Water of Life – Absinthe Friends
I’ve danced with the ever elusive green fairy many a times and sometimes in more profound ways than other – be it in Berlin or Prague.
There is certainly no shortage of myth, folklore and fabrication around la fee verte and its qualities and facts that are proved and documented scientifically are less publicly known.
Now, when you first sample Artemisia absinthium, you might expect the exact equivalent of what was indulged in during the Belle Époque, i.e. the liquid that inspired Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Verlaine’s poetry and in its more extreme incarnations inspired van Gogh to trim his ears.
However, more recent incarnations of the position have seen many contemporary variants, some of which depart from the common perception of what absinthe should look like in terms of appearance, louche, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel.
Enter Winsome Spirits, i.e. Absinthe Friends, whose emissions’ hues, depth-of-colors, and clarity derive from the trademark green shading resulting from the chlorophyll extracted during the infusion.
Absinthe Friends’ emissions are natural and organic-looking even with the variants that are not the traditional colours, i.e. verte (green) and blanche (clear white, colourless).
Heavily inspired by Greek mythology, each of their creations is themed after the rivers of the ancient underworld, i.e. the river of woe, the river of fire, the river of death, and the river of regret.
Based on the artemisisa plant and fennel, Absinthe Friends infuse their creations with up to twenty additional herbs that give their expressions an idiosyncratic, alpine subtle and complex twist.
Take for example Phlegathon, an homage to the river of fire and flavoured this with a hint of Tasmanian pepper berry, set in scene by the fire colouring that comes courtesy of the calyces of the Hibiscus roselle.
Acheron comes with rather exotic colouring, which comes from butterfly pea flowers and flavoured from four different mints.
All of the expressions carry a rich and vibrant hue and are well-calibrated, i.e. they are not watery or “over-finished”.
The fact that Winsome Spirit’s libations are free of haze is testament to the expert finishing, which results in perfectly clear and gemstone brilliant potions.
When it comes to the ouzo effect or "louche", i.e. the final clouded effect and condition after ideally three to five parts of chilled H2O is added, both the Phlegethon and Archeron variations are rich, but translucent and opal with interesting refractory effects.
The mouthfeel is heavily informed by anise and fennel yet balanced by the myriad of herbs, which add an interesting, slightly dry and astringent character. There is a sense of weight, but it is not overbearing on the palate and certainly not heavy and chewy – au contraire, texturally, it is smooth, silky, clean, and dry-ish.
Summa summarum, Absinthe Friends stand for balanced, interesting and refreshing drinks with a non-tongue numbing lingering finish and I do not even mind sipping them neat, a quality rarely found in absinthes.
Photo from company website