Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | May 13, 2009

NYT on Absinthe (Again)

Eric Asimov has an article in the New York Times today on absinthe. He starts with a brief history of absinthe and absinthe prohibition and then moves onto a taste test of 20 absinthes. I like Asimov’s simple explanation of what absinthe is:

So what makes absinthe absinthe? Essentially it is a neutral spirit infused with myriad herbs and botanicals, centering around anise, fennel and a specific type of wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, from which absinthe takes its name. This wormwood contains small amounts of thujone, a compound once thought to affect the mind. It’s understood now that hallucinations and other health issues attributed to overindulging in absinthe were more a result of alcohol poisoning due to the high alcohol content, typically 50 to 70 percent.

Unlike previous Times article by Eric Konigsburg on absinthe, Asimov really does a good job of demystifying absinthe for readers, not only here, but throughout the piece. Asimov takes the subject seriously and educates through tasting notes and best practices for enjoying absinthe.

Asimov and his panel rated Kubler the top choice, which is nice because it’s my personal favorite and now I feel like a better person because the New York Times agrees with me (I kid, I kid). Though Asimov tasted 19 absinthes and Absente, they only ranked their top ten. Here’s the list:

1. Kübler
2. Grande
3. Pernod
4. Émile Pernot
5. St. George
6. Jade Nouvelle-Orléans
7. Obsello
8. La Clandestine
9. Lucid
10. Mansinthe

I’m very curious to find out what the bottom 10 looked like and what the tasting notes for them were. Asimov has a little more detail on his blog about the tasting. While he comes out with his disaproval of Le Tourment Verte, there isn’t any more detail about the other 8 absinthes that were tested and failed to please.


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