Monday, November 24, 2008

Integrity Spirits Trillium Absinthe

Last week at the Green Dragon I ran into Rich Phillips, one of the founders of Integrity Spirits, the startup distillery that shares the same building with the Dragon. I told him that I really enjoyed Integrity's 12 Bridges Gin, and wished I had tried their Trillium Absinthe. Thinking out loud paid off for me yet again, because he invited me to follow him back to Integrity for a taste of la fée verte.

Of course I knew Integrity was distilling right there, and House Spirits is located just down from Roots at 7th and Harrison. But while we were chatting, Rich pointed out that there were three more distilleries in the same few blocks bounded by Stark, Division, 7th, and 12th: New Deal (very incognito right near the Lucky Lab), Artisan Spirits, and Highball Distillery. We're not going to get thirsty here in 97214.

Back at Integrity, Rich poured me a generous shot of Trillium into a tapered glass, and topped it off with water from an industrial-looking hose hooked up to their purified water system, as seen in the grainy cellphone photo. None of this flaming sugar-cube pretentiousness for these guys (full disclosure: I am pretentious enough to own an absinthe spoon). And really, that was the perfect way to drink Trillium: there's just the right amount of sweetness in there that I wouldn't add sugar. Diluted three- or four-to-one like that, it's very pleasing to the eye, a slight green tinge to the milky liquid. The licoricey anise flavor is smooth and beautiful -- not harsh like Ouzo or cloying like my recollection of some other anise drinks. Something in the mix numbs your mouth a little like cloves would. A very relaxing experience.

I couldn't wait to pick up a bottle of my own. I almost flinched at 11th Avenue Liquors when I saw the $60 price tag, but keep in mind that this is a concentrated solution -- 120 proof. This isn't your cheap Spanish or Czech absinthe that you pound back in hopes of seeing stars. It's a work of art, made by true believers right here in Portland. Dilute it and savor it, it's worth the investment.


  1. Oh, lord -- absinthe. That brings back some amazing non-memories with you.

  2. Lee: I have some dim recollection of that myself.

    That's the cheap Spanish stuff I was talking about :-).

  3. Two nights ago I had a dream that we had moved to California. We felt very sad about having left Texas, then we thought "Well, why the hell didn't we go to Portland? Now we'll have to stay here at least 2 years to justify the move."

    Must be stress related.