|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 6:37 pm: |
Hey, who's sneaking around taking pictures in my basement again!!!
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 5:55 pm: |
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 3:56 pm: |
a sack of absinthe's eye view from a chute
mom and pop pernot
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 2:53 pm: |
Blackened baby toe nail gristle!
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 1:06 pm: |
Peter, great pics and story. Wish I were back there.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 12:41 pm: |
how 'bout no big words then? or euphisms only ...
like "burnt cookie shoe polish"
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 11:57 am: |
We could get carried away with all this, you know.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 10:56 am: |
Ugh... mass hysteria... paranoia... bulemia... eczema... when will it all end?????????????
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 10:55 am: |
> If posting an answer could lead readers to
> conclude that the writer(s) have engaged in
> illegal distillation
Thank you; my point exactly.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 10:33 am: |
It was a tasting question. I'd like to hear more of that kind of talk. I want to understand better what I'm tasting when I drink absinthe, but I have no intention of ever making my own. And I wouldn't assume that the connoisseur necessarily makes his own, either.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 10:31 am: |
honestly, I don't think accurately reviewing or discussing legit products with some sense of the process and knowledge of what makes a good product is in any way jeopardizing anyone.
I'm all for caution, but ...
under that perspective who could accurately discuss a fine scotch?
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 10:23 am: |
I believe that the nutty taste in Kubler is tails and empyreuma. Ted's review hits it on the head.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 9:48 am: |
I share Artemis's concern.
The question was directed toward anyone who thinks he/she has the answer. If posting an answer could lead readers to conclude that the writer(s) have engaged in illegal distillation, then please accept my apologies for asking, no injury was intended -- and please don't answer.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 9:16 am: |
certainly, when discussing products that are legally produced, we can ramble on as much as we choose.
and thanks Peter, your travel diaries are always the best!!!
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 9:04 am: |
Was the question directed at those individuals (allegedly) legally distilling absinthe in Switzerland?
If not distillers, how would they know the difference between still shock and tails?
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 7:26 am: |
I think asking "how do I get this damned nutty flavor out of my homemade paint remover" is one thing, talking about a legal industrial process done somewhere in Europe is another. I hope Admin concurs...
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 7:23 am: |
I didn't think of that, since it's a question about an absinthe (Kübler) that's legally distilled in Switzerland. If this runs counter to Kallisti's rules, I retract my question.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 7:18 am: |
> In your (or anyone else's) opinion, could
> Kübler's so-called "nutty" flavor be the result
> of "still shock", as opposed to "tails"?
Isn't this a discussion of distillation and thus taboo?
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 6:50 am: |
Great, great accounts. As always, Petermarc -- thanks.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2002 - 6:44 am: |
"...‘still shock’ an odor which all distilled products seem to have, if they have been bottled quickly after distillation…this is not the same thing [as tails], and will age out of absinthe and many other liquors in the bottle, especially after it is open..."
In your (or anyone else's) opinion, could Kübler's so-called "nutty" flavor be the result of "still shock", as opposed to "tails"?
|Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2002 - 4:08 pm: |
day at the distilleries (cont)
The distillery ‘les fils de émile pernot’ does not have the charm of pontarlier-anis…when you arrive in their small parking area, it looks like a big, square industrial building, it originally housed one of the first automobile makers in france and during world war two, german infantry kept their horses stabled in the large distilling area…a weed was poking up out of the sidewalk, next to the wall…absinthe! you’ve got to laugh, there’s no way it could have been planted there…where françois guy has three girls in the main office, the pernot’s have one, who keeps the books and appointments and orders straight…we asked to see the pernot’s and she explained that madame wasn’t there yet, but émile was, in the bottling/tasting/aging/shipping/etc. room, straight ahead…émile had on his blue work smock and look a bit like a mad scientist, busy checking alcohol levels in a new batch of vieux-pontarlier he was in the process of bottling…he seemed, as always, cheerful and happy to see us, and i asked, if he wasn’t too busy, if he could show ted and eric around…he finished up some things and then opened the still-room for us…madame showed up a couple of minutes later, and after required kisses, offered to help out…the still-room is immense and his one still sits in the center, against the wall…there were ancient wooden chutes that were attached to the railing above the stills, which anis, absinthe or other dried plants could be dumped directly from the second story, straight into pots…modern production levels had made this feature, along with a large, cylindrical tank, attached to a pully-wheel, with leather belt drive, known as a colorator; unnecessary extras which had fallen into disuse…the pernots, rather amusingly, refer to the size of production at françois guy as ‘industrial’, it is really a ‘mom and pop’ operation here, quite similar to julian segerra’s distillery in chert, spain…the sense of welcome is the same here, too, you immediately feel comfortable in this big space, with the busy couple trying to answer questions and point out little details…there was a barrel of ‘un émile’ straight from the still at 82° or so , i believe, which was waiting to be blended down to the legal 45°…there were also large jugs of ‘tails’ the distillate that’s left after the primary run of good flavoured alcohol has been drained from the still, which were being set aside for the next batch, as it can and will be redistilled…this is a tricky part of the distilling business, the tails, and is subject of great debate by all levels of distillers…it is often what separates the professional from the novice, as this taste can be detected in many ‘la bleues’ and hausgemachts since it is optimal for the individual to use as much of the original alcohol as can be, because of costs and for many, the difficulty of actually distilling in the first place…it is possible, after drinking ‘artisanal’ products for so long, to develop a taste for it, just like the pine resin taste that one finds in greek retsina wine, which was originally caused by seepage of pine sealing sap from the clay or wood stopper into an amphora of wine…’tails’ tend to give absinthe a pointed, awkward, and unbalanced taste, which could also be colourfully described as ‘wild’…it is an art to know when to stop…it can be confused with ‘still shock’ an odor which all distilled products seem to have, if they have been bottled quickly after distillation…this is not the same thing, and will age out of absinthe and many other liquors in the bottle, especially after it is open, as well as in a maturing barrel…white armagnac, which is unaged, straight from the still, is put into glass bonbons (large bottles) for settling until it is bottled, keeping it’s fruity aromas without taking other flavours from oak barrels. It is quite tasty, especially for a ‘tremblement de terre’ as it does not clash with good absinthe as does most aged brandies…
We took photos, asked questions, and eric managed to secure two small sacks from émile, one of dried absinthe and another of fine green anis from spain…
-what do you want to try? madame pernot asked
-uh, absinthe? maybe gentiane, genepi?…
-i have some bottles of 68° for you, but i can’t sell them, she explained…
bettina had already been by the day before, as she had already visited an antique dealer that day, too, just a step ahead of us each place we went…we had offered, the dealer a taste of one of ted’s samples he had brought, an adaptation of a ‘herbsaint/legendre’ absinthe that he had tweaked for his own amusement…he had been blown away, as we all watched and smirked, knowing he had never tasted anything like it…he volunteered that an american had passed by, but wouldn’t say who…discreet, these people are…
as discreet as the pernot’s, who created ‘un émile’ 68° for liqueurs de france, only, and have refused the other attempts at direct-from-the- distillery purchases of this product…happily, i am in the loop,
as the third wheel of this amusing project, and she pulled out a bottle for me, ted, eric and benoît…
-i did not sell these to you, she warned…
-of course not…
we had a tasting of the 45° and 68° together, which come from the same mold, but, as i am convinced françois guy would have a better product if it were of original strength, it is true of ‘un émile’ also… the guy has a anis/minty, fresh absinthe smell, which comes most likely from a combination of guy’s belief that absinthe is absinthe-flavoured anis liquor along with his own very young supply of absinthe plants…i like his absinthe very much, it needs no sugar and is extremely refreshing and bright as is his pontarlier-anis… ‘un émile’ is more brooding, complex, with less emphasis on the anis and more on the absinthe…and you can put sugar in it, changing the drink into a smoother, rounder creature, easy to slam back…the 45° is, well, less...there was a reason why 'absinthe ordinaire' was usually 45° or so, and the 'supérieures' and 'suisse'
were 65-72°...it does affect the taste...it is ironic that swiss la bleues are now only 50-58°
but they are leaving out the coloring step...
-it IS distilled absinthe, émile stated matter of factly…-i’m thinking of putting more emphasis
on the wormwood in my next trial run.
it is going to be fun working with the pernots…
i was very surprised when wolfgang used the phrase ‘star anis’ to discribe it’s taste, considering there is no star anis in it, and, as far as it know, émile pernot doesn’t use it in any of his products…he is convinced that the pods create a bad, wood alcohol when distilled…it seems to be the ultimate anti-ingredient of both pontarlier distilleries…
we tried his gentiane aperitif, similar to françois guy’s (they both use the same distiller’s eau-de-vie of gentaine as a base, since distilling gentiane stinks up the still so much, that this distiller makes only gentaine eau-de-vie, and charges a bundle for it)…the eau-de-vie is blended with a maceration of gentaine root and sugar, pernot being much less heavy-handed with the sugar and producing and more true to the distillate product…even this bitter, earthy root aperitif was too sweet for ted and madame pernot pulled out a bottle of the eau-de-vie and opened it and grimaced…
-you like this? she squinched –blaaahhhh!
gentiane eau-de-vie is highly prized in this region, and brings high prices, known for it’s stomach soothing properties after the all-too-often, heavy but hedonistic franche-comtoise
dinner…it is an aquired taste and in it’s best known brand form ‘suze’ is a shadow of the real thing, and the pernot's version as well...the phone rang and the secretary shouted, -it’s betty!
-what does she want? madame pernot queried.
-i don’t know!
betty cannot speak french much but can speak spanish and madame pernot is italian, actually ventetian, and somewhere in venice’s history was enough spainish influence that she can actually understand and speak some spanish…and so, they can communicate…this is also how marie-claude delahaye communicates with non-french speakers, as she speaks spanish, also…
we finished up our tasting and collected our bottles, stopping in the front office so i could write a check and for ted to pick up a copy of M-C D’s new book…
betty walked in just as we were about to finish, she had gotten lost and convinced some woman in town to personally direct her to the doorstep of the distillery…
madame pernot still wasn’t sure why she had come back… i had introduced betty to eric and
ted, and she immediately got into a serious conversation with ted…
ENCOUNTER CENSORED FOR VARIOUS REASONS, BUSINESS AND PERSONAL
we said goodby to madame pernot and betty, but not before getting a good address to eat, from émile ‘you can use my name’, he told us, in ornans, where we would check out the cusenier distillery and the beautiful countryside…damn, we had weather that would make you forget you were in one of the coldest areas of france…
|Posted on Wednesday, July 3, 2002 - 4:18 pm: |
benoît, véronique, ted, madame marguet, eric
peter and eric 'this is the hotel?!'
searching for a spot with mobile reception, view of the farm (death-cows to the right) and switzerland in the background, gentiane in the foreground...
|Posted on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 5:12 am: |
part 3 a day at the distilleries 1
forks had been provided for the absinthe, just normal operating procedure for the locals, no fancy absinthe spoons here, until…i brought down some spoons,anyway, but we didn’t need them, the guy being already sweet enough, even without sugar…we then gathered around the dining room table, where we we served a local supper in several courses of: a ceasar-like salad with pine-smoked ham bits(smoked on their farm, in fact, in the same building we we sleeping in), sausage of morteau(morteau being the name of a near-by town, and never as near as good as this, once it gets prepared for the big city) made by the local butcher, potatoes au gratin with cheese from their cows, more comté cheese from their cows for pre-desert and apple tart. I lived half of my life in the country (northeastern wisconsin) which was known for cheese and sausage, and I can say without a doubt that the french farmers blow them away…too many germans and poles in wisconsin to have adopted a sense of cuisine, too heavy handed with heat and cooking times, too much pasteurisation, plus the spectre of hormones…we made our plans for the next day and went to bed… pulling back my covers, I found my bed to have been made with red coca-cola brand sheets…
the next day, gorgeous and already hot, benoît and veronique headed out hiking, and ted, eric and I went into pontarlier to visit the distilleries…
we had time before seeing the pernots’ to pop into the distillery of françois guy. I won’t go into detail describing it, as I have before, but eric and ted had a good time looking around…a experimental distillation was going on in a glass laboratory flask, rigged as a mini-still and sitting on the tasting table, heated by an open gas flame and attached by it’s little frankenstein coil of clear pipe heading through a glass ball filled with little glass cylinders, finally curving over and down, dripping into another flask…as a green liquid bubbled away turning clear in it's final stage, we were asked what we wanted to try,as we pondered over stacks of the new glass absinthe fountains, boxed and ready to go…a copy of ‘la revue du vin de france’ the ‘wine spectator’ of france, sat opened to the 'pastis and anisés' tasting, a break-through for a wine magazine… the panel gave great marks to françois guy absinthe(which was why it was being proudly displayed), high praise to the overall range of products by the people who make versinthe and the small producer of 'janot pastis de marseille', but giving the highest marks to an anis-bomb,a mari mayans-like corsican 'artisanal' pastis and the new pernod anis ‘henri-louis pernod’; good marks to ricard pastis, absente and versinthe(both regular and la blanche) and émile pernot(the absinthe having not been released at that time) non-sugared anis (‘for lovers of cardamom,’ quote-unquote), while handing relatively low marks to boyer ‘absenthine’ (sic), oxygénée, pernod absinthe 68°(they wished they could have put sugar in it) and pernod pastis, being careful to say the pernod-ricard products were still well made, the société ricard being the hosts of the tasting…none of the producers/representatives involved in this tasting could identify their own products! if these guys tasted 45 different anis-base liquors in one sitting, one would have to take the results with a grain of salt, if not sugar…
we asked to try non-sugared pontarlier-anis, a gentiane aperitif and eau-de-vie and absinthe. eric glanced at the distilling project and pointed out to the woman in charge that it was about to over-flow…the kind little lady shouted ‘where is françois??!!’ as she pulled the flask away, a molotov cocktail in the making…the young guy who had been pouring for us looked surprised, it was his second week, and was probably thinking that his job description didn’t include throwing himself in front of explosive catastrophes…we finished our samples without any real participation from those working around us, except the emergency intervention, and someone eric managed to pull into the distilling-room and pose a few questions to, one being that the output of one still looked already louched, which turned out to be their alcohol-free anis syrup...we selected a few items to bring back, ted ladened himself with 3 fountains…we paid, and stuffed our things in the car, without ever seeing françois, but noting he had 3 girls just for the front office of this tiny distillery…business must be good…30,000 bottles of françois guy absinthe 45° had been sold since its release…where is it all going?
|Posted on Monday, June 24, 2002 - 5:23 pm: |
Part 2 Cheese heads
We drove through pontarlier, stopping for an ATM along the way…a car drove by slowly with what sounded like Pakistani-rap blasting and the 4 guys inside waved…pontarlier is a curious town, slightly larger than small, in the middle of the rolling hills and plain of the haut-doubs…it is whiter-than-white with a small culturally unintergrated population of an islamic type peppered about…this seems to be prevalent all along the eastern border of france, down to the Mediterranean, and the sheer force of their differences had driven nostalgic xenophobic locals to vote in surprising numbers, jean-maire le pen for president, someone who had previously opened a record store with an ex-nazi buddy, who was close to Hitler, and recorded marching songs of the waffen-SS. Islam is the second largest religion in france, and they don’t appear to assimilate into or openly embrace French culture(not to mention their assumed guilt by association), so it frightens and pisses people off …unfortunately, for a very old country, the modern world is moving too fast, and instead of trying to understand each other, people just instinctively react…looks bad on paper and in the news for both sides…
We drove through downtown, through the port of st pierre, the tuning-fork shaped symbol of pontarlier, a noble town entrance reflecting it’s once-rich past and one minute later, we were almost out of town, passing the nestlé factory…for the first time since I started visiting pontarlier, it had smells emanating from it’s fenced walls: synthetic strawberry, chocolate, cookie smells, and it seemed ironic that 100 years ago, the place would have had the same olfactory effect, but with the heady anis-absinthe aroma of another era…
We didn’t stop…what for? and drove around the factory, under the rail bridge and back around the town, direction: france profound… we passed by doubs and other quaint little villages, winding little roads, pretty, but father away than I thought, when we finally ended up in gilley…i didn’t know the exact address of the ‘chambre d’hote’ so we stopped in town and i tried to call…5 pm, and no answer…not good…this was check-in time in hotels, what the hell? eric parked the car and I jumped out to get directions at the local grocery store…the woman was kind and helpful and seemed to know everthing that was going on…
-I didn’t know madame marguet was running a chamber d’hote…the shop-keeper exclaimed.
-well, they’re farmers and at 5 o’clock, they’re out in the field…
-here’s the address, it’s up that way, about 2 kilometers.
We took a wrong turn and were winding down the flower covered hills, pretty, but didn’t seem right and decided to turn around…finally, we found our turn and started counting the house numbers…
number14, there it is…a very large house that almost looked like it was a single-gabled apartment complex, alone, next to the road, but surrounded by fields…
We pulled in and got out and were immediately hit by the smell of cut grass, with a touch of cow dung from the fields…
Madame marguet was in the dining area, next the kitchen, setting the table for the evening…she had the look of everyone’s favorite aunty, a gentle face that could do no harm…The kitchen was large and one wall was covered by baby portraits…this was someone’s home! But not a home-come hotel B & B…a real country home. I felt almost like I was intruding…Madame apologized and said she had been out when I called and showed us to our rooms…she didn’t grab any keys…we walked around the side, through an old door to a side-garage, to a set of stairs…there was a clown picture at the top of the stairs … when we were all up the flight, madame said she had three rooms now available for us(there were only 2 when I called) plus the room for benoît and his girl-friend véronique, down the hall…the first room had a small plaque that read ‘girls room’ with two double beds and a crib…there were toys and books in the corner…ted took that room and eric and I had each a single room, mine with a piece of paper tacked to the door that read ‘private’…I opened the armoire to put away my clothes, and it was filled, on both sides, with someone clothes…we we not given keys, but were issued plastic fly swatters…I had a view across the road, of a wild field full of grasses and flowers, rolling hills and Switzerland behind it…
We came down stairs, just in time for benoît and véronique to pull up in their salmon colored VW golf…
-It’s a real working farm, they raise milk-cows for the local cheese, benoît explained, and when the two adult sons showed up in their work t-shirts and field-stained shorts, it was more apparent…
We had an aperitif with them, and were offered cognac and tonic, pineau des charentes (basically red or wine grape juice blended with cognac and bottled-chick drink)vieux-pontarlier( distilled anis by émile pernot) and the local absinthe ‘françois guy’...
-well, madame said, françois guy is good, but not as good as la bleue…
|Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2002 - 4:34 am: |
TGV-three guys’ voyage
Ted arrived at 7:30am at charles de gaulle, taxied to my place by 9:30.
We had time to kill before the train left, and ted had aready decided how to fill it.
Ryst-Dupeyron was an armagnac merchant,
located in condom(snicker), with a shop in paris.
-we need something for the train, ted explained.
No problem with that. We would hook up with eric there. Eric was there when we arrived,
and the owner walked in at the same time and seemed pleased to see him. Eric had just bought Bordeaux futures a week or so before in his baby girl’s honor. A great (and fashionably classic) excuse to buy booze. We sipped at a few things (it was 10:30 am-a well known time for the taste buds to be at their height of powers-a great and fashionably classic excuse for drinking in the morning,) but ted already knew what he wanted-1968 bas-armagnac. The 500 ml, squat bottle would do nicely. We left to pick up our luggage at my apartment and then jumped the subway to the gare de lyon. I insisted that ted see ‘le train bleu’ a belle-epoque restaurant, crammed unexpectedly into the front of the station, with frescos and guilding like a cathedral, which depicted all the cities the French railway system went to and from; the room having been commissioned for the 1900 world exposition. One can easily picture fussy waiters laying down Eiffel tower spoons on glasses, and finishing a milky drink with a high-handed drip-splash. We ordered beer since there had been no absinthe there for almost 90 years. The lounge is a great place to hang when you are waiting for a train, as opposed to the hustle and dirt of the station, and the service is so typically slow that you might be able to just relax for free and enjoy the atmosphere without paying the outrageous price for a drink. Even water is 7 euros a bottle. Dress code not enforced as travellers drag their bags through the doors, looking for a short escape from the drudgery of traveling.
We boarded our train and took our places, but not before stocking up on sandwiches and cold bottled water for our 3-hour tour, direction Switzerland. Pontarlier wasn’t even on the stop, we had to switch to a small local train for the 10-minute connection. We sampled the 1968, plus a white armagnac,unaged and fruity, and had a little taste of un émile 68°. We were in pontarlier by mid-afternoon and the sun was blazing in an unnatural showing of full-summer strength. It couldn’t possibly last, we were almost in Switzerland for god’s sakes! Wrong…
The rental car guy picked us up at the station and chauffeured us to the agency. Eric took care of the details and as we were about to leave, we asked if the guy knew how to get to the little village(gilley) we were staying. JIL-LEE?
I tried again JEEL-LEE?
-huh, I have no idea where that is, was his response.
One more time: JEE-LEE…
-huh????oh!!!! JEE-YEE! I live there!- he exclaimed proudly.
we couldn't believe it.
God after more the 2 years living in france, I still go through this hell. Mispronounce the word just a little and it’s like you’re speaking in tongues. He showed us the way, we got into the car and promptly headed in the other direction, straight into town, for a quick sight-seeing trip. He would have his revenge, again, later.