Absinthe: a special drink!


Has Absinthe anything to do with pastis?

Although the Stories of Absinthe and Pastis are related to one another, it would be false to say that they are the same drink. When Absinthe was banned, quite a few drinks were developed in order to take its place. That is how Pastis was born, such as Ricard for example. So, thanks to absinthe, Pastis was able to become as popular as it is today. However, the taste of absinthe and Pastis differ in various aspects. Although it's true that most absinthes have an aniseed taste, not all of them do! And there is no brand of Pastis that offers the herbal and fruity taste that absinthe has.

Are the absinthes today the same as before the ban?

You often hear that the modern absinthes are lighter, and 'they got rid of all the dangerous molecules'. But as explained before, Absinthe is anything but dangerous, and there is no need to exclude thujone. There are a lot of bad quality absinthes around today, just as there are cheap copies of every product out there. But we think it's important to point out that there are amazing products available today, and that they are extremely close to the quality and taste of absinthe during the 19th Century and before prohibition. A lot of absinthes are still made by hand, using traditional recipes and methods. There are even some distilleries that have survived all throughout the Belle Époque and the ban, that still make absinthe today. So you wouldn't be lying if you said that you're having the same absinthe that Rimbault used to drink.

What does absinthe taste like?

There are a lot of different types of absinthe, and you can easily feel overwhelmed by the broad range of choices. However, to be considered an absinthe, all these spirits must fulfill the following criteria:
• To be refreshing. • To remind you of the smell of an Alpine field by revealing complex, floral and spicy notes. • To taste well balanced, so that all the herbal flavours seduce both your palate and your nose. • To taste bitter, but then again, not too much* • To have the flavour of aniseed, yet not overpower other scents (this is what an excessive use of star anise instead of green anise can cause)**

* A lot of people believe that grand wormwood has a very strong bitter taste. However, when it's distilled, most of the bitter parts are lost, because they're allocated in the stem which isn't used for distillation. This is why in the end, only the pleasant flavours of grand wormwood are revealed, leaving a very aromatic bitterness, and a quite strong floral taste. **For the non-aniseed-flavoured Absinthes, this is of course not to be considered.

Which herbs are used to make absinthe?

All Absinthes are different, and therefore it's nearly impossible to say how each individual absinthe is made, also because some of the ingredients remain secret. However, they (almost) all have the same basic ingredients:
• Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absintheium) • Petite Wormwood (Artemisia Pontica aka Roman Wormwood) • Fennel • Green Anise (not to be confused with star anise, mainly used for the production of Pastis)

Depending on each individual recipe for absinthe, many more different herbs are added to those just mentioned (often more than ten), such as:
• Melissa • Hyssop • Veronica • Coriander • Angelica • Star anise • and many more…

It is not only the herbs that are used to make absinthe that makes it so special; but also the way they are selected: They need to match each others taste, one herb mustn't overpower the other, and so on...

What's the traditional colour of absinthe?

When we think of absinthe, the colour green instantly pops into our heads. This is probably because the green absinthes during the Belle Époque were most popular. The final step of creating a green absinthe, is to macerate it with herbs (mostly Petit Wormwood, Hyssop and Melissa) in order to develop its green colour and a herbal taste. This is a very delicate procedure that requires patience and skills, which is why there are a lot of artificially coloured absinthes out there today. We shouldn't forget about the clear absinthes, also called 'Blanches' or 'Bleues'. Although they aren't as popular as green absinthe, they offer just as many complex aromas and taste!

Why have most absinthes such a high level of alcohol?

There are a few good reasons why the alcohol level in absinthe is reasonably high:
• It helps absinthe to maintain its green colour, naturally obtained by the maceration of different plants. This is also the reason why many green absinthes have a higher ABV than clear absinthes. • Some of the flavours wouldn't be able to develop if the alcohol level wasn't this high.

Please note that absinthe should be diluted with water, which decreases the level of alcohol to about the same level as a glass of wine would have.

Which is the best absinthe?

It's not easy to answer this question - there is such a huge variety of different absinthes: Some of them have a very high level of anise, some are more bitter than others, and some have a distinct herbal taste when others don't. The best way to make your decision is probably by browsing our selections, read our descriptions, or to seek advice from other absintheurs in forums on the net. If you have specific questions, we're more than happy to help! Simply email us via the contact form, and we'll try to reply to you right away!