Making Vermouth: A Trip to Noilly Prat in Marseillan, France
Heaven Hill Distillery Visit

Noilly Prat Vermouth: The Differences Between Original Dry, Rouge, and Ambre

In yesterday's post I discussed how Noilly Prat vermouth is made, as learned on my visit to the vermoutherie in Marseillan, France. Today I want to talk about the differences between the types of vermouth they make. 

In most parts of the world, Original Dry is the only Noilly Prat. The Rouge is primarily for the US market, and the Ambre is available in a few liquor stores in Europe and at the distillery. (The Rouge is also available at the distillery.) 

Three types of Noilly Prat Marseillan France_tn

Noilly Prat Original Dry

One-year-aged clairette and picpoul wines, aged, fortified sweet mistelle wine the from muscat grape, a raspberry and lemon-infused distillate are combined and infused wtih herbs and spices. The filtered results of this are then aged for three more weeks. 

The Original Dry is macerated with 20 ingredients. These include: 

  • Chamomille. This is the dominant note. As a delicate dried flower, this maceration is done separately from the main maceration. Chamomille gives the vermouth both a slight bitterness and the dry finish. 
  • Nutmeg.
  • Bitter orange peels from Tunisia. 
  • Gentian. This adds bitter and earthy notes. Gentian is used in gin and many perfumes to add base notes. 
  • Wormwood. By European law, all vermouth contains wormwood. The word "vermouth" actually comes from the German word for wormwood.

Three types of Noilly Prat Marseillan France (2)_tn

Noilly Prat Rouge

This is Noilly Prat's sweet vermouth, which was created in 1956. It uses the same base wines, but also includes caramel coloring to give it its red hue. (Many people assume sweet vermouths are made from red wines- nope!) The Rouge calls for the same 20 ingredients as the Original Dry, but used in different ratios than the dry. It then adds an additional 5 ingredients not found in the Original Dry, for 25 ingredients in total. These ingredients include:

  • Cloves
  • Coco beans from Venezuela
  • Saffron
  • Quinine (like in tonic water)

Noilly Prat Ambre

This is basically a special 'distillery edition' of vermouth, only available here and in a few important wine shops in Europe. It is amber in color and much sweeter than the Original Dry- in fact sweeter than the Rouge. It contains all of the 25 herbs and spices used in Rouge, plus 24 additional ingredients, for a total of 49 herbs and spices. These include:

  • Cardamom
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Rose petals
  • Vanilla

There is also an Extra-Dry coming to the US market this fall, but I'll save that for another post... Update! Here is a post about the Extra-Dry vermouth