A Short History of Absinthe

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A Short History of Absinthe

“A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?”
Oscar Wilde

Absinthe is one of the oldest spirits in the world, with an origin story dating back as early as the Ancient Egyptian period. With our latest Artmemisia Absinthium Blanche now gracing our shelves, we thought it was time to tell this interesting tale.

The earliest recorded mentions of wormwood (the Artemisia distilled to produce Absinthe) can be traced back to purposes related to curing digestive disorders. This botanical spirit ranges from 45-75% ABV and must be consumed with caution…

Modern Absinthe as we know it, resembles the version of the spirit favoured around the time of the French revolution (1789-1799) and tracked to a home in the village of Couvet, Switzerland. There is some confusion as to whether it was first distilled in its contemporary form by the sisters of the Henroid family or by the French doctor Pierre Ordinaire. The popularity of the potent elixir was championed by doctors belonging to the French army in the 1840s to help prevent fevers and malaria. Throughout its rise in popularity, Absinthe had been believed to alleviate menstrual pain, anaemia, and even bad breath. It became so widely consumed during this period that 5pm became known as ‘the green hour’, better recognised today as ‘happy hour’ which has, of course, changed form slightly.

The seemingly utopian tipple led to mass overconsumption which ultimately resulted in the ban of absinthe. The final straw came in the form of a murder. Whilst intoxicated, Swiss farmer Jean Lanfray murdered his family. One of the substances which he is believed to have consumed was absinthe and as a result of local media outlets and moral disgrace, a petition was generated to place a ban on the spirit. The petition was met with 82,000 signatures and swiftly banned in Switzerland, the US and France. It remained banned until 2007.

The propaganda surrounding the dangers of consuming such a high strength spirit remain prominent even today. It is important to note ‘propaganda’ was all it ever was. Despite rumours the tipple could result in hallucinations, Absinthe is incapable of generating psychedelic effects, simply a hazy night if over-consumed.

We can’t resist the controversial or a good challenge and so, naturally we grow our own wormwood on site at our distillery. Our distilling team dehydrate and transform this into our own Absinthe. Most recently we transformed our wormwood into white or Blanche Absinthe which sits at 65.5% ABV and is enjoyed best with a trickle of water. If Absinthe is your poison of choice, come quickly as the green fairy has gifted us with a limited release of just 82 bottles.

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