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

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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).
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Scarily similar to pre-ban
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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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(Updated: July 15, 2011)
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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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