La Clandestine's distiller gets highest scores at France's 2009 Absinthiades

Wednesday, 07 October 2009 09:42

Autumn has arrived, the first weekend in October has passed, and this was again the opportunity for many of the who's who of the absinthe world to gather in Pontarlier, France's historic absinthe capital. 2009 saw the ninth Absinthiades, the annual absinthe festival. And this culminated in the awards for the best absinthes as judged blind by a big tasting panel, made of up of three sub-panels (professional, public and VIP), with many of the better known absinthe distillers and vendors making up the professional jury.

This was the first time that blanches and vertes were judged separately. This will hopefully show a lead to other events and maybe even to bars and retailers who could also consider splitting their lists or sites between these categories.

Notably, in both categories, the highest scores went to absinthes produced by Claude-Alain Bugnon's Artemisia Distillerie at Couvet, Switzerland.

Among the blanches, his La Clandestine Recette Marianne had won the Golden Spoon for the last four years. This recipe is only very slightly different from the original La Clandestine and is made specifically for the French market where the regulations on fenchone content are more restrictive than elsewhere. It was agreed that this absinthe (which achieved the highest score across all absinthes tasted) would not be included in the official competition because it had won for four consecutive years. The blanche Golden Spoon therefore went to another absinthe produced ... in the same small distillery in Couvet!

Eleven vertes were tasted and the Golden Spoon went to Claude-Alain's Angélique. Opaline, another absinthe produced by Claude-Alain, was third.

Claude-Alain was pleasantly surprised to win gold with Angélique at only the second attempt. With just a little fine tuning since its 2007 launch, Angélique has become an excellent, truly "best in class" absinthe.

It seems that the celebrations may have continued late into the night in the area around Couvet and Pontarlier: Claude-Alain emailed the results the morning after the event with the commentary "Suis rentré un peu tard" ("I got home a bit late ..."). The celebrations were probably well deserved!

The event is covered in the Swiss press, by a Belgian blogger, and by a British blogger. It appears that the French don't want to talk about this event for some reason ...