This post is old and an updated version is in my Distiller’s Workbook exercise on Absinthe.
Yesterday I whipped up some “absinthe“. I have never liked the stuff and always found it over hyped so I tried to produce something that would keep my interest. My main complaint about absinthe (besides the prices!) is that anise is such a cloying dominant flavor. To get around this in my parody I thought I’d add a comparative element to the naked anise and see if I could stretch it out on the tongue. A long time ago I used this concept with strawberries but lately I’ve been enamored with the basque country Patxarian sloe berry-anise combo. I don’t have a hedge of sloes so I added sloe gin to my spirits and then got impatient and also added framboise brandy because I wanted more comparative flavor and a way to bring the alcohol content up into true absinthe territory. I used the Turkish Raki to capture the anise botanicals because I got it for free and it was 90 proof so it seemed like a good idea.
The amount of wormwood in g/L was extrapolated from other people’s large batch recipes. Yarrow and yerba-mate seemed like a good idea for wormwood comparative flavors to contrast the fruit and anise. Yarrow brings a meadowy aroma while yerba mate is slightly more foresty. I noticed many people’s formulas had coriander which is really important to London dry gins so I thought it may be a nice extra contrasting element. I probably should have added more.
All of my liquids added up to one liter but I only pulled out 750ml because I wanted to preserve the same amount of anise that was in the Raki. The additional alcohols bring the proof up to slightly less than 120.
Something that I noticed which probably adds a great layer of artisanship that most people miss is that you have to distill at only a certain reflux rate to get all the alcohol you want but not disturb the anise-alcohol-water solution. I started distilling at a really high reflux rate and took all of the alcohol off very quickly but when my temperature went up and I was trying to hit my 750 ml end volume mostly by distilling water it started to louche and my absinthe yellowed slightly. Next time I should probably do some math, look at some charts and work at a less intense reflux rate to keep my high alcohol and clarity of distillate.
750 ml turkish raki
100 ml sloe gin
150 ml framboise brandy
15 g wormwood
5 g yerba mate
5 g yarrow
2 g coriander
distilled to 750ml (115 proof or so)
Absinthe is still boring but I liked this compared to Kubler. As subtle as they are, the fruit aromatics really make it.
So I finally tasted the St. George absinthe verte and was really impressed though I was surprised by its coloring and intensely distinct aromatics relative to Kubler. I only had a taste from a really nice bartender and was not lucky enough to see it louche or not but I was surprised by the chartreuse like nature of its color. And its level of anise seemed to be lower than Kubler. The nose was pungent like a monastic liqueur and reminded me of biting into fresh basil but with more anise. The herbs make it really penetrating and antiseptic feeling but in a different way than juniper. I think I could understand the appeal of cocktails like the sazerac better if knew they were made with an absinthe that had more contrast to the anise. I think I should explore more fruit and working in a secondary infusion to my recipe. If we are thinking antiseptic, hops anyone?
2 thoughts on “Absinthe”
this link describes the bitterness of yerba mate. i eventually went on to create an all yerba mate based absinthe whose recipe is in my new book on distillation.
i become more familiar with yerba mate when i made replicas of the infamous hercules from the savoy.
yerba mate might also be intriguing in dehydrated-reconstituted-kirschwasser campari recipe. i could probably infuse the kirschwasser with yerba mate and give it a nice centrifuging.