by Marc Thuillier
Back in November 2017, I was contacted by one of my treasure hunters who offered me a vintage bottle of absinthe that was found in the cellar of an ex-hotel located in the south of France (the ex-owners used to travel a lot to unearth unique and rare wines and spirits). The pictures he sent me were not great, but we – Absinthes.com – bought it anyway, knowing that we had never been disappointed by this treasure hunter.
On receipt of the bottle, I examined it closely and then referred to Marie-Claude Delahaye’s absinthe dictionary D-E-F and realised that this absinthe bottle had in fact come from the Dubied Père et Fils distillery and had been made in the very early 1800’s, meaning that it was about 200 years old!
Major Dubied was a key character in the history of absinthe because it is believed that he bought the original first absinthe recipe from Miss Henriot in Couvet.
Daniel-Henri Dubied (1758-1841) founded the very first commercial absinthe distillery in Couvet in 1798 and called it “Dubied Père et Fils”. The distillery later moved to Pontarlier, France, in 1843.
So I asked myself: “What should we do with such a jewel?”. I immediately thought that it should go to a museum and especially a Swiss museum such as the Maison de l’Absinthe in Môtiers, Val-de-Travers, which is located a few steps away from where this bottle was originally distilled. We all discussed this option at Absinthes.com and all thought that it was the best idea, not from a financial point of view but from a historical one.
The Maison de l’Absinthe director Yann Klauser was so interested and excited by this bottle that he quickly found a sponsor to buy it for the museum. After a few months of paperwork, I finally delivered this bottle in person to Mr Klauser and his sponsor (a Swiss gentleman who wishes to stay anonymous but who is closely linked to the Val-de-Travers region) at the beginning of March this year. This fantastic bottle is now showcased in the museum so that visitors can also enjoy seeing it (press articles here and here).
I can say that I’m very pleased that the oldest known absinthe bottle on earth is back home and in very good hands.