Verte de Fougerolles 72° – Review

Verte de Fougerolles

Verte de Fougerolles 72°
Devoille Distillery, Fougerolles, France
Reviewed 13 April 2008
Sans sucre

Paul Devoille is widely regarded as one of the world’s top contemporary absinthe producers, along with Markus Lion, Ted Breaux et. al; and with good reason. Paul’s absinthes are intricate arrangements of familiar flavour notes, presented in interesting combinations, with the occasional surprising ingredient slipped in with great effect. However, the Fougerolles varieties (see our Blanche review here) are by no means absinthes for the casual drinker or the neophyte absintheur – the Verte in particular can present certain flavour combinations which may not be immediately embraced by all drinkers, but more on that later. It is our opinion here at www.absinthe.com.au that both the Verte de Fougerolles and Blanche de Fougerolles belong in the upper echelon of Superieure, distilled absinthes, and makes for a very, very interesting absinthe experience.

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Distillerie Devoille, Paul Devoille’s ancestral distillery, has been producing spirits since 1859, when Xavier Devoille founded the business in the Fougerolles region of France. It was Xavier’s son, another Paul Devoille, who made a name for the distillery with their absinthes, along with their highly regarded Kirsch Brandy varieties.

Raw VdF

Absinthe Verte de Fougerolles 72° is, according to The Guff, “An outstanding, unfiltered premium absinthe made from a combination of several aromatic herbs and plants, including grande and petite wormwood, anise, fennel and hyssop. It uses a grape-base alcohol, has no added sugar, and is bottled at 72°, in order to hold its natural green colour and present its aromas to the fullest.” The raw alcohol is a mid, somewhat earthy peridot green, which has been criticized on other review sites as being “dull” or too reminiscent of a premature feuille mort. However, to my eye the colour is a pleasing natural green, not forced or tarted up, and though not as emerald as some other Superieure absinthes, it is nonetheless a pleasing and thoroughly natural tone. On opening, the raw absinthe presents a strong anethole characteristic as its primary aroma, however this is followed by an interesting tangle of herbal notes, which loosen and present themselves more prominently after dilution.

VdF semi-louche

After water, the nose blooms beautifully into what a friend of mine said recalled “a garden after a storm”, which I don’t think I can improve on, as this is exactly what I was experiencing too. The nose of the dilute Verte de Fougerolles is a beautifully balanced herbal mélange, with a full, succulent, anise kicker, an almost fruity bouquet at the mid-point, and an interesting earthiness wrought by the wormwood and colouring herbs at the end.

The flavour of this absinthe mirrors the nose almost exactly. In the mouth the palette develops, and the fennel, hyssop and pontica can be located to great effect. It is worth noting that, along with the Lemercier varieties, as per Fougerolles regional tradition, each herbal ingredient in the Verte de Fougerolles is distilled separately, and these distillates are then mixed, followed by the colouring step (the ‘esprit vert’), to create the final product. It is this particular regional form of absinthe production which, I feel, gives this absinthe its interesting flavour profile, and allows for each herbal ingredient to be experienced at optimal volume. This is a beautifully herbal, even, ‘garden’ of an absinthe with interesting warm, almost savoury notes, which I believe may be reinforced by the use of veronica (also grown as ‘speedwell’) in the esprit vert. The louche of this absinthe is a thick, pearlescent pale green, and immediately evokes the colour used by Van Gogh an other Impressionists in their studies of absinthe from the late 19th century (though, ironically, this absinthe is probably of a much higher quality than the stuff Van Gogh and his mates were drowning in). The colour is almost luminescent when lit from the side, and brings with it a beautiful, full, creamy mouth feel – one of the best I have experienced in a while.

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This absinthe and it’s particularly herbal characteristics have been read by some reviewers as “grassy”, and not in a good way. Indeed, this absinthe has been derided by one online reviewer as “overly bitter with some sour notes, which I found odd”. Odd is right, as I could find no trace of sourness, nor bitterness, apart from the pleasant umami-like sensation brought on by the fennel-anise-wormwood combination which one can locate in all quality, distilled absinthes of note. While I cannot argue against someone else’s personal tastes, I can say that my tasting of this absinthe found none of the negative aspects asserted by a couple of other tasters, however did present all the positive points I look for in an absinthe, namely an even formulation, a full bouquet, a steady, thick louche and a developing, changing flavour profile on the tongue.

This absinthe is best experienced sans sucre (the fennel and anise in the formulation are sweet enough in themselves, so don’t spoil it), and taken at a ratio of 1:4 – 1:5 dilution. The Verte de Fougerolles is, in my humble opinion, one of the best absinthes available of the Australian market and a definite label to consider for your collection. While it may take a glass or two for some to fully appreciate the flavour profile of the Verte de Fougerolles, for others such as myself, this is what good absinthe is all about – a happy marriage of flavours, a rhythmic, even tasting profile and a wonderful and surprising overall absinthe experience, and you will immediately want a second glass as soon as the first passes through your louche, Libertine lips.

Like a garden after rain, Verte de Fougerolles is full of life and offers luscious, wet flavours and aromas, and I believe deserves your undivided attention, so take this absinthe slowly and enjoy it for all it’s worth.

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This sample of Verte de Fougerolles was provided by Absinthesalon for the purposes of review and comment.

Robert Apr 15th 2008 02:02 pm Absinthe Reviews,Distilleries,News,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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