Pros:Not a bad pastis.
Cons:Not much wormwood flavor. Artificially colored. Not much less expensive than better absinthes.
The Bottom Line: A mediocre, very pastis-like absinthe, no better than brandmate Absente and not worth the premium.
Absente was an early entry to the U.S. absinthe market, due to a clever recipe change; Distilleries et Domaines de Provence substituted Southern Wormwood or Southernwood, Artemisia arbotanum, for the Artemisia absinthum prohibited by regulation. The difference between the two is akin to the difference between Italian and Thai basil, but good enough for the Tax and Trade Bureau.
Recommend this product?
When the TTB decided that two and two make five, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, and absinthe made with Artemisia absinthum was legal after all, Distilleries et Domaines de Provence introduced this product, Grande Absente, to the market. It sells at a 20-30% premium over Absente, but is almost the same product, except that it uses absinthum in place of the arbotanum. I can't tell the one from the other separately, but tasted side-by-side Grande Absente is a bit more "minty" whereas Absente is more peppery or earthy.
Like Absente, this is a very pastis-like absinthe, and very heavy on star anise flavor. There's likely some anise in the mix and maybe some fennel, too, but star anise predominates. Wormwood lingers in the background, its aroma is detectable, and it contributes to the slightly bitter finish, but this is, again, more like pastis than it is like Kubler or other absinthes.
At 138 proof, this is a "traditional strength" absinthe that must be diluted for consumption. Four-to-one or even five-to-one works. The louche is properly opalescent, but just as was the case for Absente, the makers decided to add food dye. Yellow #5 and Blue #1, just like Mountain Dew, and an insult to the drinker's intelligence. Absinthe isn't supposed to be green any more than wine is supposed to be red--the color should indicate something about the process. Then again, the premium price is an insult to intelligence, as well. Artemesia arbotanum and Artemisia absinthum both grow very easily in somewhat dry soil in temperate climates, and more to the point Grande Absente is in no way any grander than Absente.
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