L'Ancienne - Reviewed by Experts and Consumers at The Wormwood Society

4.5 (3)
4.7 (6)
L'Ancienne - Reviewed by Experts and Consumers at The Wormwood Society

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Year of Make (if known)
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Wormwood Society Editor Comments
A limited run brand created by Stefano Rossoni in the Zufanek distillery.

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6 reviews
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l'Ancienne 2011
Overall rating
I obtained a bottle directly from Martin Žufanek last fall when we met in Pontarlier. I finally opened it last night. I have tasted the previous versions of this absinthe, from 2 different HG batches of "vintage mysterysinthe" to the first small-scale commercial 2010 batch distilled at Žufanek's, and now this second small commercial batch. This is Stefano Rossoni's very successful attempt to create an absinthe that tastes like 100-year old vintage such as Pernod Fils or Edouard Pernod. I have done side by side tastings of the previous versions of this absinthe with 1914 Pernod Fils, and they compared quite favorably. If memory serves me, this new version is probably the most successful and closest to vintage PF, though I loved the other versions as well.

Color: Beautiful bright amber, completely clear with no absolutely no sediment.

Louche: Perfect. Not too quick, with beautiful layering, ending with a beautiful bright creamy opalescent amber-green.

Aroma: Intoxicating baby powder, leather, old money, "grandma's purse", balsamic, with a hint of dried pear or fig.

Flavor: Perfectly balanced. The herbs unify into something that is different from, and greater than the sum of the parts. It's hard to separate the flavors into individual herbs, which I find unique among modern commercial absinthes, but similar to vintage Pernod Fils. There is a wonderful sweetness from the anise, not a typical modern anise, but something you can taste in certain vintages. Sweet but not cloying. Overall, no herb predominates.

Finish: Delicious, creamy, very pleasant. The fragrant taste lingers on the palate a long time.

I simply love this absinthe. I find it a very good bargain, to be able to buy something that tastes quite similar to very pricey vintage (which you should taste too, on special occasions).
Top 500 Reviewer 1 reviews
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(Updated: July 15, 2011)
Overall rating
The colour is olivine. Clear, natural, and attractive. Before water it has a bit of a bitter, musty aroma. Leathery, perfumey. Herbal qualities are subdued.

The louche is a medium thick, opalescent green. Brighter than expected. Now the aroma is much more herbal than before. Powedery but till musty and leathery. Honeyed.

The wormwood and anise are in good balance on the palate and there's a medicinal astringency that reminds me of 1940s Chartreuse. More bitter than sweet, but not overkill. Spicy and earthy. Very dark. It's a bit numbing.

The flavour cleans up in the finish and becomes more typically absinthey for a bit, then fades into that astringency with notes of citrus that seems to last forever.

I think that since I taste things more on overall character than bits and pieces I don't get the preban comparison. It does however taste old to me, but it's an old quality that I've tasted in liqueur minis from the 1920s through the 1950s. I enjoy it although it's definitely odd.
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Scarily similar to pre-ban
Overall rating
I was quite surprised when I opened the bottle up and poured out a sample. It truly was remarkable how similar this was to a pre-ban absinthe.

Color: a deep buttery amber with a very nice appearance of fuille morte.

Louche: Thick and creamy amber with streaks of peach and white.

Aroma: Herbal and peppery/spicy with hints of mustiness and leather.

Flavor: Spicy and herbal on entry with a very faint irony tinge. A hint of vanilla along with the normal anise and wormwood. This absinthe isn't as light as Stefano's other offering. It's a bit heavier; in line with what one would expect from a pre-ban. Not quite as heavy as many of the popular marques of the Belle Epoque, but it certainly posesses many of the same characteristics.

Finish: Astringent and spicy with anise and faint wormwood.

Overall: It's truly a wonder how Stefano got this absinthe to seem so old. Well done. I feel very lucky to have been able to try it.
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6 reviews
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Incredibly Structured
Overall rating
[this is regarding the 2014 batch of L'Ancienne]

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 ;)
Top 10 Reviewer 47 reviews
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Hard to quantify...
Overall rating
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.

(This is from the late 2011 batch)
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Crooner Smooth
Overall rating
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.
Top 10 Reviewer 70 reviews
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Finally Mysterysinthe is back!
Overall rating
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.

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Affordable luxury
Overall rating
Color: 5

Before louche: Rating the color gave me a bit of a hard time, but only because the system is really set up to score traditional greens and whites. But, as I understand it, this absinthe is completely naturally colored. It's a beautiful amber, bordering on that feulle morte we love so much about century old absinthes. It's perfectly clear, and free of any sediment. Taking all of that into consideration, I'm giving it a perfect score for replicating a pristine pre-ban look.

After louche: Perfect. Maintains the look of the dead leaf color while adding hints of gold and brown.

Louche: 5

Comes along at just the right time. Starts building nicely around 1:1 and layers around 2:1. By 3:1, it's fully louched and beautiful. Opaque, sure, but as noted above there are hints of gold and brown, with the overall feulle morte still being the dominant color. Wisps of olive toward the top, which has more to do with light than it does the absinthe.

Aroma: 4

Comparing this to an authentic pre-ban absinthe is a double-edged sword, but this is an attempt to recreate a pre-ban style, so here we go. While Stefano has managed to capture essences of the correct aromas, there is just no getting around the fact that this absinthe is young. This bottle was a distiller's proof of the commercial release, so it has the benefit of a little age, but nowhere near 100 years. As such, there is a little heat on the nose from the alcohol, which distracts from the brilliant stuff. Talking of which, the best part about the aroma is that luxurious old leather. Slightly powdery, which is something I love. Nicely perfumed. Not a standard profile, in terms of a really forward anise, but this isn't a standard absinthe. The aroma highlights the wormwood more prominently, and the anise takes a back seat to the leather. Rather earthy and calm, with nothing screaming for attention. If it weren't for the heat, I would rate this a perfect score.

Flavor: 4

I can taste every many of the similarities that Stefano tried to recreate from pre-ban absinthes. But the first thing I taste is a bit of astringency (not spiciness), which isn't necessarily pleasant. I wanted to make sure it wasn't the alcohol I was tasting, so I added a little more water, no more than 4:1. However, the slight astringency was still there. It doesn't taste like process to me, and certainly not tails. It's definitely something in the herb bill. Sort of a menthol flavor, but not minty. Setting that aside, there is a smoothness and creaminess that is very, very enjoyable with the rest of the flavors. One of the things that pre-ban absinthe has going for it is a hundred years of melding flavors. Some of those flavors surely can't be recreated, as such, but the creator is in the ballpark with all of them. There is also a really good balance of sweet and bitter, vegetal/herbal and floral. I taste a smokiness that is rather enjoyable, which is reminiscent of toasted oak. One could easily imagine this absinthe as being aged in enormous casks.

Finish: 5

Absolutely the right amount of numbing, for the right amount of time. It doesn't linger unnecessarily. It's actually replaced by a creamy and delicious mouthfeel. Exhaling brings back many of the best aspects of this absinthe.

Overall: 4

Oddly enough, the only thing this pre-ban clone really needs is...more age! Nearly perfect.
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