Many Absinthe aficionados need to know much more about
the drink of the Green Fairy as well as its history. So, let's determine where is the birthplace of Absinthe.
Legend has it that Absinthe was made by Dr Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor within the Swiss Val de Travers area of Couvet. Ordinaire developed Absinthe as being an elixir or tonic for his patients and it was thought to have miraculous effects on his patients.
The important ingredient of Ordinaire's elixir was the herb worwmood, artemisia absinthium, a plant titled after the goddess Artemis. Wormwood had been used since ancient times in medicine so it was a sensible choice for Ordinaire's tonic. Wormwood contains a chemical called thujone and it was this chemical that caused the banning of Absinthe in early 1900s. Thujone was claimed to be psychoactive and also to result in psychedelic effecs similar to THC in cannabis. We now know that thujone is just not like THC and, though it can effect the GABA receptors in the brain, one needs to ingest huge amounts of thujone for this to happen and Absinthe only is made up of very small amounts.
Couvet is in the Swiss canton of Neuchatel within the Val de Travers region. It's famous for being the birthplace of Absinthe as well as for being home to the distillery of bootleg Absinthe distiller and artisan, Claude-Alain Bugnon. Bugnon was presented with an Absinthe recipe by a friend that his aunt, distiller Charlotte Vaucher, had been using since 1935. Bugnon chose to make use of the recipe to distill his personal bootleg clandestine Absinthe while in the Absinthe ban. He was the first Absinthe distiller to ask the Swiss government to get a license to distill Absinthe in 2004. In March 2005, the Absinthe ban was lifted and Bugnon can legally distill his Absinthes as well as La Clandestine was placed on sale.
Bugnon's distillery "C A Bugnon Artemisia Distillerie Artisanale" now distills his excellent selection of Absinthes utilizing the best traditional Absinthe herbs and also alpine plants. His array includes:-
La Clandestine Originale - This was the initial Absinthe to be distilled by the Artemisia distillery in 2005. It is actually produced from 10 different herbs, such as wormwood and anise (or anisÃ©) and is a winner of a gold medal during the Concours Nationale des Spiritueux Suisses. La Clandestine is 53% abv or 106 proof. La Clandestine is actually a classic Swiss La Bleue (clear) Absinthe.
La Clandestine together with wine alcohol base - This is simply like La Clandestine but is made using wine alcohol which was utilized by Pernod in the 19th century but is not a traditional base for Swiss clandestine Absinthes. Bugnon describes this Absinthe as providing a "roundness inside the mouth".
La Capricieuse - This Absinthe is a tougher Absinthe with a higher alcohol content (72% abv, 144 proof). It is in accordance with the recipe for La Clandestine although with a higher alcohol content.
Recette Marianne - Bugnon produced this absinthe because he wanted to take part in the Absinthiades in Pontarlier, France. France continue to have rigid rules regulating Absinthe - Absinthe drinks can not be labeled Absinthe and as well as complying to EU legislation relating to thujone, they also have to acquire low fenchone levels. Fenchone is the substance found in fennel, a classic Absinthe ingredient. Bugnon produced this low fenchone Absinthe especially for the French market and it won the Golden Spoon award at the Absinthiades in 2005, 2006 and 2007. It features an abv of 55% (110 proof).
Angelique Verte Suisse - It's a classic Swiss verte, or green, style Absinthe and it is produced using 12 herbs which includes wormwood and angelica. It has an abv of 72% (144 proof) and was launched by Bugnon in 2007.
Bugnon's Absinthes are accessible to buy on many sites including his own absinthe-suisse.com.
You can make your personal Swiss style La Bleue by using the Absinthe Clear essence coming from AbsintheKit.com. This essence can be ordered online for $3.95 for 20ml that makes one 750ml bottle of Absinthe or as part of a kit to create 14 bottle of Absinthe for $29. AbsintheKit's essences are made by distilling natural Absinthe herbs and you simply have to mix the essence with vodka or everclear to create a real wormwood Absinthe.
So, where is the birthplace of Absinthe? Couvet is the birthplace of Absinthe and is also the place to find some very nice present day Absinthes.