exciting.

But every century-old wine I ever drank had lost something over time, often a lot. Not so with this. Aside from the color, this was as vibrant and intense as the best modern ones I've tried, but with a great deal more complexity. The distinctness of the wormwood flavor and the balanced tinge of bitterness in the finish was particularly appealing. Actually, the most amazing aspect was how long the finish went on. I could still taste it vividly a half-hour later.

After basking in the afterglow of that mind-boggling experience for an hour or so, I followed up with a short glass of Esprit Edouard, again for a frame of reference. Different in style, but it was great to find that the Edouard is so very faithful to the basic character of the pre-ban Georges Pernod. Both are wonderfully complex, with rich wormwood flavors and just the right tone of bitterness. And both have flavors that seem to go on forever.

I will wait a few months before I indulge in my next pre-ban experience, but I'm already looking forward to trying the A. Junod on my birthday this fall.

 

I'm glad I will have so many more chances to repeat this experience. It really was amazing.

One last photo: pre-ban absinthe with 3 of my original Belle Epoque lithographs in the background (Mucha, Cheret, and Hugo d'Alessi):

DSCN4977.jpg

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice review. Remember. Adding water brings the absinthe to life. You are literally releasing the composition. Here is a thought. Some absinthes I have had exhibit different flavors at different ratios. There is a point where things start to get too thin, but the more water you add up to that point will bring the distilled herbs out of suspension so they bloom with flavor and aroma.

 

Enjoy.

 

Btw, is the purported 53abv what it was bottled at? I would wager that some of the alcohol has evaporated off and lowered the ABV percentage.

Edited by greytail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Given the lack of label I have to assume that the alcohol (and thujone, which I didn't bother mentioning) were measured from a sample. But for sure, this tasted a lot stronger to me than 53 degrees. And yes, the extra water released a lot of aroma and flavor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this, Ive been wondering what the Georges Pernod was like. I might have to get myself some. Really looking forward to your review on the Junod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Btw, is the purported 53abv what it was bottled at? I would wager that some of the alcohol has evaporated off and lowered the ABV percentage.

Given the level shown in the bottle, it doesn't look like much has evaporated at all. I wouldn't expect much of a change in ABV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jumping back in for round 2: tonight I tasted a sample of pre-ban Junod, one of the better known Pontarlier brands of the Belle Époque.

 

I went all out on originality. I used my favorite original hand-blown reservoir glass; an original Eiffel Tower spoon; and my original Cusenier 'see-saw' brouilleur. (Alas, the water and sugar were modern. You can only go so far with this game......)

 

As with my first pre-ban experience I carefully measured out 16ml so I can get 3 tastings from my one 50ml sample. I also carefully measured 48ml ice water for an exact 3:1 mix, which I was told is best for this particular absinthe.

 

The color was a rich amber, classic feuille morte:

 

DSCN5221.jpg

 

The aroma was quite lovely, clean and without any mustiness, and with distinct wormwood notes.

 

The first drops of water start to flow:

 

DSCN5223.jpg

 

The louche was very quick to develop:

 

DSCN5226.jpg

 

The final drink:

 

DSCN5227.jpg

 

I was very struck by how greenish the color became as the louche formed. The color is remarkably simllar to Jade 1901 or Nouvelle Orleans. The aroma was lovely, a bit more aromatic than prior to dilution. Again, I was struck by a similarity to Jade.

 

But -- despite the beautiful color, the louche was relatively thin. In that sense it was definitely not like Jade.

 

The flavors were beautifully balanced but a bit restrained compared to modern absinthes, or when I try to mentally compare to the one pre-ban (Georges Pernod) that started this thread. I remember that as having more body. This definitely shows a good wormwood element, and just a hint of anise. but in a much more 'feminine' style than I expected. (Significantly, my wife liked it, whereas she is not a fan of full-flavor modern absinthes, much preferring Lucid or Muse Verte.)

 

The finish was crisp and a tad overly astringent. But on the plus side it lasts forever. I finished the small glass a half-hour ago and I can still taste it quite vividly.

 

All in all, a really lovely drink and a special treat, but again, trying to make a mental comparison to the George Pernod in July, I felt this was a bit less complex. But I'm glad to know that I still have two more opportunities to taste it.

 

Next month: Comoz.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phew! Im glad I have at least one more 25ml sample of Georges Pernod 1910 to consume, perhaps one of the last mls ever ..next to yours unless anyone has any stashed away. Great review as usual. Did you purchase the bottle as well???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phew! Im glad I have at least one more 25ml sample of Georges Pernod 1910 to consume, perhaps one of the last mls ever ..next to yours unless anyone has any stashed away. Great review as usual. Did you purchase the bottle as well???

I very much doubt you have the last. Ha ha

 

Hi. bill.

Edited by greytail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You really should be adding your reviews to the main review page.

 

 

In my 23 years in the wine business I wrote countless thousands of tasting notes. I'm afraid I'm just totally burned out on detailed descriptive terms, and scoring. ;) I prefer to discuss these pre-ban experiences conversationally.

 

@gee13, I acquired the bottle at another occasion. I presume it is not the same bottle from which my sample was drawn. It's a bit unusual in that all the other Junods I've seen simply have "A. Junod" in the embossed seal. This one is boldly marked "65o":

 

junod-seal-65.jpg

 

I don't know if that implies early or late production.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

You really should be adding your reviews to the main review page.

 

 

In my 23 years in the wine business I wrote countless thousands of tasting notes. I'm afraid I'm just totally burned out on detailed descriptive terms, and scoring. ;) I prefer to discuss these pre-ban experiences conversationally.

Fair enough. No big deal.

 

But to play devil's advocate ( :devil:) , it probably took you more time posting these reviews than it would take to post the formal one on the main site. Further, I don't think you'd need to get into any more detail than you already have to post a valuable review.

 

It's always nice to have more information that is public facing that documents what historic brands tasted like.

 

But I understand not everyone wants to post formal reviews. It can be a pain. I've only published about 1/20th of the reviews I've done (I've got moleskines filled to the brim, see below), and I don't think I'll ever take the time to spiffy them up enough to publish them online or in print.

 

IMG_20131027_135640_924 (1).jpg

IMG_20131027_135811_024.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those remind me of the many volumes of handwritten wine tasting notes I still have on my shelf. They are useless today since they reflect how these wines tasted in the 1970s and 1980s. Those same wines today will taste totally different. But I suppose the are a potentially useful historic resource. A friend who is a very famous winemaker, nearing retirement, is talking seriously about writing a book about the wine scene in the US in the "early days" -- late 60s to mid-80s, when is was still fiarly new to most Americans, and a source of passion and and experimentation. I told him I have reams of information he can use, including all of the catalogs and brochures I published then, plus many magazine articles. It really was a different world then.

 

I am hoping to see a similar change in the world of absinthe. My feeling is that this still very small, tight-knit community is at the very start of what could be a fairly dramatic resurgence of interest, once more people learn about it and the old myths are dispelled. It won't happen overnight, but then again the great wine boom didn't happen overnight either. It could be interesting to see where absinthe stands 20 years from now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Phew! Im glad I have at least one more 25ml sample of Georges Pernod 1910 to consume, perhaps one of the last mls ever ..next to yours unless anyone has any stashed away. Great review as usual. Did you purchase the bottle as well???

I very much doubt you have the last. Ha ha

Hi. bill.

Haha this is possible I guess. Hmmm on this note, and sorry for the slight devation but how long would a preban sample keep for in theory? Say 25ml consumed out of 50 ml. Or should it be decanted into a 25ml bottle with less air space?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Round 3 in my pre-ban tastings. For Thanksgiving I opened a Comoz "Absinthe des Alpes". Given the reported low alcohol content of 47% I went for a 2:1 dilution. I think that was just right. Much more would have made it too thin. At that level it was not merely good, it was astonishing.

 

This is listed on the main page as probably a blanche. I disagree. I think it is a light verte. But then again, I've never had any 100 year old blanches so I'm hardly in a position to be dogmatic.

 

The unlouched color was pale cognac:

 

DSCN5321.jpg

 

The aroma was glorious -- very fresh and herbal. No off-notes at all.

 

The louche came up quickly and was very deep.

 

DSCN5325.jpg

 

DSCN5327.jpg

 

DSCN5328.jpg

 

I swear there was a faint hint of green there. I really don't think these photos show it properly because of low light, but I really can't imagine this started life as a blanche.

 

The flavors were simply out of this world. Exquisite balance. Very noticeable wormwood, fennel, and to a lesser degree, anise. It has been described as feminine, which made me expect something lighter. At 2:1 the concentration was right on the money. The finish was distinctly wormwood, perfect bitter notes that lasted forever. Absolutely amazing.

 

I'm still a novice in this realm but as I've mentioned elsewhere I spent 23 years in the wine business so I have some experience in tasting. All of the pre-bans I have tasted so far are stunning. And I still have yet to open my (potentially) best ones. I think there is something valid about the hype about century-old absinthes. I do feel Jade and Pernot Authentique come close to capturing the overall expression of vintage abstinthe, but the real thing continues to blow me away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And why would you say you don't think it was a blanche? You do know that blanches and bleus can have some color when louched? Just curious to know why you would disagree with those with vastly more preban and vintage absinthe knowledge and experience than you have by your own admission. I understand youndo have experience in other vintage spirits and tasting, but absinthe is a different beast.

 

Hey, you could be right, but coming out and just saying you disagree without any reasons other than perhaps your notes of seeing some green in there? Not enough of a valid point to count against it being a blanche.

 

Anyway, good write up and nice pics. Well done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I said, I'm not in a position to be dogmatic on the point so I was giving my admittedly uninformed opinion. The modern blanches I've had have louched milk-white and tasted sweeter, but again, I am not experienced on that point.

 

Blanche or light verte, it was impressive. :)

Edited by Georges Meliès

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having had no experience myself with pre-ban blanches,my question is; wouldn't a pre-ban blache pour clear from the bottle? That's not the case in Georges' picture and description.

Edited by redwun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×