Review: Master of Malt Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Cold-Distilled Absinthe 91.2%
One of Master of Malt’s completely hare-brained sub-brands, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth is the producer of a line of unusual spirits, including this ultra-oddity, an “absinthe” distilled to 182.4 proof.
Not a typo.
Made in the UK from English wheat and traditional absinthe botanicals (grand wormwood, anise, fennel, licorice) and a number of non-traditional ones drawn from the world of gin (coriander, lemon peel, orange peel), this spirit is distilled in a vacuum such that boiling point is at room temperature… and alcohol level is sky high.
As absinthe goes, it’s far from the madding crowd. The nose speaks more of gin than of absinthe, but doesn’t really hint that clearly at the alcohol level. Lots of lemon. Some briny character, too. It’s too powerful to get much character from sipping straight, but it’s not the vaporous alco-bomb you might be expecting.
Prepared with sugar in the traditional fashion, this absinthe does not louche. It gets a slight bit hazy, that’s about it. That said, it tastes pretty good. I might have overdone the water a bit (as hard as that is to imagine), but what I was left with in the glass was light, lemony, grassy, and easy with traditional absinthe notes. The overall effect is a bit like drinking high-end bottled water with a slice of lemon in the glass, with a touch of pastis in it.
Sure, this is a novelty spirit in the end. But as novelties go, it’s a pretty fun one.
B+ / $96
I’m kinda sad that “it’s far from the madding crowd” I like my absinthe to make me hallucinate, but this definitely sounds interesting to say the least!
Eric, absinthe doesn’t do that anyway. Never has. :)
As for this particular brand, it’s definitely an interesting beverage. After my initial review of this batch, they were kind enough to send me a prototype of batch 2, which was distilled at a bit higher temperature. It got closer to what you might think of as absinthe, but it’s still on the fringe. Very tasty though. Works well in lemonade on a hot day.
The Wormwood Society
Also, a quick remark about the ABV:
This really isn’t any different than most absinthes when they first come off the still. The only difference is that this brand isn’t proofed. Other brands add water back into the distillate to bring it down to their desired ABV, typically between 50 and 72%.
“not a typo”, and yet you could not manage to type *anywhere on this page* the actual product name. It’s ABLEFORTH, not Ampleforth.
MirKo – The company rebranded Ampleforth’s as Ableforth’s a few years ago. You can see the old branding if you poke around online: https://wetfebruary.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/19th-feb-91-2-absinthe/ or https://img.thewhiskyexchange.com/900/rum_pca1.jpg for example.