ABSINTHE, a liqueur or aromatized spirit, the characteristic flavouring matter of which is derived from various species of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Among the other substances generally employed in its manufacture are angelica root, sweet flag, dittany leaves, star-anise fruit, fennel and hyssop.
A colourless “alcohólate” is first prepared, and to this the well-known green colour of the beverage is imparted by maceration with green leaves of wormwood, hyssop and mint. Inferior varieties are made by means of essences, the distillation being omitted.
There are two varieties of absinthe, the French and the Swiss, the latter of which is of a higher alcoholic strength than the former. The best absinthe contains 70 to 80% of alcohol. It is said to improve very materially by storage.
There is a popular belief to the effect that absinthe is frequently adulterated with copper, indigo or other dye-stuffs (to impart the green colour), but, in fact, this is now very rarely the case. There is some reason to believe that excessive absinthe-drinking leads to effects which are specifically worse than those associated with over-indulgence in other forms of alcohol.