as you might know, we were off to the annual Fête de l’Absinthe – the Absinthe Festival – last weekend.
It takes places in Boveresse, in Val de Travers, Switzerland. This is where our beloved Green Fairy was born, and it means a lot to all of us to return to this special place each year. We are meeting friends, partners, and absinthe lovers from all over the world.
Friday, June 15th, 2012:
Traditionally, our weekend starts with a trip to the local distillery, where the La Clandestine absinthe is distilled – Claude-Alain Bugnon, the man responsible for the distinct taste of the Clandestine absinthe, is proud to show us around, and excited to welcome that many guests.
After a tour through the distillery, we get the chance to stop and have a chat with Claude-Alain, and to taste a bit of his absinthe.
Later that evening, the annual gathering of a small circle of people – about 40 absintheurs from all across the globe, even Japan – starts with a coach trip up to the Creux du Van, where at an altitude of 1386m, you can experience a magnificent view over the valley. While we enjoy the last shafts of sunlight, sipping from a glass of absinthe, Antoine does some filming for a documentary about the Green Fairy.
At „Le Soliat“, an old-fashioned little wooden chalet, we gather to catch up with some old friends before we sit down for dinner. Just like every year, we enjoy a Swiss Fondue – oven baked bread dipped in melted cheese, together with some traditional Swiss saucages.
After the fondue, it is time to open two very special bottles, which the Oxygenee team has brought along for everyone to enjoy and taste – Two Pernod Fils Tarragona bottles, one from 1940 and one from 1960. We all get very excited – this is a special moment everyone. Camera lights are flashing, the guys are „oooh“ing and „aaah“ing, and our friend Grim from the United States, receiving the honour of opening the first bottle, is on cloud nine.
Since it has been a wonderful evening so far, the community demands a speech of David Nathan-Maister, he is not only extremely well-respected, but a core member of the absinthe community, and together with Marc Thuillier, one of the people who regulary organise this special night.
Saturday, 16th June 2012:
Today is the day where the actual Fête de l’Absinthe starts: in Boveresse, national and international distillers have built up their stalls, inviting visitors to stop, stay, and taste some of their absinthe. It is a great opportunity to try something either new or old, and to spend the day with like-minded people.
We decide to take a short break from the business of the festival, and to attempt to find the secret absinthe fountain, deep inside the Boveresse forest – it is a place, where a bottle of absinthe is waiting for travellers, together with a couple of glasses. We get lost on the way – nevermind though, as we stop at a wormwood farm and get the chance to talk to the farmer, rest, and take a couple of pictures.
We carry on searching – and there it is – at a small forest glade, the sunlight only reaching through the trees, leaves and branches, we found the Fontaine la discrète. There is a wooden table and a bench, and we decide to stay for a little while, and enjoy the glass of absinthe. A farmer passing us on his tractor must know this place very well, because he waves and shouts Santé!
Afterwards, we head back to the hotel, to freshen up a little. We then go back to the festival. By this time, most of the stalls have been taken down, so everyone is free to enjoy the evening and to celebrate.
We enter Diane’s garden, she runs a small absinthe bar in the backyard of her house, not far off from where the festival is still ongoing. Diane has an astonishing collection of absinthes, and she loves to share. Just like every year, she organises a barbecue for us, which is always great fun – and we sure need some food intake to prepare for the long night ahead!
Sunday, 17th of June 2012:
Headache, hangover, tired! Everyone meets on the hotel terrace after checking out of their rooms, to gather for a last cup of coffee together (some of us are still going strong and drinking a glass of absinthe!) before everyone is off on their own journey home.
It was a wonderful, lovely, and fun weekend! We were lucky to have gorgeous weather on all of these days, and we were surrounded by truly awesome people. Thank you – we can’t wait until next year!
You can take a look at all the pictures of the Fête de l’Absinthe 2012 here.