Clandestine Absinthe is bootleg Absinthe which was distributed on the Black Market during the time of Absinthe prohibition.

Absinthe was banned and made illegal in France, Switzerland and many other countries in th early 1900s after being a popular liquor since its creation at the turn of the 19th century.

Absinthe had been especially popular with the Bohemian art set in the Montmartre area of Paris. Artists and writers including Van Gogh, Gauguin, Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway were all devotees of the Green Fairy, as Absinthe is commonly known.

Anti-alcohol campaigners started to paint a bad picture of Absinthe in the late 19th century and early 20th century, blaming it for France’s growing problems with alcoholism and claiming that the chemical thujone (from wormwood) was psychoactive and was having psychedelic effects. Many said that if Absinthe was not banned then France would be a nation of mad, insane people. Absinthe was even blamed for an alcoholic murdering his family despite the fact that he had been drinking other spirits after the Absinthe. Absinthe was banned and prohibition began.

Clandestine Absinthe in Switzerland

During prohibition, there was obviously still a market for Absinthe and in Switzerland bootleg distillers still made and sold Absinthe. Switzerland was the home of Absinthe. It is claimed that Absinthe was created by a doctor, Pierre Ordinaire, as a tonic for his patients in 1789 in the Swiss town of Couvet in the Val de Travers, the Swiss Jura. In time, Couvet became the Swiss capital of Absinthe production and was obviously badly affected by prohibition. One distiller, Claude-Alain Bugnon, is said to have carried on distilling Absinthe and distilled it using a recipe of another bootleg distiller Charlotte Vaucher. The Val de Travers was well known for its wonderful bootleg Absinthe.

Absinthe was legalized in many countries in the 1990s but legalization in Switzerland did not happen until 2005. Claude-Alain Bugnon immediately applied for a licence to sell Absinthe and was the first distiller to be granted a licence for Absinthe production in Switzerland.

Claude-Alain Bugnon’s company, Artemisia-Bugnon distilleries now produce many different types of Absinthe:-

– The famous La Clandestine Originale – This Absinthe is an award winning premium La Bleue, 53% ABV (alcohol by volume). It is a clear Absinthe in a blue bottle and some people say that it got its name from the blue reflections seen when the Absinthe louches.

La Capricieuse – This Absinthe was produced to satisfy the taste for pre-prohibition stronger Absinthe and has an ABV of 72%.

Recette Marianne – This Absinthe was produced to be sold to the French market which has strict Fenchone regulations and does not allow bottles labeled Absinthe to be sold. Fenchone is the essential oil of fennel and is thought to be psychoactive. This liquor is 55% ABV and won the prestigious Golden Spoon Award in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

La Clandestine Originale Alcool du Vin – A distillation of La Clandestine Originale using a wine base.

Angelique Verte Suisse – Produced for those who want their Absinthe to be slightly more bitter and to have the traditional green color. The beautiful label on this bottle is just like antique labels depicting the Green Fairy.

The Artemisia-Bugnon uses herbs grown in the region like grande and petite Artemisia Absinthium (wormwood), hyssop and lemon balm to flavor its anise flavored liquor. No artificial colors or additives are used and many speak of the Absinthes having a “bouquet” of Alpine meadows, of honey and flowers.

The Clandestine Absinthe of the Artemisia-Bugnon distillery is available to buy on their online shop but if you want to try your hand at making your own Absinthe containing wormwood then you can use the essences from AbsintheKit.com to make your very own premium Absinthe.