Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the Noilly Prat vermoutherie in Marseillan, France, where I learned about how it is made.
Shortly after the visit, I wrote a blog post about the differences between Noilly Prat Dry (aka Original Dry), Noilly Prat Ambre, and Noilly Prat Rouge.
It took a year, but they are finally releasing Noilly Prat Extra Dry on the US Market nationally, so now I'll explain the difference and Extra Dry and Original Dry.
From 1979 until 2009, the dry vermouth from Noilly Prat sold on the US market was called "French Dry Vermouth". It was different than the version sold in the rest of the world.
In 2009 they replaced this bottling with Original Dry, which was the version of Noilly Prat sold in the rest of the world.
Starting this summer, the former US version "French Dry Vermouth" will be called "Extra-Dry" and the Original Dry will also still be sold. So:
Original Dry = International Version
Extra Dry = US Version that was sold until 2009 and is now back on the market.
There are four production differences between Original Dry and Extra-Dry. In order to best understand them, it might be helpful to read about how Noilly Prat is made in general. Then read the below.
Differences between Noilly Prat Original Dry and Extra-Dry
- Extra-Dry uses only clairette wine while Original Dry uses a combintation of clairette and picpoul. This is because clairette oxidizes less.
- Extra-Dry uses less of the sweet mistelle wine, so it is, in fact, drier.
- Both Original Dry and Extra-Dry use the same 20 herbs and spices, but in different ratios.
- The wine for both Original Dry and Extra Dry is aged outdoors for one year, but after infusing that wine with herbs and spices, the Original Dry is aged an additional 6 weeks to 3 months. Extra Dry is bottled without this extra aging step.
Extra Dry tastes fruitier than the dry, and less woody. It is also clear as opposed to lightly yellow, and clearly intended for use as a mixer in Martinis and other cocktails. Original Dry can be mixed into cocktails or consumed on its own as an aperitif.
Hopefully soon both Original and Extra Dry will on store shelves again so you can compare the two side-by-side.
Noilly Prat Rouge is still on the market, and Noilly Prat Ambre will soon be available in major US cities.
Below are a few pictures from my visit.