A very unique absinthe experience. The color is a beautiful amber which does much to convey what this absinthe was engineered to express. The aroma is quite woody - but with a very balanced profile. With water added, the aromas blossom and the louche forms in a way that is quite structured. In fact, I have prepared this absinthe with a carafe and it is still easy to achieve the sort of structured, defined louche buildup normally achievable with only certain methods of preparation... as with a glass broullier. Really stunning. The flavor itself is wonderfully smooth and balanced, with a distinct aged character. I have no idea how this was accomplished but is really something.
I'm trying my best to keep this bottle around for special occasions ;)
Appearance: Very golden-butterscotch topaz. Where it's natural, it's obviously un-green by choice, to mimic vintage fuille morte qualities.
Louche: Practically insta-louches. It goes from nothing to a quick explosion of wildly thick clouds; fully watered finally arriving at (what I think) is the perfect louched thickness.
Aroma: Fairly strong wormwood and alcohol (but not what I would call "heat" or consider to be a bad thing), sweetly spiced and fragrant, smooth and velvety.
Flavor: Extraordinarily tart and peppery, cool and smooth. Nothing is specifically too noisy or forthcoming...wonderful balance of a great herb bill. Some clear oakiness, which I love.
Finish: Creamy, velvety, slightly sour and tingley, with receding waves of spice.
Overall: I was hesitant to buy some of this latest batch because I remember trying some of the last and wasn't super excited about it. I'm pleased I tried it again. This is everything I consider a "top-shelf" absinthe to be: painstakingly crafted, unique-yet-traditional, and delicious.
Appearance: L'Ancienne is a clear and dark topaz. Natural and clear with a bit of dead leaf darkness to the color.
Louche: The louche starts with a bang and ends up being a perfect translucence. This is a creamy but not opaque louche. Spot on here.
Aroma: This one smells almost lighter in anise and heavy on wormwood and coriander. The sweet and floral smell smooths the aroma out and balances the spicy notes.
Flavor: The texture is smooth and creamy with a surprising amount of anise up front along with the expected wormwood. There are velvety orange-citrus notes and just a hint of that spicy zing as well. This is a very balanced absinthe that screams complexity. The wormwood definitely comes out at a higher dilution.
Finish: The spicy notes pop out in the finish along with a rise in the anise flavor and a receding floral fade. A pleasing amount of bitterness shows up as well. Magnificent.
Overall: This is probably the smoothest commercial offering I've had the pleasure of tasting so far. The flavor balance and complex finish help this absinthe stand out as a winner. This comes close to a vintage absinthe but it is still missing something that happens when a bottle has being laying around for decades. Overall L'Ancienne is a must try in my book.
Absinthe pours a velvety light golden cognac with very tiny greenish reflections. The closest would be Clandestine verte Suisse. Perfect.
Swirling, subtle louche. At 1:1, there is still an unlouched layer. And creamy and opaque in the vein of the majority of pre-bans.
Smells woody and camphorous, quite similar to Edouard from 1910. Alcohol is perceptible in the nose, though. The scent is very homogenous, but still a tad young.
It is Bitter and very camphorous. Too camphorus at the edges, not heavy from anethole
Taste is expressed by camphor, slight melissa, the finish is penetrating, the spiciness very, very subtle. It does not taste 100% pre-ban, but tastes like a well rested absinthe, definitely older than most what's on the market right now.
A great product for the connoisseurs, if the camphorous note may get too prominent causing inbalance.
I would absolutely swear that I was drinking a top echelon pre-ban (particularly Pernod Fils 1914 "very green" to be precise) if I were blindfolded.
Gorgeous coppery/peachy feuille mort neat, which magically evolves into a creamy green with hints of brown and white after louching.
Said louche is very thick and creamy, unlike its more delicate counterparts among Stefano's other creations. The mouthfeel is, likewise, velvety and rich.
The perfuminess is there, but instead of a Mediterranean type, it is right out of the Belle Epoque, and wrapped in that classic pre-ban Rolls Royce leather.
This absinthe is absolutely seamless in its aroma and flavor, yet, at the same time, one can pick out a voluptuously fruity Florence fennel, candied anise, fragrant, baby powdery hyssop, and a particularly juicy wormwood in the remarkably lengthy finish.
There is also a peppery aspect to the mid-flavor, that reminds me of a cross between Pernod Fils "very green", and the more spicy Berger with a wonderful citric quality (more fruit-juicy than most), probably contributed by the Moldavian melissa.
Having enjoyed repeat tastings, I find myself in agreement with Brian regarding the astringent finish, but being a fan of Calvados, and, more precisely, Gale's Prize Old Ale, I find this characteristic in L'Ancienne to be bracing and inviting, rather than detrimental.*
*Having tried a few glasses of the latest (2011) version, I can say that the astringent aspect has been toned down, and the finish is far more rounded, spicy, and smooth. At this point, I feel perfectly justified in agreeing with Steve Williams, and awarding L'Ancienne a perfect score. Or rather, I would, if the star ratings could be edited.
This was an extremely limited commercial offering (only 60 of 80 bottles were up for sale), and for those who missed out, I'd recommend keeping an eye out for a hopeful reprise from Stefano, and the Zufanek distillery next year, providing the harvest is agreeable.
The Czech Republic is now the home of my absolute favorite absinthe...oh the wondrous irony!!!