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La Bleue Question...

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum Archive thru January 2003 » Strictly Absinthe & Collectibles » La Bleue Question... « Previous Next »

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Swarez
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 9:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Funny, thought they were possibly cutting it with Mata Hari.
Crosby
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 9:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Antifreeze? I think that might be the answer to what the mystery fluid is in Jabi's vintage Pernod bottles.
Thegreenimp
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 7:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Don't forget, they stole Bart's Red baseball cap, and let the Donkey wear it too.
Greenmeanie
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 7:35 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, antifreeze!
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 6:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

" ... in january, however, i will be an apprentice distiller in a legal french distillery"

I hope you fare better than Bart Simpson - when he went to France as an exchange student, the evil vinters to whom he was apprenticed made him sleep with the donkey, stomp grapes until his feet bled, and cut the wine with antifreeze.
Wolfgang
Posted on Thursday, December 26, 2002 - 2:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

''it costs around $20 to $30 a litre to make using tax paid alcohol'' ... and easily more if you use some grape alcohol or if you live in a heavily taked country.

Add to that many hours of work to prepare the herbs, distill the charge, clean equipments and so on. I`m not even talking about the risk of getting a huge fine. Anyway, good absinthes are made drop by drop and it takes time, easily from 5 to 10 hours of work / L on an artisanal setup when including everything that must be done from buying material to selling the final product.
Petermarc
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 4:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

no offence taken at all...most of what i have said is conjecture based on taste (and one practical experience), since no one in switzerland has offered to have me sit in on a distilling...
in january, however, i will be an apprentice distiller in a legal french distillery...hopefully, we will make absinthe, and i will share as much as i can with you all...
Artemis
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 2:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Editing function is fubar.

In that last post, I meant: " ... that doesn't mean they DON'T make me gag to visualize ... "
Artemis
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 2:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Peter: "i think you might give too much credit to those who make la bleue for resale to unknown customers without recourse in a foreign country..."

Not at all. I give them zero credit for producing quality product unless they have already proved they can. I didn't say they, as a group, don't want to make money. What I meant was, anybody who would blend tails with a finished product for the purpose of "extending" it, is obviously concerned with profit to the exclusion of all else. Only a sucker would let him get away with it more than once. Thus, the ranking of products that reek of tails at the top by various people baffles me. Absinthe is NOT supposed to be like that, no matter how much anybody tolerates it that way, likes it that way, or gets used to it that way.

Peter: " ... i have never had the desire to buy a la bleue after i tasted one that was offered to me for sale, only the ones that weren't ... "

Very telling!! I understand this completely.

Oxy: "In traditional high quality whisky and brandy making, a small amount of the tails are sometimes blended in."

Can't argue with a word of what you said, although I know next to nothing about whisky, etc. But I was referring strictly to absinthe in my initial remarks. With absinthe, traditionally, tails were REDISTILLED in some form or fashion. Some modern makers think they're only fit for being thrown away. Blending any amount with the finished product?? I think not. Peter's post was the first I've ever read or heard about such a thing. With that said, I consider Peter's credibility impeccable, and he may well know about some things I just don't know about. But that doesn't mean they make me gag to visualize ...

To answer the original question more simply, the question doesn't make much sense. Is La Bleue any good? It's like asking, is moonshine any good? It depends entirely upon who made it and how. Ever seen moonshine with a label? They don't bother. I'd be surprised if anybody but a middleman ever added a label to "La Bleue", which term, by the way, doesn't mean anything because it could mean anything. Potential consumers of any given product should be asking, not "is it worth $XX.xx", but, "can I afford it". If you can afford it, try it. If you like it, keep drinking it. But asking generic questions about "La Bleue" is pointless.

With all that (too much) said, I apologize to Peter if I offended him, and thank all concerned for a lively debate. It's good to see this forum occasionally about absinthe again.
Petermarc
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 2:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

>an irony to this debate is that 'tails' are quite drinkable and one could develop a taste for them (blended into the finished product to extend the amount),

in this sentence, does anyone read the words 'taste good'?
tails ARE drinkable, just as hills and zelena musa are drinkable...

>Only an ignorant consumer would accept it.

ignorance (or a desire to get wasted) keeps clients of these products from spitting them out...i have never given a taste of zelena musa to anyone who wasn't immediately repulsed, yet it is commercially made and comes with a label on it and people actually can buy it from a shop, where someone who (assumedly) knew something about spirits/wine actually approved it for sale...

>To blend any amount of tails into a finished product, if said product was worth a damn to begin with, is insane. Only a cheapass, underhanded producer would do it.

i think you might give too much credit to those who make la bleue for resale to unknown customers without recourse in a foreign country...when you taste one sitting directly in front of the producer or his friend is when the chips fall...i have never had the desire to buy a la bleue after i tasted one that was offered to me for sale, only the ones that weren't...

absinthedrinker makes the most important point that i stupidly did not...la bleue IS distilled...it already has more potential than most other absinthes that exist that aren't, despite of flaws...but without any standard, who's to know where to get a good one at a resonable price? and i'm a five hour car ride from the swiss border...it is and always will be, a crap shoot, unless you taste before you buy and always assume that the product will never taste the same...
Destiny
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 2:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello all:

Being from the L.A. area myself, the OS thread(s) have caught my attention. The selection and prices seem relatively comparable to other established suppliers and being local (to me) is a plus; however, what I'm curious about is the "la traditionalle" LaBleue - I've read through the threads but haven't seen any discussion on its quality. I'd like to give it a try, but definitely not at $150. I haven't purchased any blanche since the wolvie days of $70-$75... what price would be worth taking the gamble with OS?
Absinthedrinker
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 2:11 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

One fact which has not been mentioned and which accounts for la Bleue’s potential to be a great absinthe is that it is distilled rather than made with oils. A well crafted la Bleue may only use the basic three or four plants but it can give a purity of taste which oil-based absinthes cannot. I cannot comment on whether some producers deliberately add tails back into their la Bleue or not, it would seem a strange choice but distillers are nothing if not idiosyncratic. I have some experience with the production process and I thought that the Swiss habit was usually to add the blanquette back to the pot for the next batch rather than to blend it with the finished product. I have tasted several La Bleues and other hand crafted absinthes blanches and I have to say that they can be quite unique. In an absinthe blanche you can taste the wormwood as it is undisguised by whatever is added at the ‘colouring’ step. I have also tasted some very over-cooked muddy la Bleues which would put you off absinthe for life. The problem is you just don’t know what you are getting, who made it or whether it came from a bad batch because the distiller took a phone call at the wrong time. Labels won’t help you because the importer/distributor usually adds these later. Absinthe distillation in Switzerland carries very heavy penalties indeed and the distiller is hardly going to advertise his wares with a label…

As to price, it costs around $20 to $30 a litre to make using tax paid alcohol, as to what you pay, that is up to the market.
Zman7
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 12:36 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I too, have great respect for Peter, but tails as being good? That I cannot abide. Tails are nasty. There is only one thing to do with tails.
Oxygenee
Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2002 - 12:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

In traditional high quality whisky and brandy making, a small amount of the tails are sometimes blended in. Some of the most important flavour congeners - particular for instance some of those that give certain whiskies a honeyed taste (as opposed to the flowery and fruity aromas that originate in the middle cut), are found only at lower alcohol concentrations near the end of the run. The art of the distiller lies in including these feints, while eliminating the rubbery and sulphurous congeners that follow on their heels.

In brandy making, flavour congeners can, in some regions, make up up to 1,5% of the final distillate. Its precisely these impurities that give the final product its interest and character, and they increase in concentration as the alcoholic strength drops - ie towards the end of the run. Particularly in small scale artisanal production, where "character" is at a premium, the distiller might well include a small quantity of the tails in the final product.

Its only if you're seeking to make a flavourless ethyl alcohol, like vodka, that you would automatically exclude any hint of the tails.

Having said this, the modern marketing trend is certainly towards "purity", and the increased availability of the technology to reprocess the tails has reduced the financial incentive to include them.
Artemis
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Okay, I was going to stay out of this due to my respect for Peter, but I can't let it pass. I agree with some of what he wrote in that post, but some of it baffles the hell out of me.

To blend any amount of tails into a finished product, if said product was worth a damn to begin with, is insane. Only a cheapass, underhanded producer would do it. Only an ignorant consumer would accept it.

A tails-tainted product is a poorly made product. There is no comparison to wine that was good wine to begin with, but took on the taste of resin from a cask, or oak from a barrel. The difference is, the tails-tainted absinthe was NEVER good to begin with.
Louched_Liver
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 11:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Petermarc,
Awesomely insightful stuff. Well put.
Nolamour
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 8:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

And is there a typical label for the mysterious La Bleues?
I've seen the "post ban" Priest (Messieurs...C'est L'heure) in 2 different colors and a couple of other Swiss labels.
I have one bottle that looks computer printed.

Is it the maker's choice? Or is it there a demand for a certain label?
Petermarc
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 4:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

the statement i admire the most about la bleue came from a swiss historian who said that the swiss have no desire to replicate old absinthe, that la bleue is a work in progress, adapting itself to modern tastes (which i can compare to wine-making)...
an irony to this debate is that 'tails' are quite drinkable and one could develop a taste for them (blended into the finished product to extend the amount), just as american (and spanish) tastes (myself included) have developed for heavy oak in wine, which originally would have been considered an error or a preservative for a wine made to age (eventually fading out with time), just as a wine amphora sealed with pine-pitch evolved into greek 'retsina'(which i also like)...
very few la bleues don't have a 'tails' taste (based on 10+ i have tasted)...
'tails taste' a round, slightly(to heavily) cooked funk that you 'feel' in the back of your mouth, almost through your head...most likely contributes to the sensation of secondary effects...

-la bleue, though not a commercial product, has become commercial, thanks to us (the price had almost doubled in boveresse in one year)
-there is no reason for it to be quality controlled, except by the grace of a proud producer, who will never be publically known anyway, nor would openly admit to making it...
-NO ONE can guarantee that the product he/she sells will ever taste the same (but hey, neither can a great wine from year to year)
-la bleue does have a regional style which is quite enjoyable when well made...
-this style is not too hard to copy (except for at least one type of artemisia plant that is regional and difficult to find except there, though it is not certain that everyone uses it)since...
-they leave out the most difficult step...
-having stuff you're not supposed to have is fun and the sneeked cookie ALWAYS tastes better...
-what's it worth to you?
Zman7
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 4:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Ah yes, the HYPE herb plant (bullshitus costustomuchas)that must the be mystery herb that has eluded all the modern absinthe makers.
Zman7
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 4:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

yeah, with Emile 68, and to a lesser extent Francois Guy, there ain't no need for a $200.00 La Bleu. I'm sure some will argue though.....
Thegreenimp
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 4:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Nudge, Nudge Say No More......
Head_Prosthesis
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 4:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Haha! Yes! heeheehee... *wink*
Pataphysician
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 3:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

You forgot the fifth ingredient:

1. Booze
2. Anise
3. Fennel
4. Wormwood
5. Hype
Louched_Liver
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 3:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, I've tried 4 different LaBleues, and I definitely didn't think they were worth the exhorbinant $$$. All were pretty darn simple tasting. Very easy to drink, though.
I can live w/out it, for sure.
Drinkslinger
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 2:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good question. How "Good" are the La Bleues? Are they worth 2-3X the price of a bottle of Un Emile...?
My one and only experience with a swiss La Bleue came so early on in my absinthe awareness that I can not objectively compare it the other brands I've tasted.

Will someone with experience and knowledge answer this question?
Crosby
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 2:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I guess because of it's scarcity as a black market product. If you got it, you can charge whatever people are willing to pay. I like a good La Bleue, but wont buy it very often because of the price.
Head_Prosthesis
Posted on Monday, December 23, 2002 - 2:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

What the Sam Hell makes La BLeue
so "goddamned, holy grail, expensive
beyond reason, trek across the frozen
tundra" special?

It's Four ingredients?
BOOZE
Anise
Fennel
Wormwood

Ain't there plenty of other things
available for less money and trouble
that taste just as good?


(Head_prosthesis: fulfilling
his yearly Absinthe related quotas
since 1964)

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