“Louche efekt”

Absinth should be diluted with water in the proportions of 1:3 for the so called “louche” effect to work.

The “louche” effect has nothing to with the quality of the absinth, it is simply a chemical reaction that is dependent upon the amount of terpenes in the absinth, the temperature of the absinth, and the level of alcohol in the absinth. Put simply, the louche effect is explained by the theory of molecular motion and the special abilities of alcohol. Alcohol is able to dissolve oil molecules into itself (they vanish) when the precent of alcohol in the mixture is above 50%, when the alcohol precent decreases below 50% the oil molecules are released from their dissolved state and become tiny molecules suspended in the alcohol/water mixture. These oil molecules reflect light making them appear cloudy, and giving the absinth the “louche” effect.

As the concentration of alcohol decreases, the space between the molecules increases, and thus the alcohol molecules loose their ability to keep the terpenes dissolved and they are dropped into the water. Ouzo has an alcohol percent under 50% but is able to keep the anise terpenes dissolved until the Ouzo is chilled below zero. In this instance the alcohol molecules are forced together and loose their ability to keep the anise flavor compounds dissolved because there is no space (theory of molecular motion: as molecules “cool” the space between them decreases) and the terpenes crystalize and look like snowflakes suspended in the Ouzo. The main terpene in absinth responsible for the louche is from anise or star anise called Anethol. Which is also an ingredient in the production of Ecstasy.

There are many alcoholic drinks based on anise that louche: Pastis (France), Raki (Turkey), Ouzo (Greece). The problem is that Anise is an overpowering flavour. To ensure a louche, the producer must add a specific amount of anise, and this amount overpowers the other herbal flavours and numbs the tongue. We use less anise to preserve a rounded herbal flavour, this is at the expense of a fast louche. Our absinth will louche, but the ice needs to be present. This is due to our freeze filtering process. Destructive distillation passes unnecessarily large amounts of anise oil to the absinthe, which leads to the tongue numbing anise taste. Whereas we freeze filter out absinth which has the effect of removing the anise terpenes (they become solid around 10 deg. cel), allowing for a more balanced and rich flavour.

This is also based on the theory of molecular motion. As our absinth is chilled, the volume of the liquid decreases as the motion of the molecules decreases. This means the space between the molecules that keep the terpenes dissolved also decreases and the liquid looses it ability to keep the anise (and other) terpenes dissolved. They become congealed and do not pass through the filters. The result is more flavourfull absinth because the excess anise terpenes have been removed, and therefor will not louch at room temperature. For our products to louche, the absinth mixture needs to be chilled with the presence of ice.

Make Bairnsfather Abisnth louche:
Add 4 cubes or more of crushed ice in a glass. Pour in 1/3 absinth and allow for the ice to melt into the absinth and lower the temperature of absinth for a few minutes. As it begins to turn milky pour in the remaining 2/3 water or other mixer and you will have a nice milky green herbal absinth beverage.


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