Wormwood and Hallucinations:  The Truth About Absinthe

In March of 2016, Glacier Distilling Company released its Trail of the Cedars absinthe, and since then we’ve received a lot of questions about the mysterious spirit. Many tales have been told about the effects of "la fée verte," or the spirit of the green fairy, and many people still believe that it is illegal to make and sell absinthe in the United States. However, this is not true.

The federal government changed the laws in the U.S. in 2007, lifting a ban on absinthe that was set into place in 1915, and allowing the legal distillation and sale of absinthe under certain provisions. Glacier Distilling Company is fortunate enough to have access to the wormwood that thrives in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountain soil. So, to be able to take advantage of the foraging opportunities to create a truly local absinthe, the distillery sent samples of its first still run of the spirit to a federal testing lab.  The lab is measuring the amount of thujone, which is the property of wormwood blamed for creating a psychoactive response in the brain. Absinthe that is sold legally in the U.S. only shows trace amounts of thujone, which isn’t enough to make you hallucinate. In fact, we have been told that you would need to eat an entire wormwood plant to see a hallucinogenic effect, if any at all.

Trail of the Cedars absinthe is 125 proof straight out of the bottle, and we recommend “louching” (cutting) the absinthe with about three parts water for serving. Adding water to the spirit will open up all of the botanicals used in the distillation that are meant to shine through in the flavor profile.

Molly Thorvilson