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I've been noticing in a lot of recent posts mention of numbing of the tongue while drinking absinthe. I'm curious about peoples' feelings on this effect. It seems that some consider it a sign of quality or something expected in an absinthe. I'm wondering why people think this is so.

 

For those with pre-ban experience, was there any particular numbing?

What about which brands have this quality, and is it universally desired?

 

Just curious about what people think.

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Standard My understanding qualifier.

 

The tongue numbing comes from the herbs. Likewise, absinthe's flavor comes from herbs. Reduce the numbing quality of a particular absinthe and you have also changed that particular absinthe's flavor. I think it might be fairly impossible to either increase or decrease the tongue numbing effect without completely changing the flavor profile. I've always considered the numbing sensation an expected side effect without thinking about it being a negative or positive attribute.

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I really enjoy the tongue numbing effect. Especially if it's gentle and doesn't effect or distort the flavor of the Absinthe. I'm not sure exactly why I enjoy it but for me it's a plus. It makes me think I've been chewing coca leaves, not really. But I do find it pleasant and unique though and for me a part of the experience of drinking Absinthe. :twitchsmile:

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Some more than others but all to one degree or another. Its been awhile since I've had it but Jade VS had a reputation as being very tongue-numbing.

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It's a factor in the finish for me for sure. If it's overly numbing, especially on the sides of the tongue, that isn't as pleasant. But if it's subtle and more in the center of the tongue, I don't mind. I don't recall having an absinthe in which there was absolutely none at all of this sensation for me.

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In most of my experience, I would use the term "numbing" loosely - that sort of effect has been very subtle with any of the absinthes that I enjoy. If it's anything more than subtle, I wouldn't think of it as a positive quality at all, but instead as more of an irritation. I remember a few lesser quality absinthes that had an intense numbing sensation - I didn't like it.

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The only experiences I've had with the "tongue numbing" effect occurred when I underwatered my absinthe, and too much alcoholic heat resulted, or in the early days drinking a glass of Mari Mayans.

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Yes, but this doesn't explain the numbing of your brain which I'm begining to think has little to do with Absinthe. :twitchsmile:

 

For me, it seems that regadless of water ratio I always get some numbing of the tongue. It's become a trait I really do seek out and enjoy, especially when it lingers. If Wormwood wouldn't be the sole source for this reaction does anyone know exactly which herbs cause this effect?

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I always figured it was just part of the package. Just another variable to assess.

 

My Pre-ban experience was characterized by lingering tongue numbing, whatever ingredients caused it have sure settled in and permeated.

 

Coca never made my mouth numb, well, not my whole mouth anyway. Just don't drink beer and eat Salt and Vinegar potato chips anytime soon afterward. That was my last coca experience...

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DP,

I've found a certain amount of numbing effect to every quality absinthe I've had. The pre-ban samples that were especially round and full had more of it than the Pernod Fils "very green" samples, but they had it too. I feel very strongly that it's a desirable and integral part of the experience of a good glass of absinthe. Few if any other drinks have this quality, and so it becomes characteristic of absinthe.

 

It can be overly strong, of course, like any other aspect of a complex experience. Brands that are very heavy on badianne have a bit more tongue numbing than I would care for, but even the brands with little or no badianne still have this signature quality.

 

As pre-feedback I would say please do not spend too much effort trying to eliminate this pleasant and unique aspect of the drink.

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I'm not trying to eliminate it, but I think there's more than one cause.

 

I was curious because with my mini-louchefest here the other night, I didn't notice much numbing at all, even from the PF 1914 (non-very-green version). So I don't know if I'm unaffected by it any longer or what. Maybe it's the curse of the LTV or something.

 

I do remember that I used to get that sensation.

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I wonder if it might not be another genetic predisposition deal, like tasting gym socks in the François Guy, or tasting soap in drinks containing coriander? Obviously Shabba doesn't pick it up, either. If it comes and goes for you, it may have something to do with changing body chemistry, or simple overexposure?

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Gym socks in the FG???? :shock:

 

Try as I might, I can not find anyone else who has had the same kind of negative reaction to the IKE like I had. Personal body chemistry, I suppose. I would agree that is what probably accounts for the numbing effect. Hell, some cats don't get a buzz off catnip. Go figure.

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I'm not trying to eliminate it, but I think there's more than one cause.

 

I do remember that I used to get that sensation.

Hee hee. Maybe you, Absomphe and Shabba have burnt out your taste buds. :poke:

 

More than one cause? Like more than one herb? That would be a big "Yes!"

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Perhaps you're right. But...

 

simple overexposure?

 

Telling me to drink something other than absinthe is like telling me to stop drinking... :laf:

 

 

Hell, some cats don't get a buzz off catnip. Go figure.

 

One cat doesn't care for it all all; the other likes it for all of an hour - sometimes.

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Ah, numb mouth syndrome. It reminds me of my misspent twenties.

 

I like it as long as it's not too strong. My assumption has always been that too much star anise causes it. I never even considered that it might be something other than anise. Fennel maybe? I would be weirded out by an absinthe that didn't numb me at all.

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If Wormwood wouldn't be the sole source for this reaction does anyone know exactly which herbs cause this effect?

Green anise mainly. But I'm talking about a pleasant tongue numbing here, not the one you get from macerated A.a. or oil mixes.

 

The pre-ban samples that were especially round and full had more of it than the Pernod Fils "very green" samples, but they had it too.

The PF 1914 "green" has a specific and typical very pleasant tongue numbing, and this is, to me, due to the exceptional green anise they were using.

 

I feel very strongly that it's a desirable and integral part of the experience of a good glass of absinthe.

Agreed.

 

I would be weirded out by an absinthe that didn't numb me at all.

Me either, not a good sign.

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This is a good topic DP and one I haven't really seen addressed too much before. I believe it dovetails nicely with the importance of a good botanical balance.

 

Prepare for a shock: this is something Zman and I agree on.

 

Anethole = numb.

 

My tongue is fairly sensitive (carbonation hurts) and I find the numbing to be distracting; not to mention that numb taste buds get in the way of fine-tuned tasting.

 

Star anise is the primary culprit, being loaded with anethole, but a load of aniseed will do it too. A well balanced low-badiane absinthe (in my experience) will have less of it than a badiane bomb (several mass-market brands leap to mind).

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I think Hiram and Socky hit it on the head here. I think there's good numbing and bad numbing. A light numbing from the anise is good, the heavy numbing from a load of star anise is not.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if there are other herbs that have an effect or contribution depending on quality and quantity.

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(several mass-market brands leap to mind).

The Hiram Walker absinthe, and the Bols, are both so badienne-heavy that they numb the tongue completely. The La Fée and the DeKuyper are slightly better, but still pretty numbing.

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Anethole = numb.

 

'Zactly.

 

As I recall," tongue-numbing" was a really popular compound adjective used to describe the Spanish absinthes when they were first available in the late 90s, and those were definitely anise bombs that numbed the heck out of my tongue, to the point that it actually stopped wagging. :shock:

 

Recently, I sampled two older HGs that were nearly identical, except for the procedure used in their creation, and the one in which more anethole came through was by far the more tongue numbing.

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(several mass-market brands leap to mind).

The Hiram Walker absinthe, and the Bols, are both so badienne-heavy that they numb the tongue completely. The La Fée and the DeKuyper are slightly better, but still pretty numbing.

A marvelous illustration. :dev-cheers:

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