It's been nine months since I first tasted the Absinthe Bourgeois at the 12th annual Absinthiades in Pontarlier, France. As it happens, it won a gold medal at the tasting competition. It comes from the Pontarlier local distillery of Les Fils d'Emile Pernot, meaning it's another one in a long line of well made absinthes from that distillery.
So, how come it took me so long to publish a review of it? Well... I tasted it then and I brought it home and I've tasted it several times since. For the sake of the review, I think that's a good thing, especially for the Bourgeois which would likely have scored much lower from me unless I had given it this much time.
At first I just thought it was yet another main stream regular down the middle absinthe. I was getting bored with the same thing over and over. The lower alcohol level at 55% makes it easier to over water and that is definitely not something the Absinthe Bourgeois needs.
In any case I had a glass every now and then and I just couldn't make up my mind. Then one evening some three months after I first tasted it at home after the Absinthiades it had suddenly turned into a completely different drink. It had matured, mellowed out and just like that it was a real gem.
For every day that went by, moving closer to summer it was obvious that to me, this was definitely a summer absinthe. It holds a very nice refreshing and slightly sweet taste and scent of anise which is quite obvious but not overwhelming. The strong presence of fine anise of course helps create a very nice louche and as long as care is taken to the ritual, the Bourgeois shows off a very nice thick louche. As I mentioned before though, it's easy to overwater it and by that also destroy the louche and make it too thin. So - go easy on it and treat it like the fine woman it is. Never mind the cat on the label. I prefer women over cats.
Speaking of the label, it is a little bit of a disappointment actually. The labels on absinthes from Pernot is usually very "classic" representations of an absinthe label which to me adds a little class to the bottle itself. This label, even though it's based on the old vintage Absinthe Bourgeois ad-poster, just screams too much Swiss La Bleue ink-jet label.
Back to the drink... Out of the bottle the anise instantly rises from the opening. It literally fills the room in no time and instead of the so often numbing sweetness it is a very appealing scent. Along with it a faint hint of wormwood nicely accompanied by a well balanced herbal scent.
Adding ice cold water to it slowly builds up to a fine thick louche and turns the very nice natural green color into a lighter green, yellowish completely opaque drink. I highly recommend the use of a brouilleur with a slow, fine drip to get the best out of the louching. Fill it with ice and add the water...
Even with a brouilleur covering the glass you will quickly notice the nice anise developing further. A fine minty scent mixed with a delicate citrus and a fine herbal but flowery perfume lingers out of the glass. This blossom in the scent carries well over in the taste and the finished, louched Bourgeois is a very light but comforting friend. The fennel shows itself more in the taste than the aroma and once you take the first sip you'll notice it clearly.
The mouthfeel is very delicate and fine with a nice creamy touch but just light enough to feel really refreshing. The taste is actually equally refreshing and now, in the middle of high summer I'm glad I held up on my review of the Absinthe Bourgeois. It deserves a much higher score than I initally would've given it.
Absinthe Bourgeois is, in my opinion a very nice light and refreshing absinthe. Perfect for summer drinks but also suitable for a fall evening with just slightly less water. It is a delicate absinthe with a classy profile with most every part of it nicely balanced. The drink itself is definitely something I enjoy, a lot. The one thing I don't like is the packaging. A clear bottle with the slightly tacky label is a bit of a downer. But hey - I'm not eating the bottle so...
Yes, you should get your hands on a bottle of the Absinthe Bourgeois. No doubt.