Integrity Spirits, a Portland microdistillery, has become the first in Oregon — second in the United States — to bottle and sell absinthe, a long-illegal liqueur rumored to drive drinkers to madness. Nicknamed the “green fairy” because of its emerald green color (caused by wormwood, a key ingredient), absinthe was outlawed in the United States in 1912, arising from unfounded fears that it caused hallucinations, insanity and depravity. When the ban on absinthe production was lifted last year, Integrity Spirits’ owners, Kieran Sienkiewicz and Rich Phillips, began perfecting a recipe for the licorice-flavored concoction. Their 120-proof Trillium Absinthe Superieure, named for the Northwest’s elusive spring wildflower, is now available in Oregon liquor stores and at select bars and restaurants.
Integrity Spirits also produces vodka and gin; its Lovejoy Hazelnut Vodka is flavored with roasted Oregon hazelnuts. Integrity shares space with the environmentally friendly Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub on southeast Portland’s “Distillery Row” (home to four microdistilleries and a number of brewpubs). The sharing of resources lessens both companies’ ecological impact. Integrity gives tours by appointment; its new tasting room will open this fall.