Liquor Laboratory

What Does Absinthe Taste Like? Unraveling the Mythical Flavor

What Does Absinthe Taste Like

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Lydia Martin

In the spirits world, Absinthe is that cool intriguing spirit with a mysterious lengthy history. At one point, it was even considered illegal – but that didn’t stop writers like Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway from cherishing the “green fairy drink.”

So, what does Absinthe taste like? I’m a person who knows a lot about making drinks, and I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Absinthe.

Absinthe tastes like black licorice candy with a bitter and earthy flavor. But there’s more to it than just being the devil in the little green bottle.

Stick around because we’ll discuss in-depth everything you need to know about the Absinthe taste.

Absinthe: What Does It Taste Like?

Bottle and a Glass of Absinthe

When describing Absinthe’s taste, some folks say it’s like black licorice, while others lean towards a strong anise flavor.

Its flavor ultimately depends on which type of Absinthe you’re sipping on. Some quality Absinthe dial up the licorice, while some keep it more subtle by letting dried flowers and other herbs take center stage.

“Absinthe: Unveiling the Mystique of Flavors and History in a Glass.” – Liquor Laboratory 

That being said, this distilled alcoholic beverage isn’t exactly known for being the smoothest sip. Its flavor can be intense, bold, and apologetic – but that’s kind of its charm. It’s a drink that doesn’t shy away from its distinctive flavor.

Absinthe’s Flavor Notes


Absinthe has a complex flavor. The green distilled spirit has black licorice, fennel, and anise notes. However, it’s important to note that not all Absinthe tastes the same. But do you know what sweet vermouth tastes like?


While most Absinthe are green, red Absinthe does exist. It gets its color from hibiscus, red basil, and red fruits.

The red absinthe taste has grand wormwood, licorice, and floral notes, thanks to the additional red ingredients. [1]


Describing Absinthe’s distinct flavor and finish can be complex. It has a hint of herbs and black jelly beans that taper off into a long, lengthy finish – sometimes lasting for hours.

What Does Absinthe Smell Like?

Pouring Absinthe on a Glass

Green Absinthe boasts a complex aroma akin to an herb garden. You’ll catch notes of green anise, fennel, wormwood, and other herbs like coriander, angelica, and lemon balm.

Some folks might find its aroma too strong for their liking. However, some love savoring its scent and peeling back the layers of what makes Absinthe smell so good.

Does Absinthe Taste Good?

Whether or not you enjoy Absinthe depends on your preferences. Many Absinthe drinkers (us included!) think it’s one of the most interesting and complex drinks.

That said, Absinthe isn’t your run-of-the-mill drink. It’s extremely potent, akin to a fireworks show on your tongue.

“Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder and the mind wander.” – Oscar Wilde

Some people find its intense flavor harsh. It also leaves a hauntingly long aftertaste, sometimes lasting for hours (or even days).

Is It Licorice-Flavored?

While many think of Absinthe as the liquid version of licorice, the truth is more nuanced. Absinthe isn’t made from licorice root but from anise, fennel, and wormwood.

Wormwood is a bitter herb notorious for its health benefits and hallucinogenic properties. Its flavor is akin to black jelly beans.

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How Do You Drink Absinthe?

Bottle and a Glass of Absinthe

Absinthe isn’t something you chug down because of its strong flavor and massive alcohol volume (sometimes as high as 74%). The best way to enjoy this high-proof drink is with water, sugar, and ice.

Here’s how you can get the perfect Absinthe drink:

  1. Pour some ice-cold water into a glass.
  2. Add about one teaspoon of sugar for every liter of Absinthe. Stir until the added sugar melts away.
  3. Now, add the Absinthe – the amount is up to you. Most folks prefer a milder taste, but if you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and add more.
  4. Enjoy! Absinthe has a potent alcohol content, so drink responsibly.

The Absinthe Drip is France’s favorite way of enjoying the spirit. This is done by placing an Absinthe spoon with a sugar cube atop a glass of Absinthe. Water is poured slowly over the sugar cube, which dissolves and flavors the drink.

Read: What Does St Germain Taste Like?

Does It Make You Hallucinate?

No, Absinthe won’t make you hallucinate. Drinking Absinthe won’t make you see pink elephants or dancing fairies.

However, this isn’t to say that these claims were unfounded. Thujone is a natural compound found in Absinthe, which could cause hallucinogenic effects if consumed excessively. Absinthe made a legal comeback in the US in 2007 with only trace amounts of thujone. [2]

Furthermore, back in the day, Absinthe brands added chemicals like copper sulfate and antimony trichloride, which could lead to alcohol poisoning and hallucinations.

Lastly, we’ll clear the air: Absinthe isn’t an outlaw. It got banned back in the day because it gained popularity, which didn’t sit well with the sales numbers of other alcohol.

FAQs Related to What does absinthe taste like?

What does absinthe taste like?

Absinthe has a complex flavor profile characterized by its distinctive herbal and botanical notes. It typically tastes strongly of anise, with additional flavors of wormwood, fennel, and various herbs, often accompanied by a bitter undertone.

Is absinthe similar to other spirits or liqueurs in taste?

Absinthe has a unique taste that sets it apart from other spirits or liqueurs. Its strong anise flavor distinguishes it, but it also has herbal and botanical elements that contribute to its complexity.

Can you describe the sweetness level of absinthe?

Absinthe can vary in sweetness depending on the brand and style. Some absinthes may have a subtle sweetness from added sugar or botanicals, while others may lean towards a drier, more bitter profile.

What are the prominent flavors in absinthe?

The prominent flavors in absinthe include anise, wormwood, fennel, and various herbs such as hyssop and lemon balm. These ingredients combine to create a multi-layered and aromatic taste experience.

Can you compare the taste of absinthe to licorice or black licorice?

Absinthe is often likened to licorice due to its strong anise flavor. However, absinthe’s taste is more complex, with additional herbal and botanical notes that differentiate it from traditional licorice candies.

Are there different styles of absinthe with varying flavor profiles?

Yes, there are various styles of absinthe, including traditional green absinthe, clear (blanche) absinthe, and aged absinthe. Each style may offer unique flavor nuances based on the production methods and ingredients used.

In Conclusion

So, to answer the question “what does Absinthe taste like,” it’s a unique blend of herbal complexity, with notes of anise and fennel.

While some might compare its unique taste to licorice, it’s more nuanced than that. It has layers of botanicals and even a hint of bitterness. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly has its own devoted following.

So, if you’re up for an interesting experience that’s a bit different from the norm, why not give Absinthe a try?

Whether you’re drawn in by its long history, intrigued by its flavors, or simply seeking Absinthe cocktails and mixed drinks, this spirit is waiting to be explored.


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