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Review Detail

4.7 1 0.5
The Man's Pre-Ban
(Updated: October 07, 2008)
Overall rating
Flavor / Mouthfeel
A clear autumnal brown on pouring, this artisanal offering didn't have the same vibrant amber of the Pernod Fils 1910, the only other vintage absinthe I can compare this to. But still, it was a thing to behold.

Sniffing before the louche brought forth a strong brandy-like aroma which soon gave way to cigars and leather, books and wood. The alcohol somewhat masked the herbs and the anise appeared especially subdued; this seemed to be the general theme of the Raymond Thi, at least for this semi-experienced absintheur.

The louche had the same slow transition as Pernod Fils 1910 but the final product was a thicker, milky honey with strong opalescence at the meniscus. The dark layer disappeared at about 3.5:1 and so did the aroma of the alcohol, bringing forth something much more balanced yet still spicy.

As I will most probably do with all pre-ban absinthes, I tried two glasses: one with sugar, one without.

Sugar didn't seem to marry as well with this absinthe as the 1910; it's almost as if they were at odds with each other. And this is where my affectation of this drink as a "man's pre-ban" came to mind. First, the strong, brandy-like aroma, then the fight against the sugar; finally, the second glass had a powerful wormwood presence and peppery flavour.

Again, an image of pitted leather lounges and mahogany bookshelves. I could see a handful of men armed with brandy snifters retiring to this den.

While the Pernod Fils 1910 taught me the value of an integrated, complex balance, the Raymond Thi 1914 had a sharper tone with a dry, strong, and minty wormwood forefront. This drink finally programmed my taste buds to recognise that dry bitter note of wormwood. And it was this wormwood-laden flavour that stuck to my tongue, allowing me to savour the finish for the next hour or so.

As Shabba has said below, the Raymond Thi somehow encourages you to drink it quickly and I found myself downing the two glasses in less than my usual twenty minutes per dose.

This was a version of absinthe heaven to me, to experience that lucid drunkenness from almost a hundred years past. Please forgive my labelling of this as a man's pre-ban and the imagery I've used, but there was a certain masculinity to this absinthe that I found myself revelling in.

Many thanks to MThuilli for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste a homegrown before homegrown was ever a concept.
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