The holy grail modifier of the NYC cocktail renaissance thanks to recipe changes and its disappearance from the American market, vintage Amer Picon suffers the kind of hype seldom seen in the liqueur/amaro world outside of Chartreuse and Campari. I've had the privilege of trying a handful of recipes/proofs back to the 1960s and have found a significant degree of variance. The earliest being a 1966, that drank fairly linear, clean, and light with mostly layered fresh and dried orange and gentian.
1970s - 21%
Notes: Dense nose - fresh orange, raisin/chewing tobacco, saw dust, some crisp gentian trying to poke through. Tart up front on the palate with under ripe orange, souring further into chewing tobacco, licorice and gentle dark chocolate. The structure is deep and swirling with lots of vertical play and only faint traces of the gentian's vegetal bitterness around the edges that comes on slowly and accumulates throughout the course of the glass, but never overpowers.
Score: 6 (Solid) An interesting/complex sipper (especially the heavy chewing tobacco/raisin notes), but bears little in common with the current or 1960s profiles I've sampled. The heavy tobacco will be very polarizing. For cocktailing, I'd rather use Bigallet China-China.
2021 - 21%
Notes: Fresh and crisp on the nose - fresh orange and gentian, that's it. Same on the palate with just a touch of light caramel. Body is thin. The level of bitterness is more suitable to cocktailing than the 1970s. Some cheaper ethanol pops through in the finish.
Score: 5 (Acceptable) Drinks closer to the 60s profile but thinner, less integrated, and spotty in the finish. Bigallet China-China is an upgrade.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Anything Else To Drink?
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour