My best Absinthe so far...

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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:36 am

I make mugwort ale pretty regularly and I can attest that it is about as hallucinogenic as wormwood - ie. not very. I'm very fond of the herb, but I'm not sure it would be a ideal substitute for a. pontica.

There is a Mexican liqueur called yolixpa. I believe it has mugwort in it, along with a bunch of other stuff.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby EDragon » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:52 pm

Sweeps-

That's the one I was thinking of (yolixpa), I'll have to see if I can track down the recipe for it and give it a shot.

I know mugwort has some (at least mild) psychoactive properties, though if the hype from artemesia absinthium is any clue than we can guess it's minute.

Oddly enough I remember reading in my first homebrewing book YEARS ago that wormwood was originally used in the beer making process before hops or some other ingredient, then a pestilence hit the wormwood crops at the time and since then it was whatever the other ingredient is. Wish I could remember what book that was or more info. Was around the 1600s -1800s I think when it happened.

As a side note: any (safe) plant from the mint family usually goes well with the wormwood/fennel/anise core of absinthe. You want to build a combination of bitter and sweet that plays off each other (as well as strong flavors and weak flavors). Just my 2 cents :)

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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:22 am

I guess I'm the lucky guy. I've always been able to source the traditional ingredients. The worst that happened was I had to use angelica root one time instead of foliage. Har! I just ordered 3 pontica plants and A. a. seeds. I know it's not the best time of year, but I needed to make a start. And they were surprisingly afordable.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Sat Jul 19, 2014 7:11 am

Let us know if you find a yolixpa recipe.

Harvested my wormwood yesterday. I would have preferred to give it another week or so, but we have a lot of rain forecast for the next ten days, so I figured I should get it while it was dry.

My pontica is not ready yet and I don't know what's going on with my genipi. The plant looks healthy, but there's no sign of flowering yet. Usually it starts throwing out the first flower spikes in mid June, but I guess the weather has been a bit weird this year.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:11 am

Seems like weird weather is the new normal all over.

Since pontica doesn't flower (so I hear) how do you determine when to harvest?
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:33 am

It does flower, but not with any predictability, or at least, nothing that I've figured out. What I've done is wait and see if it sets flower buds. If it does, I harvest it like a. absinthium; if not, I'll harvest it in late august.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby EDragon » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:04 pm

anywhere to find pontica seeds that anyone knows of in the US/Canada?
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:16 pm

From sweeps on 11-20-13.

sweeps wrote:Happy to help. I come from at least five generations of commercial horticulturalists, so plants are very much in my blood.

You can get wormwood seed from Horizon Herbs - another great company to do business with:

https://www.horizonherbs.com/product.asp?specific=808

Also, if you are feeling impatient, you can buy it as a potted plant from them.

Roman wormwood, (artemisia pontica - used for the coloring stage) is also really easy to grow, but can be a little tough to get started and seed is very hard to come by. You can buy the plant from Sandy Mush:

http://www.sandymushherbs.com/

Again, one of these in a five gallon bucket will give you enough herb for a serious absinthe habit. Growing it in a bucket will also reduce the chances of it taking over your entire neighborhood.

I should perhaps add a disclaimer that I have no financial interest in any of the suppliers I have mentioned. I am just a very satisfied customer.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:21 pm

sweeps,

I hope things are looking up. How was the wormwood harvest? Would you like to trade some for some Virginia 2013?

Curious. Do you find that potted plants are subject to effects of the local terroir?
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:46 am

Harvest looks pretty good, but I'll know better when I've got the first round of drying and stripping done. I divided and repotted the plant right after harvest, which I hoped was not a mistake. Apparently it wasn't, as they are already sending out lots of new growth.

I'm pretty sure we must have some local terroir effects, as the growing medium is based heavily on compost fuelled by our livestock. If we were growing everything in miracle grow, I'm not sure it would be the same. Actually, I'm pretty sure it would not be the same.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:41 pm

So, after the final drying I have about 12 ounces of the good stuff from a single wormwood plant in a 5 gallon bucket. Actually, I say "good stuff", but I compared it with what it had left of last year's harvest and I'm not sure it's quite as aromatic. Maybe I harvested a little too soon, or maybe the growing conditions were not quite right, but either way I'm happy to have a harvest at all, given what the weather did to our other plants.

Still no sign of any flowers from the genipi. I guess I'll harvest it this month when I harvest the pontica.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby Kirko » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:14 am

skow69 wrote:Seems like weird weather is the new normal all over.

Since pontica doesn't flower (so I hear) how do you determine when to harvest?

It does flower regularly in far Northern climates, I'm in Virginia and it has never flowered here, even though I've been growing it under different conditions for 15 years but friends in New York have it flower every year.
Pontica is ready to harvest when it turns silver and becomes fragrant, around late July, if the bottom few leaves start turning brown, it's ready to harvest. In climates that were conducive to flowering, during the Belle Epoch, Pontica was most commonly harvested before it flowered.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby Kirko » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:17 am

Genepi peaks quickly, harvest it when it is most fragrant and before it starts to brown off. The browning occurs with the full on flower or at the time that would be full flower, generally too far for herbs.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:06 pm

Kirko, thanks for the advice. It's good to see you back on the forum.

One of my pontica plants did have a few flowers last year, in Oregon, so now I have a better idea of what to look for. It's very fragrant. I am quite happy with it.

I put in 2 genepi plants (A. genepi) and a hyssop last year that are just hanging on. They are in the same plot with some A.a. and a Balsamita that are doing great, so I'm hoping it was just the stress of shipping and transplant.

I've grown vegetables through most of my life, but I gotta say I find the herbs to be much more rewarding. Or maybe it's just that I enjoy drinking absinthe more than eating my vegetables. Lol.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby kiwi Bruce » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:52 pm

But I digress...has anyone made Absinthe by putting the Herbs in a thumper and run it that way? Just an idea....Kiwi
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sparky marky » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:52 am

Anybody got a source of really good herbs in the UK or that will deliver to the UK and not cost a months salary?

I just bought samples of some of the jade absinthe to taste alongside mine.i got Terminus, nouvelle Orleans and the 1901.
While my offering tastes similar and is in the same league nobody in their right mind would pick mine as a favourite in a tasting. They are all less harsh, less earthy with a more floral aroma, this difference is especially evident on the aroma when neat. They are more similar when taken with 2 or 3 parts water. The jades also louche fully by 1:1 dilution while mine need a good 2.5 - 3 to get a good louche.

I'm growing my own grand and Roman wormwood but it won't be ready till August -ish.
My recipe is something like this:

5L 85% neutral from an all bran recipe (from best hearts at 95.5%, this stuff is smooth like water)
450g anise seed
150g fennel (not Florence, can't find that stuff)
230g dried grand wormwood
30g coriander seed
20g Angelica root
7g orris root

I steep this for 24hrs then distill nice and slow, then colour with lemon balm and mint.

Any tips from the absinthe obsessed?
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:33 am

Most of us "Absinthe Nuts" start off with the classic Pontarlier recipe. According to their web site jade does also...so
The Scientific American, June 1989, pp112-117 describes a 1855 recipe from Pontarlier, France.

Swiss Absinthe of Pontarlier :- per liter

Alcohol 85 ABV 1 lt
Absinthe 26 gms
Anise 53 gms
Fennel 53 gms
Water (at distillation) 0.5 lts
Coloring
Small Absinthe 10.5 gms
Hyssop 10.5 gms
Melissa 5 gms

this is just a benchmark but it is a good place to start...yours is

neutral 95.5% 1 ltr
dried grand wormwood 46 gms
anise seed 90 gms
fennel 30 gms

coriander seed 6 gms
Angelica root 4 gms
orris root 1.4 gms
coloring herbs?

the French also call for an herb soak of no more than 12 hrs, whether this was to stop unwanted flavors from the herbs being extracted or just to save time is debatable.
You are high on the Absinthe and low on the fennel... fennel adds a sweet note that is said to balance the anise and as you (and I ) can't get Florentine Fennel we are stuck with regular, so I use 25% more to make up for the lack of oils in the regular fennel. You should find that the added fennel will help the louche of your Abs or you could add a small amount of star anise...say 5 gms/lt with the trinity.
All told your recipe is sound...remember, there were 90 absinthe distilleries in Pontarlier in the 1880's and there were five other major Absinthe producing cities as well...SO! there are no WRONG recipes. There must have been hundreds of different Absinthes available, we haven't got a clue what went into them all....KB
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:26 pm

Hi sparky. Sorry I can't help with the herbs. Wrong side of the pond. I'm always a little surprised that there don't seem to be any suppliers in northeastern France or Switzerland. Somebody has to be growing tons of the stuff around there, but I have never seen it advertised or discussed. Might be a good excuse for a trip to Pontarlier while you can still move around Europe with relative ease. lol

You set the bar pretty high with the Jades. How long does your HG rest before sampling? Your flaws sound like the kind of things that improve with age. Most COs (I'm told) spend 6 months in bulk storage before bottling. Mine doesn't always survive that long, but I always find a noticeable improvement in just 6 weeks.

Are you grinding the anise and fennel seeds? That will improve your louche tremendously. Like Bruce, I would increase the fennel, also. Do you collect tails for the next batch? And add plenty of water when you distill? The oils we want are hydrophobic, more water supposedly helps to drive them out of the boiler. I can't recommend the use of star anise. I just don't like the stuff, and it can quickly become overwhelming.

You're going to love having real whole wormwoods to work with. I'll bet you will find a distinct improvement when you can add some pontica to the coloring. I would use some hyssop also, and maybe angelica. I often think the finishing herbs don't get enough credit.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sparky marky » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:33 am

Wow! Thanks for the awesome replies guys! Loads of good things to think about.
kiwi Bruce wrote:
You are high on the Absinthe and low on the fennel... fennel adds a sweet note that is said to balance the anise and as you (and I ) can't get Florentine Fennel we are stuck with regular, so I use 25% more to make up for the lack of oils in the regular fennel. You should find that the added fennel will help the louche of your Abs or you could add a small amount of star anise...say 5 gms/lt with the trinity.


I don't remember where my recipe was adapted from....I've been using it for five years and have been happy with it until I tasted it alongside some of the best out there, time for a change! Aim high right?
I do remember that I went big on the anise and low on the fennel because I read somewhere that lots of anise is good for a louche and regular fennel (not Florence) can give some undesirable flavours. But I took these statements at face value and have never really asked why. I have set aside enough neutral for another 5 litre batch so once my wormwood plants flower in the summer I will use a herb bill for the trinity similar to the one you posted Bruce. When you do it, do you take the pontarlier quantities for fennel and add 25%?
I think I will stay away from star anise though, I used to use 4g/L but while the oils are great for a louche I'm not so keen on the flavour.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sparky marky » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:56 am

skow69 wrote:Hi sparky. Sorry I can't help with the herbs. Wrong side of the pond. I'm always a little surprised that there don't seem to be any suppliers in northeastern France or Switzerland. Somebody has to be growing tons of the stuff around there, but I have never seen it advertised or discussed. Might be a good excuse for a trip to Pontarlier while you can still move around Europe with relative ease. lol

You set the bar pretty high with the Jades. How long does your HG rest before sampling? Your flaws sound like the kind of things that improve with age. Most COs (I'm told) spend 6 months in bulk storage before bottling. Mine doesn't always survive that long, but I always find a noticeable improvement in just 6 weeks.

Are you grinding the anise and fennel seeds? That will improve your louche tremendously. Like Bruce, I would increase the fennel, also. Do you collect tails for the next batch? And add plenty of water when you distill? The oils we want are hydrophobic, more water supposedly helps to drive them out of the boiler. I can't recommend the use of star anise. I just don't like the stuff, and it can quickly become overwhelming.

You're going to love having real whole wormwoods to work with. I'll bet you will find a distinct improvement when you can add some pontica to the coloring. I would use some hyssop also, and maybe angelica. I often think the finishing herbs don't get enough credit.


Yeah, it's weird... I can't find any French companies selling the stuff online. I wonder where the absinthe producers are buying theirs?
I agree that just sitting for a few weeks make a big difference, much bigger for absinthe than for my other redistilled flavoured spirits. This latest batch is only 2 weeks old but the flaws are still present in a batch from last summer, this is the first batch i kept tails from so il be using them next time. As for using lots of water in the pot I agree- I macerate at 85% then knock it back to 40 just before I start. I think my methods and practices are mostly sound, just need to get my herbs and recipes down...
When you say you use Angelica in the colouring stage is this Angelica root you are using? My Angelica root is sorta brown and doesn't really strike me as a colouring herb (flavour wise)
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:40 pm

Recycling your tails will probably make a great improvement to your product. There are lots of oils there that were escaping before. For some reason I always get a big kick out of seeing the collection vessel louche about halfway through the tails. It just cracks me up.

The idea of using angelica in the coloring came from A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Beverages, written by P. Duplais in 1882. Here is the passage.

We cannot omit to recommend the use of calamus aromaticus, and angelica root in the
proportion of 125 grammes to the hundred litres of the product, with balm, hyssop, and the
small absinthe for the coloring, which should always be made hot.

All I can say is that it made a noticeable improvement for me.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:55 pm

sparky marky wrote:My Angelica root is sorta brown and doesn't really strike me as a colouring herb (flavour wise)


I think it's important to keep in mind that the final maceration is more than merely a simple coloring process. It's comparable to putting a whiskey on oak - the goal is not simply to turn it a nice color, but also to add additional depths to the flavor.

I believe it is most often in the finishing step that home made absinthes (and many commercial offerings) fail. Because Roman wormwood is often difficult to get, especially of the quality that you want for drinks, many makers omit it and wind up with something that may be a pleasant shade of green, but lacks the complexity added by the A. pontica. I would go so far as to say that you can't make a really great absinthe without both kinds of wormwood - grande absinthe (A. absinthium) and petite absinthe (A. pontica). I believe there was a reason that the drink was named absinthe, despite the dominant flavor being anis. I am fairly confident that when you have your own properly harvested herbs available, you will notice a definite improvement in the quality of your absinthe, especially when combined with adding feints from previous runs.

As for angelica - it doesn't bring a lot to the party color-wise, but as well as adding its own flavor, it also acts as a fixative to help stabilise the other flavors added during the finishing step.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sparky marky » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:51 am

sweeps wrote:
sparky marky wrote:My Angelica root is sorta brown and doesn't really strike me as a colouring herb (flavour wise)


I think it's important to keep in mind that the final maceration is more than merely a simple coloring process. It's comparable to putting a whiskey on oak - the goal is not simply to turn it a nice color, but also to add additional depths to the flavor.

I believe it is most often in the finishing step that home made absinthes (and many commercial offerings) fail. Because Roman wormwood is often difficult to get, especially of the quality that you want for drinks, many makers omit it and wind up with something that may be a pleasant shade of green, but lacks the complexity added by the A. pontica. I would go so far as to say that you can't make a really great absinthe without both kinds of wormwood - grande absinthe (A. absinthium) and petite absinthe (A. pontica). I believe there was a reason that the drink was named absinthe, despite the dominant flavor being anis. I am fairly confident that when you have your own properly harvested herbs available, you will notice a definite improvement in the quality of your absinthe, especially when combined with adding feints from previous runs.

As for angelica - it doesn't bring a lot to the party color-wise, but as well as adding its own flavor, it also acts as a fixative to help stabilise the other flavors added during the finishing step.


Cool, thanks for all the constructive comments guys! I think I have about 6-8 tweaks to make for a better product in the next batch when my wormwoods bloom this summer. Picked a leaf of the grand wormwood last night which has started sending out new growth. Rubbed between my fingers it smells amazing compared to the dried stuff I bought. :clap:
How do you guys process it at harvest? Any special methods? I was planning on picking it when it flowers, tying it in small bunches and hanging it upside down somewhere dry. Then il strip the leaves and flowers off the stems when I'm ready to use it.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby kiwi Bruce » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:34 pm

Skarky, do you have a copy of the Absinthe pages from "A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Beverages" written by P. Duplais in 1882. ? ? ?
If you don't...I have an E-copy I can send you...KB
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:43 pm

sparky marky wrote:I was planning on picking it when it flowers, tying it in small bunches and hanging it upside down somewhere dry. Then il strip the leaves and flowers off the stems when I'm ready to use it.


Hang it for just long enough to dry out thoroughly. Once dry, strip it and get it into some airtight containers and store in a cool dark place. Don't let your wormwood flower for too long before harvesting, as it quickly starts to lose flavor and aroma. Pontica doesn't always flower predictably, so some guesswork is needed. As a rule of thumb, harvest it at about the same time as your grand wormwood and you shouldn't go too far wrong.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:25 pm

kiwi Bruce wrote:Skarky, do you have a copy of the Absinthe pages from "A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Beverages" written by P. Duplais in 1882. ? ? ?
If you don't...I have an E-copy I can send you...KB


Sorry. You can get an English translation of the whole book from Google Books for free.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sweeps » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:05 pm

Here:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4534

The other chapters are definitely worth reading too.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby skow69 » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:46 pm

Thanks, man.
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby stillvodka » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:52 pm

Sparky,
Give these ago, I buy from them, use the search box for what you want http://www.bristolbotanicals.co.uk/home
and for the Pontica Wormwood (Artemisia Pontica http://www.absinthe-dealer.com/absinthe ... mwood.html
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Re: My best Absinthe so far...

Postby sparky marky » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:10 am

'Mazing, thanks!
Printing those off now...

stillvodka wrote:Sparky,
Give these ago, I buy from them, use the search box for what you want http://www.bristolbotanicals.co.uk/home
and for the Pontica Wormwood (Artemisia Pontica http://www.absinthe-dealer.com/absinthe ... mwood.html


Not come across Bristol botanicals yet. What is their anise and fennel like? Iv just bought some Melissa and hyssop plants, adding to my garden that already contains grand and petit wormwood and coriander. Just gonna take it upon myself to grow as many of the herbs as I can haha!
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