Absinthe Glossary: All the Terms You Should Know

Terms Upon Terms – What do they mean? There are a lot of terms you might come across when browsing our site. In case you’re unsure of what they mean, we’ll explain the ones you may stumble upon in our absinthe shop.

Absinthe sante

Terms related to Absinthe Accessories

Absinthe Fountain

A decorative accessory, which allows you to slowly drip iced water into the glass filled with absinthe underneath.

> Discover all the absinthe fountains in the shop

Cuillère

French for “Spoon”. This term describes an absinthe spoon, that is perforated in the middle, in order to allow the sugar that starts to melt when the water is poured over it.

> Discover all the Absinthe Spoons in the shop

Verre

French for “glass”. Absinthe Glasses usually have either a reservoir, or a rim inside the glass showing the ideal measure to achieve a great absinthe-water-ratio. Absinthe glasses were an essential part of the absinthe ritual in the Belle Époque.

> Discover all the Absinthe Glasses in the shop

Terms related to different types of Absinthe

Les Vertes

French for “green”. This term is used to describe a classic green and naturally coloured absinthe.

Les Blanches

French for “white”. This term describes a clear, colourless absinthe. When distilling clear absinthes, the final coloration step is left out.

La Bleue

French for “the blue”. It refers to the blue colour of some Swiss absinthes. An interesting fact is that in other countries, most of the clear absinthes are called “blanches”, but in Switzerland they are called “la bleue”.

> Discover all the Swiss Absinthes in the shop

Vintage

Vintage absinthes are absinthes that have been around for a little longer that the ones that are currently distilled. There are not too many historic, old absinthes available, but from time to time you can come across one. We were lucky by the way, and found some vintage absinthes too.

> Discover our Vintage absinthes in the shop

Terms related to the ingredients of Absinthe

Wormwood

A herbal ingredient. It is the main ingredient in absinthe and gives it it’s name (wormwood means “absinthe” in French) It is responsible for the bitter taste of absinthe. Without wormwood, there would be no absinthe. Since ancient times, wormwood has been used as a medicinal herb and contains the substance thujone.

Thujone

Thujone is an active substance from the oils of the wormwood plant. Early on, it was held responsible for the alleged toxicity of absinthe. These accusations were dismissed. Present day researchers agree that substances of thujone in these tiny amounts are virtually ineffective.

> Learn the truth about Thujone

Anise

A herbal ingredient. The seeds of the anise plants are used in the maceration process prior to the distillation. Anise contains a special oil (anethole), which dissolves in alcohol, but not in water. The anethole is thus responsible for the louche-effect.

Fennel

A herbal ingredient. The seeds of the fennel plant are used in the maceration process prior to the distillation.

Hyssop

A herbal ingredient. Also called grass-poly. It is used to colour some Absinthes.

Terms related to the production of Absinthe

Distillation

The herbal mix according to each individual absinthe recipe are added to a base spirit of about 85% alcohol, which was previously diluted with water. The mix is heated up until the boiling point of the alcohol, and is then left to macerate overnight in the high proof alcohol. In the morning, additional water is added, before the distillation run commences. The macerate is heated up again and again, over several hours – temperature and duration are essential for this step: Too much heat will burn the herbs, and too little won’t make absinthe.

Coloration

A phrase from the production process. It is the step after the distillation, where the absinthe gets its colour and additional flavour by adding herbs.

Maceration

Maceration starts with the herbs themselves. Each dried herb has to be carefully weighed following the individual recipe. Small quantities of herbs are weighed on a precision scales using a bowl, whereas big quantities – such as green anise, wormwood and fennel – are weighed with a professional electronic scale. Once all the herbs are ready, alcohol and water are added in a still. The herbs are then added and mixed with the diluted alcohol and heated up, then kept in the still overnight. This way the herbs mix with the alcohol and develop the typical absinthe aromas.

Clandestine

Translated it means: “secret, hidden, private”. An absinthe made by distillers in regions where it was once forbidden. The production had to be kept a secret. One of the most famous illegal absinthe producers is Claude-Alain Bugnon, owning the Artemisia Destillerie .

Other terms

Absintheur

An absinthe enthusiast or somebody who enjoys absinthe.

Aperitif

An alcoholic beverage you drink before a meal to stimulate the appetite.

Digestif

An alcoholic beverage, which you drink after a meal to promote digestion. You find a good quality selection in our .

La Fée Verte

French for “the green fairy”. The most commonand prestigious nickname for absinthe.

Louche

French for “turbulent, disturbed, shady”. It refers to the cloudy effect, which occurs after adding water to the absinthe.

Val de Travers

A region in the west of Switzerland, bordering France. It is considered to be the birthplace of absintheand today is still the cradle of some of the finest absinthedistilleries. In Couvet, which is in the Val de Travers, there is an annual Festival held in June.

If you found a term that you don’t understand or isn’t listed, feel free to ask us any time. We will gladly answer all you questions. Just write us an e-mail or get in touch via Facebook.

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