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Answers to common newcomer questions


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#61 Viseguy

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 08:22 PM

I've been reading this thread and the "Ahem" a/k/a Absinthe Dilution Matrix, and something doesn't quite make sense to me. The matrix suggests adding enough water to obtain "a final (diluted) abv of between approximately 11% and 12.5%." This means adding more water to higher-ABV absinthes, and less water to the lower-ABV ones. But doesn't adding water dilute the flavors as well as the alcohol, and aren't you washing out the flavors of the higher-ABV absinthes by adding proportionally more water to them? To this uninitiated newb, it would seem more intuitive to add water based on a desired "flavor result", so to speak, and let the final ABV take care of itself. Am I off base? Or is it a simple case of alcohol masking flavor, so that the 11%-12.5% sweet spot brings out flavor across the board? Inquiring minds....
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#62 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

First, using that Matrix as a guide to dilution is only one approach to preparing your absinthe. There are several others here. The matrix was developed in response to a number of producers in the pre-ban era that specifically recommended a dilution ratio of 5:1 with an absinthe bottled at 68%. The suggestion being, of course, that absinthe, at least according to those producers, was intended to be consumed at approximately 11% - 12%. To my knowledge (and please, distillers, jump in here if I am incorrect), absinthe is usually distilled within a fairly narrow range of 80%. So regardless of bottled ABV, the absinthe you have already has some water added to it unless it is bottled at still strength. The bottled ABV of any particular absinthe is simply a choice the producer makes for any number of considerations. If a producer would jump in and enumerate those considerations, I'd personally love to see it, but I'm not going to speak for them.

Next, I think a better and more accurate way to understand what happens as water is added to absinthe, rather than it "dilutes the flavors as well as the alcohol" is that it actually reveals flavors and aromas to a point. What's the right point? That's up to each individual absintheur. That's why all these methods are just guidelines. There is no absolute right or wrong and you may drink your absinthe any way you like. So ultimately, we are all chasing "a desired flavor result". One thing I would really suggest anyone who drinks absinthe do, from time to time, is follow the instructions in the "Dilution" section that starts with "Another very interesting and informative practice...". It can be very enlightening.
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#63 Evan Camomile

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

Much like sugar, dilution amount is individual preference.

While I don't obsess over hitting 12% exactly when casually drinking, I bet I end up close. Honestly I use my nose to tell when an absinthe is ready unless I am reviewing, in which case I measure and use my nose.

Find your taste. My tastebuds are not yours. Over time, experiment again and see if your preferences have changed. I'd bet after a year or so you'll end up somewhere in the range of 10-15% final ABV.

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#64 Jack Griffin

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:55 AM

Add water to the point where you enjoy it most. Experiment a bit, as you may be surprised what a tiny bit more can offer, or not.
It will vary from absinthe to absinthe. The point is to enjoy the glass. You'll likely get to a point where you don't think about such things, and just add water, take a sip, perhaps add a bit more, then kick back and relax. You'll see the glass will "look" like it's ready... The louche will be at a certain point, the aroma... Your instincts for what you like will clue you in, and you'll know when to stop adding water.
Also, you'll get to know your glasses, your favorite absinthes, and where the various levels fall.

#65 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:29 AM

One thing I left out of my post is my opinion that properly adding water to absinthe is probably more art than science. All of the suggested methods to which I linked are attempts to explain and guide the newcomer from a point of view of science, since that is usually the way all new arts and crafts are learned. With some experience, the art takes over and Scott did a great job of describing that.
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#66 Viseguy

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:28 PM

This is all very helpful -- many thanks! "More art than science" will be my mantra. I s'pose I'll start at 3:1 and take it from there, as per "Another very interesting and informative practice...."

My Pontarlier glasses are here, and this afternoon I'm picking up my bottle of Pacifique at DrinkUpNY. If I don't have a chance to try my first glass today, it'll be tomorrow for sure. I'm stoked! Posted Image

Edited by Viseguy, 06 January 2013 - 12:33 PM.

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#67 Père Ubu

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

One that worked was to add a small stream of cold water until the line of neat absinthe disappeared, taste/smell, and add water as needed. Works, but too tedious for my lazy butt.

Now I just roughly aim for 4:1 and then add water to taste. Besides neat ABV, each brand also has a different dilution that I enjoy. Some absinthes can be very picky about the dilution ratio they are best at. Some can taste amazing at widely different levels, although different aspects are enjoyed at each level.

#68 Leichenwagen

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:07 AM

  • Question: Will storing absinthe upright cause the cork to dry out? Wouldn't on its side be better?


#69 Brian Robinson

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:13 AM

No. Absinthe's high alcohol content can/will degrade the cork. Better to keep it upright. Corks can dry out, yes, but it takes a very long time for that to happen.

See the last paragraph in the first post of this thread.
Answers to common newcomer questions.

List of WS articles from across the web.


Help other absintheurs and newcomers by submitting a review. Click here to go to the main review page to submit your entry.

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