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P68 = Deva?

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum » Strictly Absinthe & Collectibles » Archive Thru March 2003 » Archive Thru January 2003 » P68 = Deva? « Previous Next »

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_Blackjack
Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2003 - 10:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you must compare orally ingested thujone to an opiate or opioid, I would suggest Methadone or Dilauded, since theyare orally active (heroin is little more potent than codeine when taken PO). The PO ED50 for Dilauded (hydromorhpone) is something like .03 mg/kg, at which dose it will produce significant analgesic effect. At about twice that, it will produce stupor. I don't have the oral LD50 handy, but I think it runs about 10-20x the effective dose in non-tolerant individuals, which makes it more lethal, by several orders of magnitude, when taken orally, than any study has indicated thujone is.
_Blackjack
Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2003 - 10:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

Just show me medical evidence that thujone can't be more powerful than heroin in humans as far as feelings its effect in very small doses.




Um, show me some that it CAN. Comparing thujone and heroin is absurd, anyway. Heroin can produce PROFOUND intoxication at dosages far below its toxic threshold. If thujone can produce any intoxication at all, it is very VERY mild, and cannot be increased with dosage, even when approaching toxic levels.

As for testing which measures thujone's effective (rather than toxic) dose, there were some tests in mice which indicated that it produces mild analgesia at sub-toxic levels, but that is about it.
Absinthedrinker
Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2003 - 9:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

http://www.absintheonline.com/Myth,%20reality%20and%20absinthe.pdf
I_B_Puffin
Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2003 - 8:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you have a better way to measure the effects of thujone, which is usually ingested, compared to heroin, which is usually injected or smoked, I would like to hear it.

Just show me medical evidence that thujone can't be more powerful than heroin in humans as far as feelings its effect in very small doses.

The only effects of thujone I've ever seen measured in reports are it's toxic effects. If there is a study of it's secondary effects anywhere tell me.
_Blackjack
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 7:20 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

Intravenous LD 50 for a Rabbit 0.031 (mg/kg)



First and foremost, you must always conider that toxicity is not always proportional between species. The article you linked lists the SC LD50 of Thujone in mice as 87.5 mg/kg and 2.157 mg/kg, and that for rabbits as .362 mg/kg. Even if the lower figure is accurate, it indicates a significant difference in the proportional response of rabbits and mice, and if the higher figure is accurate, I'd guess that either rabbits are hypersensative to thujone, or somebody made an error.


Quote:

I think that might make it more toxic than Heroin.



Heroin is not all that toxic. That's why it was initially so useful as a medication (Bayer touted it as a non-addictive alternative to morphine...d'oh!). It's therapeutic margin is pretty wide, but both the ED50 and LD50 go up rapidly with continued use. The LD50 for heroin in rodents runs between 50 and 200 mg/kg, depending on their tolerance.

In fact, it isn't fully understood how many heroin long-term addicts manage to "overdose", when a lethal dose for them is probably more than they could fit in a syringe. It is thought other factors--pre-exixting conditions, impurities, coadminstered drugs and alcohol, or even psychological state--rather than acute heroin toxicity, account for many presumed overdoses among addicts.
Dr_Ordinaire
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 6:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oops, Zman, I realize I have repeated your post about the process to obtain methanol.

From a different source, but you said it first.
Tabreaux
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 5:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

Intravenous LD 50 for a Rabbit 0.031 (mg/kg)
I think that might make it more toxic than Heroin.





Reported LD50s for intravenous and oral routes are incomparable, simply because they often differ by several orders of magnitude. Many seemingly harmless substances (e.g. air and water) can be lethal if injected.

The oral LD50 for thujone in rats is reported to be 500mg/kg. To apply that to humans, that equates to ~40,000 mg for me.
Dr_Ordinaire
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 4:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Methanol from star anise husks:

This is an urban myth based on ignorance of basic industrial chemistry. Methanol is produced through the DESTRUCTIVE distillation of wood, in a process that reaches some 600 F and produces the synthesis gas that is then turned into methanol (and other things).

In the very low temps of a still, there is no way that methanol can be produced.

If you're the Nervous Nelly kind, just put the star anise in a cloth bag, macerate with the other herbs, remove before distilling.
Artemis
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 4:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

And if I misrepresented what Ted said, I apologize to him, but that's why I hedged my bet by not naming the scientist in question. Maybe he'll join in and clarify; but I suspect he's tired of the thujone wars.

I know I am, so here's my disclaimer: Everything I said about thujone is my personal opinion, and it's worth exactly what you paid for it.

I regret it every time I get involved in discussion about it. I confess that I am unqualified to address the issue. Finis.
Artemis
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 3:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

So Mr. Baggot was wrong when he wrote this in his absinthe FAQ?:

"Even chronic administration of 10 mg/kg thujone to rats does not alter spontaneous activity of conditioned behavior (6)."

It seems to me that if 10 mg, more than one time, doesn't even affect a rat, .031 mg isn't going to kill a rabbit.

Ted may be wrong as well, but in any case, it would be hard to argue with this, also from Baggot's FAQ:

"The literature on the pharmacology of thujone is, to put it bluntly, second rate, and conclusions as to its effects have been extrapolated far beyond the experimental base ... "
I_B_Puffin
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 3:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Artemis, you mentioned yesterday what Ted said about the strength of Thujone and its effects. I won't believe him on that till he publishes it in a peer reviewed journal.

Look at the toxicology of thujone and you will see it is some potent stuff. http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/htdocs/Chem_Background/ExecSumm/Thujone.html

Intravenous LD 50 for a Rabbit 0.031 (mg/kg)
I think that might make it more toxic than Heroin.
Artemis
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 2:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Anise, in the form used to make liquors, is just a tiny seed. The only woody part is the husk, which is miniscule (sp?) and thin. Star anise, on the other hand, is a hefty wooden pod like a starfish, each leg of the starfish containing a fairly hefty black seed. The pod really is very wooden, and pretty hard. Relative to the seeds, it makes up 95% of the whole thing. That's the wooden part we're talking about here.

It was definitely Don who talked about the toxic "star anise", although other people of course joined in. And I think Puffin misunderstood him re: the purification of alcohol. Various alcohols can be made neutral, that's not the issue - the issue here is whether grape alcohol tastes and/or "feels" better on the palate than other neutral spirits.

It was Ted Breaux who assured me that what grape alcohol adds to the mix is unmistakeable to even the average consumer. I must be well below average, because I'm not sure I get it (laughs).

To answer Chevalier, I'm confident the taste test I did was the same as that of Wolfgang, and I find Wolf's explanation very plausible.
I_B_Puffin
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 2:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Anise contains lignin also, so is the ratio of anethol to lignin higher in anise than in star anise?

Someone did mention a while back about a close relative of star anise that was toxic. I don't remember if it was Don or someone else.

I thought anise was favored over star anise because of taste.

As far as the base alcohol, I think Don did mention something like it didn't make much difference becuase he could purify it till it was all indistinguishable.
Absinthedrinker
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 9:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The methanol comes from the pyrolysis of the lignin in the pod. Methanol was known as 'wood alcohol' for that reason.
Chevalier
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 7:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Artemis and Wolfgang: A commercially available grape spirit such as pisco (Chilean or Peruvian) may have been used by the provider of your "taste test". The flavor is quite pronounced.
Absinthespoon
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 7:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

"How can it produce methanol if there`s no fermentation ? I don't think it`s a problem when you macerate it in 85% ethanol ..."

Maybe if the badiane pods were not completely dried, and when macerated the ethanol did not penetrate completely. I don't know, it's just a thought.

What about the stories of "bad" la bleues containing some methanol? I thought it was because of all the star anis. Or was it one of those bad things that unscrupulous makers put in their rip-off absinthe (like cupric sulfate etc)?
Wolfgang
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 5:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

''Regarding star anis, isn't one of the potential problems the production of methanol''

How can it produce methanol if there`s no fermentation ? I don't think it`s a problem when you macerate it in 85% ethanol ...


''I did once have the same recipe made (in Europe) exactly the same except for the alcohol (one grape, one grain) in a blind taste test. I chose the grain, and to me it wasn't even close. So much for theory.''

I did taste such experiment(not sure if it was the same as yours) but the grape alcohol base was strange (a little funny taste of banana ? weird), that`s why the grain alcohol made absinthe was better. I think the grape alcohol base was home-made from wine, probably in a pot still and not in a reflux still.

I also think it`s possible to say ''made with grape spirit'' and only use a part of grape spirit mixed with neutral grain alcohol. Last but not least, let`s not forget that grape spirit may be something else than distilled wine. Maybe they used the wastes to make it (like grappa).


I have tasted lots of artisanal samples made from a mix of first grade neutral grain spirit and clear (not aged in wood) grappa. The result was a long tasting fruity core that carried the very herbal potion for miles... But of course grappa have a very strong pungent taste, that`s probably why only a small part was mixed with neutral spirit.
Aion
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 12:45 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Star anise needs a sweet component to mask
its sharpness, liquorice root or simply sugar.

A good test for products with a lot of star anis
is to dilute then very strongly 10:1 - 20:1.
Absinthedrinker
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2003 - 12:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

It is true that some distillers think that use of star anise (badiane to the French) can give rise to methanol in the final product and will not use it. In the old recipes it only ever occurs in the lesser blends. I agree with Zman7 that if it it used in moderation, almost as a 'seasoning' it can be useful, it will improve the louche of an absinthe blanche dramatically, but it does have an overpowering flavour if misused.

Interestingly, we were exhibiting at a show last weekend and they put us right opposite the Ricard stand, a real David and Goliath stand off. The Ricard people were dishing out free glasses of Ricard to one and all and we were pouring small samples of Un Emile and Vieux Pontarlier (anisette from the same distillery). Naturally many people gravitated towards our stand holding their glasses of Ricard which allowed us to do the 'star anise challenge'. After three days of the show only one couple said that they actually preferred the harsher tongue numbing taste of star anise to the smoother taste of anise verte.
Zman7
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 10:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The "hot" flavor of illicium verum (star anise) is mostly due to an astringint compound in the seed part of the pod. If the seeds are removed prior to using it to make an oil or absinthe, the "hot" flavor is gone. However, removing those seeds is very tedious. Also, I too have read about the the possiblility of methanol from the woody part of the star anise pod. That, in all probability, is not likely given the temperatures and lack of pressure used to extract the essential oil from the pod. Star anise, in the right amount, can add an interesting dimension to absinthe. Too much and you have liquid Black Crow candy.
Drinkslinger
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 10:25 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If I don't get any I might make some noise!
Perruche_Verte
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 10:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If an HG is made in the woods and I don't get any, can I say with honesty that it makes any noise?
Perruche_Verte
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 10:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Segarra is said to use a combination of grape and molasses, if I recall correctly. I tried a bottle of arak made (so they said) with grape alcohol and noticed a striking taste similarity.
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 9:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"No commercially available brands are using grape alcohol, even E68, is that correct?"

I don't know. To be clear, I never said that, myself. I simply don't know.
Destiny
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 9:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've never has the pleasure of sampling Jade or any of the other mythical brews, but I agree with Artemis and Absinthepoon's comments - as I became exposed to the "better" stuff (some private greens, La Bleues and even my E68/Oxygenee mix), I began to find that the brands that I used to like, were less palatable. Eating from the tree of knowledge is almost sad.

No commercially available brands are using grape alcohol, even E68, is that correct? If not, I'd find it very interesting if E-68 came out with a special edition using the same forumula but substituting grape alcohol - it would be fun to compare.
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 8:55 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've seen the wood alcohol theory, I can't remember where. I don't know if there's anything to it, but the pods are woody for sure, so maybe.

Also, Don Walsh looked into it and posted about it a long time back. I think the gist of it was that there is a tree which produces fruits similar to those of star anise (Illicium verum), but the fruits of that tree aren't suitable for human consumption. Today it's easier to distinguish between the two than it was in the 1800s. I think Don speculated that back then, it was easier to forget about star anise than to sift through your bags of herbs trying to be sure what you had received from Asia.

For the most part, I think Illlicium verum was avoided by makers of fine absinthes because they thought it lent a "hot" flavor to the product.
Absinthespoon
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 7:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm sorry too Artemis!
Absinthespoon
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 7:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Regarding star anis, isn't one of the potential problems the production of methanol ("wood" alcohol) because of the fibrous woody nature of the pods? Is that why it was avoided?
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 7:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"I wasn't addressing you at all with the comment about "less-than-perfect"

I realized that later. I shoot from the hip too much.

"it's no fun when someone then makes fun of you more than you were doing yourself!"

I apologize.
Absinthespoon
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 6:50 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Artemis,

I greatly value your opinion and input. I wasn't addressing you at all with the comment about "less-than-perfect" P68. I meant that literally (as you noticed later, P68 isn't among my top choices). And I was being self-deprecating, and it's no fun when someone then makes fun of you more than you were doing yourself!

I also look forward to the day (which hopefully will come) when we can all drink Jade. I haven't had the chance to taste any, but I have tasted a couple of spectacular amateur efforts. In the meantime, because Jade and HGs are not readily available, I do enjoy some of the commercial products, although I have become a LOT more picky than I used to be.
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 5:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Ordinaire, never mind what I say, here is what Mr. Bedel says. This is from "THE MODERN LIQUORIST" by A. BEDEL. The bit of text that appeared on Phil's site and later made its way to this site is from the same book, which was one of the distiller's "bibles" of the 19th century. Translation by yours truly:

The spirits distilled from wine are purest and most pleasant of all and it is to those which the spirit merchant really set on making truly superior products should resort to the exclusion of all others.

Those derived from beets, molasses, grains, and potatoes almost always contain contaminants which make their presence known through their flavor and smell. The potato alcohol especially, contains pentanol whose presence in fine liquors is very prejudicial.

However, all these alcohols can be used if they are well rectified, neutral, and free of bad flavors. An example of such is the Northern proof spirit of the first quality, adopted as a point of comparison by the alcohol market of Paris as representative of alcohol of good current quality. Above this type, are the superfine alcohols, more carefully rectified, more finished, which we can not recommend too strongly to the manufacturers of liquors who must go without spirits distilled from wine.

Pure alcohol is recognized by its clean flavor and lack of acridity; when it evaporates in the hands, it leaves no unpleasant odor; it is not disturbed when one mixes it with pure water, the easy impression it makes upon the palate, will never fail to distinguish spirits distilled from wine from industrial alcohol in which, no matter what care was used in rectification, one will always perceive a special flavor which extends to all products mixed with it.

From their industrial origin, one can distinguish Jerusalem artichoke and molasses, beet, potato, and grain alcohols.

The grain alcohols are more highly regarded and rightly so; however one detects in alcohols coming from farinaceous foods, a slightly pasty taste; the rye alcohol, though finished, is a little dry even as a result.

The beet alcohol, well rectified, is tender and marrowy; but it always leaves a certain impression of the odor characteristic of the root from which it comes.

The molasses alcohol is much like that of that of beet; but it takes a great perfection of process to entirely remove from it some contaminants which are difficult to separate.

The Jerusalem artichoke yields excellent alcohols, but when it is not very carefully rectified, it retains its stamp of origin and is tiresome.

As for potato alcohols, it is quite difficult to find any whose rectification was sufficiently thorough to remove their original flavor and odor.
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 4:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Artemis, would you say that absinthe has to be made with grape alcohol to be considered authentic?"

No I would not. Absinthe was made with all sorts of spirits. Zman as usual is correct. Old texts almost always claim that grape spirits were best, followed by neutral grain spirits. They didn't like beet spirits, etc. because the spirit always retained a trace of beet (or whatever). Other "industrial" spirits either tasted bad or were downright dangerous to your health.

But let's return to the concept of scented spirits, and absinthe is one such. It naturally follows that alcohol from grapes will carry more scent than alcohol from corn. I mean, grapes are more fragrant than corn, right?

With that said, I've tasted many an absinthe made from grain spirits that was on a par, in my opinion, with those made from grape spirits, because you can make up for the base alcohol to some extent with the other ingredients. I have been told that the difference between grape alcohol and the rest is obvious, but I guess it's not so obvious to me. To a large extent, that's probably because I've had so very little product from grape alcohol. I did once have the same recipe made (in Europe) exactly the same except for the alcohol (one grape, one grain) in a blind taste test. I chose the grain, and to me it wasn't even close. So much for theory.

I should also add that there would seem to be other ways to get grape attributes into a finalized drink than using grape alcohol. I would not call such a process "authentic" (old time producers probably couldn't do it if they wanted to, lacking the technology), but the drinker probably wouldn't know the difference. Whether anybody is attempting such today, I have no idea, but it would seem to me a logical and perhaps less expensive approach.
Zman7
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 3:23 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, I ain't Artemis, but let me have a shot at the grape alcohol question. The old timers, who made quality absinthe, used grape alcohol for the most part. This was done at the time because prevailing attitudes believed that any other type of alcohol was "industrial." They also saw grape alcohol as having health benefits. Some of the grain, potato, and beet sugar alcohols sometimes were not rectified to the point of being neutral, and some unwanted flavors would carry over in subsequent absinthe distillations. Also, 85% grape alcohol tastes better than pure neutral grain spirits. In grape alcohol, you have some of the organoleptic properties (grape flavor)left in the distillate. When you made absinthe, some of these grape flavors came over in the subsequent distillation. Keep in mind also that the geographic area of classic absinthe, is also a large wine producer, thus much starting material for grape alcohol was available.
_Blackjack
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 3:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

...here we go again...
Dr_Ordinaire
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 2:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Artemis, would you say that absinthe has to be made with grape alcohol to be considered authentic?
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 1:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Nothing but 68 degree grape alcohol"

The alcohol going in would be 85%. It would come out (initially, at least) even higher. 68% is achieved by watering it down, post-distillation. Traditionally, "fine" absinthes were the least watered down. Also, if the alcohol content is much less than 68, the chlorophyllic color falls out.

"star anise and wormwood - distilled, no color, no oils - but has lots of tails and tastes like shit... is it absinthe?"

You really have to have fennel and anise to have absinthe. Just star anise and wormwood - YUCK!
Some producers of old avoided star anise because they thought it was dangerous. This may have been because a look-alike plant (from Japan, I think) which IS dangerous was confused for the plant (from China, I think, and not dangerous) which they thought they were using. To be safe, they quit using it altogether. Don Walsh had an informative post about this a long time back. I hope I haven't remembered it incorrectly.

Lots of tails and tastes like shit means a shoddily made product. Can only be sold to people who don't know any better, call the product what you will. Rest assured you'll never see anything like that from Jade.

"What if they pre-sweetened Jade - still absinthe?"

I don't think you'll see that either. And given that Ted says he wants to provide the best, and that he knows what the best is, you figure out the rest, as to what is "absinthe" and what is not.

FWIW, I consider Un Emile to be the best of the current commercial products, and the most authentic. With all respect to my friends, Peter, Ian, and Phil, Jade blows it out of the water and so do any number of amateur efforts. That is my honest opinion and I hope I've treated the whole thing objectively enough to suit everybody for a change, cause now I'm going to leave it alone.
Artemis
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 1:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good discussion. It's happened before, but not for a while. Too bad the old archives are gone, but there was a good reason for that.

I took offense at Absinthespoon's use of the phrase "less than perfect" because it seemed to imply some elitism on my part, as though I was claiming that "I only drink PERFECT absinthe", and I wasn't trying to be elitist. Thus I got "feisty", because of that, and because I thought A.s. twisted the argument. The Mr. Pibb reference was carried from another thread to inject a note of humor; I wasn't framing a comparison between drinking a lot of Mr. Pibb vs. drinking a lot of absinthe, rather, I said that drinking a little absinthe was better than drinking a lot of absinthe. I don't think there can be any serious debate about that.

I retract "not even ABSINTHE" re: Pernod 68. Depending upon your definition, and as has been adequately pointed out in the thread by others, there IS no standard definition today, it very well could be. I stand by the rest of what I said about it. Also, I notice (too late) that A.s. said in the post to which I first responded that it was his 6th or 7th choice of drinkable absinthes, so he wasn't really building it up or anything.

To answer Destiny's question:

"What changed, Deva itself or Artemis' taste in absinthe?"

Deva might have changed; I don't know but I doubt it. I have definitely changed. It's not really my taste, but my *realization* of what absinthe can be, and therefore my *expectation* for it, that changed. If any of you sat down and tasted the so-called Jade products (and I only say so-called because they aren't commercially realized; they are definitely real), or as many as a dozen of the good amateur efforts that I've tasted, side by side vs. Pernod 68, YOU TOO would be miffed that they, much less their competitors, most of whom they leave in the dust, slap the word "absinthe" on those bottles and sell it to you for the prices they sell it. It's not a matter of "taste". Their stuff is not even in the same universe with truly good stuff. After such an experience, you'll look at that commercial stuff and wonder how you could have ever given it any praise whatsoever.

To answer Destiny's other questions:

"Does added sugar preclude it from being absinthe?"

By the textbook definiton of the 18th century French distillers, yes it does preclude that, but it's not that simple. Liquors with sugar added were considered to be liqueurs as we see them today - sweet, almost syrupy stuff. They could and probably did make absinthe liqueurs. Absinthe as we know it (or would like to) was an "extract" (an alcoholic extract of a plant) or a "perfumed spirit" (ditto, carried out specifically to capture scent) as far as they were concerned. Usually much higher proof, initially used as medicine, not refreshment.

"What about adding oils/flavors post-distillation?"

Those who did that in the above-mentioned sphere were considered second class, even dangerous operators by their peers in the industry and by knowledgable consumers.

"Is a natural color-step mandatory?"

There was never a time when all absinthe was colored naturally, but the BEST absinthe always was and still is colored naturally (with plants) because IT'S NOT ABOUT COLOR !!! It's about enhancing the scent (see "perfumed spirit" above).

"What about added coloring?"

Dyes, etc. Has always been done, but not by the best. Sometimes the dyes were hazardous to health. Probably never the case today, but still marks a product well less good than it could be.

"What if it was only 30 degrees?"

Don't think anybody ever made absinthe that weak. It seems the weakest was 40-50% and that was called "Absinthe Ordinaire" - ordinary or inferior absinthe, made to be sold cheap to those who couldn't afford better. Sort of like the "small beer" that Shakespeare repudiated.

"Not to mention... Thujone!"

Thujone has been isolated from one or more of the plants used to make absinthe. How much of it survives the absinthe distillation process is in doubt (what this implies for products that aren't even distilled, much less colored with plants, well ....). How thujone affects people is by no means proven. How absinthe effects people because there is thujone in it, has probably never even been studied in a legitimate scientific manner. It has been said here by a scientist, and I believe him, that for thujone to affect people in the amounts in which it seems to be present in absinthe (even the highest assays of which we know), it would have to be, as a chemical, as powerful as heroin. And it's NOT that powerful. For all these reasons and then some, thujone IN ABSINTHE is not an issue unless we have some scientific study to prove it is, and nobody is carrying out such.
I_B_Puffin
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 9:52 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm not getting a valid page from that link. But wormwood has been used in the past to add bitterness to beer.
Aion
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 12:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Something new, absinthe beer:
http://cgi.ebay.fr/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3202924351&category=369

A.
Destiny
Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2003 - 12:00 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Aion -

I realize that "B" quality Jade probably wouldn't happen knowing Ted's commitment to quality, but from a purely business perspective, I'd say that it made perfect sense. Selling "B-stock" or "seconds" is very common - top designers, electronics manufacturers, etc. Would you throw away the stuff with tails or sell it (off brand) to someone who could relabel and sell it? Surely it wouldn't even be as bad as many brands that people now pay good money for.

Plus, the term "swill" is entirely subjective. Judging by his previous comments, I would guess that Artemis would certainly now consider Deva to be "swill", but he didn't seem to be of that opinion when he did his review. What changed, Deva itself or Artemis' taste in absinthe?

The specifics of my examples don't really matter, the point of my question was "what is absinthe"?

Here's a couple more:

Nothing but 68 degree grape alcohol, star anise and wormwood - distilled, no color, no oils - but has lots of tails and tastes like shit... is it absinthe? What if they pre-sweetened Jade - still absinthe?
Absinthedrinker
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 11:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The problem with the 'what is absinthe?' debate is that there was no appellation controlee in the 19th century to define the product, only a consensus of that it should be. It can be assumed that since Pernod made the first commercial absinthe, it became a de facto definition of absinthe and that since it was the market leader other quality producers were initially seeking to copy the style. Later on there would have been a divergence in styles as low end producers tried to copy the concept as cheaply as possible whilst more adventurous producers developed their own styles. As to how different those absinthes might have been one only has to look at the divergence in styles of Scotch malt whisky or Cognac. There are very few variables but they result in a whole spectrum of different styles, each one with its own aficionados, but no one is suggesting that a Highland malt is more of a true Scotch than an Islay malt. As only two or three modern absinthes actually use distillation of plants, the situation today is more akin to choosing between one or two malts and a swathe of supermarket blends but at the end of the day it comes down to personal taste.
Aion
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 11:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Destiny,

if a company decides to offer "traditionally made" absinthe, taking all efforts that are necessary to make it, they will not offer a bad tasting B-quality. That doesn´t make sense.

Traditionally made absinthe can be verte and blanche, but traditionally made verte is coloured
with plants, and that requires a strength of minimum 65-70%.

Absinthe coloured with dyes is swill, maybe
traditional swill, but still swill.

Same story for adding oils.

>What if it was only 30 degrees?
Pre-louched absinthe light, what a nice idea!

A.
Destiny
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 10:30 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

What about Betty's #1?

(god, I feel stupid!)
Aion
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 10:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"He felt with so much variation one could urinate in wormwood...."
Urine is for sure no ingredient for a traditionally made absinthe.

The idea of absinthe implies variation,
there were a lot of different (tasting) high quality brands 100+ years ago.
And there was swill.
Today almost everything is swill!

And even properly made products like the 2 absinthes made in Pontarlier today (Guy, E68) taste, smell, look completely different.

It is the variety that makes absinthe interesting.

A.
Destiny
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 10:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Betty's #2" is just too sick for words.

>;-o
Destiny
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 10:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Set our sails for the land of the never-ending debate...

The question, "what is absinthe", has been raised so many times in the past; I started a thread on that very subject last year and faintly remember the consensus having a very liberal definition of what actually constitutes "absinthe". Would Jade, (if they ran a "B" quality and included lots of tails) still be absinthe or would it just be a lower quality absinthe? What if they added fake coloring to Jade for marketing purposes - still absinthe?

Most would consider a genuine La Bleue to be absinthe but there's not a lot to it - not even a color-step. So, is what it HAS or what it DOESN'T have that makes it absinthe? As I remember, as long as it contained wormwood and anise people were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt - absinthe, perhaps, but not necessarily good tasting or well-crafted.

Does added sugar preclude it from being absinthe?

What about adding oils/flavors post-distillation?

Is a natural color-step mandatory? What about added coloring?

What if it was only 30 degrees?

Not to mention... Thujone! Traditionally, thujone was present, so would F.Guy, with it's mutant wormwood, qualify regardless of how well it's made?


Of course, I have no answers - just questions.
Swarez
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 9:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Personally got into an argument with a friend couple o'weeks back as he tried his first absinthe (F.Guy). Asked why there is so much variation in absinthe as I explained Czech, Swiss/French, and Spanish absinthes and the ones I preferred and why. He felt with so much variation one could urinate in wormwood, let it steep, boil down and add to alcohol and call it absinthe (had a hard time arguing with that as long as other herbs added as well). Only explanation could extend was the differences between whiskeys (scotch, bourbon, straight, canadian, irish) even though they are "basically" the same product.

So who is to say that Deva or Hills or Betty's LaBleu #2 isn't an absinthe? They all probably contain piss of some sort, along with all the necessary herbs...
Absinthespoon
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 8:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I know that Mr. Pibb is a crappy sugary soft drink, I just don't know what the "extra" is. I am comfortable in my assessment that it's crap, just as you are comfortable in your assessment that what 95% of us are drinking isn't absinthe.
1888
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 8:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well my curiosity has been piqued... what's 'real' absinthe... short of Pernod Fils?

I never cared too much for the Mr Dr Pibb / Pepper dealyroos... prior to Vanilla Coke, my 'soft' drink of choice was plain old Coke mixed with some Das Komet.

Anyway... I'm really really curious. What's real absinthe and where can this be obtained. Is there a fee involved to own such a thing?!

As I write this, I've just opened my Emile 68 and WOW!!! My favorite to date was La Fee. But... WOW! The Emile is very very smooth. It's a tough call to make... La Fee or Emile 68.
Louched_Liver
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 8:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow! Artie is gettin' fiesty.
Artemis
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 8:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"and i'd wager that drinking a lot of mr. pibb extra (whatever that is) is not a good thing either."

If you'd bet money on something you admit you don't even know what it is, Vegas is waiting for you. I never said I drank a lot of it. I said I'd pay money for it. Which is more than I can say for your not even GOOD, to say nothing of "perfect", and not even ABSINTHE, for that matter, Pernod 68. Mr. Pibb, not pretending to be something it isn't, has more integrity by far.
Absinthespoon
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 7:54 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

i choose to believe the story on public radio yesterday that i may have a 40% lower chance of heart attack because I drink "moderately" 7 days/week. also i choose to believe that absinthe is no better or worse for you than any other alcohol (and that the occasional lapse of memory is due to premature senility...)

and i'd wager that drinking a lot of mr. pibb extra (whatever that is) is not a good thing either.

(enjoying my less-than-perfect, slightly bitter anisy Pernod 68¡)
Artemis
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 4:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"So what do you buy?"

Mr. Pibb Extra. Drinking absinthe is not so important to me that I'll buy something just because it has "absinthe" on the label.

Every now and then somebody gives me something that meets my current expectation for absinthe (and it's always given, because nobody sells such a thing AFAIK) and I drink that. As you might imagine, I go for weeks, months at a time without drinking it at all, and that's okay with me too. I don't think that drinking a lot of absinthe is a good thing, either, but that's another matter.
Admin
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 3:40 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

there is no buy. there is only drinking.
Turdferguson
Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - 3:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

So what do you buy?
Artemis
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 8:59 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"I'm quite sure Artemis would disavow his review of Deva in the buyer's guide."

I had to go back and read it, because I didn't remember what I wrote. I was happy just to be taken seriously back then. I wrote:

"Deva - Peridot green. Not at all alcoholic in the face, faint anise smell with an earthy background. Louched to the greenish opalescent white you see in the 19th century paintings of absinthe. After louche, its smell had actually gotten stronger, blossoming into a powerful wormood/anise, well balanced, but with anise prominent. The flavor is fairly sharp anise, but with the earthy undertone still very much evident, and not at all unpleasant. Becomes MUCH sweeter with sugar. No sugar is needed either for sweetness or to mask nastiness, of which it has none."

What I thought was the aroma of wormwood (earthy) back then is actually the aroma of things that should be left in the still and never put into a bottle. It has nothing to do with any ingredient, let alone wormwood; wormwood does NOT smell "earthy" or anything like earthy. If Deva is mixed from an essential oil as has been claimed, then mistakes in processing were made while making the oil and that means that (MOST undesirable) flavor is super concentrated: not a good thing.

Still, to make that review as it stands accurate today, I would only have to change a few words, as follows:

Deva - Peridot green. Not at all alcoholic in the face, faint anise smell with an earthy background. Louched to the greenish opalescent white you see in the 19th century paintings of absinthe. After louche, its smell had actually gotten stronger, blossoming into a powerful EARTHY/anise, with anise prominent. The flavor is fairly sharp anise, but with the earthy undertone still very much evident. Becomes MUCH sweeter with sugar. No sugar is needed for sweetness.

I would also have to add, "this is not remotely like good absinthe; in fact, hardly qualifies as absinthe at all".

FWIW, there is NOTHING in the buyer's guide for which I would pay money today. Nothing. But Deva, you couldn't even give it to me for nothing. Live and learn.
Absinthespoon
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 7:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Deva (if I recall correctly) has a slightly nasty taste of tails... although I don't know how it could have tails if it's an oil mixture and not distilled. I'm quite sure Artemis would disavow his review of Deva in the buyer's guide.

At least Pernod does not have the funky overcooked tail taste of Deva. When I first tasted Pernod, in a tiny digestif glass chez Petermarc, I thought it tasted of nothing but anis, but now I agree, there is a slight bitterness, which I find agreeable.

Pernod would be about 6th or 7th on my list of drinkable absinthes, Deva is not on the list.
Giovannigray
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 6:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

While Deva and P68 clearly contain the requisite amount of anise, I detect little other similarity between them. To my taste, Pernod is more bitter, for example. I've always thought that Pernod tastes like La Fee with some Sebor dropped into it..but then again, I think Francois Guy tastes like Serpis. ...my $0.02
Traineraz
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 5:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I've been victim of a drive-by anising.
Louched_Liver
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 5:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

anise-y, anusy?
Teezy, are you stuck in a rut?
Traineraz
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 5:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It's been a while since I've had Deva, I just remember it being very sweet and very anise-y, like the Pernod 68.
Drinkslinger
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 4:06 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I wouldn't say it tastes a lot like Deva... but there is some anise in it :-)

I'm not too fond of the P68... in fact, I like it about as much as Deva.
Traineraz
Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 - 3:17 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I got my latest from SC today, comprised of a bottle of Sir Piss (can't do without that) and Pernod 68. I decided to give it a try. (Order came in record time, shipped on the 9th.)

Opening the bottle, I was ever so impressed by the cork. Just like in The Glenlivet. Yay.

I was then struck by an overwhelming scent of anise. Then alcohol, then anise again.

Tasting it neat, I experienced the intermingling of anise, with subtle hints of anise, and just a touch of anise at the back of the throat.

After adding water and viewing the louche so dense that even light cannot escape, I tasted again. Ahh, that anise-y goodness. Well, diluted anise-y goodness. I think this one will be better at 3:1 instead of my usual 4:1.

Is it just me, or does P68 taste an awful lot like Deva? I imagine they're both oil mixes and heavy on the anise, of course.

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