Absinthe

‘Absinthe has the power of the magicians; it can wipe out or renew the past, and annul or foretell the future.’

Ernest Dowson, 1867-1900

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Absinthe is forever associated with the bohemian lifestyle of Paris’ artistic community in the 19th century. Absinthe is in fact the French word for the plant wormwood, and the potent drink was popular among impressionist painters like Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh and Manet.

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The drink gained a dubious reputation for a time and was banned in the 1920s. But absinthe is back, a tamer version this time, though no less exciting, and it is a triumph around the world. The first Danish absinthe is made by Den Ny Spritfabrik.

Absinthe has its own special magic, and the key to its unique properties is found in the plants that give the liquor its unique character. The drink is based on a wormwood extract, which is supplemented with aniseed, star aniseed, hyssopus and Fennel. It is the wormwood that is most famous, for containing the special compound thujone. However, the amount of thujone is heavily restricted by law, and in terms of health, modern Absinthe is comparable with other well-known liqueurs made from herbs, plants and flowers like Pernod, Chartreuse and Drambuie. In reality, it is the other herbs that combine to give absinthe’s fresh liquorice flavour, which easily reminds one of the classic French Pastis. However, absinthe’s aroma is a much more complex combination.

Absinthe is especially enjoyed by creative people – not just painters, but authors, poets and musicians, who all enjoy a glass or two. Absinthe’s complex taste encourages the drinker to think deeply and to meditate, as the aroma has many tones. The fact that some of the compounds in wormwood also have a slight narcotic effect may also play a part in its enjoyment. However, a person would have to drink huge amounts of absinthe before it had any kind of effect that could be described as psychedelic. Long before someone even came close to that, the effects of the alcohol will dominate their state of mind.

It’s no secret that many people find out that absinthe is a very strong liquor. Consumers can purchase versions that are 80% alcohol, while the Danish version from Ny Spritfabrik is 65% alcohol. Absinthe is also manufactured for thinning, the same way we thin Ouzo, Pastis and equivalent aniseed drinks.

In the case of Absinthe, the finished drink is often sweetened to counteract the bitterness, which is such an important part of the drink’s characteristic. Absinthe is available as a clear or green liquor, but common to all varieties is the drink’s opaqueness, in other words, it becomes milky and opaque when water is added. The green colour comes from hyssopus and roman wormwood, which the finished distillate is boiled with.

The Danish Absinthe from Den Ny Spritfabrik is based on Fennel, and the first batch used no less than 500 kg of fennel seed. The next ingredient was green aniseed, star aniseed and wormwood, hyssopus and roman wormwood, which came from the distillery’s own garden. The development process took two years, the focus was on making a drink where the pure herb taste is recognisable, with a balanced liquor that is rich in detail. It is a drink that functions in many cocktails, but can be enjoyed straight too, just as long as the absinthe is thinned with cold mineral water and with ice added. Thus a quiet moment can be had – maybe even time to give creativity free reign and let your thoughts dwell back to a time when Paris was the Mecca for all of those impressionist painters. Thank you for the inspiration

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