Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. is launching Zmaj, a limited release barrel aged artisanal absinthe. Zmaj is matured 18 months in Serbian Juniper wood barrels, the double-distilled Muscat brandy base, non-chill filtered spirit is unadulterated by any post distillation infusion of flavors or essences.
Copper & Kings says the product is, “Wealthy, sexy, lusty with a reciprocated regard for beautiful women. Extremely intelligent, super-human strength, benevolent but with a fire-breathing short-fused temper, which also could describe the spirit in the bottle.”
The historical Absinthe Green Fairy has been replaced by the mythological Balkan dragon legend Zmaj (or Zmej, Zmey, Zmeu or Zmiy – depending on region) and is pronounced “Zm-eye.” Zmaj is legendary folklore with deep historical roots across the Balkans. The original artwork on the label was designed exclusively for the release by artist Damon Westenhofer. If you’re a maker and appreciate the creative process, scroll down to see Damon’s work from the original sketch to the inked version to the final painted artwork.
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Dance with the Mythical Dragon at the Release Party
Kyleigh Selby dances with the Squallis Puppeteers Mythical Orange Dragon
“Absinthe has a somewhat mythological reputation,” said founder Joe Heron. “A reputation that is perhaps a little over-the-top, but to us the fantastical landscape represented a wonderful personality and canvas upon which to work. To imbue a sense of adventure, an incredible journey, and a lovely escapism. To let bartenders and drinkers dream a little.”
“Serbian juniper wood barrels are quite challenging maturation vessels for spirits – quite porous, sappy, not exactly efficient,” said head distiller Brandon O’Daniel. “But, oh my goodness – what character, worth it in the end.”
“A spirit of such lushness and intensity that it defies a lot of rules and expectations,” said head distiller Brandon O’Daniel. “Intense, elegant, the Muscat base adds voluptuousness and viscous mouthfeel, and the barrels add novel flavor nuance and depth that goes on and on. I’m not sure we can more fun than we are having right now.”
Is Absinthe Legal in the U.S.?
The short answer is yes. After years of requests to bring the product to the U.S. the TTB finally approved it as long as the spirit is “thujone-free.” Thujone is the element in absinthe that once made it famous for its hallucinogenic properties. As long as the product contains less than 10 parts per million of thujone it’s legal in the U.S.
Copper & Kings Zmaj Absinthe Superior is not hallucinogenic but it is a high proof at 130° (65% ABV). Here are the tasting notes provide by the company.
Appearance: Honey golden.
Aroma: Culinary fennel notes, lemon and piney with slightly lower key anise than typical absinthe.
Taste: Ginger preserves, slight “salty caramel” with sweet honey on back and licorice foundation. Lovely viscous mouthfeel.
Finish: Long lasting, lingers and goes on for ages. Super smooth with honey, honeysuckle and piney juniper.
Zmaj Absinthe Superior will be launched January 27, 2017 at the Copper & Kings distillery with an artist and distiller bottle signing and a puppet show from the legendary puppet theatre company Squallis Puppeteers including music by the world-famous Puppet DJ.
The spirit has a suggested retail price for Copper & Kings Zmaj Absinthe Superior will be $60 for a 750mL bottle.
Copper & Kings Zmaj Absinthe Superior
Artist Damon Westenhofer Original Drawing of Zmaj
Orginal images from sketch, to ink to paint. Click any image to enlarge.