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-- By Matt Summers in Stony Brook, NY on Mon, 7 May 2012 at 10:36.
With the current environment being how it is, I almost didn't do this review. But, then again, I don't expect the current environment to change anytime soon...so why not?
My whimsical purchase of Century Absinthe came directly on the heels of the folks over at L' Absinthe Rend Fou challenging a distiller of thujone-free, made-for-America "absinthe" to a debate. Add the fact that they have also taken to liking Century Absinthe and you have conspiracy! Those dirty bastards! Not really, but this was the line thrown by a Swiss Absinthe PR man to the boys over at Absinthe Lounge. But I digress, it's about damn time to proceed with this review.
Let's start with some facts:
Now, 200 bucks is a lot to spend on a whim. Especially with absinthe since, to be frank, you never know what you're going to get (ie. do your personal tastes jive with the reviews, etc.). Hell, I'd go so far as to say that if you're spending over 100 you should be damn sure you know and/or like what you're getting yourself into. But that's just me. (Yes, King of Spirits Gold, you can fool me once, but can you fool me twice? More later).
With Century, I didn't know what to expect. High thujone! Rare! Decadent! so much to ponder while I waited for my order to arrive...
Upon arrival I got down to business. They had mentioned a "recommended" serving method earlier via a customer service email so that, I thought, would be the first route to take. The method is as follows:
Fill tumbler with ice, pour a shot of Century over ice. Slowly add iced water to taste. Simple and already good, this is how I drink my Wild Turkey.
I waited to let the appropriate chill take hold, the louche develop, and then I began the sipping process.
Anise was present in both taste and smell (although not overpowering), the alcohol lived up to its 110 proof by giving the appropriate warming sensations, and the wormwood bitterness was...not really bitter at all. This joker was smooth!
Amazed, I let the moment turn over a few times in my mind, then took another sip and discovered that it was even more enjoyable the next time, and so on and so forth until I had emptied the glass. Then I waited.
Century boasts 100 mg/per of thujone, what will happen? Will anything happen? Is this all hype? Are the "I've had all sorts of thujone drinks and none of them have done anything because thujone don't matter!" arguments true? What about the secondary effects? So I waited and carefully analyzed what would happen next.
A calm came followed by a general alertness and sense of well being. The pain, caused by a stiff neck, was dimming. But there I was, fine and not even close to buzzed by alcohol. Interesting. Were these the secondaries? I can't say, other than I know alcohol doesn't affect me in that manner.
Now, in the name of wild experimentation, I had my friend come over the next day. I was drinking other absinthe (La Fee) and I poured him some Century. Without knowing which bottle he was drinking from (blind taste tests rock), he would later on discuss similar effects as had been experienced by me the previous night.
Whether or not this is because of the thujone, wormwood, whatever: I'll leave it up to you to decide. I know what I felt and I trust one of my closest friends to know what he felt as well.
In conclusion, I can tell you that Century is an amazingly smooth drink, one that could easily replace La Valdetre as my sippin' absinthe. Only two factors stand in my way: price (it's a rare day when I bust out over 200 bucks for anything and this is no exception--although I'll probably always keep a bottle on hand) and short supply (from what I hear, Century is made in incredibly small batches).
I'll be putting more out later as this brand intrigues me, but that's all for now.
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About the effects of absinthe
When it comes to the effects of drinking absinthe, people's opinions -- and experiences -- vary wildly. Some go as far as to claim the drink is psychoactive, while others say there is no "secondary" (that is, other than alcohol-induced) effect at all.
As early as 1993, Matthew Baggott posted his Absinthe FAQ in the Usenet newsgroup "alt.drugs" (there wasn't much of the web as we know it back then). As you will suspect from the newsgroup's name, the issue of absinthe's "psychoactive qualities" was one of the interests of the document.
Some people take it further still. We definitely do not recommend any experiments with Paxil and absinthe (nor, for that matter, mixing any medicine with alcohol). Anyway, it's quite clear which way the wind blows here, since Jasmine Sailing's bizarre piece more or less concludes absinthe is a narcotic. Is it really? Yup, it does read like the girl was out of her mind when she wrote the page -- and no, we don't think the Fairy was to blame!
A far more sober look at the effects of the Green Fairy can be found in "The Return of the Green Faerie", an article written by Frank Kelly Rich of the Modern Drunkard magazine (no pun intended). Recommended reading.
What is absinthe?
What is the history of absinthe?
What is wormwood?
How about thujone?
What are the effects of absinthe?
How do I drink absinthe?
What is "La Louche" ritual?
What is an absinthe fountain?
The freedom-loving Green Fairy...
Goddess of rebel poets & artists
in France and beyond