Review: Distillerie Vinet-Ege Le Tourment Vert Absinthe

From French brandy distillery Vinet-Ege comes a new entry into the “with wormwood/thujone” absinthe market, Le Tourment Vert. “The Torment,” when it arrives on our shores (any day now) will be the fourth such absinthe to hit the market here. It joins Lucid, Kubler, and St. George, all of which are slowly, tentatively finding their ways on to U.S. liquor store shelves. (Fair warning with this review: I am not an Absinthe expert.)

tourmentvert2.thumbnail Review: Distillerie Vinet Ege Le Tourment Vert AbsintheAbsinthe containing wormwood has been illegal here since 1912, after a notorious legal case led to it being banned in several European countries. Absinthe, it was said, was powerful enough to cause a man to see demons, murder his family, and the like. This was blamed on thujone, a hallucinogenic compound in the wormwood.

Absinthe laws have been being overturned in Europe in recent years thanks to strenuous lobbying and a little technology: Thujone is illegal, but wormwood is not. These new absinthes contain wormwood extracts but reportedly no thujone. That’s the case with Lucid and Kubler, at least. I’m not so sure about Le Tourment Vert. Regardless, I’m not here to analyze the chemical makeup of the product, just to tell you how it tastes.

tourmentvert1.thumbnail Review: Distillerie Vinet Ege Le Tourment Vert AbsintheUnlike most absinthes, Le Tourment Vert is a bright green liquid (some say it is artificially colored), bottled at 100 proof (less than Lucid and Kubler), and characteristic in flavor of many of the new absinthes. But side by side, I preferred Le Tourment. Many modern absinthes have a pronounced bitterness, which is why you really must drink them in the traditional fashion: With water and sugar. But honestly, Le Tourment can actually be drunk neat if you like, though I find it improved by drinking in the traditional fashion, with water and sugar.

Unlike many absinthes, Le Tourment is quite sweet, so much so that it cuts the licorice aroma when you first take a sip. The licorice returns on the finish, dissolving into herbal notes (which must be the Saveurs d’Herbes mentioned on the label). Hallucinations? Well, no, but I have had to cap myself at one glass per day…

The color is unreal, and to be sure it’s artificial. That’s a strike, sure, but dig around and you’ll find that a lot of absinthes out today resort to the same trick, though perhaps not as boldly as Le Tourment.

If you’re into absinthe, at least a little, track down and snatch up a bottle of the stuff. It’s significantly different than anything else on the market; and while it’s very controversial, it’s an interesting counterpoint to the more traditional absinthe bottlings out there.

Speaking of the bottle, it’s a real work of art: etched glass with the face of a demon, women’s faces in profile, and that inimitable green fairy hidden amongst the swirls. When full of the green stuff, the effect is quite striking (though my photograph doesn’t do it justice).

This review has been updated with new information made available since the original was written in 2007.

Re-tasting update: Wow, was I ever wrong on this one…

A- / about $60 / distillerievinetege.com

tourment3 Review: Distillerie Vinet Ege Le Tourment Vert Absinthe

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54 Responses to Review: Distillerie Vinet-Ege Le Tourment Vert Absinthe

  1. DoctorLove

    “If you’re into absinthe, at least a little, you owe it to yourself to track down and snatch up a bottle of the stuff.”

    No, you don’t. This isn’t absinthe, it’s a waste of money. Artificially colored, artificially sweetened, this as little to do with absinthe and everything to do with a marketing scam. If you are into authentic absinthe, you owe it to yourself to NEVER WASTE YOUR MONEY on this.

  2. Hi cnull- If you like Le Tourment Verte that’s perfectly fine, I don’t mean to disparage anyone’s personal tastes. However, just be aware that it’s not authentic absinthe. The authentic options available in the U.S. are still few, but are slowly growing in number and will continue to do so. Currently, the brands Lucid (a verte) and Kubler (a blanche) are widely available across the country in many liquor stores. They are not as good as the small-batch stuff available in Europe but they are decent and much cheaper than having other brands imported. Also available less widely are Sirene from North Shore Distillery near Chicago, St. George Absinthe from St. George spirits in the Bay Area, and Leopold Brothers. I’d recommend AVOIDING Grande Absente unless you’re really curious – it’s artificially colored and pre-sweetened, despite their claims to the contrary in their marketing materials. For more information, I suggest checking out http://www.wormwoodsociety.org

  3. Thanks Doc – stay tuned this weekend for reviews of Lucid, St. George, and Kubler.

  4. I agree cnull, I too like Tourment, especially compare to all the other absinthes on the US market. Have you all tasted Lucid and Kubler? I can barely even hold my nose to the glass. When I consume a beverage, whether it is a spirit, soda, beer, or wine -and- it has got to taste good. Call me crazy! Sure people want to drink absinthe to “do” absinthe, but in my opinion, why put your body through that with Lucid and Kubler. I would definitely recommend Le Tourment Vert as the absinthe of choice on the market because not only is it a real French absinthe, but it TASTES GOOD! (#1 in my book). I am also not a heavy drinker. I drink socially and like to sip on my cocktails and not get too tipsy (hard to do when you’re drinking a 120 proof liquor). When I first bought a bottle of Le Tourment Vert, I started researching old absinthe recipes and found that mixing absinthe with soda water and fresh lemon made a really yummy “spritzer.” It’s my summer beverage for sure right now! Lately, I’ve been invited to absinthe tastings and to be honest, it just doesn’t taste the same with Kubler or Lucid. I had my spritzer once with St. George’s and it was tasty. However, I am having difficulties finding it. Also, if grand wormwood, anise and fennel are the main ingredients in real absinthe, then Le Tourment Vert definitely falls into that category. In summary: try a “spritzer”, you won’t regret it!

  5. Le Tourment Verte does not fit the descriptor of “a real French absinthe” by any historical point of reference. An educated absinthe connoisseur will not likely identify this product as an absinthe if it were not labeled as such, and any claims of authenticity as to this product are IMO, questionable.

    For starters, this product is a low proof “liqueur”, which indicates that it is bottled with sugar. Absinthe is/was a high proof herbal spirit, not a sugary low proof liqueur d’anise, like Pernod, Absente, etc.

    Secondly, this product is clearly labeled as containing synthetic chemical dyes (Blue, Yellow, and Red), none of which have any place in the crafting of a traditional absinthe. This explains the alien color, which appears more like Listerine than absinthe. This raises questions as to its method of production, or should we say, “manufacture”.

    Given the above observations, I am left with little doubt that this product is one that aims to profit from an emerging category, while offering little quality or authenticity in return. This is possible in the category of absinthe, only because many consumers have no prior frame of reference. I might add that according to the COLA, only the first 3500 bottles were allowed to have the devil image on them. Since those I’ve seen on the shelf have the image, this product seems to not be selling well.

  6. There are many different types of absinthe, I prefer swiss le blues myself. The French recipes are too bitter and overpowering for me, where the swiss ones are much smoother from my experience. I have a bottle of Kubler and St George on the way and will try both and introduce a few friends to absinthe for the 4th. I will return and post reviews either this weekend or next week.

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  8. how do u drink it

  9. i too have heard that it has to be THUJONE FREE to be legal in the US…
    i think the vagueness by all parties involved sounds suspect. its not much more to buy Europe brands on-line AND you have like 100′s of choices (not 5).
    try to google ALANDIA…i have had many great orders from them

  10. joey – This is not true: Absinthe in America can now have trace amounts of Thujone. Most of the brands available now all have about the same amount in them, whether they’re made in Europe or here. See the absinthe section for more reviews.

  11. I been drinking Absinthe since the only way to get it was to smuggle it across the border inside a dead dog, that stuff was as good as it got, however , after drinking Le Tourment i realized one needs not to drink stuff that tastes and burns like rubbing alcohol with licorice sticks to enjoy a good drink , hey if you are out there trying to be a purist go ahead and burn your nose hairs in Kubler or some Czech stuff, but if you are pass the bravado of youth and want to be part of the ritual try it, the difference between Le tourment and other more ”traditional” brands is the same as a one night stand and a decent long-term relatioinship, sure the one night stand is fun and make you do things you’ll pretend you dont remember but you can’t bring that home to moma

  12. Hmm… where to begin. I picked up a bottle of Le Tourment today and was at first appalled at upon pouring it and reading the label as well as the little informational pamphlet attached to the neck of the bottle to find that it’s an ungodly blue-ish green color. According to the pamphlet, it’s the herbs that give it it’s “unusually palatable flavor and distinctive color”. According to the FDA mandated labeling laws, however, it contains “FD&C Yellow#5, Blue#1, red#40″. I thought… “well ok so long as it has a good taste”. Strike 2. My first thoughts were that it was remniscient of mouthwash and cheap aftershave with a hint of fennel. I also perceived that these was hardly any noticeable louche, which is often an indicator of a poorly made absinthe (i.e. instead of proper distillation the dry herbs are just soaked in alcohol and coloring is added after). I figured perhaps I hadn’t shilled the water enough to allow it to bouquet, so I tried another glass with colder water. Same thing. This is a sub-par product being sold at an inflated price. If you like the taste of this “absinthe” do yourself a favor and just order one of those dry herb kits that you soak in vodka and perhaps add a little food dye to finish it off. There is a lack of complexity and herbal nuance in this product that separates it from a quality product worth the $60 I paid for it. For those that love it that’s fine and all, but love it for how it tastes to you, not for being an absinthe. This is most certainly worse than most czeck garbage that tries to pass itself off as being worth what it’s sold for. I’d recommend St George if you prefer smoothness, Kubler if you prefer floral herbal notes, Lucid if you prefer a strong anise kick, and Le Tourment if you run out of Listerine and have a lot of money to waste. I give it a 1 out of 5. Nice bottle tho.

  13. I don’t understand, do you think color changes the taste? I personally haven’t tried to drink cheap aftershave, I at least prefer the expensive brands! Sorry – back to le tourment vert. You said to love tourment “for how it tastes to you, not for being an absinthe”. If you read what people have said on here, you would realize they were actually commenting on the flavor, expressing their opinions, some didn’t appear to have a lot of absinthe experience, as you may have. I don’t know if you have tried home made “absinthe” – unfortunately I have a friend who experimented and trust me, ltv tastes nothing like this disgusting mix of vodka and herbs as you suggest it might. Have you ever tasted czech absinthe? If you had you would realize most of it has a dreadful afterburn and is drunk more often for the mystery and myth behind absinthe, unless you have found a delightfully palatable czech absinthe somewhere. Le Tourment doesn’t have this type of afterburn – it contains less alcohol that most absinthes out there and I find its subtle herbal flavors a nice absinthe which suits me. Whether you like it or not I personally don’t care, every one is entitled to their opinion, which is why I like sites like this, everyone can chat about their personal tastes and not feel as if they are stupid or are likely to be attacked for their own tastes.

    Now I would say try le tourment vert if you have had previous bad experiences with absinthe. It also mixes well in cocktails. St George is smooth, but stronger tasting. I personally do not enjoy the overly strong flavors of either Kubler or Lucid, although as mentioned, Kubler is more floral and Lucid has a stronger anise flavor than all of these. Again, my opinion. Taste them yourself, don’t listen to someone else.

    Justin, I do at least agree with you on one point – nice bottle.

  14. Teddy – are you addressing Justin with your comment? This thread has gotten too tricky for me!

  15. Christopher – sorry if I was confusing. Yes I was responding to Justin’s comments. I see you like the tourment too. What is your favorite way to drink it? Traditionally, mixed? I am looking forward to trying Justin’s recipe though – looks really different. Wonder how it would go warmed with tourment added afterward, kind of a winter drink?

  16. Teddy – I pretty much only drink absinthe in the traditional water+sugar combo, or as an ingredient in cocktails like the Sazerac.

  17. I have to admit, I haven’t really tried any of the traditional cocktails which contain absinthe. Perhaps I should, I know a few bars going back to the old style.

  18. I have tried a Hemingway, champagne and absinthe, I am pretty sure it was mixed with le tourment vert, I remember the bottle, it does stand out. I was surprised, I am not a champagne drinker and I liked this drink.

  19. I look at it like this, I like Le Tourment Vert. I tried Lucid, and my god what a horrible smell! The taste wasn’t much to be desired either. Not worth what I spent on it.
    However Le Tourment Vert was not anywhere near as harsh and I liked the blend of herbs. I’d compare the two as Le Tourment Vert is a playfull slap, compared to Lucid as a knockout punch from Mike Tyson. I perfer to enjoy my drinks, not to get sloshed. I’m not a big drinker, so take that as you will. I know that the absinthe snobs will laugh this off, but what defines “real absinthe”? Mainly it’s 3 ingredients, Fennel, Grande Wormwood, and Aniseed, which this one has among other herbs. My only dissapointment is that it doesn’t louche. Despite the downside, I do like the fact that it’s not near as bitter as Lucid.
    You like what you like….

  20. I bought this on Sat. it was my first taste of Absinthe, I dont understand why people say it does not Louche, I could not see the spoon at all when I put it in the mixture, from what I have been researching it looked like other brands when the water was mixed with sugar and absinthe. I found the taste to be great. My wife didnt like it, since shes not a fan of Fennel, I love the taste of Fennel. The drink had a nice smooth taste of Fennel and Anisee with a bite of Wormwood. I would like to compare it to Mansinthe since it had a great review and won a gold medal. Have anyone tried Mansinthe yet?

  21. I did not like this Tourment faux-Absinthe at all. I have been sampling Absinthe since 2003 with highly regard brands like La Fee and I have to say that the perfumy-musk of the Le Tourment was like drinking cologne.
    Yuck.

  22. Would love to try this, but WHERE!? I can’t even find a site to buy in on line. Any help would be appreciated.

  23. I heard great things about this brand. I saw it everywhere @ the Sundance festival!

  24. that bottle is awesome.

  25. yea definitely going into my liquor cabinet!

  26. …and you can’t forget the spoon…Gotta Love it!

  27. I bought this at bevmo and tried it both straight and with the dissolved sugar cube. Effing amazing

  28. there is no where else to go but Le Tourment Vert for absinthe

  29. I just bought some today cant wait to try it this weekend, found it at a corner store!

  30. Yesterday, I bought a bottle of Le Tourment Vert from an ABC liquor store. Personally, I find it to be a tad over priced, but all in all it’s not bad. I have had Absinthe straight from Europe and it was terrific. Le Tourment Vert does not taste exactly like the other ones I’ve had, but I do like the fact it is toned down a bit in flavor. I like to drink it to create a certain atmospher and help me to relax. I am the type of person that usually drinks 92 proof rum, or 100 proof vodka. Le Tourment Vert definitely fullfills my desire for a strong alcohol. It’s worth trying, but always be open for something new.

  31. i got a bottle last night from a sugar daddy…I was already sloshed up on jameson when i tried it…. my friends and I sipped the Tourment and took shots of the whiskey….cood combo ..was like a cookie

  32. i manage a retail styore with a liquor dept. and i somehow mistakenly received a bottle of this stuff. i want to buy it for myself but with all these mixed reviews, i dont know what the hell to do. Ive never tried an absinthe, but ive always heard alot of sick rumors about them. do they really get you tore down or what?

  33. tank – the hefty alcohol content of absinthe does far more damage than anything thujone could possibly do… moderation is my best advice

  34. Matt Pomposelli

    The WORST “drink” I have ever encountered in my entire life!! I think I actually rather try drinking after shave then drink this again.

  35. It’s alright. I’m not tripping, though.

  36. This Is crap I have bought 5 bottles of diffrent absinthe now and this has to be the nastiest absinthe ive had. The best Ive had to date is La muse Verte now that is a absinthe to rave about, if you can get your hands on it do it. I will list my absinthe in best to worst

    La muse verte *****
    Mansinthe ****
    Grande Absinthe ***
    Lucid *
    Le tourment

    I soon will be buying more brads to have a better brake down for reviews.

    Just dont waste your money on this wana be absinthe.

  37. At $60 this seems like a great way to begin your adventure of Absinthe drinking .
    Especially if you sharing your first tasting with a group of friends at a dinner party.
    My first beer was a Miller High Life and I don’t drink that anymore but you have to start somewhere..
    So to me this seems like a good place to start and if I like it I can always go up in price and quality like I did with beer .

    Thanks for the review
    I found the link on the Distillerie Vinet-Ege Le Tourment Vert Absinthe website

  38. There has been a lot of spamming for Le Tourment Vert on many, many websites. See:-

    http://ajiggerofblog.com/2009/02/12/the-great-astroturf-pushback-of-aught-nine/

    Christopher, you may want to check where some of the above comments (especially on January 29) came from.

  39. Alan – There’s a lot of spamming for many brands of spirits. My policy is that I delete anything which is obviously spammy (and we get plenty of it), but if there’s reasonable doubt, I leave it. I do my best… as you surely know, tracking down spam is often more art than science.

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  41. Okay, I can’t stay silent any longer. Opinions aside. Absinthe is green (sometimes clear). Le Tourment Vert is blue, so it is not Absinthe. Absinthe is bitter, as in wormwood, anise, licorice, and maybe fennel. People who don’t like those flavors won’t like traditional absinthe. Le Tourment Vert tastes and smells like Aqua Velva (aftershave) or Scope (mouthwash), so it is not Absinthe. Absinthe has a noticeable louche, going from transparent to opaque when mixed with cold water. Le Tourment Vert has little or no louche, even with very cold water, so it is not Absinthe. The presence of wormwood and thujone are the only things that Le Tourment Vert has in common with Absinthe. Otherwise, it is not Absinthe, not matter how much you like it.

  42. I absolutely agree that this absinthe is disgusting. The scent is artificial and cloying in a nauseating way. It reminds me of the aftershave that my Grandfather used to wear! The worst part is that it tastes like it, too! Absolutely undrinkable…

    The artificial coloring and low alcohol level are sure signs that this not the real deal, and as commenters said above, this “absinthe” does not louche. It should become a milky white color with the addition of cold water, without sugar added.

    Obviously this brand is trying to jump on the absinthe craze, but fails miserably. Worst waste of money. Trust me, the beautiful bottle is not worth $60!!!! If you are interested in absinthe sampling, stick with Lucid or St. George!!!!

    I cannot get the British Sterling taste out of my mouth!

  43. i think gold label from jb.is better than this bull i want my money back

  44. I don’t understand why you have all these purists getting on their grandstand proclaiming that “This sucks because it is not REAL Absinthe” Who cares if it is or isn’t “real, traditional” absinthe as long as it is A) visually pleasing B) has a good taste and C) is capable of making you feel good?

    in the end. . is this not what liquor SHOULD be about?

  45. Jadedmastermind

    I have had the privilege of tasting the genuine article pre-ban Pernod Fils Absinthe. Pernod Fils was the original absinthe in the belle epoque era of Paris and was the standard by which all other absinthes were judged, prior to the banning of absinthe in the US and much of Western Europe. The absinthe I sampled was from circa 1910. The flavor profile and bouquet was absolutely astounding, astonishing beyond description. There was the bitterness of the wormwood and the licorice of the anise, but there was also an herbal sweetness and a balance to it that was indescribable and incredibly beautiful. I will never forget it. Lucid comes closest to recreating the flavor of Pernod Fils, but I do not exaggerate when I assert that Lucid is a mere shadow of the masterpiece. Pernod Fils today has an “absinthe” product that is a far cry from the original. Lucid is colored with the chlorophyll of fresh herbs, as was the original Pernod Fils, whereas the modern Pernod Fils is artificially colored. Stay away from the modern Pernod Fils. I’ve tasted it, and found it wanting.
    Now, onto Le Tourment Vert. This absinthe is also artificially colored. This is a strike against the drink. The flavor is muted compared to Lucid and to pre-ban Pernod Fils, but it does not lack subtlety. This is a plus. In short, this is the mellowest absinthe I’ve tasted. The distillers state that their goal was to create an absinthe that would mix well in cocktails; a challenge considering the dominating nature of the anise flavor. They have succeeded to this end. I must say the eucalyptus is a unique touch. Bottom line: This is a must-have for the purpose of mixed drinks such as the “starry night” or “death in the afternoon,” but for the original drink with a sugar cube and ice cold water, stick to a more authentic product such as Lucid. However, if you have persistence and a fat wad of cash handy, try and get some pre-ban absinthe if you can. There is no substitute for the genuine article.

  46. Jadedmastermind

    As a point of reference, Le Tourment Vert is like Budweiser. It’s smooth and drinkable, but it is a far cry from Lucid, which is like a Sam Adams Boston Lager. Pre-ban Pernod Fils is the equivalent of a Westvleteren.

  47. Please, please don’t drink this horrible absinthe. It looks and smells like a blend of Green Flavor Nyquil and old lady perfume. I was given a wee bottle to try (they do have a pretty bottle) and was mildly outraged to find the green and frosted glass was concealing the nastiest sort of artificial coloring. I don’t normally pitch booze without trying it but one whiff of perfume alcohol and the nauseatingly familiar scent of Nyquil and down the toilet it went…

    Speaking from a neurosci background the much demonized thujone – while not reccomended for your health – has not been proven to be present in preban absinthe in quantities that would make you crazy (the most likely culprit is, again, the Victorian era food colorants… and the fact that absinthe usually has a pretty high alcohol content)

    I would reccomend Vieux Carre. – it may be more olive than paris green…but it actually tastes good and is a pleasure to drink and watch.

  48. “has not been proven to be present in preban absinthe in quantities”

    Says who?

    Also, Anya, do you have issues? I detected the use of subliminal language in your post: “I was given a wee bottle” & “down the toilet” & “old lady perfume” Perhaps you did not realise that you do this?

    Be healthy,

    AC.

  49. Ugh, you can just SEE the absinthe snobs holding their backs of their hands to their foreheads positively DECRYING the DEATH of REAL and TRUE absinthe. Fitting, I suppose, since it used to be drunk like wine that it would attract snobs like wine. I’m enjoying a glass as we speak. It’s fun, it’s good for a little buzz, though the buzz is definitely different than with Kubler et al saying this isn’t “real” absinthe is like saying only tiny distilleries produce “real” liquor. It’s the modern age, folks. Deal.

  50. I adore this liqour it tastes fantastically of licorice, if you hate blace licorice don’t buy it. I you like Yaeger you’ll like this and the prep is cool. I don’t care what othe people think it is the only brand that I care to buy.

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