Tag Archives: Distilled Spirit

Blog Post

29

Nov

2014

The Revival of Absinthe in Europe in the Early 90’s

The Revival of Absinthe in Europe in the Early 90’s

No consideration about the future of absinthe can be made without relating a little to it’s past, and where it came from, and how it nearly came to a total end…

Absinthe is a distilled spirit, generally made without the addition of sugar, using the bitter essences of the Wormwood plant (Artemisia) which has been used since the time of the ancients as part of folk medicine. The Papyrus of Evers (1500 BC), relates to how the ancient Egyptians revered its medicinal powers, as did the Ancient Greeks a thousand years later, and many treatises on herbal medicine speak of the powers of the herb to cure all manner of ailments. Indeed it is still used in Chinese medicine as the only cure against certain forms of plasmodium transmitted malaria. The French Foreign Legion used to give a shot to its troops to prevent malaria. Even in the early 20th Century, until the Absinthe murders… In 1905, a young Swiss, Jean Lanfray arrived home drunk (in small part from Absinthe), and shot and killed his wife and two year old daughter. Over the next few years, the Swiss were so consumed by the pathos of this case, and the assertion that his madness was caused by Absinthe, that by 1908, Absinthe was firmly banned in all Switzerland. This mania spread across the continent, and by the break out of war in 1914, all of Europe except Sweden, Spain and UK had banned Absinthe. Prohibition in USA did the same thing in USA for Absinthe, and indeed all alcohol.

Rare Absinthe artifacts dating back to 1860

Rare Absinthe artifacts dating back to 1860

What happened next

Since then Absinthe continued to be made secretly & illegally in Switzerland, parts of France and Spain, but it has never re-captured its heyday importance.In the 1990’s Absinthe started being made openly again in Czech Republic and an enterprising Englishman, spotted the opportunity whilst in Prague, and started to import Absinthe, which he skilfully introduced to some of the specialist bars and clubs, and so began the renaissance of Absinthe in the UK, which has been one of the main springboards for the re-introduction of Absinthe around the world. Hapsburg Absinthe followed within a few months (originally made in Bulgaria for a few years, then produced in Italy); Trenet Absinthe also came on to the market at the same time (originally made in France & now made in Czech Republic). Since the 1990’s, hundreds of new Absinthe brand names arrived on the market… some exceedingly good, and some just coloured ethanol with flavouring.  In the early days, pretty much anything was accepted, but over the past decade, the market, especially the bar fraternity, have shown their concern to buy in and mix with the better quality spirits. As with any category, whether whisky, gin, Tequila or Absinthe, there are different qualities at hugely different prices, and that makes Absinthe all the more interesting, and that too provides a key as to where perhaps absinthe is heading …