For as long as I can remember, I insisted any cocktails requiring dry vermouth as an ingredient be made with Noilly Pratt.
I own no stock in the company, know no one connected with it, and get no special treatment from said firm. What prompted my stance was simply this: The flavor and consistent quality of Noilly Pratt French Vermouth were above reproach. Or so I thought.
Eventually, I discovered that the version sold outside the U.S. borders, which I've tried in such diverse locations as Scotland, France and Ireland, has had more oomph, more quality. It's obvious that somewhere along the line, the original 1813 recipe was not being used in the French dry vermouth being shipped here.
Noilly Pratt recently officially announced what has been buzzing around the industry blogosphere for a while -- "the return of its original, classic blend to the U.S. market."
Ludovic Miazga of Noilly Pratt, France, says, "While U.S. consumers continue to explore the world of cocktails, they have turned their attention to authentic and sophisticated blends that speak to heritage and tradition.
"When early mixologists were writing the first cocktail books around the turn of the century, they reached for the original Noilly Pratt to provide an essential flavor and complex touch to their classic cocktails of the future. Now, once again, cocktail enthusiasts may taste the classics as they were meant to be enjoyed."
Noilly Pratt is aged for two or more years, and aged outdoors in oak casks for a full year before being blended with a secret combination of herbs and spices. In the aging court, called L'Enclos, the wines are directly exposed to the elements through the changes of season.
The vermouth was created by Joseph Noilly in 1813. It is a classic French apéritif created from Picpoul and Clairette grapes. The dry, full-bodied aged wines are infused with a blend of 20 herbs and spices, macerated directly in the wine for three weeks.
Noilly Pratt's packaging also has been changed. The new bottle shape, its designers say, was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and includes a pebbled surface to reflect the weathering effects the outdoor aging has on the wine. L’Enclos, the enclosure at the Noilly Pratt facility in Marseillan, France, is pictured on the front of the bottle. The suggested retail price of the 750ml bottle is $10.99.
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