Most people have heard of the mythical green, anise flavored liquor known as Absinthe or the Green Fairy but they do not have a clue how Absinthe is made.
Absinthe was created by the legendary Dr Pierre Ordinaire in Switzerland in the late 18th century but it wasn’t until Pernod started making it at the turn of the 19th century that it became a popular alcoholic beverage. During La Belle Epoque it was even more popular than other spirits and wine. It was famously banned in the early 1900s due to worries about its thujone content.
Thujone, a chemical in wormwood, was thought to be psychoactive and to cause psychedelic effects but recent studies show that Absinthe only contains small amounts of thujone and is perfectly safe. Absinthe is now legal in many countries and it has been possible and legal to buy some brands of Absinthe in the United States since 2007. Before that date many Americans risked having Absinthe shipped from Europe.
Absinthe is served diluted with iced water and the essential oils in the Absinthe cause it to louche once water is added.
How Absinthe is Made
Here is a step by step description of the Absinthe making process which was used by vintage Absinthe distillers and is still used today:-
Growing of Absinthe herbs
Distillers like Pernod liked to grown their own herbs so that they could be assured of the quality of the herbs used in their Absinthe and this is still the case today. Grande wormwood (artemisia absinthium), petite wormwood (artemisia pontica), lemon balm and hyssop are all grown in Pontarlier France where the Pernod distillery is located. Florence fennel comes from Florence in Italy and green aniseed is grown in parts of Southern France and Spain. These herbs are traditional Absinthe herbs.
Herb Selection and Preparation
Only the best quality herbs are used by distillers who prepare them by crushing or grinding them.
A recipe of herbs is macerated in a base alcohol which is diluted with water. The herbs are generally left to macerate for one night in an alambic pot and then more water is added before distillation.
The mixture is heated to the appropriate distillation temperature and sometimes rectifying balls are used. These balls are cooled with water which allows vapors from the mixture to condense and return to the pot.
Distillate is collected, it is clear in color. The used herbs are removed from the pot and the alambic is cleaned for its next use.
A portion of the distillate is put into an alambic with herbs such as lemon balm, petite wormwood and hyssop. The mixture is then heated to about 55 degrees celsius and then cooled and filtered. This green liquid is then checked and tested before being reunited with the rest of the distillate.
The Absinthe is checked for the quality of its louche, color and taste and is then left to age for a few months before bottling.
La Bleue Absinthe is clear Absinthe which is made without the coloring step.
You can make Absinthe at home yourself by using special distilled Absinthe essences from AbsintheKit.com. Simply mix an essence with vodka or Everclear to make a real herbal Asbinthe. That is how Absinthe is made simply and easily at home.