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Pernod Absinthe returns to 19th century formula

Pernod Ricard has announced a return to the original 19th century recipe for its absinthe brand following an unsuccessful bid by French distillers to officially define the spirit earlier this year.

Pernod Absinthe original recipe
Pernod Absinthe now features three marked recipe changes following the re-introduction of the brand’s 19th century original formula

The formula for Pernod Absinthe has been redeveloped during a two-year process using records of how Pernod Absinthe was made in the 1800s.

Following this research, three changes have now been made to the Pernod Absinthe recipe: the base spirit has shifted from a neutral grain to a neutral wine spirit; the grande wormwood has been cultivated in Pontarlier, France, the historical home of Pernod Absinthe where the original factory was founded in 1805; and the spirit has been coloured naturally through the maceration of green nettles, instead of added dyes and artificial colours.

“Pernod Absinthe has a rich history that helped shape an era, and a return to the original Pernod Absinthe formula marks a historic time for both the brand and its heralded past,” said Clare Kanter, vice president for category marketing at Pernod Ricard USA.

“As we pay homage to the brand’s past, we look forward to introducing Pernod Absinthe for the world to enjoy as it once did.”

Pernod Absinthe is flavoured with Melissa, hyssop, Pontique wormwood, fennel and star anise. The spirit is made in small batches at its new distillery in Thuir, located in the South of France.

Bottled at 68% abv, Pernod Absithe is described as offering notes of herbaceous, lemon balm and flowers as well as medicinal flavours. It will is now exclusively available at select New York retailers at an RRP of US$68.

Following the ban of absinthe in Europe and the US in 1915, Pernod Ricard ceased producing the spirit until restrictions were lifted in 2007.

Gullaume Petavy Meynier, international brand development manager at Pernod Ricard, told The Spirits Business last summer that the drinks giant faced the challenge of the re-education of consumers and bartenders about the spirit, combating widespread misconceptions.

“We must be category captain,” he said. “It is important that we lead the category in terms of education because we are the only brand that has the ability to be global.”

Last year, Pernod Ricard started working with a group of French distillers to push legislation defining the Absinthe category.

Since the repeal of the ban, producers of “traditional” absinthe – created using 19th century recipes and methods – have been concerned that “false” absinthes – those using non-traditional recipes and methods – are saturating the market and giving consumers an inaccurate impression of the spirit.

“We want to build the brand and category slowly, but surely,” continued Meynier. “It’s not about volume and there is no pressure to get it. This is about working together to get absinthe listed and drunk properly.”

A document defining the spirit was thrown out by European Parliament in February this year amid concerns for the reputation of absinthe produced in other European countries, since the proposed definition was argued to be solely based on traditional French absinthe recipes.

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