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 / masterofmalt.com