Germany-based Absinthes.com attempts to correct that with its collection of miniatures — 50ml bottles of absinthe available for about $10 a bottle, well within “experimental” range.
Another option: Sampler kits, often including absinthes that you can’t get at all in the U.S. The “ABSINTHEXPLORE” packs let you configure a set of three or six 50ml tubes of your choice, and the company throws in an absinthe spoon and sugar cubes so you can mix up a louche at home. Prices vary depending on what you select for the pack.
Absinthes.com sent us a three pack (they picked the absinthes)… but regardless of the particulars of the absinthes in this mix, the program is a real knockout. This is a great way to try new absinthes… presuming you can get them in your country. (Check with the company for availability.)
Thoughts on the three absinthes we got follow.
Absinthe Coeur d’Absinthe Double Distillation – A blanche absinthe from France. Briny, almost fishy on the nose. Pretty, milky white louche. Definitely tame on the tongue, with rich sweetness when properly prepared, good slugs of both spice and bittersweet licorice, plus some curious fruit notes — citrus and tropical character here and there. There’s a smooth, well-balanced finish that’s easy to love. Not incredibly complex, but incredibly drinkable and authentic. 136 proof. A- / $47 (500ml)
Absinthe Roquette 1797 – French, from a recipe dating back to (wait for it) 1797, when absinthe was just making baby steps toward becoming popular. Too strong to even sip straight, it louches to a modest translucency, a sort of gray-green color. The body is moderately anise-fueled, alcohol-forward (of course), but a bit muddy on the finish. Bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. Was hoping for more complexity in this one, but it’s interesting in a sort of historical, proto-absinthe, academic way. 150 proof. B+ / $77 (700ml)
Absinthe Libertine 68 Amer – French; made from a recipe that dates to 1894. Yellowish-green in color. Distinctly earthy on the nose. On the tongue, uncut, it offers a very bitter, amaro-like character with a very long, throat-numbingly bitter finish. Louches like buttermilk, with an initial sweetness… that quickly drops off into a massively bittersweet finish. A complex, difficult, and unexpected absinthe with touches of black pepper, coriander, and green vegetable notes. Fernet fans will be ecstatic from start to finish. 136 proof. B / $51 (700ml)