This may be rehash to some and there are other threads on Absinthe but they are a bit old and cluttered now so I put this in a fresh one.
I wrote this recipe for people wanting to give it a go, those who already have an Absinthe knowledge have probably already stopped readi....-----___________.
Ok, so after a fair bit of mucking around I have come up with a pretty good Absinthe that in my taste buds opinion competes nicely with a few of the top range commercial Absinthes that I have bought.
There is a problem however with Absinthe recipes and that is you can not carbon copy them and expect the same results as the difference between a great Absinthe and a mediocre to poor absinthe depends heavily on the quality of herbs you use and your still..
If you have less than stellar herb quality then you can up the quantity a bit to compensate but if your herbs are poor then there is very little you can do to achieve a top quality product.
The good news is that if you are willing to invest a few micro runs and time into the process it is fairly easy to say where your recipe fails (providing you're an Absinthe fan and know what you're looking for). If it were whiskey I was making I couldn't tell one foul tasting horse piss from another.
So here is my basic recipe for 1.5 litres of 85% macerate with side notes.
40 gm wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
100-110 gm Green Anise
100-110 gm Fennel Florence fennel is perfect, Sweet fennel is 99% perfect. (Crowns*)
7 gm Angelica
4-6 gm Chamomile flowers
2.5 gm Coriander
1.5 gm carraway
4gm wormwood Pontica (Artemesia pontica)
3-4 gm Melissa (lemon Balm)
( I also used a small amount of chamomile in this step but am undecided as yet if it is beneficial.)
*It is important that Fennel Crowns are used as they pack a much fuller flavour than seed.
I can not stress enough the importance of good quality herbs, home grown is best but if you're lucky enough to find a good supplier that doesn't send you broke (especially in Australia) then stick to him and don't lose his number.
cut/grind herbs as finely as possible
1) Macerate herbs in 85% neutral for 24 hours
2) Dilute macerate to 40-45%
3) Gently and gradually apply heat. If you are using flame then a double boiler/bain marie set up is recommended because you may scorch the herbs and the whole project will be in the shitter. If you use a hotplate then a diffuser plate (I use a thick old frypan) really does the trick. If you have an electric element inside the still then you'll have to figure something out as I have no f**** idea what you could do.
4) The % abv sum of total collection will be about 60-70% abv DO NOT DILUTE! this is what you want as bottled product.
5) Cuts are minimal at this stage heads are tiny as long as your neutral was good and tails well lets talk absinthe tails;
So you'll collect tails deep into the run initially the tails will be reasonably pleasant and usable ( I like to collect stage one of the tails in separately and windowsill treat them for a day, but I didn't do this on my first few attempts and the product was still fine).
Stage two of the tails come very late in the run and are extremely important. They are oils and can easily be tasted smelled and seen. Anethol is one of the most important parts of an Absinthe and it is the management of these oils that will bump your Absinthe up a class.
Collect all oils separately and keep.
**note on my very first attempt my product was notably lacking in the tails influence so I added a very very small amount to my hearts, it was ok but I wouldn't do it again. I'd live with it and wait for my next batch.
The collected late tails; keep these for your next run and add to the macerate before you still it off. Like rum in a way the reuse of these tails over following batches will really give your absinthe a complexity and round profile.
1) Take 1/16th of your hearts and put into glass jar
2) Cut/grind herbs up as finely as possible
3) Add herbs to hearts and submerge jar in water bath
4) Ensuring jar is not in contact with bottom of water bath, gently heat until water temp reaches 55_70°c .This is really fudge factor as the release point of the different herbs is spread and varied so keep an eye on what you are doing as it all happens reasonably quickly and going too far is a matter of a minute. Having said that going too far means you'll promote feuille mort or dead leaf colour. This doesn't necessarily mean the taste will be effected but the colour will be golden brown and not jade green.
5) Filter herbs from colouration mix I use coffee filters.
6) Add to main collected hearts.
*resist the urge to squeeze the filter to extract the last few ml from the soaked herbs, it's not a good idea
Bottle and let sit in a dark cool closet for two weeks or more just to let the flavours settle a bit. It doesn't need to be aged like whiskhorsepissky or rum though. A few weeks is fine.
You should now have an Absinthe that is tasty and drinkable, it will take a few runs before you start hitting your likes and get on the road to perfecting your particular Absinthe style, then another lifetime before you are satisfied that it couldn't be just a bit better if........
There are many variants of absinthe out there but most hinge on additions of minor herbs so keep the 'Holy trinity' ie Wormwood (both variants), Green anise and Fennel and then every time you encounter a new herb have a smell and try to imagine how that could be incorporated into your absinthe.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'