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Absinthe

Absinthe is the drink that needs little introduction, its reputation precedes it more than that of any other spirit in the world. La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy), as it is known, is distilled from the herb Grande Wormwood an ingredient used in many herbal drinks, including Bitters.

Usually, Absinthe is bottled at very high strength and it is made with neutral alcohol and various herbs. Traditional variants are made with white grape spirit, though absinthes are often made using alcohol distilled from grains, potatoes of beets. The three main ingredients, sometimes known as the “Holy Trinity”, are Florence fennel, Green Anise and Grande Wormwood. Other flavourings include star anise, angelica, coriander and nutmeg.

There are various styles of Absinthe, including Blanche (also known as la bleue) which is bottled immediately after distillation – it is clear in colour. Verte absinthe is coloured with a mixture of herbs post distillation, and Verte absinthes are similar to the Spanish Absenta – which differs in slightly in flavour (the addition of Alicante anise brings added sweetness). Bohemian Absinthe, often known as Czech-style absinthe, is made with very little or no anise or fennel, relying on wormwood for its flavour – it also has a very high alcoholic content.

Historically, absinthe has been portrayed as dangerous intoxicant, even a narcotic, though its infamy has also been a blessing in disguise, as the drink has gained an almost mythical reputation – with all sorts of suggestions of hallucinogenic effects and visions of green fairies and the like. The blame is usually centred on the chemical thujone – which, if present, is only found in very small quantities. It was also, incorrectly, purported to be a cannabinoid (a narcotic compound present in a drug with a similar sounding name). This is untrue, and thujone is allowed in certain foodstuffs in the EU. Studies have also shown that there are only minute quantities of it in absinthe.

Absinthe was paraded as the poster boy for the temperance movement (a historically shunning of alcoholic drinks) – and all sorts of woes and social immoralities were blamed on it. Vincent Van Gogh was famously said to be intoxicated with absinthe when cutting his own ear off and the drink was famously enjoyed by such eminent figures as Toulouse Lautrec, and even Oscar Wilde. Whilst much of the controversy surrounding absinthe is factually inaccurate, we would recommend that, due to its high alcoholic strength, it be drunk diluted and in moderation as well as being treated with responsibility.

The French Method of drinking absinthe involves the traditional slotted absinthe spoon. Absinthe is poured into the glass first. Then the slotted spoon is place atop the glass with a sugar cube on it. Using a slow drip fountain, water is gradually dripped onto the sugar cube, and into the glass until the cube is dissolved, the spoon is then used to stir the drink. Note, it will become cloudy thanks to the Louche Effect.

The Bohemian Method (We recommend you do not attempt this – it’s rather dangerous!) involves using a traditional heat proof absinthe glass, absinthe is poured into the glass, the slotted spoon is placed on top of the glass and an absinthe-soaked sugar cube is placed on the spoon. The sugar cube is then lit, and the cube is dropped into the drink and allowed to burn out – this removes some of the alcoholic content, as well as things like eyebrows and fringes (note – not a recommended grooming method).

Did you know?... ...Thujone is not exclusive to absinthe; there is actually thujone present in many herbs, including sage.

Absinthe

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La Fée Blanche
(70cl, 53%)
A fabulous, old-fashioned white absinthe, La Fée Blanche is based on an old French recipe from the 1800s, produced in conjunction with the French Absinthe Museum. Great stuff.  More info
$70.32
Versinthe Absinthe
(70cl, 45%)
While not as strong as many absinthes (they're often seen sitting around 60% abv), the Versinthe Absinthe still contains a heaping dose of star anise, herbs and pleasantly bitter notes. It is also a...  More info
$62.72
Despite this being Hapsburg's lower alcohol absinthe, the Absinthe Red still weighs in at a sturdy 69% abv. It was made with cocktails in mind, featuring a less pronounced aniseed taste to make it...  More info
$57.63
Produced to a classic recipe, La Maison Fontaine Verte is a tasty French absinthe made at the company's Pontarlier Distillery.  More info
$105.42
Hapsburg XC Original
(50cl, 89.90%)
The label of the Hapsburg XC Original says Extra Strong on the label, and it definitely is strong. Carrying an abv of 89.9%, the Hapsburg XC should be served very well diluted and far away from any...  More info
$90.96
This rare bottle of Le Vrai Absinthe (The Real Absinthe, when translated from French) was produced in the 1970s. With a name like that, you expect it to be the real deal, like David Dickinson's TV...  More info
$287.86
A Swiss-style absinthe from La Fée, the top producers. They make this wine-based absinthe in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland, using very old recipes and methods. Made with locally grown Grand Wormwood.  More info
$132.64
Jade 1901 Absinthe
(70cl, 68%)
Created by the superb Jade company this is a classic absinthe based on a 1901 recipe which was used by the famous Pernod Fils distillery based in Saumur, France.  More info
$124.78
A 50cl-sized bottle of La Fée's classic Parisienne style absinthe. This was awarded a silver medal at the 2003 International Spirits Challenge, and it is still made to an original 19th century recipe.  More info
$47.45
The Hapsburg Super Deluxe Red Label Absinthe follows naming conventions set in the 1990s by Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. It is a premium absinthe which...  More info
$66.41
Francois Guy Absinthe
(100cl, 45%)
Distilled in Pontarlier by Francois Guy, this absinthe has a light green olive tint, and it offers a fresh, herbal nose and palate.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$92.42
Jade PF 1901 Verte
(70cl, 68%)
A beautiful Verte Absinthe distilled by Jade. This particular spirit is based on a 1901 recipe created by one of the old absinthe legends before the spirit was banned. Great stuff!  More info
$101.69
Louche Absinthe
(70cl, 50%)
A great French absinthe created by sixth generation Master Distiller, Alain Lemercier. Whilst its abv is low in comparison to some absinthes, this stuff roars complexity and flavour. Louche is an...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.0/5)
$39.81
An absolutely staggeringly rare absinthe from the legendary Pernod et Fils, this was produced at some time in the late 1800s or early 1900s prior to the French absinthe ban of 1915. This is a...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$5037.57
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ATOM Supplies Ltd trading as Master of Malt. Registered office: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BE. Registered in England & Wales. Company number 3193057, VAT number GB 662241553.