The two major giants in the domain of fine alcoholic beverages have their headquarters in the Old World. The leader, of course, is Britain's Diageo, which owns Guinness, a dozen world-famous brands of whisky (including Johnnie Walker), Gordon's gin, Smirnoff vodka, etc.
Close on the heels of Diageo is France's Pernod Ricard, the famous manufacturer of aniseed-flavored pastis, who announced yesterday their acquisition of the Swedish company that produces Absolut vodka. Besides prestigious whisky brands such as Chivas and Ballantine's, Martell brandy and Mumm champagne, the French company owns Australian wines such as Jacob's Creek.
I used to believe naively that Ricard pastis was the best in the world.
Thanks to my Provençal friends Natacha and Alain, I've had the pleasure and privilege of discovering that the world's finest pastis (gold medal award at the General Agricultural Competition Paris 2008) is the Henri Bardouin brand, produced in the delightful Provençal town of Forcalquier.