Apsynthion through the ages

I’m listening to Haley Bonar’s mesmerizingly lovely song “Out of the Lake” and sipping on a sweet Australian merlot as I type. Despite this being an absinthe blog, I don’t want to give the impression that absinthe is the only alcohol I enjoy discovering and drinking. A person can develop a fine appreciation for one item in particular only by contrasting it with other items of like kind. That being said, I’ve never felt that I had the proper palette to understand and appreciate wine the way that some folks do. When I sip on a wine, I don’t taste things like Valencia oranges, old leather, spongy tobacco, or slightly burned Spanish moss. If I concentrate very hard, I can pick out some jammy or fruity flavors, but I was recently told that “grapes” don’t really count in that context, and I don’t have too much more to offer beyond that except for wishful thinking.

Liquors like scotch, whisky, and brandy/cognac are ones that I’m much better at appreciating, although it took some time developing a palette to reach that point, and I’m still a fledgling with respect to describing and/or reviewing them with anything resembling accuracy or usefulness to someone else. Absinthe, however, is the one liquor which I seemed to understand almost immediately. Even before I knew exactly what the herbs were that I was tasting, I could differentiate between them, and trace one or two of them in other absinthes as well. While I can’t quite lay claim to being an “absinthe whisperer,” I do feel like there should be a movie made about my journey of walking and talking with absinthe as we nuzzle each other and try to reconcile less understanding folk to their own absinthes. Yes, healing relationships and building a better world; is there anything absinthe can’t do?

Also, I could afford to buy much more absinthe when the royalties checks started rolling in.

And now for something completely different: here’s a wonderful illustration from the oldest known work of botany (and pharmacology) in the world, the “Vienna Dioscorides.” The text is actually a Latin translation of information compiled by a Greek doctor named Pedanius Dioscorides around 70 A.D. Although his original text has presumably been lost, it lived on in various translations, and a Byzantine artist included illustrations in a version printed in 512 A.D. specifically for Juliana Anicia, the daughter of Emperor Anicius Olybrius. It is thought that these illustrations were heavily influenced and/or based on similar drawings produced in the Rhizotomicon of Crateuas of Pergamon, which dates back to the 1st century B.C. In all seriousness, how brilliant would it be to produce something so amazing that people were ripping it off 600 years later? While there’s still a chance that musicians will be sampling James Brown grunts and exclamations in the 25th century, I wouldn’t lay money on it.

Below, please enjoy the most ancient illustration of Apsynthion bathyprikon (a.k.a., Artemesia absinthium, commonly known as wormwood) in existence, preferably while listening to beautiful music and enjoying a glass of something equally timeless.

 Apsynthion Bathyprikon

Apsynthion Bathyprikon

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