Pernod Absinthe, the first-ever absinthe commercially produced and sold, announced the re-launch of its original formula. Available on- and off-premise in October 2013, the change marks a new chapter in the brand’s storied history. The formula was developed during a two-year process using the few remaining records of how Pernod Absinthe was made in the 1800s. Since the 1912 ban on absinthe in the United States was lifted in 2007, Pernod Absinthe has been at the forefront of the spirit’s renaissance. With the re-introduction of the Original Formula, Pernod again takes its rightful
place as the most authentic and original absinthe on the market.
Absinthe is officially defined as a high-proof spirit containing wormwood. Distillers often use other herbs and spices as well, green anise and fennel being the most common additions. Pernod Absinthe is flavored with a carefully balanced bouquet of herbs, including Melissa, hyssop, Pontique wormwood, fennel and star anise, and is made in small batches in a copper still in its new distillery in Thuir, located in the South of France. The distillery will also serve as the new “Brand Home,” where bartenders and brand enthusiasts can visit to learn more about the brand and develop new cocktails.
The recipe change features three marked differences. First, the base spirit will shift from a neutral grain to a neutral wine spirit, staying true to the traditional and most authentic way of making absinthe. Grapes are sourced from Region 5 “Languedoc” as noted in the original manuscript. Next, the grande wormwood, the key element to creating absinthe, will be cultivated in Pontarlier, France, the historical home of Pernod Absinthe where the original factory was founded in 1805. Lastly, the spirit will be colored naturally through maceration of green nettles, instead of added dyes and artificial colors.
“Pernod Absinthe has a rich history that helped shape an era, and a return to the original Pernod Absinthe formula marks a historic time for both the brand and its heralded past,” says Clare Kanter, VP, Category Marketing (Gin, Tequila & Exports) at Pernod Ricard USA. “As we pay homage to the brand’s past, we look forward to introducing Pernod Absinthe for the world to enjoy as it once did.”
In France, at the turn of the 19th Century, Pernod Absinthe was the aperitif of choice. The creative community of painters, writers and philosophers, in particular, savored the tradition of long evenings spent conversing over a glass of absinthe. By the middle of the 19th Century, it was standard practice to celebrate the hour just before dusk by enjoying a Pernod Absinthe cocktail with friends. This ritual became so popular it was simply known as “The Green Hour.” The trend also crossed the Atlantic, and American bartenders began creating cocktails with Pernod Absinthe that are still classics today, like the Corpse Reviver #2 and Death in the Afternoon.
As absinthe’s popularity grew, it sparked jealousy in the wine lobby of France. As a result, the lobby launched a severe and effective smear campaign against the spirit, fabricating and spreading mis-information about absinthe’s qualities. Despite the false claims, the campaign was successful and by 1915 absinthe was banned in the United States and Europe. It was not legalized again until the ban was lifted in 2007 after the FDA confirmed that absinthe is, and has always been, safe for human consumption.
Color: Bright green close to yellow, combined with water, Pernod Absinthe is adorned with a light opalescent green.
Nose: The powerful note of the wormwood herb, both green and animal (musky) is refreshed by herbaceous notes of hyssop and citrus notes of lemon balm. The whole note is softened by floral and round notes of anise seed. The extracts of other aniseed plants enhance the freshness and bring their contribution to the complexity of the product.
Palate: The attack is fresh, with a distinctive feature marked by wormwood herb softened by aniseed notes. Then, green, spicy and slightly medicinal notes from other plants follow, bringing a lot of complexity. The final note is a balance between the smooth and almost sweet note from aniseed and the bitterness brought by the Pontique wormwood.
Pernod Absinthe ($68) will be available at: Philippe Liquors, (212) 243-1355; Beacon Wines, (212) 877-0028; and Liquors and Lowrey’s, (718) 784-2334 in New York City.