We’d like to introduce the La Semilla – Aymonier Absinthe distillery in France. Ran by Mayra and Francois Aymonier, the couple has chosen to distill only organic absinthes with herbs that are mostly grown on their own fields at an altitude of about 1100.
Organic Absinthe distilled from home grown herbs
The distillery as well as the Aymonier’s wormwood fields are located in Les Fourgs, a very small village only about ten kilometers from Pontarlier. Its locations is ideal for a couple of reasons. First, the altitude and alpine climate is excellent for growing grand wormwood and other herbs. After all, the Pontarlier Wormwood is one of the most wanted across the world. The Aymoniers grow their own grand wormwood, hyssop, lemon balm and artemisia pontica. Green anise and fennel are bought by certified organic farmers.
According to Francois Aymonier, the amount of absinthe that can be distilled is directly dependent on the quantity of grand wormwood harvested in any given year. They refuse to buy grand wormwood from anywhere else in order to ensure the same quality and taste of their absinthes. This means stocks are limited, and once the year’s absinthe is sold, we’ll have to wait until next year’s harvest before more becomes available.
Absinthe distilled at the Aymonier distillery
The couple Mayra and Francois Aymonier make their four different organic absinthes using a very small copper still of 150l. This is a true micro-distillery.
Absinthes by the La Semilla – Aymonier distillery
There are four different absinthes made at this French distillery at the moment. Three are Blanches, one is a Verte. They all contain very little aniseed, which is why we recommend you adjust your water drip as slowly as possible, in order to get a nice louche out of them.
Absinthe La Faucille
Absinthe La Faucille is the sole Verte out of the absinthes made at this distillery. Its colour is very light and not at all green as many would expect it from a Verte. Marya and Francois Aymonier only use two herbs to color La Faucille with.
Absinthe La Perchée
Absinthe La Perchée is one of the three Aymonier Blanches. With 72% it’s a rather high proof clear absinthe with a strong wormwood profile. There is a slight green tint in it’s color, which is due to the first maceration step – the color survived the heat of the still!
Absinthe La Loulette
Absinthe La Loulette is the second Blanche made by the Aymonier’s. It’s less strong, with only 55% a quite mellow Blanche. It tastes sweet and soft.
Absinthe Sans Frontières
Absinthe Sans Fronières – the best absinthe by Aymonier. That is, if you’re looking for a complex wormwood profile! The Aymonier’s own grand Wormwood is very pleasant in this one.
Interview with Mayra and Francois Aymonier
Absinthes.com: When did you first discover absinthe?
Mayra and François Aymonier: Well, since we live just 10 km away from one of the most historic regions to do with absinthe (we live close to both Pontarlier and the Swiss Val-de-Travers), absinthe is a big part of our local culture. It’s always been very present around here, even while it was banned. The first time I ever experienced absinthe properly was some time in the 90‘s. It was a cold December night and we were up in in the alps, and we went to a clandestine distillery. They chilled their alembic with snow because they had no running water. It was amazing.
Absinthes.com: When did you first start distilling absinthe?
Mayra and François Aymonier: In 2014. That year we launched our first absinthe – right during the lively debate between Switzerland and France about the definition of „absinthe“. We didn’t want to take part in this and decided to name our very first absinthe „Sans Frontières“ (without borders). This way, our absinthe was an international brand from day one.
Absinthes.com: Why did you decide to only distill organic absinthes?
Mayra and François Aymonier: We grow our own herbs and plants without any artificial dung. This is why we obtained an organic certificate. Everything we produce happens according to strict guidelines of organic agriculture: from seed over harvest to the handling of the product. Should we be forced to buy certain ingredients from a third party supplier, we only choose organic farmers.
Absinthes.com: Are you cultivating all plants and herbs used to make your absinthes by yourself?
Mayra and François Aymonier: Our farm is situated at a 1.100 m altitude, high above Pontarlier and the Val-de-Travers. This area is perfect for cultivating wormwood, hyssop, lemon balm, coriander and some other plants. Some of those plants blossom within one year, some over more than one year. All of them are in great shape as they battle the rough climate on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the climate is too rough on anise, or fennel. Those are rather Mediterranean plants and they require a longer growing cycle which can‘t be achieved where our fields are. The seeds would freeze in the ground. That’s why we’re forced to buy aniseed and fennel from an organic producer from a Mediterranean region, like absinthe distillers used to do it in the 1900‘s already.
Absinthes.com: How many liters of absinthe can you distill in one year?
Mayra and François Aymonier: The amount of absinthe is strictly dependent on the amount of wormwood we can harvest from our own fields each year. Each year, the plants let us know how much absinthe there will be. In 2016, we had enough wormwood for about 1.500 l of 72% vol. absinthe.
Absinthes.com: Are you planning on adding more absinthes to your product range?
Mayra and François Aymonier: At the moment, we‘re distilling four different absinthe brands: 3 of them with a 72% abv., and one with just 55% abv. We use historic recipes that add a very characteristic taste to all of our absinthes. We‘re happy with the absinthes we have, but we‘re currently experimenting with a wine-alcohol-based absinthe (we get the wine alcohol from an organic farmer in Switzerland). We‘re hoping to make this absinthe a little more fruity due to the choice of its base alcohol. Part of this batch will be aged in oak casks. Apart from that, we‘re working on a sugar-free pastis, a gentian liqueur and some other liqueurs.
Absinthes.com: Which of your absinthes is your personal favorite?
Mayra and François Aymonier: All of our absinthes offer a very characteristic wormwood profile which I think is what I like the most about them. Even though it‘s aromatic balance varies between the four recipes, we have trouble deciding on a favorite.