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Absinthe: the summer drink with intriguing potential

It is a drink with a millenary charm, it owes its complexity of flavor to the aromatic herbs used in its distillation. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and benefits of the main plants used in the production of absinthe, thus revealing the secrets that give this drink its unique character.

Artemisia absinthium: The Bitter Heart of Absinthe

One of the most important and characteristic plants used in the production is Artemisia absinthium, commonly known as Common Absinthe. This perennial plant, belonging to the Asteraceae family, is native to Europe and western Asia. With its silvery-green leaves and yellow flowers, Artemisia absinthium has a distinctive presence that makes it easily recognizable.

Aroma and Characteristics: Artemisia absinthium is widely prized for its pungent, bitter aroma. Its leaves contain a variety of compounds, including essential oils, flavonoids, polyphenols, and most importantly, thujone. It is precisely the thujone that gives absinthe its characteristic flavor and unique properties.

The thujone: Thujone is a chemical compound found in Artemisia absinthium, known for its stimulating properties. Throughout history, absinthe has often been associated with legends and myths involving the psychotropic effects of thujone. However, it is important to note that commercially available modern varieties of absinthe have regulated thujone content and are safe for consumption, and even pre-ban editions have been shown not to contain high thujone content.

Traditional and Medicinal Use: Artemisia absinthium has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Since ancient times, it has been used as a medicinal herb for its digestive, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic properties. It was often used as a remedy for digestive disorders, such as dyspepsia and indigestion, as well as to relieve the symptoms of inflammation.

Revival in the Absinthe Industry: Artemisia absinthium-based absinthe has experienced a significant resurgence in the alcoholic beverage industry. After a period of prohibition and legal restrictions during the 20th century, absinthe has made a comeback, thanks to the growing popularity of craft cocktails and interest in traditional drinks. Craft distilleries are bringing classic recipes back to life, enhancing Artemisia absinthium as a key ingredient.

Artemisia absinthium, with its distinctive presence and bitter taste, is central to the production of absinthe. In addition to its aromatic characteristics, Artemisia absinthium offers a rich history of medicinal use and a connection to the fascination and tradition of absinthe. Knowing its properties and benefits allows us to appreciate even more the complexity and elegance of this unique drink.

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Green Anise (Pimpinella anisum): The Essential Sweetness

Among the main ingredients used in the production of absinthe, Green Anise, scientifically known as Pimpinella anisum, plays a fundamental role. This annual herbaceous plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia and is widely prized for its aromatic seeds.

Aroma and Characteristics: Green Anise is known for its distinctive, sweet and fresh aroma. Its seeds contain a compound called anethole, which gives absinthe a sweet and refreshing note. The green anise adds a depth and complexity to the flavor profile of absinthe, balancing the bitterness of the artemisia absinthium.

Traditional and Culinary Use: Green Anise has a long history of use in culinary and medicinal fields. Its seeds are used in many cuisines to flavor sweets, liqueurs and drinks, as well as to give flavor to breads and biscuits. Green Anise is also known for its digestive and carminative properties, helping to soothe gastrointestinal ailments such as flatulence and indigestion.

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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Herbaceous Harmony

Another key ingredient is Fennel, scientifically known as Foeniculum vulgare. This perennial plant, with its yellow flowers and thin leaves, is native to the Mediterranean and is appreciated for its sweet and fresh aroma.

Aroma and Characteristics: Fennel has a distinctive aroma and a sweet, slightly herbaceous flavour. Its seeds also contain anethole, the same aromatic compound present in green anise. The addition of fennel to absinthe imparts a herbaceous note and delicate sweetness, enriching the flavor profile of the drink.

Traditional and Culinary Use: Fennel has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for digestive problems and to stimulate the appetite. Its carminative and digestive properties make it a valuable ingredient for promoting good digestion. In addition to its use as a spice in cuisines around the world, fennel is also valued for its contribution to absinthe's complexity and balance.

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Melissa (Melissa officinalis): The Relaxing Embrace

Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis or “lemongrass,” is another plant that can be used to enrich absinthe. This perennial herbaceous plant is native to southern Europe and is valued for its fresh, citrusy aroma.

Aroma and Characteristics: Melissa has a delicate and refreshing scent, with hints of citrus. Its leaves contain essential oils, including citronellol and citral, which give the plant its distinctive aroma. Adding lemon balm to absinthe can bring a touch of freshness and harmony to the other ingredients, creating a balanced and pleasant drink.

Traditional and Medicinal Use: Melissa has traditionally been used for its calming and sedative properties. Melissa infusion can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. In the context of absinthe, the presence of lemon balm can add a note of sweetness and a relaxing sensation, completing the overall sensory experience.

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Green Anise, Fennel and Melissa are plants that enrich absinthe with their distinctive aromas and health benefits. Each of these plants contributes to the complexity of flavor and balance of the drink, creating a unique experience for consumers. Appreciating absinthe means appreciating the harmony between these distilled plants and letting yourself be carried away on an unforgettable sensory journey.




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