Review – Duplais Absinthe
Having banned the stuff way back in 1910, the very first absinthe to be legally made available in its homeland of Switzerland was the Duplais brand. This absinthe takes its inspiration from a 19th Century French distiller P. Duplais and is produced in Switzerland by the German company Lion spirits using pharmaceutical-grade herbs and Alpine water. The botanical list for the two versions (blanche and verge) are not revealed but the verte is coloured using natural chlorophyll.
Nose: Quite a difference between the two, with the blanche offering a chalky and funky vegetal aroma not dissimilar to a whim agricole but punctuated by fresh violets, crabsticks, a touch of lemon oils and plenty of fennel. The verte by contrast is a much more plain affair, sticking with a pure anise/fennel note that in uncomplicated by other aromatic distractions.
Neat: The funkier nose of the blanche doesn’t carry through to the palate, and both products offer up a punchy anise-dominated profile with relatively little obvious contribution from other botanicals. The blanche is the sweeter and least complex of the two with just a touch of bitter herbs on the finish. This clean-tasting approach works however, and the breadth of the anise on the tongue is plentiful. The verte by contrast is deeper-tasting, a little more rounded and less sweet. With a hint more bitterness and even a touch of spice, it delivers a longer finish whilst remaining true to the signature uncomplicated anise-heavy profile. With water, the sweetness of the blanche is brought under control to create an immensely easy-drinking absinthe whilst peculiarly the verte become a little muddy; not unpleasant by any stretch but there is a loss of clarity about it for sure.
Mixing: In many cocktails, these two absinthes perform as might be expected, like two peas from a pod. The punch of the anise/fennel aroma makes them an excellent choice in a Sazerac or Wink for example, although the verte is perhaps a safer choice since there is little of vegetal notes which in some cases will cause the blanche to clash. In the latter cocktail, bolder, more botanical-forward gins are a better bet since these absinthes will seem a little one-dimensional with more delicate gins. There is however a tendency for them to get lost amongst their fellow mixers in more complex cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver No. 2, although the flip side is that the result is a more easy-going drink. Fruitier- flavour-driven cocktails such as the In Seine with its use of St Germain do not play to their strengths. The verte is generally a better choice of the two in cocktails making use of aged spirits such as the Remember the Maine, that extra earthiness carrying the flavours through more successfully.
Duplais Blanche and Verte absinthe deliver a wonderfully clean anise-dominated flavour profile that is well-balanced and uncomplicated by other botanicals. Relatively easy-drinking on their own, they also play nicely with other ingredients and make for a solid cocktail choice.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.