God bless the Bazinet

Please pardon the long absence, those handful of you who may monitor this little corner of the internet from time to time. Life happens to the best of us, and to me as well. Some of it is good, some of it not so much, and most of it is not noteworthy.

One exception to that latter part is a recent experience I had with some antique booze. I had the good fortune to sample a glass of H. Bazinet absinthe (circa 1895) last month, and I must say that it may well have been the most complex preban absinthe I’ve ever experienced. This was especially evident given that I sampled it together next to a glass of Pernod Fils 1910, which instead of being dense or complex, is as streamlined and elegant absinthe as one could ever hope for. Both liquors were exquisite, but in remarkably¬†different ways, and given the relative obscurity of the Bazinet in comparison to Pernod Fils, I was pleasantly surprised me at how enjoyable it was.

To start with, the color of the Bazinet 1895 had aged to a rich gold color, with less brown than the typical “dead leaf” shade which some prebans age into, and no pink or peach tones which Pernod Fils often moves toward over decades of aging. The aroma was of leather and sweet tobacco, with which it shares some commonality with preban Edouard Pernod. The Bazinet in particular has the aroma of an old library, with the smell of finished
leather bindings and aged paper being among the strongest impressions. In addition, there was a warm spiciness to it as well, thanks to a foundation of good wormwood and fine fennel and coriander as well.

The sample of Bazinet I had did not louche significantly, which may or may not be due partially to 100 years of aging in the bottle. I’m inclined to think that isn’t the case, though, as the only other recently-discovered bottle of Bazinet of which I am aware had been sampled by several members of the FeeVerte.net forum, and it was reviewed very unfavorably, with the adjective “woody” being used by more than one of them as a negative
descriptor. The fact that the aroma and flavor profile were so finely-tuned and balanced in my sample convinces me that the manner of storage for this bottle (from the well-tended cellar of The Mohican Hotel, which was originally owned by Frank Munsey) allowed for near perfect preservation, and that it could very well be that this particular marque did not place an emphasis on a thick louche. Interestingly, a relatively weak louche did not prevent it from being a very robust liquor; to the contrary, the flavor and mouthfeel stood up very well to
additional watering, even up to a 5:1 ratio of absinthe to water, which is very impressive.

All in all, the H. Bazinet is an exceptional preban absinthe which was deservedly one of the more popular marques of the belle epoque (apparently winning a bronze medal in Paris in 1889). I can only hope that bottles continue to pop up on occasion in the future; when they do, you can be sure that I’ll be there for another glass.