The story of La Clandestine

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From the very first distillation of absinthe in a small pot to the launch of La Clandestine: an inside view on the very first steps.


As a specialist in oil refining, Claude-Alain Bugnon soon found interest in another liquid; absinthe. In the Val-de-Travers, absinthe is, of course, easier to find than oil!


Claude-Alain's interest in absinthe grew and he distilled his very first "bleue" in 2000. His distillation flask was still rather rudimentary: a 12 liter pot with a cooling device on a hotplate.


A friend gave Claude-Alain an old recipe from his aunt, Charlotte Vaucher - a well-known distiller - that she had been using since 1935 to distil high quality absinthe with a special richness in flavor and a nice bitterness. The idea of making a living by distilling absinthe led Claude-Alain to getting a real distillation flask.


The ban on absinthe is about to be lifted and Claude-Alain is the first clandestine distiller to ask for a license. The interest of the media is growing and, after conducting a series of experiments under the control of the authorities, he is granted a license two months later. In December 2004 the first delivery is made to Germany.


Finally the decision is made: Absinthe will be legalised on March 1st . This ends the 95-year ban on the Green Fairy and marks the beginning of the Artemisia distillery. La Clandestine is our first official absinthe and there are more products to come.
In order to be able to meet orders, Claude-Alain decides to set up in a new location, but still in Couvet, the village where absinthe was born over 200 years previously.
Production keeps growing, until in August our absinthes are distilled using rather small equipment.
So, at that stage, Claude-Alain finds distilling equipment that is more suitable for meeting customer demands.


La Clandestine starts to go into more countries around the world: Japan, UK, and Canada are among the first new countries to discover La Clandestine.

To celebrate the second anniversary of Swiss legalisation, Claude-Alain sets up a business with a young local florist to open up the first shop selling Absinthe and Flowers: Fleur-Bleue.


The American market opens up, and preparations start for the US launch of La Clandestine.
The first pallets made for the USA leave the distillery in July. The wonderful story of absinthe continues ...