In the small town Chevaigné in Brittany, France, Julien Fanny has founded the Awen Nature distillery, realizing a longstanding dream of his.
He produces the first, high quality organic spirits in Brittany. This includes, among others, 4 absinthes and one ‘almost-liqueur’ flavored using verbena , that we are now proud to offer you in our shop.
Today you’ll learn more about the small distillery, Julien’s bond with nature and tradition, and his use of traditional production methods. And most importantly – Julien’s willingness to experiment and innovate – of the 4 absinthes released by Awen Nature, 3 of them use completely innovative plants to give them colour: Saffron, Verbena and something wild and secret Julien would not share with us!
The genesis of Awen Nature
Ever since he was a child, Julien watched his aunt preparing different plant-based products. That is how his passion for plants and their properties developed.
When Julien had to give up his profession as artist blacksmith, he knew that this would be the right time to turn his passion for plants into his profession. After an extensive research of old absinthe recipes, he founded the Awen Nature distillery in 2013.
This has been supported by crowdfunding which allowed Julien to purchase a bigger copper pot still in order to increase the production volume. He was also able to buy the plants and herbs that he needed for the distillation.
All of the Awen Nature spirits are produced according to traditional recipes and old production methods. These are the same methods that were used before the absinthe ban in 1915.
The labels were designed by the artist Gwladys Rose. Celtic traditions from Brittany have been taken as an inspiration for them. Some of the labels depict nymphs or fairies that represent the fusion between humanity and nature.
An environmental friendly production
The word “Nature” in the name of the distillery already gives a clue to the importance of an environmental friendly production at the distillery.
Sustainability and environmental protection play an important role. Julien uses recyclable materials and environmentally friendly packaging. He even delivers his spirits by himself by bicycle to customers in Rennes, the nearest large town.
A product range of unique organic spirits
The distiller loves to experiment with new plants in order to discover other aromas and to perfect the taste of his spirits.
This is also reflected in his product range: the blanche is a refreshing change from a typical Swiss bleue, using some more atypical plants in the recipe. The verte is colored with verbena, and the ‘jaune’ is colored with saffron, and the red absinthe is colored with a local wild plant that Julien is keeping well to himself! These are all absolute innovations, while remaining true to the spirit of real absinthe and using authentic traditional techniques.
All of his spirits are certified organic and all of the herbs come from 100% organic farming. The majority even comes from the immediate surroundings of the distillery. The plants are macerated in organic grain spirit for 2 days and then distilled. Julien doesn’t add any artificial colors or preservatives.
Absinthe Rouge has been produced by combining 9 different plants,
The natural, ruby red color of this absinthe originates from a secret plant. This plant is harvested from the wild by the distiller himself.
A harmonious absinthe with notes of black currant and apple.
Its golden color occurs due to the use of saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world.
This hasn’t been used in any other absinthe before.
Along with saffron, Julien combined 9 other herbs to produce Absinthe Safran.
This results in a balanced absinthe with notes of lemon balm and vanilla.
Absinthe Finn Blanche
Julien has used a combination of 7 organic herbs in the recipe. This results in a complex blanche with a refreshing citrus aroma.
This citrus note arises from the addition of lemongrass, a herb frequently used for seasoning Asian dishes.
Furthermore, notes of coriander, anise and hyssop can be recognized.
The Absinthe Verte has with its 45% the lowest alcohol content of all absinthes from the distillers. Therefore, we recommend preparing this absinthe with less water than usual.
What makes this absinthe special is a unique ingredient: lemon verbena, also known as vervein. This plant gives it its yellow green color and citrus notes.
A fruity absinthe with nuances of herbal tea!
Organic Verbena Spirit
A slightly sweet and refreshing spirit that is special due to the use of lemon verbena.
It is produced on the basis of organic grain spirit which is flavored with plants and sweetened with sugar.
It can be enjoyed pure or on the rocks. The distiller himself recommends a mixture of one part of Absinthe Verte with 3 parts of the lemon verbena spirit.
Interview with Julien Fanny
Absinthes.com: When and how did you first discover the Absinthe?
Julien: Like many other French people, the first absinthe I tasted was artificially colored and had an awful taste. I drank such an absinthe when I was in Spain. It was offered to me without water and it has been put on fire. People said that this was the traditional absinthe ritual, which obviously had nothing to do with it at all. At that time, I couldn’t even image the delicious taste of an absinthe prepared with water dripping slowly into your glass.
Absinthes.com: What led you to the decision to produce absinthe?
Julien: Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by plants and the products that can be produced from them. Absinthe entered my life a little bit later. This was at the time when I lost my job as artist blacksmith. After that, I started to read a lot of old books about herbal medicine. During this research I came across absinthe, because this spirit is produced from a great variety of plants and it can have diverse tastes.
Absinthes.com: Why did you wanted to produce only organic spirits? What is special about your organic production?
Julien: I decided to produce only 100% organic products because I respect the nature and my customers. It is important to know that chemical residues on plants that are not organic can be found in the body, even after the distillation. In the past, absinthe hasn’t been treated with any chemicals. That is why my recipes are based on ancient absinthe recipes. My absinthes are also out of the ordinary because I produce a red absinthe and another one with saffron. They are all produced according to traditional methods.
Absinthes.com: We read that your distillery was partly financed through crowdfunding. Which items have you been able to buy thanks to that and to what extent did this accelerate your production?
Julien: Crowdfunding helped me to purchase a copper still. This investment was essential in order to produce larger quantities. I thought about doing another financing round through crowdfunding in September 2016 in order to enlarge my distillery.
Absinthes.com: You already offer some fine absinthe and spirits. Do you have planed to expand your product range in the future?
Julien: Most of my inspiration I get from the plants, which give me a lot of new ideas. At the moment I’m producing a new gin with a great diversity of aromas.
Absinthes.com: How do you see the future and popularization of absinthe in Europe in the next years or decades?
Julien: It is very important that absinthe can recover its former image, which has been condemned unjustly. It may take some time, but I think that we are already on the right path.
Absinthes.com: Last question. Green Fairy: myth or reality? Have you ever noticed effects other than those from alcohol – secondary effects – after absinthe consumption?
Julien: I have never had any hallucinations or seen the Green Fairy after a glass of absinthe. I’m also not alcohol-dependent. The so-called delirium tremens, with its secondary effects, only appears if you’re alcohol-dependent and don’t have any alcohol to drink. I think that the plants contained in absinthe cause positive effects. One of my customers even told me that his toothache disappeared after having a glass of my Absinthe Rouge.
Absinthe should of course always be consumed in moderation.
We thank Julien Fanny for taking the time for this interview!