Friday, February 25, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Tenneyson Absinthe Royale

Tenneyson Absinthe Royale, the most recent addition to our absinthe portfolio, is an excellent Swiss style La Bleue distilled in the historic Distillerie Les Fils d'Emile Pernot. The brand was created by Graham Wasilition, an American spirits enthusiast dedicated to bringing the absinthe category to a new level. Teaming up with David Nathan-Maister, author of The Absinthe Encyclopedia, and Master Distiller Dominique Rousselet, he created a complex, distinctive formula of exceptional quality. We interviewed Mr. Wasilition to reveal the true story behind the Tenneyson brand, and give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to create a modern absinthe with traditional roots.

What inspired you to create Tenneyson Absinthe Royale and why is it named as such?

I have always been interested in eating and drinking well, along with trying new things. I fell in love with the absinthe category because it has such a storied past and is widely misunderstood and misrepresented. I was fortunate to strike up a relationship with the author of The Absinthe Encyclopedia, David Nathan-Maister, and we discussed what was missing from the category. We wanted to create an incredible brand that was approachable and honest in every sense. Absinthe had been a drink of the commoner and we wanted to take a humble approach towards creating a great absinthe that took some "Royale" inspiration. We chose the name Tenneyson because of the slight gin-like characteristics and UK-inspired direction. Absinthe had been portrayed as dark and mysterious for too long and we thought that it should be recognized as a truly world class spirit and Tenneyson Absinthe Royale was the name to do that!

The absinthe revival in the US started about four years ago... why did you wait until now to release Tenneyson?

I love this question. The category saw a spike in interest four years ago which has pulled back a little. We believed that this would happen because some brands really rushed into the category before truly developing their products which turned away some potential consumers. We are technically the 69th approved absinthe for sale in the US but really look at Tenneyson as a trendsetter that can bring the absinthe category to a new level. We really took our time to create an incredible product and didn't want to leave any stone unturned in its development and distillation. We are also on our "soft launch" and haven't officially pushed the product out. We are obviously available through DrinkUpNY but you should see much more of Tenneyson in the upcoming weeks as we really begin to share what we are doing.

One unique aspect of Tenneyson is that it has an interesting gin-like flavor profile. Was this done intentionally, and if so, why?

Tenneyson is first and foremost an authentic absinthe based on a century old European recipe. We don't want people to get the wrong idea that we are an absinthe/gin blend or something similar. When developing Tenneyson Absinthe Royale we really took our time to experiment with the profile and found that juniper berry (which is prominent in gin) and bitter orange really went well with what we had been working on when they were delicately balanced. The inclusion of these two elements allowed the spice to come out of the recipe and dried it out a little to create the perfect balance. We found both to be very pleasant and very approachable because they were some flavors that drinkers outside of the absinthe world would be familiar with even though they are not the dominating tastes in the profile.

Why did you decide to produce Tenneyson Absinthe at the Pernot Distillery in France, instead of producing it here in the US?

This is another question that comes up often. The Emile Pernot distillery, where Tenneyson is distilled and bottled, is one of only 2 operating absinthe distilleries in Pontarlier, France. The distillery has exclusive access to locally sourced wormwood which grows in the same soil as the wormwood which produced the most famous brands of the Belle Epoque. The supply source is pretty important when Grande Wormwood is what gives Absinthe its name (Grande Wormwood = Artemisia Absinthium). Our master distiller, Dominique Rousselet, is locally born and raised so he understands the region, climate, and seasons which all affect how the distilling process works and relates to the aromatics and botanicals. The distillery history and experience were the driving factors in developing and producing Tenneyson oversees.

Do you have any plans of releasing a Verte in the future? Are you working on any other projects that you would like to share with the readers?

We are really focused on introducing Tenneyson and raising the bar in the absinthe category here in the US currently. This being said, we are extremely passionate and excited about quality spirits and hope we can do similar things in the near future and we will keep everyone in the loop as we do so!

Expertly handcrafted from beet neutral spirits, Tenneyson Absinthe displays a lovely pearlescent louche and offers inviting aromas of fennel and juniper backed by a rich anise note. The complex, balanced palate opens with harmonious notes of grande wormwood, sweet fennel, anise and lemon balm, which then merge with bittersweet notes of orange and juniper that linger through the finish. Marc Thuillier, one of France's most well-respected absinthe experts, has described Tenneyson as "a top product" and "a real change from a traditional blanche, in a good sense". Purchase your bottle today to experience it first-hand!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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