Is true absinthe still available everywhere

Encounter with the green fairy on Usedom

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Absinthe was and is a cult. Formerly known as the green fairy, the vermouth spirit is now experiencing a revival as a white fairy distilled in the Mellenthin water castle.

The mysterious green fairy

There is hardly any other alcoholic drink that has so many stories and myths about it as absinthe. Its former name alone, the "green fairy", creates a mysterious magic. In addition there is the smell of the forbidden. For a long time, drinking and producing absinthe was forbidden in many countries. It was declared poisonous in order to stop the uninhibited drinking culture at the beginning of the 20th century. It has been allowed again since the 1990s and is mainly produced in France and Switzerland. But here in Germany, too, absinthe has been experiencing a real boom for several years. But what is she actually made of, the mysterious green fairy?

Healthy herbs, yet forbidden

Absinthe is primarily a vermouth spirit. That is already evident from the name. Because the Latin word absinthium simply means wormwood. Besides this, absinthe usually contains a mixture of different herbs such as hyssop, mint, lemon balm and aniseed. Traditionally, however, these are known for their healing rather than harmful effects. The green fairy fell into disrepute not because of her, but because of her strong intoxicating effect. At the beginning of the 20th century, absinthe was drunk with a high percentage of alcohol and, above all, excessively. Bad living conditions and bitter poverty during this time often led to excessive drinking bouts, violence and alcoholism. Since absinthe was inexpensive, available everywhere and loved by almost everyone, it was simply stigmatized as the root of all evil. For decades, a ban prohibited the production and consumption of absinthe in its country of origin, Switzerland, as well as in France, where it was also extremely popular. He was not rehabilitated until the early 1990s.

Rendezvous with the island absinthe

I recently met the green fairy for the first time in Germany on Usedom. I discovered it right in the center of the island on the drinks menu of the Mellenthin moated castle, a 4-star hotel with its own brewery and coffee roastery. The first island absinthe on Usedom has recently been produced in the castle's own distillery. A good opportunity to test it out right away. To my astonishment, the fairy in my glass was not bright green, but white. As it turned out right away, that was quite right. On the way to the lavish cake buffet, where I chose a nice piece to accompany my fairy, I discovered the magnificent distillation of the moated castle by chance. I stepped closer, curious. A young man was skilfully operating the shiny copper plant. Philipp Fournes, the master distiller himself, as it turned out. When I asked why his green fairy was a white fairy, he smiled. The reason for this is that absinthe used to be colored with the chlorophyll from herbs after distillation. Today, many manufacturers simply added artificial coloring to tie in with the legend of the green fairy. This would have been deliberately avoided with Mellenthiner Insel-Absinthe. It is completely pure and a pure distillate, which is then adjusted to the desired alcohol content, in this case to 60 percent. This light absinthe is called Blanche, from the French for white.

A real pleasure: the island absinthe in the Mellenthin moated castle

I was excited. Not only from the nice and interesting conversation with the friendly distiller, but also from the taste of my white fairy. She immediately impressed me with a wide variety of flavors. In addition to the taste of wormwood, I thought I could taste coriander and aniseed out of it. As Philipp Fournes had explained to me, in addition to these ingredients, many other herbs and spices are used in island absinthe.

One of his closing sentences made a special impression on me: They made a conscious decision in favor of a white fairy in the Mellenthin moated castle. Because an artificial green color would only be unnecessary showmanship with this good absinthe, which would not do justice to this distillate. Exactly!