Lemercier ‘Abisinthe’ 72% – Review

This absinthe is produced by the distillery Lemercier Frères, based at Fougerolles, France, who produce a wide range of specialty liqueurs (and vinegars!). A history of the facility and the family can be found at their website, and we also recommend visiting their Australian site, which features a more concise history of the distillery, plus a fantastic video clip of Lemercier being prepared traditionally with a fountain.

The absinthe comes in a wide shouldered olive green bottle tapering to the base, using a synthetic copolymer closure, and elegantly labelled using borders with old world motifs including star anise depictions.

Upon opening the bottle, the scent of anise and fennel very quickly filled the room. A measure poured into a Pontarlier style glass revealed the absinthe to be a distinct yellow to straw colour, with no immediate discernable green tones.

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Being a higher alcohol absinthe (72% alc/vol), my preference is to take it with sugar. The first few ml’s of water produced no immediate or noticeable change. In fact the absinthe appeared to be very slow to louche, with a significant break point not appearing until about the first 1/4 – 1/3 of the glass filled, with a film of yellow oil encircling the side of the glass, however some green tones now seemed to emerge near the surface.

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This ‘greening’ however was only transitory as the louche moved to a much stronger white opalescence. The scent maintained throughout the dilution and started to develop, pulling back from the harsh licorice that first greeted the nose.

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In a little test, I also observed the the louche was not overly thick but slightly translucent, nicely filtering west facing late afternoon sunlight – this is the first time I have done this and thus can’t pass comment, but subsequent reviews may compare this quality in the “green hour” part of the day to compare the strength of the louche.

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The first sip was very much a burst of strong anise, with the artemisial bitter notes being quite secondary, this ratio seeming to continue with subsequent sips.
It has bite. Some other reviewers have said “spicy”, but this might give the impression of pepper notes in wine, and it is certainly much stronger than that. The sugar takes the edge of the bite and balances the taste a bit more.

A curious thing I observed was what happened to the taste as the absinthe began to warm. I started to note an improvement in the flavour with the appearance of what I often call ‘the mineral note’, what some might call a salt taste, but more akin to a potassium salt as opposed to a sodium/table salt. It added another dimension to the drink that was not present at a lower temperature.

Some have criticised this as not being a very complex absinthe, but I think my overall take is that this is not a ‘ready to drink’ absinthe – I think it is an absinthe for those who have tried a few brands and have a bit of a hand on how an absinthe may respond to different dilutions, sugar content and even temperature.

Which probably makes the ‘French’ absinthe ritual, and the use of a good dripper or fountain, all the more important for an absinthe such as this. The absintheur needs to ‘work’ with this absinthe to create the right balance, rather than expect it to come ready made out of the bottle with little intervention.

Certainly I have enjoyed drinking this absinthe, particularly once it had warmed a bit, but it is not in my opinion an ‘entry level’ absinthe. But a bit of experience in technique will do justice to and elevate the potential of this absinthe.

Lemercier 72% is available in Australia from Absinthesalon

Jonathan Nov 18th 2007 02:19 pm Absinthe brands,Absinthe Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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