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Absinthe Bottling ABV


Absinthe Pete

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Just wanted to know if anyone out there knows why most absinthe producers in the US are bottling at 50% ABV? I talked to a guy I know at the TTB who deals with the regs on Absinthe and he said I can bottle at whatever ABV I want as long as the tax is paid and the tujone level is at or below 10PPM. Now I'm in California and don't know if that makes a difference. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

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I would contact Cheryl Lins at Delaware Phoenix for a definitive answer, but I believe it has to do with solubility of the volatile oils in the absinthe. When it is diluted below 50% the beverage may become cloudy.

Traditionally, absinthe was a very high alcohol beverage designed for dilution prior to consumption. There may also be European standards for exported products that would be worth investigating.

hope that helps.

Aaron

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I'm not sure where the idea that "most" pre-Ban absinthes were bottled at 68%. This actually isn't true. The few top brands that have come down to us were bottled in the 68-72% range. They bottled at a high proof, giving the customer more of the product and more of a product that was closer to what came from the still. Also, the louche takes longer to develop and is more interesting. They had a reputation for quality and selling at a higher proof was part of that. They weren't in the business of selling you some alcoholic water. A lot of more average brands were probably sold around 60%. Of course, that's by the time absinthe was sold in bottles (probably after 1870, or later). When sold in barrels, a high proof let the retailer water the absinthe down a little in the barrel and make some extra money.

It's my understanding that the traditional (post-ban) Swiss blanches were sold at 50%. It was an illegal product and it needed to more closely resemble pastis, anisette, etc. in order to avoid detection. (Well it was all nudge-nudge, wink-wink, anyway.)

Do the gauging math. From 70% to 50% you need to add 40 parts water per 100 parts alcohol. That's 40% more product.

I think 45% is the lowest you can go before it starts to louche in the bottle. And some people could be concerned about "absinthe shots". Sadly, it isn't always served the traditional way.

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Ah, I think that I know what you're talking about. There's a few compounded not-quite-absinthes on the market that's imported. There are a few national chains that won't allow spirits above 50% abv on their premises. There have been a few well known legal cases involved idiot bartenders lighting their patrons on fire with overproof spirits. So these distillers....whoops, they don't distill.... I mean compounders are thinking that they'll be selling a couple of cases of absinthe to every man, woman, and child in the US. Didn't quite work out that way, but that was the thinking. Well that, and it's cheaper to produce.

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As Todd mentions, there are a couple of mass-produced faux absinthe brands that bottle at 50% in order to get into bars like TGI Friday's, which won't allow anything over 50%.

Another reason for the higher proof—in my mind, the most important—is that the color is much more stable. In my experience anything below 65% or so yellows more quickly than at higher proof.

I'd head over to the Wormwood Society historic document section and FAQ if I were you. Absinthe isn't rocket science, but if you want to make an authentic product, it can be complicated and not at all intuitive.

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Marteau, I take it yours is bottles at the upper 60% range. Thanks for the info. I've been making absinthe for about a decade; the question wasn't the reason for the high proof, it was more of a legal and tax question as the ones at Bev Mo are almost all at 50%. I wanted to make sure there wasn't a restriction of some sort.

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Marteau, I take it yours is bottles at the upper 60% range. Thanks for the info. I've been making absinthe for about a decade; the question wasn't the reason for the high proof, it was more of a legal and tax question as the ones at Bev Mo are almost all at 50%. I wanted to make sure there wasn't a restriction of some sort.

Marteau is bottled at 68%. Which absinthes did you see at BevMo at 50%? The only ones I can think of would be Le Tourment (arguably not absinthe), Sorciere, and Kübler (53%). The others are all above that.

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