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Absinthe will not keep its green color. What may be the issue?


LADistiller

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My absinthe loses its color after about a week to two weeks. My coloring ingredients during my secondary maceration include:

Mint leaves - 18 grams

Melissa leaves - 8.9 grams

Hyssop - 12.5 grams

Small Absinthe - 18 grams

Liquorice root (star anise) - 18 grams

Citron peel - 18 grams

Fennel - 9 grams

Should I add more Hyssop or more petite wormwood in my secondary maceration?

Cheers!

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Chlorophyll is a pigment that reacts to light forcing it into an excited state. This oxidized state readily hands off electrons to a series of transport molecules that reduce chlorophyll back to a ground state. Once chlorophyll is dissolved in high proof ethanol, it is separated from those electron stripping molecules and as a result stays oxidized. Over a short period of time, all the chlorophyll in solution will oxidize and lose it's florescence. The result is what's called a "dead leaf" color. This muddy green color is prized by absinthe drinkers as it implies the coloring step was performed with natural herbs and not added artificial colorants.

If this "dead leaf" color is what you're implying when you say your absinthe looses it's color, there's no way around it. In fact it's a feature not a flaw of a good absinthe.

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One can adjust the amount of "dead leaf" color if the chlorophyll is intact after the coloring step by the addition of certain salts. This adjusts the balance of electron transfer, can slow down oxidation somewhat, etc. But also, when exposed to light and heat (even room temperature) over time, the chlorophyll will more than oxidize, it will break down, and the color will further fade. This really can not be prevented, although keeping the product cold and dark will slow it down. This is the reason why some will bottle in dark glass or package in a carton, to increase shelf life of the color. Adding the salts will have to be included in your formula, and the TTB may or may not require you to indicate it on the label. I am not making a recommendation for the addition of salts. As the prior poster suggests, knowledgable absinthe drinkers appreciate the slow fade in color that is traditionally made. There is even a slight change in flavor, with it considered for some to taste better only after the color has faded somewhat.

By the way, it is not traditional to add so many flavors in the secondary maceration. That would be like making a compound gin. Usually, the secondary maceration is for flavors that don't come across in distillation or just for the coloring: hyssop, lemon balm, and roman wormwood. So yes, you might want to increase some of the hyssop for increased initial color, to anticipate the fade. You might also want to keep the product stored cool and dark until you need to ship it.

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>> So yes, you might want to increase some of the hyssop for increased initial color, to anticipate the fade.

We found hyssop increases thujone levels more than pontica. Have you found that to be true?

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>> So yes, you might want to increase some of the hyssop for increased initial color, to anticipate the fade.

We found hyssop increases thujone levels more than pontica. Have you found that to be true?

We haven't really investigated that much for our own spirits. I am surprised, though. Hyssop should have far less thujone as a % of its essential oil than grand wormwood (<1% versus 10's of %). Of course, the grand wormwood is distilled, reducing the amount of thujone coming across, compared to the secondary maceration of the hyssop, but I would not expect such a large increase, given the low percentage of thujone in the hyssop essential oil. What you may be referring to is the presence of pinocamphone, which is dominant in the common hyssop variety in the same way as thujone is for wormwood. Like thujone, pinocamphone is a bicyclic monoterpene that is considered hazardous for consumption. The molecule is structurally very similar to thujone. There are varieties of hyssop that can be grown that have only low levels of pinocamphone.

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