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December 22, 2020 (edited August 5, 2022)
4.25 out of 5 stars
Appearance (neat): Light peridot/emerald green. Natural colouration (see below). The louche is slow and measured with thick, oily swirls being the first sign. These grow into fine wisps of cream and the louche proper begins at about 1:2. Depending on whether you use sugar and how fast you dilute you may see a layer of sugar saturates at the bottom of the glass and another of oils at the top of the liquid, with a pale yellow cloud suspended between. This is not unusual but it is quite marked here. The final appearance is milky white jade with yellow highlights.
Aroma: Complex anise, coriander, hyssop and wormwood profile with floral, mint and citrus notes. The aromas are tight when neat but bloom with the very first drops of water and combine to create a clean, fresh herbal mélange by about 1:3-1:4.
Flavour: Sumptuous, sweet entry at all dilutions from 1:3-1:6, but I’d recommend a dilution of 1:4-1:5 as I feel the finish is best at that point. At low dilution there is a bitter quality to the aftertaste but this disappears completely once the strength is reduced to below about 20% abv, and at that point the finish develops numerous sweet notes. There is an herbal complexity and the slight woody, "twiggy" character that is often found in good absinthe. Hard-core devotees may prefer not to use any sugar, but personally I like the decadence of it with one cube. Overall the palate is rounded, complex and satisfying with a mouth-coating texture and good length.
This is quite a luxurious absinthe and a new favourite. It's better than Pernod as an entry-level absinthe, but to be fair it is half as expensive again so maybe "entry-level" is a stretch. The presentation is creamier than Pernod, there is a soft citrus note and the bitter late palate taint in Pernod is not present.
Now – THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you see reviews that criticize this absinthe for being artificially coloured, or dismiss it because it is just a mix of oils in neutral alcohol, then ignore them. Such reviews are referring to a very early version of the product. They are now out of date and only of historical interest.
La Fée (i.e. The Fairy) was the first absinthe to be produced in France after the prohibition laws were repealed. However when launched in 2000 it was not in its current form and was deservedly criticized. It was a first attempt to revive the spirit, artificially coloured, and not distilled from scratch using botanical ingredients. It was rough and harsh in profile with an intense and unbalanced anise (maybe even star anise!) presence. I suspect the first batches were rushed to market but sadly they continued to produce that early product for some time and it gathered a lot of bad press. I remember tasting it in 2004 and the note in my journal from then simply says "inferior - avoid in future".
However in 2013 the producers did the smart thing and overhauled the spirit, inventing a new formula that was more accurate to pre-ban absinthe recipes. They revised the production approach, moved to 100% distillation from fresh botanicals and started using a traditional chlorophyll colouring process. They successfully transformed their product into something significantly better and should be congratulated for so doing.
La Fée is marketed now as “La Fée Parisienne Absinthe Supérieure” and the label looks just slightly different to the one in the Distiller listing thumbnail. I doubt any of the old pre-2013 stock would still be available, but you can easily tell the new expression by the green plasticized coating on the bottles which is to prevent light from deteriorating the natural colour.
This is a very good and pleasantly addictive absinthe that leans towards a sweet profile. The official Distiller notes are insightful and right on target.
“Very Good” : 87/100 (4.25 stars)