Since Absinthe becomes more and more popular, there are more and more brands available. We’re currently (2010) estimating around 300 commercial sorts.
Since some years, consumers seem to prefer French or Swiss Absinthes over typical Bohemian absinthes. It seems logical because the majority of them are of inferior quality. This leads us to the question:
How can I identify decent Absinthe?
First of all, it’s YOUR taste – and taste is something you can’t argue about, because it’s highly subjective. If you like it, it’s fine for you! However we all take care about organic food and health, so we just want to make sure, we do the same with Absinthe.
Production & Coloring
It’s easy understandable that a distillate of herbs is superior to an oilmix and herbal coloring is superior to artificial coloring. Ask yourself if e.g. your Absinthe should be blue, black, or red. Most authentic Absinthes are either clear, green, yellow or brown.
Is alcohol strength of importance?
To some extend yes, but if it gets extreme (over 75% vol. = 150 proof) it’s most likely just a challenge and not made to be consumed with enjoyment.
Good Absinthe contains a lot thujone!
Thujone is certainly important to Absinthe, if an Absinthe doesn’t contain thujone, it’s no Absinthe. But it’s a common mistake thinking the more the better.
Some prefer Absinthe to be sugared. It’s also a nice ritual preparing Absinthe with an Absinthespoon etc. However if an Absinthe is already sugared by the producer, it can easily get far too sweet. So better go for an unsweetend Absinthe.
The cradle of Absinthe is in Switzerland and it was most popular in France. Even today one can say, that most decent products origin from these 2 countries. However Absinthe can’t be bound to one particular area. Good Absinthe has been produced worldwide before the ban of 1910/1915 and that may be the case today as well. It depends on herbs, alcohol, production facilities and skills.