The firm of Emile Pernot, now more than a century old, has a direct lineage rooted in the origins of the famous liquor named “absinthe”, and you’ll discover that the story is rather surprising seeing the coincidences!
Indeed, the legend says that on Dr Ordinaire’s death, at the end of the 18th century, his precious original recipe for the elixir passed to two Swiss sisters from the Henriod family. They in turn sold the recipe to a Major Dubied from Couvet, who commercialized the product and, together with his son-in-law Henri-Louis Pernod, established the very first absinthe distillery in Pontarlier in 1805. Only 16 liters of absinthe were produced each day by the 2 alembics of this little distillery.
The magnificent century-old copper alembics used by Pernot for their absinthe distillations were made by the famous old firm of Egrot in the early 1900’s. They were specially designed and built for absinthe distillation, and they are the only stills of their kind in operation anywhere in the world. These stills allow the Pernot distillery to produce absinthes of exceptional quality according to methods unchanged for a century.
WHAT IS ABSINTHE ?
Absinthe is a strongly alcoholic aperitif made from alcohol and distilled herbs or herbal extracts, chief amongst them grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and green anise, but also almost always including 3 other herbs: petite wormwood (Artemisia pontica, aka Roman wormwood), fennel, and hyssop. Some regionally authentic recipes also call for additional herbs like star anise (badiane), sweet flag (aka calamus), melissa (aka lemonbalm or citronnelle), angelica (both root and seed), dittany (a type of oregano grown in Crete), coriander, veronica (aka speedwell), marjoram or peppermint.
All true absinthes are bitter to some degree (due to the presence of absinthin, extracted from the wormwood) and are therefore usually served with the addition of sugar. This not only counters the bitterness, but in well made absinthes seems also to subtly improve the herbal flavour-profile of the drink.
The classic French absinthe ritual involves placing a sugar cube on a flat perforated spoon, which rests on the rim of the glass containing a measure or “dose” of absinthe. Iced water is then very slowly dripped on to the sugar cube, which gradually dissolves and drips, along with the water, into the absinthe, causing the green liquor to ‘louche’ (“loosh”) into an opaque opalescent white as the essential oils precipitate out of the alcoholic solution.