If there is one absinthe review that I have been eagerly getting to, it’s Vieux Pontarlier.
From time to time, you get your hands on an absinthe with a certain special reputation. The anticipation builds and builds so much that you can barely wait to try it for yourself.
Seeing the bottle available on a trip through Louisiana, I can’t tell you if my excited cackles were made out loud or just in my head.
Either way, the store had one bottle left and it was coming home with me!
Between my own excitement and a couple of readers asking about it, I’m so very excited to share this with you.
This is the Absinthe Fiend review of Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe Verte.
What is Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe Verte?
Vieux Pontarlier is distilled in Pontarlier, France in century-old antique copper alembic stills.
The recipe itself was developed over 5 years using recovered notes and distillery logbooks from before absinthe was banned in Europe.
In fact, the distillery Les Fils d’Emile Pernot has quite the reputation in the absinthe world for releasing absinthes that honor the craftsmanship of the Belle Époque.
And why shouldn’t they? The distillery has been the birthplace of legendary absinthe since 1890!
Using only the finest heirloom wormwood grown right in the region, Vieux Pontarlier is an absinthe that proudly wears its history and honors the craft of distilling exceptional absinthe. Batches are intentionally kept small to ensure that every drop is to the distiller’s standards.
In classic form, Vieux Pontarlier uses neutral Chardonnay grape spirits and the famous “Holy Trinity” of wormwood, fennel, and green anise to achieve its complex, herbal flavor.
Vieux Pontarlier is a 130-proof spirit (65% ABV). There are no sweeteners or dyes added so you know that you are getting a 100% authentic absinthe experience!
Related: Exploring How Absinthe is Made
Naturally, we have to begin by appreciating the aroma of the absinthe.
There is an unmistakable freshness to Vieux Pontarlier’s aroma with smooth and minty notes marrying a slightly briny spice. These notes finally end in the shortest punctuation of a sweet chocolatey finish.
Preparing the absinthe releases more of these aromas once the louche takes effect. While this does help the notes of anise and wormwood show themselves more, everything stays in a delicate balance.
Where some absinthes have a tendency to fill the room with their aroma (especially once the louche opens them up), Vieux Pontarlier doesn’t impose. The aromas are there and seem to wait patiently for you to engage with them rather than seeming to scream “pay attention to me!”
All in all, Vieux Pontarlier’s aromas make for an inviting experience that doesn’t insist too much in any one direction.
Color & Louche
I don’t know the last time that I literally said “wow” aloud when pouring absinthe into my glass.
The color is a brilliant peridot green that completely caught me off guard. While there aren’t any artificial colorings being used here, you’d be forgiven for doing a double take to check!
Even before setting up my spoon, I was enchanted by the oil textures within the absinthe. I knew that the louche was going to be a very special treat.
And I was not disappointed!
The louche starts quickly, but it doesn’t unfold so fast that you miss it by blinking. Seeing the swirls of the louche take form as the color shifted to a pale yellow-green hue was simply marvelous.
Bits of oil from the surface of the louched absinthe does build up on the glass, but take that as a sign of quality. Even though the louche is rich and full-bodied, there is still going to be plenty of rich texture to enjoy with each sip.
Flavor & Mouthfeel
Based on the aroma, I admittedly started to worry if this might be too much of a mentholated experience. However, those fears were put to rest as the flavor of Vieux Pontarlier is crisp, clean, and refreshing in all the best possible ways.
The mint and anise flavors are certainly the focus, though there is a wonderful nuance of citrus, sarsaparilla, and cacao that keeps everything balanced.
No single flavor overstays its welcome and each sip is a testament to the complexity that the Green Fairy is so well known for.
The mouthfeel is similarly full-bodied with plenty of texture from the herbal oils. However, each sip gives just enough to coat the palate and be savored without feeling filmy or overbearing.
Rolling a sip of Vieux Pontarlier around the palate and appreciating its textures, you’ll quickly find yourself raising your glass for another sip.
Related: How To Taste Absinthe Like a Pro
Conclusion – Reviewing Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe Verte
It’s hard not to imagine oneself in one of the Parisian cafes of old when you drink Vieux Pontarlier. With fresh flavors and rich textures, there’s a type of indescribable sense of nostalgia in each sip.
Perhaps that is an effect of how Vieux Pontarlier is crafted. In an antique alembic still, fresh herbs from the Pontarlier region are crafted under the name of the most beloved absinthe of the Belle Époque.
If there was ever a sense of “je ne sais quoi” to an absinthe, I can’t think of a better example!
While I may not be giving Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe Verte a perfect 5-star rating, rest assured that it is a very high 4-star absinthe.
With so many excellent offerings in one bottle and a very reasonable price tag for what it is, this is one that I would recommend to anyone whether they are a new or seasoned absintheur.