Absinthe has been a European tradition for a number of centuries. Just how it was discovered has been lost, but it has its origins in ancient alchemy. The idea of putting herbs in a still with spirits and distilling it probably goes back to the Bronze Age. The process was once used for many types of medicines.
Gin and Absinthe are made in basically the same way. Spirits are obtained from a particular source. Fruit and grain are generally used. Fruit sources are consider superior for spirits for Absinthe. I have seen one recipe that recommends using Zinfandel wine for the base eau-de-vie.
A century ago, in France and Switzerland, the makers of Absinthe were so hard pressed to keep up with the demand; they would use tubers, roots and tomatoes to make alcohol for cheap Absinthe. This practice put quality aside. Soon they were adding cupric salts for color, and some would add laudanum, and many other options for color and flavor that were not ever in Absinthe before.
The truth is at the time of the phyloxera out break in France during the 19th century, the wine industry collapsed. Grapes as a source of quality eau-de-vie as a base for Absinthe, was suddenly out of the question. This is what really led to the search for cheaper sources of eau-de-vie, not just commercial demand. I am dubious of old bottles of Absinthe for this very reason. The various short cuts led to bad Absinthe. The reputation of Absinthe was further besmirched by flagrant abuse of a popular, yet poor quality product.
Today we are able to revive certain formulae from days gone by. I am motivated to make the best possible Absinthe with the best source of eau-de-vie I have found, honey and apples. We make wine from the honey and apples from an old family recipe, and then distill it on the antique Germain-Robin Cognac still. (This is the same stillroom I first came to work in with Hubert Germain-Robin, in 1989.)
The spirits are gently blended with pure clean water, then, we add the herbs needed to make Absinthe.
After one week we place the herbs and spirits in the still and distill it in a still especially made for Absinthe.
The result is nothing less than wonderful:
Absinthe rare and exquisite. The herbs are hand selected for their quality, appearance, and taste.
Each carefully grown and handled herb contributes to the overall taste.
Add water for the louche, and Absinthe becomes an opal in the glass. Hold it to the light, and see a world of colors.
Taste and explore the realm of the Green Faerie. The recipe that has evolved into my formula is said to be a Swiss tradition, Absinthe Blanche.
After distillation is done, the distillate is kept pure and clean. Nothing is added for color, ever. No sugar or any kind of sweetener is added to my Absinthe. With such a clean distillate, why muddy it with impurities we have distilled away? I have found it to be absolutely superior.
I took the time to experiment with several different recipes for Absinthe over the years. I always trusted my palate and the palate of my friends to tell me if I am on the right track. Over the years we simply reached a pinnacle and stayed there.