There are many countries where Absinthe is legal to buy, sell and consume. Gone are the times of bootleg or clandestine Absinthe, when it had to be distilled in secrecy, shipped from other countries or labeled differently. In most countries it is no longer a crime to distill Absinthe or against the law to sell it.
Absinthe is a herbal liquor which has an anise taste. It is usually served diluted with iced water, which causes the famous louche effect, and was a popular beverage in the 19th century. It was made illegal in many countries at the beginning of the 20th century because of concerns about the chemical thujone found in wormwood. Not only was Absinthe an intoxicant, like all alcoholic beverages including wine, beer and cider, but it was also thought to be an hallucinogen.
The medical profession and prohibitionists claimed that Absinthe contained large amounts of thujone which they alleged was psychoactive, like THC in the drug cannabis, and could cause psychedelic effects. We now know that Absinthe only contains small amounts of thujone and is just as safe as any strong spirit. It may however give you a very different type of drunkenness, if consumed in excess. The alcohol and the unique blend of herbs combine to act as both a sedative and a stimulant – very strange. Some people have described it as a “lucid” or “clear headed” drunkenness.
Countries where Absinthe is legal include:-
United States – Absinthe was banned in 1912 but in 2007 a few brands of Absinthe were approved in the US because of their low thujone content. The USA only allows “thujone free” beverages to be sold but Absinthes with less than 10 parts per million of thujone (less than 10mg per liter) count as thujone free.
The EU (European Union) – Absinthe was legalized in the EU in 1988 but there is a regulation regarding thujone content in drinks in the EU. Up to 10mg/kg of thujone is allowed in alcohol with more than 25% alcohol by volume, and up to 35mg/kg in alcohol labeled “bitters”.
Australia – Absinthe is legal. Bitters can have a thujone content of up to 35mg/kg and other beverages can contain up to 10mg/kg.
Brazil – Brazilian law allows Absinthe of up to 10mg/kg thujone and that it should have less than 55% abv.
Canada – From March 2007 it has been up to the separate Canadian province liquor boards to regulate thujone. Many provinces do not allow any thujone containing alcohol to be sold but Absinthe is legal in British Columbia, where there is no limit, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. Quebec and Ontario legislate that Absinthe with up to 10mg/kg thujone can be legally sold.
Czech Republic – Absinthe was never banned in the Czech Republic.
France – France famously banned Absinthe in 1915. French law of 1988 allows thujone beverages to be sold if they comply with EU laws and if they are labeled “spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe” and not Absinthe. France also has regulations regarding fenchone which is found in fennel, a key ingredient of Absinthe, so beverages also have to have low fenchone contents (up to 5mg/liter).
Hungary – Absinthe became legal in 2004.
Israel – Absinthe seems to be legal and on sale in Israel.
Ireland – Absinthe which contains thujone is illegal to buy and sell but can be imported for personal consumption.
Netherlands – Absinthe was made legal in 2004 after being banned in 1909. Absinthe must meet EU requirements.
New Zealand – Absinthe is legal.
Portugal – Absinthe was never banned.
Russia – High thujone Absinthes (up to 75mg/kg thujone) are available in Russia.
Serbia – Serbia does not seem to allow Absinthe containing thujone or above 50% abv to be sold.
South Africa – Absinthe is legal as of 2005.
Sweden – Absinthe complying with EU legislation can be sold and is labeled as containing wormwood.
Switzerland – The home of Absinthe legalized Absinthe in 2005 after banning it in 1908.
UK – The UK never banned Absinthe. Absinthe must comply with EU legislation.
As you can see there are many countries where Absinthe is legal and can be enjoyed. You may want to make your own Absinthe using Absinthe essences from AbsintheKit.com. These essences make a true Absinthe and can be shipped world wide. They do not require distillation, that has already been done for you, and so are perfectly legal. Check them out.