There has been much controversy regarding the thujone levels in Absinthe and whether Absinthe can really make you hallucinate but what about its alcohol content – How much alcohol is in Absinthe?
All commercial alcoholic drinks are labeled to show their alcohol content so that people can make informed decisions about drinking them and how much to consume.
Alcohol content is measured by using a hydrometer. A hydrometer looks a bit like a fishing float with a thermometer attached. When the hydrometer is put in liquid it floats upright. When it is put in water, the water line will be at the level marked 1.000, if it is put in sugared water the level will be higher because the water is denser. When the hydrometer is used in fermenting alcohol the float moves lower as the sugar is eaten by the yeast. Two measurements are taken when making alcohol – the first measurement (original gravity) is taken with the sugar but before the yeast is added and then the final reading is taken after the yeast has finished fermenting (final gravity.
Alcohol by volume is worked out by the following formula:-
Original gravity – Final gravity x 131 = Alcohol by volume.
Both the EU and the United States label the alcohol by volume content of drinks, some other countries go on proof. Proof is approximately twice alcohol by volume.
Different brands of Absinthe have different alcohol contents. Look at the following statistics:-
Lucid Absinthe 62% abv (124 proof)
La Clandestine Absinthe 53% abv (106 proof)
Sebor 55% abv (110 proof)
Pere Kermanns 60% abv (120 proof)
Pernod Absinthe 68% abv (136 proof0
Mari Mayans Collectors 70 70% abv (140 proof)
La Fee XS Absinthe Suisse 53% abv (106 proof)
La Fee XS Absinthe Francaise 68% abv (136 proof)
La Fee Bohemian 70% abv (140 proof)
La Fee Parisian 68% abv (136 proof)
Kubler 53 53% abv (106 proof)
Doubs Mystique Carte D’Or 65% abv (130 proof)
Roquette 1797 75% abv (150 proof)
Jade PF 1901 68% abv (136 proof)
Jade Edouard 72% abv (144 proof)
Jade Verte Suisse 65% abv (130 proof)
Jade Nouvelle Orleans 68% abv (136 proof)
As you can see Absinthe can range from 53% abv to 75% abv, quite a difference. Now, let’s compare those levels to other alcoholic drinks:-
Absolut Blue Vodka 40% abv (80 proof)
Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila 38% abv (76 proof)
Beer tends to be 4 or 5% alcohol by volume (8-10 proof).
Table Wine 9-12% alcohol by volume (18-24 proof).
Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).
Everclear 95% abv (190 proof)
No other alcoholic drink seems to come close to Absinthe!
Homemade Absinthes can also vary in alcohol content. One person might mix an Absinthe essence from AbsintheKit.com with Absolut vodka (40% abv) and another might make it with Everclear (95% abv) – a huge difference.
Absinthe was banned in the 1900s because of claims that thujone, the chemical in wormwood, was like THC in the drug cannabis and that it was psychoactive and caused psychedelic effects. We now know that claims that Absinthe is an hallucinogen are completely false but we do need to remember that any liquor can be harmful to our health if we consume too much. People in Memphis have realized this and, in 2006, Memphis was the city that drank the least alcohol in the USA – more than 6/10 Memphis citizens had not even consumed a sip of alcohol in at least a month when they were polled.
Alcohol is fine if consumed in moderation but you need to know how much alcohol is in Absinthe and other alcohol that you buy and consume.