This new kid on the U.S. market arrived on our shores only a month ago: La Fée Absinthe Parisienne was the first absinthe to be commercially produced (starting in 1998) since the country’s ban of the spirit in 1915.
Absinthe purists will appreciate its grand wormwood base, but the bright green color (yep, that’s the spirit in the picture; the bottle itself is clear) is wholly unnatural. Yes, it is artificially colored (and from the looks of it, heavily so) but I understand that for some drinkers, the nuclear green color is part of the appeal of absinthe.
At a mind-boggling 136 proof, tasting La Fée straight could send you to the hospital (I tried), but served in the traditional fashion with sugar and cold water it produces a lovely and lasting cloudy louche.
The taste is a surprise: While you might expect something equally artificially flavored, La Fée comes across quite naturally, with no saccharine character at all. There’s far less licorice flavor in La Fée than in most other absinthes; here there’s a more herbal, woodsy flavor that dominates the spirit. The best way I can describe it is tasting a bit like pine cones, with a strong, herbaceous, bitterness backing it up.
Also in the vein of pine cones is the weird aftertaste: When I sampled La Fée, every time I would have this curious feeling of having a scratchy throat, almost as if it had been dusted with something granular. It fades with time (and drinking a little water), but it’s still disconcerting. After a couple of glasses one starts to wonder if the scratchiness isn’t all in one’s head. That giant green eye on the label will turn you paranoid, quick.