Selection and Preparation

No aspect of absinthe manufacture is more important than meticulous selection of the finest possible herbs, as these photographs from the herb-room of the Pernot distillery show.

In the herb room at the distillery. Herb selection is a critical part of the absinthe-making process. Consecutive batches from the same supplier may vary widely in quality, so everything has to be carefully checked before use.

Dried Herbs are carefully weighed.

The importance of selection: Illustrated below – at left, Artemisia Pontica of superb quality. At right, a much less impressive batch of the same herb. Artemisia Pontica, also known as Petite Absinthe, is sometimes included in the macerate, but is primarily an herb used in the colouring step.

Green anise is the major component (by weight) in most absinthe recipes. Below left – Spanish anise of reasonable quality. Right – Good quality Spanish anise.

High quality peppermint, used in some recipes, but not a ‘standard’ ingredient like wormwood, pontica, anise, fennel, hyssop and melissa.

Fennel – An important ingredient, in both whole and powdered form.

Powdered calamus root, also known as sweet flag. Used in small quantities in many traditional recipes.

Sacks of green anise in the herb room.

Stripping the Wormwood

Dried wormwood stalks from the Pontarlier region are carefully stripped before use – tedious and dusty work!

Wormwood after stripping. The bucket holds just over 5kg.

The stripped stalks which are discarded. Artemisia Absinthium, or Common Wormwood is the distinctive ingredient that gives absinthe its unique character.

Other Herbs

Hand grown hyssop of the highest quality.

Melissa or Lemon Balm – An extreme example of the importance of herbal selection :

High quality melissa;

Melissa from another supplier, of a completely unacceptable standard.