LARUSÉE, ABSINTHE 'BLEUE'
Has there ever been a more misunderstood spirit than absinthe? The inspirational drink of choice for artists such as Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gough, and Pablo Picasso, absinthe became the most widely drunk aperitif in France by 1900. Yet the spirit would see a major “disinformation campaign” waged against it by various temperance leagues and the wine industry—leading to its eventual ban in many countries in the early part of the 20th century. Though absinthe has been legal in the United States since 2007, its air of mystery remains. Luckily for us, exceptional, underground micro-producers have kept the secrets of this unique spirit alive. Today we have the opportunity to experience this extraordinary elixir from one such producer, Larusée, whose own master distiller Jean-Pierre Candaux has been producing small lots of absinthe from a century-old recipe for nearly 30 years.
While most countries have lifted the ban, it is only Switzerland—the birthplace of absinthe—that possesses a true legal definition of the spirit today. And while many brands have flooded the market since the ban was lifted, it is the underground tradition in Switzerland that offers some of the purest and most exciting absinthes available—if you can find them. With extremely limited quantities due to minuscule production levels, these critically acclaimed artisanal spirits are highly sought-after. Jean-Pierre Candaux of Larusée has long been part of this underground absinthe movement that is credited with keeping historical recipes alive; today, he legally crafts his mind-blowing Larusée absinthes from a 235-year-old farm in the heart of Neuchâtel with a 150L pot still that produces a mere 160 bottles per batch!
First produced in the late 18th century, absinthe is essentially a spirit infused with herbs and botanicals, including the “holy trinity” of green anise, Florence fennel, and a specific type of wormwood, Artemisia absinthium (from which absinthe takes its name). At Larusée Distillery, only six botanicals are used—all sourced locally. Much of absinthe’s appeal stems from its supposed magical qualities and green color from a second maceration with herbs and botanicals. The traditional way to enjoy the spirit (referred to as the “French Method”) involves placing a sugar cube on a slotted spoon over the glass, and then pouring cold water over the sugar cube to mix into the absinthe. The addition of the cold water transforms the absinthe into an opalescent pastel cloud, called louche, and dilutes the high-proof spirit into an easy, deliciously balanced cocktail. During absinthe’s prohibition, home distillers would often produce a clear, or bleue, version of absinthe by skipping the second maceration—this made it easier to conceal from authorities, but the spirit still maintained its cloudy, pearl-like appearance with the French Method.
Larusée’s ‘Bleue’ is an example of this clear style and has been bottled at 55% ABV. Unlike many absinthes, the aromatics and flavors of ‘Bleue’ are bountiful but not overwhelming, enjoyable neat without the added sugar and water. This raw, unaltered spirit has become a must-have for sommeliers around the world and we have happily jumped on the bandwagon ourselves. For one week only, or until sold out, you can add this genuine example of absinthe to your collection. With each bottle under $100, Larusée ‘Bleue’ is a bar essential that will easily bring sophistication and enchantment to any gathering and. With fewer than 1,500 bottles produced a year, it is simply not to be missed.
*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Summer 2020. All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer not valid in CT, IL, LA, NC, NM, NY, SC, TN, VA, WI, and limited stores in GA.