Like gin, cold compounding can be used to make a lower quality Absinthe, by the addition of essences and color to pure alcohol. There are so called Absinthe coming from Eastern Europe that is made this way. I have had some that where totally undrinkable. Some call it assbinthe. The little fairy really does not show up in the bottle at all.
Redistilling with grand wormwood, anise and fennel and other botanicals produces a proper Absinthe. Grande wormwood gives a slight bitter taste, fennel contributes licorice and sweetness. Anise gives the distinctive and defining flavor. Distillation integrates the flavors, giving a more uniform flavor profile.
Absinthe has a reputation of being psychotropic because the thujone present in grand wormwood. Studies have shown that there is just not enough thujone present in the bottle. There is also an urban legend that has Absinthe acting on the same area of the brain that is affected by THC. Once again an other study shows that is not so. Our little fairy has just been getting some bad press. By the way sage and rosemary also contain thujone.
Where did all the railing against Absinthe come from, and why was the green fairy banned, the poor little thing. In the mid eighteen hundreds Absinthe was cheap and was eating into the French wine market. The French wine industry to protect its profits, came out with a campaign, somewhat like prohibition to outlaw Absinthe. The press was used to vilify the product any way it could. A quote from the period “ Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” Now, don’t you just want to try a glass of whatever it is that can cause all that mayhem and destruction? The French wine industry used its political might with lawmakers to ban Absinthe altogether.Our little girl just about disappeared.
|Typical ad comparing the families of wine and Absinthe drinkers|
Abinthe also had a reputation as being bohemian, and a drink of deranged poets and artists. The fairy kept some strange company. Toulouse Lautrec was known to drink six bottles a day. Lautrec also invented the earthquake, three oz of cognac and three oz of Absinthe. If you drink that much of a high alcohol spirit, possibly you may get a little deranged. Lautrec and others where pointed out as examples of what Absinthe could do to the mind. Oscar Wilde had a quote “Absinthe has a wonderful colour, green. A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset" This was after drinking all day, mind you. Hemingway was quoted in letter “Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks. Great success shooting the knife underhand into the piano. The woodworms are so bad and eat hell out of all the furniture that you can always claim the woodworms did it”
|Degas "The Absinthe Drinker"|
|Maignan "The Green Muse"|
In 1912 Absinthe was banned in the US. France finally banned it in 1915. However in 1972 the law was changed in the US, products containing less than 10 milligrams of thujone, where ruled thujone free. It just took awhile for everyone to figure out that most Absinthes have less than 10 milligrams of thujone. Once everyone found out through testing the thujone level in most Absinthes, and being below the limit it became legal.
Remarkably in British Columbia there is no upper limit on thujone levels.
We have a highly recommend Absinthe made in British Columbia called Taboo. As a side note Canada has never had a ban on Absinthe.
Death in the Afternoon
I like Hemmingway’s recipe so I will quote him directly.
“ Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly. I heartily recommend drinking less than five of these, and you may also try pouring the absinthe on top instead; some brands of absinthe will float for a time on the Champagne, and this makes a nifty visual effect.”
Be careful with knives if you are having more than one. You never know what that little green fairy will do!