Absinthe is a highly aromatic, distilled alcoholic beverage characterized by its distinctive, bitter taste. Although its popularity has fluctuated throughout history, absinthe has held a special reputation due to certain aspects that set it apart from other spirits.
What is the origin of absinthe?
The origin of absinthe dates to the 18th century and is primarily associated with the Val-de-Travers region of Switzerland. However, its popularity later spread to other countries, especially France, where it gained great notoriety.
The basic recipe for absinthe is attributed to a Swiss physician, who made an herbal medicinal drink in 1792. The mixture included wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and other medicinal herbs and was used as a tonic and digestive.
How is absinthe made?
Absinthe is made through a neutral alcohol distillation process together with a combination of herbs and spices, with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) being the main ingredient. Herbs and spices, which may include anise, fennel, licorice, lemon balm, mint, and others, are steeped in alcohol and then distilled to extract their essential oils. This distillation and maceration process makes it possible to obtain a highly aromatic and bitter liquid. Once distilled, absinthe can be bottled directly, or sugar and water can be added to adjust its sweetness and dilution before bottling.
It is important to note that the recipe and manufacturing processes can vary between producers, resulting in different flavor profiles and characteristics in the varieties of absinthe available on the market.
What flavors does absinthe have?
Absinthe has a distinctive and complex flavor profile. Its main flavor is bitter, derived from the content of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), which provides herbaceous notes and sometimes a slight medicinal touch. In addition to bitterness, absinthe often has aniseed and sweet flavors, coming from the aniseed and other aromatic ingredients used in its preparation. Notes of fennel, licorice, mint, and spices may appear, adding layers of complementary flavors. By diluting absinthe with water, a reaction known as "louche" occurs, which can reveal additional floral and herbal nuances, as well as a silky texture.
In summary, absinthe combines bitterness, anise notes, sweetness and a complexity of herbal and spicy flavors that make it unique and recognizable.
How to taste absinthe?
Tasting absinthe is a process that involves several steps to fully appreciate its flavor and aroma.
Make sure you have a bottle of quality absinthe, suitable glasses (preferably absinthe glasses or wine glasses), a perforated spoon, and cold water. Fill the glass with an appropriate amount of absinthe, usually 30 to 60 ml, depending on your preferences and the alcohol strength of the absinthe. Place the perforated spoon over the glass and place a sugar cube in the spoon. If you prefer a more modern version, you can skip the sugar and proceed directly to the next step. Slowly pour cold water over the sugar or directly into the absinthe. You can use a pitcher of cold water or add ice cubes to the water to cool it down further. The water will dilute the absinthe and release its flavors and aromas.
During the dilution process, watch the absinthe take on an opalescent appearance known as a "louche." This phenomenon occurs due to the release of essential oils from the herbs present in the absinthe. Bring the glass up to your nose and take a moment to appreciate the complex aromas emanating from the absinthe. Then take small sips and let the absinthe slide down your palate. Savor the different flavors, such as absinthe bitterness, aniseed notes, and herbal or spicy undertones.
Play with the dilution and the amount of sugar according to your preferences. Some people prefer a stronger, less diluted absinthe, while others enjoy a milder, slightly sweeter absinthe.
Remember to drink in moderation and enjoy absinthe responsibly.