An eventful weekend, which passed by so quickly.
As every year, we drove to Pontarlier, in France for one weekend in October. This year was 14th Absinthiades taking place from the 3rd to the 5th of the month.
Read Stefanie’s account of what we got up to, below, and find out which absinthe brands were awarded medals at the end of this article.
Friday, October 3rd
In the early afternoon, we started our journey to France. 3 hours later, we arrived in Pontarlier and dropped our luggage at the “Hotel de France”, close to the main train station. Right after our arrival, we headed to the theatre “Bernard Blier”, the focal point for the Absinthiades’ official events. First of all we took a look at all the absinthe which had been entered into the competition. This year, 27 types of absinthe were entered into the competition (even more than last year).
The first part of the judging started at 8.30 pm. This one was conducted by a professional jury, consisting of Absinthe distillers and people involved with selling absinthe. As last year, Marion, the one who handles your parcels with greatest care, was part of the jury as well. As it would be a bit too much for every single person in the jury to taste all of them, the jury was split into two groups. The first group got the chance to taste 13 different blanches and vertes and the second group was already excited about the 14 different absinthes awaiting them.
The competition is a real blind tasting, with each absinthe decanted from its original packaging into an anonymous numbered bottle. The score sheets were pre-numbered in the order the absinthe were going to be served. In the first place, all the clear absinthe had to be tasted, being directly followed by the green absinthe in the second place. On the score sheet each participant could rate the colour, the nose and the flavour of the absinthes. At the end, every absinthe has been given a final mark, from 0 to 20 points.
Right after the tasting, we joined our friends, coming from all over the world, at La Poste restaurant. There, a delicious meat fondue and yet more absinthe was already waiting for us.
Saturday, October 4th
After a delectable breakfast, we headed to the museum of Pontarlier, which has to be the best place in the world to learn about the city, whose history is so profoundly intertwined with that of absinthe itself. We got the chance to see some antique absinthe glasses, fountains and posters.
In the early afternoon, we drove to the Guy distillery in order to pick up the absinthe we had ordered. There, a whole range of activities was already awaiting us: we tried archery, watched a knife grinder doing his work (the Absinthiades happened to fall on the same day as an event celebrating and reenacting elements of mediaeval life)l and we also tasted the Guy distillery’s new absinthe creation: The “Garcon une Verte de Pontarlier” is a barrel aged absinthe that was produced especially for the Absinthiades.
We have been very lucky to secure a few bottles of the limited edition “Garcon, une Verte de Pontarlier”absinthe, available here.
In the early evening, we headed back to the theatre to discover some old absinthe accessories at the Absinthe Antiques market. All on sale. It’s a collector’s dream.
Later on this day, the second tasting took place – this time, everybody who loves absinthe could participate in this jury. Personally it was my first time ever participating at the jury, and I was lucky to snap up the the last available spot! I have to admit that it gets really hard after 12 or 13 absinthes to spot the fine differences. 🙂
In the late evening, we meet up with the others to drive to the “Auberge La Petite Echelle”, a small hut (no electricity!) in the Jura mountains. As the last couple of years, we were to enjoy a delicious cheese fondue and we had a couple of absinthes too (of course). Martin Zufanek, distiller of St. Antoine absinthe had brought along his L’Ancienne and his new gin (OMG).
Sunday, October 5th
Unfortunately, Sunday was already our last day at the Absinthiades.
We headed to the theatre once again because the last part of the tasting has already started – with the VIP jury. Influential figures from Pontarlier and the region take part in this jury. The moment the jury finished tasting, all the absinthes entered into the competition was shown to the visitors, together with the final scores each brand obtained.
Everbody was already waiting for the results to be announced. This happened in the early afternoon. Of course every one of us hoped that their favorite absinthe was going to win.
The results of this year are the following:
This year, we’re very proud that our very own absinthe, the Blanche Neige was awarded the gold medal (Medaille Or) in the blanche category. It followed directly after the winner “La Harde 68”. Cherry Rocher 65% claimed the gold in the category “Verte”, directly followed by Francois Guy (with a difference of only 0,05 points).
It was time to head home.
We’re already excited to go to the Absinthiades again next year!
Do you have attended the Absinthiades as well? What do you think about these results?