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Archive through April 13, 2002

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru June 2002 » Archive Thru April 2002 » Food Inspection 147 » Archive through April 13, 2002 « Previous Next »

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Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 8:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Kubler is obfuscating and Ordinaire is confused and as usual is wildly speculating about matters he knows nothing of.

No essential oil = no thujone? True. But then no essential oil = no absinthe as well.

The absinthins are what the absinthe distillation process, from its beginnings, is intended to EXCLUDE and does exclude.

These are extremely bitter, and no one wants them in their absinthe.

Is Ordinaire proposing that absinthe is to be made by excluding the essential oil of absinthium?


He is proposing the keeping of the bathwater while throwing out the baby (no, nothing to do with Chong!).

Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 6:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

by the way blackjack, I'm a cute goth chick, I swear. check the photo! Eek! In the spirit of absinthism, maybe we could turn the forum into a brothel!
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 5:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Raschied has a good point. I personally have only noticed a small difference in the secondary fx between LB (which is supposed to have 60mg, according to Betty) and NS (which is the EU limit 10mg). That vintage Pernod on the other hand was much more intense, but maybe that was the e coli.....
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 5:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, part of the problem here is that the standard protocols used for testing for thujone seem to be unreliable. That is, at least, the impression I've gotten from Ted's discussion of his work, and why he isn't going to give out any numbers until his work has been thuroughly scrutinized. That being the case, even if there were means of controlling or reducing the thujone concentrations imparted to absinthe by wromwood, it would be difficult to know if they worked or not, at least with any degree of certainty and consistancy.

Likewise, if one were to find such a de-thujonizing process, it would not be surprising if it also affected other chemicals responsible for the flavors imparted by wormwood. Whatever they do to de-caffeingate cola nuts certainly alters their flavor.

Of course, the range of flavors of products called absinthe now (and then) is broad enough that I don't think this change would likely dis-qualify a product as absinthe. Most of he Spanish products have very little wormwood flavor as it stands.

Defining what is absinthe, like most definitions, is hardly exact. I can show you a point in the middle of the Pacific ocean, but I'll be damned if I can tell you where it ends and the Indian begins. Likewise, I can tell you that an 1890 Pernod Fils IS absinthe, and that a 1990 Pernod pastis ISN'T, but many other things fall somewhere on a continuum.

If a product is made with A. absinthium and some kind of anise, and it is either distilled or made from oils (as opposed to simply steeped), for my money, it can call itself "absinthe". But this is the broadest definition possible, and includes all sorts of things which I would never drink, and might even eliminate some vintage products, like Cresonee. Thujone content doesn't enter into this definition at all, and as such, the new Kubler would be included. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and simply qualifying for the race does not make one a winner.

My honest opinion of Kubler is similar to my opinion of those brands which advertize themselves as having MORE thujone: they are pushing their product on the wrong merits. If it tastes good, and tastes like high-end vintage brands (which include the flavor of wormwood), then it doesn't matter if it has no thujone or 100 ppm. Likewise, if it tastes good but tastes more like modern pastis (like Versinthe), no amount of wormwood or thujone is going to make it competative with more traditional products.

I guess it comes down to why one is drinking absinthe in the first place. If one is looking to as closely replicate the flavors of vintage brands, then the ingredients and recipe are most important, so whatever thujone levels are created are simply a result of an accurate overall mix, not an end in themselves. If one is just looking for a tasty but exotic drink, then thujone is pretty much irrelevant one way or the other; find the brand you like best. If one is just looking to impress cute goth chicks, I have it on some authority that, unfortuately, Hill's works as well as anything.* If one is looking to see Green Fairies or whatever, well, you can get the "garantyeed gretest thujon level THC illegal liqor", but it still isn't going to happen.

* Last weekend, my girlfriend ended up talking with this quite adorable little goth-betty at a club, who was quite drunk on something Czech and getting quite touchy-feely with her. I was off in a corner and missed the whole show, I'm afraid. My girlfriend explained to the pretty-pretty that, no, the Czech Republic isn't the only place it's legal, and no, it isn't supposed to hurt when you drinkit. The girl was astonished to hear that I had seven different kinds of absinthe at home. Unfortunately, she wandered off in a daze before my girlfriend could relay the story to me, so I didn't get a chance to invite her over for a...tasting.
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 5:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

So would steaming the Wormwood leaves increase the thujone? That's an exciting prospect, as I'm just not having enough seizures, ruined relationships, suicidal bouts, or missing ears from my current LB#3....
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 2:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Kallisti, I had not read that thread. Thanks.
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 2:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

for clarification, here is the thread to which I was rather lamely referring:

Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 2:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Don's response to Kallisti:

"The normal herbal-drying procedure does not reduce or eliminate thujone."

brings up an interesting theoretical "What if?"

Thujone is one of the components of wormwood's essential oil. This oil belongs to a class called "volatile oils" because it evaporates (volatilizes) over time. If one drops some of this oil on a blotting paper, after a while it will be gone, without leaving any mark.

The "normal" drying process (30 days in the shade) is actually designed to preserve as much of the oil as possible, probably because absinthe distillers considered thujone an important component of absinthe.

Now, what would happen if we were to do an "abnormal" drying? What if we were to dry the wormwood in a way that gets rid of the essential oil?

I guess that the evaporation of all volatile substances would be accelerated by the same factors: a) heat, b) increasing the exposed surface (as in grinding the herb to a fine grade), c) increasing the air circulation, and even d) reducing the pressure (as in creating a partial vacuum).

Wouldn't it be possible to dry wormwood beyond removing the water, to the point of eliminating the essential oil? The other substances that wormwood contributes to absinthe (like absinthin) are, as far as I know, not volatile. In that case, the taste would not be affected.

No essential oil = no thujone. No thujone = legal absinthe.

The process would be easier, of course, if we start with a variety of A. Absinthium that is naturally low in essential oil.

This is only one possible way of doing the removal. If they can remove the caffeine from coffee, there must be a way of removing oil from wormwood leaves. Maybe a solvent that selectively removes oils but not water soluble substances?

Maybe Kubler's statement that they use a wormwood variety that has no thujone in it is "bullshit" in the sense that they don't want us to know the way they do it.

Considering the purchasing potential of the U.S. market, I would not be surprised if we start seeing absinthes that are made with wormwood but contain no thujone.
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 8:56 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Don just said in plain terms what I was hinting at by being flippant.

The claim is obviously bullshit, because ALL absinthe herbs are dried before use; that was ALWAYS the case.
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 8:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

And just to paraphrase from the FAQ, the hype over thujone is because of some 'scientific' studies done around the turn of the century. They were looking for a cause of absinthism, isolated one compound (out of hundreds)in absinthe, fed large doses to rats, and found it to be psychoactive and poisonous.

In the current absinthe revival, many manufacturers (and drinkers) equate thujone levels with THC levels in pot. Some have even tried to establish a link between the effects of thujone and marijuana in an effort to push absinthe as "the latest high." The Czech manufacturers are much more guilty of this than the Spanish, as I've never seen ads for Deva or Serpis with the word thujone used.

While thujone may play some role in the "secondary effects" of absinthe, it's one of hundreds of compounds in the drink, and its importance has been vastly overrated.
Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - 12:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

All A.absinthium is used dried, as all herb are used, and at Bovaresse they preserve a communal absinthe dryer (drying shed) from the 19th century.

The normal herbal-drying procedure does not reduce or eliminate thujone.

Essential-oils references quote compositions of oils and yields of oils based on dried herbs, not freshly picked.

The "hygenique" absinthes usually claimed esoteric and secret processes for removing the "evil" thujone. Mostly I believe this was and still is a crock of shit.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 9:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I do agree with you. My point was to try and figure out the emphasis put on thujone. And that is what is talked about a lot, as opposed to wormwood. It may be a part of it, but not the end all of absinthe. Wormwood on the other hand is. I have seen so many 'ours has more thujone than yours' kind of things. It may or may not be possible to make absinthe without thujone. I am sorry for going off on this thujone tangent, but you hear a lot about it and I have been meaning to post about it.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 9:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


may be new to this, but it seems to me that the only factor (based on the opinions I have heard)on absinthe vs. pastis is the mythical thujone.

Not exactly. Pastis has very much become an entity unto itself, its flavor more focussed on the anis, and it is much sweeter.

The difference between absinthe and things which resemble absinthe is wormwood, not thujone, per se. Wormwood has thujone in it, but the thujone alone isn't the issue, and I really don't know one way or the other if it possible to make abinthe with wormwood without imparting some amount of thujone. If it didn't adversely affect the flavor, I suppose it would still be absinthe. Some vintage absinthes claimed to have reduced thujone ("hygenique") but they really didn't have the technology to do this precisely, I suspect.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 9:16 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

No, actually the correct Spanish spelling of "cyanic" does not contain a "y".
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 8:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


That's "hydrocyanic acid" not "hidrocyanic acid"

"Hidrocyanic" is actually how they spell it in Spanish.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 5:24 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm elaborate.

Sometime, not all the time.

I think Bob Dylan sang that. "Sometime, not all the time." It was a song about hanging clothes on the line. To dry. They came down smelling like a beautiful day, and not a drop of thujone in ary pocket. See how it all ties together?
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 5:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I may be new to this, but it seems to me that the only factor (based on the opinions I have heard)on absinthe vs. pastis is the mythical thujone. And from what I can tell, no one really can say that thujone is the one substance in absinthe that creates the effect that so many talk about. My point is what is the big deal about thujone? Why can't an absinthe be an absinthe and contain no thujone? If commercial brands are limited to 10 ppm, I doubt that tiny about of the mystery molecule with give the 'effects' of absinthe. I have felt something more that the usual 'buzz' of alcohol, but there are many more things in absinthe that could be the cause.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 4:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

as for Kubler (and I only know this cuz it was posted awhile ago somewhere here), they DO use artemisia absinthium, but they set it out to dry first which let's the thujone evaporate? go poof?

anyone elaborate?
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 4:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

1. That's "hydrocyanic acid" not "hidrocyanic acid", e.g., it's hydrogen cyanide, HCN.

2. "A variety of wormwood". The usual BS. If the "wormwood" is not A.absinthium it isn't wormwood at all for absinthe purposes. It's another variation on the Unabsinthe non-tradition. Might as well be Absente.
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 1:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

When you check the Federal Regulations, pay attention to "Cherry pits".

It seems that food may contain 25 p.p.m. of Prussic Acid (Hidrocyanic Acid), a fast acting POISON, but a measly 10 p.p.m. of thujone (or less) is verboten.

No comments...
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 9:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

As I can not be sure where you have searched, I can not know if I am offereing you redundant URLs - check here -
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 9:29 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Long time ago I wondered in this Forum if a "de-thujonized" absinthe would still be worthy of that name.

It was at that point a theoretical question, since I didn't expect anybody to go through the trouble.

But the news about the new Swiss absinthe, Kubler, made with a variety of wormwood that contains virtually no thujone, brings new relevance to the question.

Could this absinthe, if its thujone content were similar to vermouth, be eventually sold in the U.S.? Would it BE absinthe?
Posted on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 8:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The current cfr verbiage is excerpted in the "Through March 12, 2002" archive of this forum - posted by Ari.
Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 7:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Food Inspection Decision 147 (originally issued by the USDA) effectively prohibited the manufacture and distribution of absinthe in the U.S. I thought I had a copy of the verbiage lurking in a folder, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. This would be mostly of historical value, as the current CFR supersedes previous FIDs. If I find the old text, I'll post the verbiage.
Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 5:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm doing a college English research project on absinthe and the US ban in 1912. According to websites, it was banned when Food Inspection 147 was enacted by the USDA. After searching for endless amounts of time on the USDA website and across the internet, I've been unable to read or obtain a copy of this regulation. Does anyone have a copy? Is it easy downloaded? I must include all of my research with my project ...*just* in case I am copying other's work.

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