Science Documents on Absinthe

These are some of the most relevant scientific documents relating to the study of absinthe. They range from the earliest papers written by absinthe's polemicists, such as Dr. Valentin Magnan, right up to the modern work of Dr. Dirk Lachenmeier and others.

It should be noted that some of the older papers contain errors or mistaken calculations, sometimes based on the findings of still earlier, erroneous work. Much of this has been detailed and documented in the later pieces.

Taxonomy of "Wormwoods" and related Artemisia Species

Below is a partial list of the many species, subspecies and varieties in the genus Artemisia, which will illustrate just how large the genus is, and how many of the plants are known as "wormwoods".  Only one however, Artemisia absinthium, is the plant which qualifies a spirit to be the drink we know as absinthe.

Read more: Taxonomy of "Wormwoods" and related Artemisia Species

 

The Life of an Anise-Flavored Alcoholic Beverage

The well-known alcoholic beverage Pastis becomes turbid when mixed with water due to the poor solubility of trans-anethol, the anise-flavored component of Pastis in the water solution formed. This destabilization appears as the formation of micrometer-sized droplets that only very slowly grow in size, thus expanding the life of the anise-flavored beverage.

Read more: The Life of an Anise-Flavored Alcoholic Beverage

 

Screening of Distilled Spirits for Thujone by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

Thujone is a monoterpenoid ketone consisting of two isomers, alpha and beta, that exist in varying ratios in different plants.  Plants such as cedar leaf, sage, tansy, thyme, rosemary and wormwood (an ingredient found in certain flavored distilled spirits such as absinthe) are known to contain thujone.  According to the FDA, alcoholic beverages must be thujone-free pursuant to 21 CFR 172.510.  TTB has developed a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS) screening method that may be used to quantitate total thujone (alpha + beta) in distilled spirits.

Read more: Screening of Distilled Spirits for Thujone by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

   

Systematic Misinformation about Thujone in Pre-ban Absinthe

Summary

The media coverage about absinthe, a bitter spirit containing wormwood (Artemisia absinthum L.), continues to repeat unsubstantiated myths and legends and the public is systematically misinformed. Especially, the theory about a significant thujone content in absinthe must be put into perspective ...

Read more: Systematic Misinformation about Thujone in Pre-ban Absinthe

 

Behaviour of thujone during distillation


Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe, Weißenburger Str. 3, D-76187 Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract
A discrepancy in the magnitude of thujone concentrations in distilled pre-ban absinthe has existed until now. Concentrations of 260 mg L-1 were derived at by theoretical calculations. Tests of authentic pre-ban absinthes and studies concerning absinthes produced according to historic recipes found concentrations below 10 mg L-1. In this study, the behaviour of thujone during distillation was studied and a significant discrimination was determined (80% yield in water-cum-steam distillation). The thujone concentrations in distilled pre-ban absinthe were then calculated with regard to the composition of wormwood derived from a literature review. Due to the large deviations of oil content and thujone concentration of wormwood, a typical Absinthe Suisse de Pontarlier from Duplais' 1855 recipe might have contained between zero and a maximum of 76 mg L-1 of thujone, the average was calculated as 23 mg L-1 with a standard deviation of 21 mg L-1. It was proven that the previous calculations overestimated the thujone content of distilled absinthe and the discrepancy was resolved as our new calculations are in good accord with the experimental findings.

Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry

Received: 24 July 2006; Revised: 4 January 2007; Accepted: 12 March 2007

The full article may be purchased from Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture .

   

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