Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pernod Absinthe: "The Original Recipe"

Almost three years after the April Fool's Day blogs (mine and the original French spoof) about Pernod bringing back the original Pernod Fils, it looks like this - or something like it - may eventually be happening. On March 5th, 2013, the TTB issued their approval of the following labels:

Absinthe lovers will note the inclusion of the words "The Original Recipe," the fact that Pernod clearly states that their 1805 distillery is France's first absinthe distillery (and not the first absinthe distillery in the world which was in Switzerland a few years earlier), the mention of plants being distilled in wine alcohol, and the disappearance - at last - of the artificial colours that have been in Pernod Absinthe up to now.

I, for one, am delighted that Pernod have at last removed the artificial colours. Several other high volume absinthes still use artificial colours, and maybe this will force them to ditch them too. Artificial colours are a short-cut that provides a cheaper cost and a sub-standard product. Companies using them have had an unfair cost advantage over those companies that have chosen to make traditional absinthe in the original way.

In fact, I tasted what I was told was the new Pernod product a few weeks ago, and it was clearly a significant improvement on the current product.

Pernod's new, old recipe may well herald improved standards globally in the category and the consumer is the ultimate winner!

UPDATE: July 5, 2013.

I wrote above: "I, for one, am delighted that Pernod have at last removed the artificial colours. Several other high volume absinthes still use artificial colours, and maybe this will force them to ditch them too. Artificial colours are a short-cut that provides a cheaper cost and a sub-standard product."

And now (surprise, surprise), the first French post-ban absinthe becomes the first to copy Pernod in ditching its artificial colours.

One wonders what took them so long ...


Anonymous said...

On the one hand, this sudden change of course demonstrates the power the consumer wields in the marketplace. Without the conspicuous criticism of Pernod Ricard both on the web and throughout the industry, this giant conglomerate probably never would have budged in reconsidering the industrial rubbish it has been passing off as absinthe since circa 2001.

On the other hand, the track record and marketing history of Pernod Ricard has convincingly demonstrated that none of its marketing should ever be accepted as stated. Pernod Ricard has verifiably made false claims about its absinthe in its own website, in printed ad copy, and presumably to its own sales teams. Pernod Ricard has repeatedly described its present industrially mixed, artificially coloured absinthe as being “the most authentic absinthe ever produced”, “based upon the original recipe”, and naturally coloured with botanicals. All of these statements are patently false and equally disturbing. The sheer audacity to publicise such fallacies begs one to consider the possibility that Pernod’s bold distortions may extend to government agencies (including product labeling) as well. After all, who would venture to verify such things?

Speaking as an experienced buyer with connections in the industry, I call attention to the fact that unlike any reputable absinthe distiller, I know of no person anywhere that has visited Pernod Ricard’s production facility, much less actually witnessed production. This is probably for good reason, considering that Pernod Ricard has been selling what amounts to artificially coloured, overpriced flavoured vodka for over a decade. Similarly, not so much as a single photographic image can be found to date that documents Pernod Ricard’s production claims either on the web or in its own sales literature. Curious, isn’t it?

Ultimately, one must decide if he should patronise craftsmen distillers who have introduced respectable absinthes into the present market, or a huge company with a dodgy record of fumbling facts.

Anonymous said...

As others have said, Pernod has done much to earn my skepticism with their absinthe.

Yay no artificial colors! But as for it being authentic, or close to their pre-ban, I'll believe it when I taste it.

Seth Pylad said...

Finally Pernods modern absinthe can maybe at least be called genuine whatever the status of the recipe itself? Whether or not it's the original recipe in this latest "edition" Pernod Ricard has (yet) to prove!

Alan said...

Thank you for your comments!

Anonymous, I understand your frustration. I have documented my own comments about the marketing of Pernod Absinthe previously on this blog, and I see no reason to change my concern on those issues. The product itself (assuming I tasted the finished product) is clearly better than the current one, but is also some way from the Holy Grail some absinthe lovers are hoping for.

Americanabsintheur and Seth: I guess we can ever know if this is "the Original Recipe." Probably no-one alive today has tasted the old pre-ban Pernod just a few weeks or months after it was bottled. So tasting it won't tell us if it is at last the real thing.

Unknown said...

Funny thing the "new pernod " will have the same sku of the old paint remover that pernod used to sell so that mean that they plan to discontinue the actual pernod absinthe witch is a great thing

Alan said...

Nice to see you around again, Henri-Louis. I thought you'd been dead 162 years.

Well spotted (I guess you mean the same barcode).

Did you turn in your grave at the old product?

Mikey416 said...

When and where is this available

Alan said...

I heard that the distillery will be finished by July 2013, but I can only guess what that means in terms of when it will be available and where. Maybe Autumn 2013 in the USA?

Ian Conklin said...

I am actually interested to taste this "Original Recipe" from Pernod to be honest since they seem to want to "atone for their sins/greed." I have not even tried the Pernod Aux Plantes Absinthe since I new it was a cold mix/Artificial swill concoction. However, I have tasted both Pre-Ban Pernod Fils and Tarragona Pernod Fils, and the only absinthe that compares is the Jade PF1901. I am hoping that by Pernod building this distillery for their "Original Recipe" actually will make a hand made truly artisinal absinthe and show that the "Big Players" are not as "evil" as once thought.

This can also be seen the craft-beer industry where InBev buys out a small Craft Brewery like Goose Island, yet still maintains the same level of craftmanship.

I have reached out to Pernod-Ricard for more info about the new "True Absinthe" but all is quiet on that front (which I figured, but had to try none-the-less).

Alan said...


It is normal for companies to want to control the release of information about new products (even when it is in fact an old product like this one!). Wait a few months for its official re-launch, and there is bound to be a veritable avalanche of press information about it!

Alan said...

More discussion here: