Each year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) purchases hundreds of bottles of distilled spirits. The bottles, which are chosen at random, are then evaluated for compliance with the TTB’s labeling regulations. This annual test is called the Alcohol Beverage Sampling Program (ABSP).
Absinthe is arguably the most misunderstood type of alcoholic drink. Disproved myths and legends persist to this day, so we set out to answer some common questions.
What is Absinthe?
Absinthe is a distilled, anise-flavored spirit with high alcohol content, somewhere between 45-74% ABV, or 90-148 proof. Absinthe's ingredients include the flowers and leaves of the "grand wormwood" plant, green anise, sweet fennel, and any assortment of other herbs used in cooking and medicine.
Absinthe as we know it originated in 18th century Switzerland (though some similar concoctions may have originated in the late 1700s) and was exported around the world, with peak consumption of 36 million liters per year in France by 1910.
Absinthe experienced bans across the world in the early 1900s, due to a temperance movement, hysterical associations between absinthe consumption and mental illness, criminal tendency, violence, murderous rage, and disease, as well as outside pressure from winemakers.
Absinthe was banned in the United States in 1912, 8 years before Prohibition.