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Archive through March 22, 2003

Sepulchritude Forum » The Absinthe Forum » Strictly Absinthe & Collectibles » Archive Thru March 2003 » Vintage Pernod Fils... 1900 'ish » Archive through March 22, 2003 « Previous Next »

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T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 95
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 9:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The conclusions about expertise, herbs, and Emile 68 - 'original' Pernod are somewhat inaccurate, albeit largely irrelevant.

Some people have claimed that Deva and La Fee are the same. No one has answered the question as to exactly why they are different, so perhaps the possiblity should be considered that they may in fact be one and the same.

I hope this is self explanatory.
Quidam (Artemis)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Artemis

Post Number: 664
Registered: 10-2000


Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 8:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Some thoughts:

"expertise", cited by Ted, is the only variable mentioned by anybody that doesn't fit into the three categories I mentioned: alcohol, herbs, and process. I discount that one as there would be no reason for the expertise not to be available in Spain right after the ban. What happened over time is another story.

There would be no reason for the Tarragona people to change the product on purpose.

If they were forced to change, I find it impossible to credit lack of expertise as the reason. Therefore, it had to be one of the other variables. Is there any reason they could not have had access to the same or better equipment? It doesn't seem likely. No access to wine alcohol of good quality? Absurd. No access to the herbs used by Pernod in France? Maybe the growers around Pontarlier gave up the trade with the closure of the French distilleries, so this would seem to be the most likely reason.

With regard to herbs and alcohol not from the same region yielding a different product, I'm confident that the people on the face of the earth who could tell the difference IN ABSINTHE, with ALL OTHER FACTORS EQUAL, in a blind taste test are so few in number as to be insignificant. In fact, I don't think ANYBODY could do it.

I'm not saying the products are the same, but common sense tells me the difference was well less than profound, at least in the years right after the ban. How the product may have changed over time is another story.

With regard to Emile 68 being like "original" Pernod - with all respect due to Emile 68, that would make the original Pernod a thoroughly unremarkable product as compared to two dozen or so others I've tasted from the 21st century. None of them are commercial products, but the point is that if somebody in the 21st century with a rig in his barn can make products as good or better than Emile, professional distillers in Spain for damned sure could have.

None of this really matters, but nobody has answered the question: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE except with innuendo and speculation, and personal preference. The first two are easy to defeat with common sense and logic. The third is unassailable but not to the point. When somebody can point out what the difference is in a definitive way, everybody else will have to concede there is a difference. That hasn't come close to happening, so in my mind those who say the products are the same and those who say they are not have an equal claim to the truth in the matter.
Quelle vie ont eue nos grands-parents
Entre l'absinthe et les grands-messes... ?

Moonman's friend (Wolfgang)
Elitist Bastard
Username: Wolfgang

Post Number: 892
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 9:35 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Would it be possible to find vintage accounting books of both Pernod distillery showing herb and alcohol providers ? I don`t remember if such items are in Mme Delahaye`s collection as I wasn`t looking specifically for this information when I went to the museum...

If herbs and alcohol didn`t came from the same place (or at least the same region), there was most probably a difference in the final product, even if they where using the same recipe and process.


If we only consider wormwood, using a carefull mix of flower buds and leaves won`t give the exact same result as using a cheaper mix of flower buds, leaves and twigs. Wormwood from some sources are lame and some other are extremely aromatic.

I have not tasted those vintage absinthes but common sens and my personal knowledge of herbs tend to show that both products where probably not exactly the same.
T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 94
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 2:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

The fact that Hemingway illustrated this topic is fitting even if it was coincidental.

As far as really scrutinizing the differences and determining the reasons thereof would require effort and expense, the results being purely academic...maybe one day

To digress to back to the original point, Pernod Fils and Pernod Tarragona are not identical products. I didn't find this to be particularly surprising. If they had been identical, I certainly would have found it most convenient.
Quidam (Artemis)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Artemis

Post Number: 662
Registered: 10-2000


Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 1:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"Once again, this revelation (that Tarragona and French Pernod are not the same) is apparently rather old news, as it was noted in literature long ago, when both were relatively young."

Hopefully you don't mean, by literature, Hemingway. People who have read the short story "The Strange Country" are aware that the protagonist asks for and receives Pernod absinthe in a New Orleans bar in the 1920s. He tells the waiter not to try and fool him with "Tarragova" (sic) but to bring only the "real" Pernod because he can tell the difference.

Some people take this story to mean Hemingway himself had the experiences described in the story. Personally, I take fiction as fiction.

I was rather hoping for one of you to say "I taste (or have detected by testing) herb X in the Pernod, but not in the Tarragona", or "Tarragona is beet alcohol, Pernod wine alcohol", etc. I don't pursue old absinthe, so it's not critical to me, but I find it interesting as a point of absinthe history.

Thank you all for your responses.
Quelle vie ont eue nos grands-parents
Entre l'absinthe et les grands-messes... ?

T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 93
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 9:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

In the instances I have witnessed, the problem was not due to an organism, but rather due to apparent prolonged exposure to adverse environmental conditions. While the lead seal and cork remained intact, the contents suffered significantly.
simon pedersen (Simon)
Mousquetaire
Username: Simon

Post Number: 23
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 8:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

With regards to what Ted's mentioning about full bottles in seemingly good condition being useless-In your oppinion could this cause the absinthe to be 'corked' as it where, from the fungus that can secreet in cork (Which commonly causes wine to be corked)? I'm curious as to whether the high alcohol limit prevents such contaminations from taking place.
T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 92
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 7:38 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My experience with absinthe shows that while heavy ullage does indicate a high probability of deterioration, the absence of ullage does not necessarily guarantee the converse. In fact, I've encountered more than one bottle of quality brands with intact cork and lead seal and no evaporation, yet the contents were absolutely useless. This being said, subjection to adverse conditions does not always compromise the integrity of the cork.

The conclusion I've reached with respect to the two products in question, is they are indeed two different products. Once again, this revelation is apparently rather old news, as it was noted in literature long ago, when both were relatively young.
simon pedersen (Simon)
Mousquetaire
Username: Simon

Post Number: 22
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 1:44 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have already drunk one full bottle of pre 1915 Pernod Fils with the contents falling exactly where the foil ended(V. Good contents) and also a half liter, which had indeed about 1/3 missing. Upon opening the cork crumbled(next day had shriveled like a pea)and the contents had turned a dark red/brown. Needless to say, i still enjoyed it. Where as the liter bottle's good contents had a hue similar to that of NS and i still think taste wise it was the same as Tarragona. But yes i can see what you mean oxy. So i guess the analytical part is not so important to many people, and we all have different tastes and experiences with vintage absinthe. So i'd agree with you and say in summary that every bottle varies and each to their own taste. :-)

Oxygenee (Oxygenee)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Oxygenee

Post Number: 119
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 10:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

A few points:

The degree of ullage (ie the extent by which the liquid in the bottle has fallen below its original fill line) is an EXTREMELY good predictor of the relative quality of the contents. Heavily ullaged bottles MAY still taste OK, but most will show some degree of deterioration. Bottles with levels still in the neck or the extreme top shoulder are (given untampered corks) almost without exception, perfect.

Detorioration of the contents is caused primarily by heat, light, temperature fluctuation or vibration - over a period of decades all of these will weaken the elasticity of the cork, resulting in evaporation or seepage of the contents (strictly speaking of course light doesn't damage the cork, but in practice bottles exposed to light for prolonged periods are also exposed to undesirably high or fluctuating temperatures).

So my feeling is that one CAN make valid tasting judgements, providing one is comparing bottles with minimal or no ullage, and providing one is able to taste several similar examples of each. This is certainly both my own experience in tasting old wines, and the overwhelming conventional wisdom in the field generally - and there's no reason why absinthe should be an exception.

Pre-1915 Pernod Fils has, to me, a distinctive warm floral quality which I don't find to the same extent in the later Spanish bottlings. It's also more complex, more multi-dimensional than the latter Tarragona versions.

Even leaving aside the likely changes in protocol and formulation, given that the Tarragona versions would have been made with differently sourced herbs, in a different factory, possibly with differently sourced alcohol, and that this process continued for 60 years after absinthe was banned in France, it would be astonshing if there weren't differences in both taste and analysis.

Simon: If you have intact pre-1915 bottles that you'd like to taste, but understandably don't want to write-off 95% of their value by removing the cork, use a sleeved hypodermic needle (of the type used for spinal injections) to extract a small sample through the cork. This works perfectly even with fragile corks, and leaves the seal intact.
T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 91
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 7:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I can offer a few worthwhile notes in a nutshell…

Unfortunately, a sealed bottle of old absinthe guarantees little with respect to the integrity of its condition, and the condition of sealed examples can vary *widely*.

The condition of an old absinthe can be determined analytically. It cannot be determined accurately via tasting (not realistically anyway). Obviously, the condition of the contents of a bottle ‘tasted’ to completion will forever remain unknown. FWIW, even a weathered example can taste pleasant, albeit different than it did many years before. Several factors influence this phenomenon. When decomposition sets in, they tend to gradually degrade until they taste similar(ly bad).

Analytically speaking, the original content of Pernod Fils and Pernod Tarragona appears to be as different as are any other two absinthes, in that there are obvious similarities and equally obvious differences. Taste-wise, in a nutshell, I find the Tarragona product to be consistently more pointed and less refined. This can be caused by a variety of differences, including protocol, expertise, materials sources, equipment, or a combination of any or all of these aspects.
Quidam (Artemis)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Artemis

Post Number: 661
Registered: 10-2000


Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 7:12 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

"But i'm not about to expalin as i think both, in the same condition, would taste the same."

Okay, then you HAVE explained as far as you are able.

"So i would love to hear ... what the expert difference actually is"

You and I both. I don't care what anybody LIKES; let's hear what the difference is. Let's set aside "expert" and have someone who KNOWS the difference, that is IF they KNOW, tell us exactly what the difference is. Different alcohol? Different herbal ingredients? Different process? There are no other "variables". We aren't talking about a space shuttle; it's liquor with a few herbs in it.
Quelle vie ont eue nos grands-parents
Entre l'absinthe et les grands-messes... ?

simon pedersen (Simon)
Mousquetaire
Username: Simon

Post Number: 21
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 5:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Artemis i agree, But i'm not about to expalin as i think both, in the same condition, would taste the same. On top of this we have all heard so many vintage reviews. So i would love to hear (Maybe to learn what i havn't appreciated) what the expert difference actually is (truthfully) between the two taste wise in detailed absinthe talk!! :-)
simon pedersen (Simon)
Mousquetaire
Username: Simon

Post Number: 20
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 5:09 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Oxygenee, tell me if i'm wrong here in your mind, regarding your point. From my research and collection, as far as Pernod absinthe made in Tarragona goes there are two. First of all there's the Pernod Fils Tarragona( same label as pre-ban, but with pernod written as opposed to swiss cross in red oval) and Pernod SA (Maltese cross and E.Pernod diamond 68% label). Both of these absinthe's where made alongside each other at the same distillery (Jose M Banus- Tarragona) But the latter stopped before the Fils. The SA in my opinion is inferior, yet suficiently different. But the Pernod Fils Tarragona is very good.
Quidam (Artemis)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Artemis

Post Number: 660
Registered: 10-2000


Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 5:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

It occurs to me that whoever thinks he knows the difference between this and that would better serve the community as a whole by telling exactly what the (perceived) difference is than saying "it's not the same".

Simon, how is it the same? What is similar about it? Can you describe it?

Ted, what is different? If you know it's different as to herbal content, type of alcohol , etc. please elucidate. What are the "essential variables" (I thought I'd never hear that outside of welding specifications)?

Oxy, what are the "significant differences"?

I really don't give a rat's ass, as I'm confident there are a number of people alive today who can make absinthe as good or better than either Pernod or Pernod's Spanish cousin. The only thing they can't do is put 50-100 years of aging on it. But when people make these assertions, inquiring minds want to know.
Quelle vie ont eue nos grands-parents
Entre l'absinthe et les grands-messes... ?

simon pedersen (Simon)
Mousquetaire
Username: Simon

Post Number: 19
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 4:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'd certainly agree with both of you that the values are up to whom ever is in the market to buy.
I certainly don't argue that Ted doesn't know what he's talking about(As i've been listening closely since day one and collecting historical data since 1995 and agree with all) But i must say having tasted and owned over 17 bottles of various vintage brands of absinthe i cant personally tell the difference between pre-ban fils and Tarragona Pernod fils. Apart from perhaps the slight de-generacy in quality from oxidization, evaporation, being corked or what ever other factors might be at play. I'm certainly no expert on recipe's or chemistry like Ted, but i have tasted a lot of vintage aswell as modern absinthes from SC, Jean Narbey etc..... I personally would not open vintage French Fils, but rather keep as a collectors bottle. But would open a Tarragona to drink.
This is just my oppinion! :-)
T. A. Breaux (Tabreaux)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Tabreaux

Post Number: 90
Registered: 7-2001
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 3:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I disagree as well, and so does the data I've obtained from several examples (of each) in my possession, as do my tasting experiences.

As far as the notion of them of being the same, this appears to be purely a wishful, default assumption. Furthermore, the word 'recipe' is a layman's term in this instance and is misleading, as it neglects numerous other decidedly influential variables.

The differences between these two are apparently old news, as there exists old literature that notes clear distinctions between them.

I do agree that the Tarragona product is very decent, but as for what it's actually worth is up to the prospective buyer.
Oxygenee (Oxygenee)
Absinthe Mafia
Username: Oxygenee

Post Number: 118
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 11:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'd strongly disagree with Simon - there are significant differences between pre-1915 Pernod Fils and the later Pernod Tarragona bottlings, and these cannot just be ascribed to the greater age of the former. Broadly speaking, my feeling is that Pernod Tarragona gradually deviated from the original recipe, with the result that particularly the post 1950 Spanish product tastes significantly different.

Having said that, all Pernod Tarragona is far closer to pre-1915 vintage absinthe than any commercially released modern bottling.

Genuine pre-1915 bottles are locatable in France and Switzerland, but are always pricey, unless you have charm, luck and live in France like Peter. For the rest of us, expect to pay upwards of $900 even for a bottle with badly damaged labels, and upwards of $1600 for a perfect bottle in mint condition.

Are they worth this based on taste alone, leaving aside the visceral thrill of drinking something from the era of Verlaine and Toulouse Lautrec? No of course not. Buy a bottle of Emile 68 for less than $60 to get the approximate idea, or wait for Jade to get a perfect facsimile.

simon pedersen (Simon)
Paysan
Username: Simon

Post Number: 18
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 9:46 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Having drunk several bottles of both pre-ban pernod fils,pernod SA and pernod fils Tarragona, i would certainly say that both pre-ban and Tarragona pernod fils ARE one and the same thing. They are both made from the same recipe and taste the same! If anything i would rather buy the Tarragona made pernod fils, as this was produced until 1967 or so and has not yielded to ageing as much as pre 1915 pernod. Although i would say that the Pernod SA maison a Tarragone, which was made at the same distillery (Jose M Banus), which was of the E.Pernod recipe but not as good, is indeed different. Obviously it is harder to obtain pre ban bottles, but even harder to find one that has reasonable contents and for so much more money! So if you're buying it to drink, then you're far better-off with a Spanish Pernod Fils generally. :-)
Vortex
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 9:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you get an opportunity to try even the Tarragona version, you won't be sorry. To rip-off an old Dairy Queen slogan "it's scrumpdelicious!"
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=17818&item=1787408853
... but then again, maybe you're better off not tasting it, or you'll be craving it and spending all your money on it (like me)
Tabreaux
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 2:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Quote:

You could try asking Betty from "Betina Elixirs" if she has any small samples to sell at www.allthingsabsinthe.com




These samples would be Spanish Pernod (Tarragona), which is not one and the same as pre-ban Pernod Fils.

Due to the recent emergence of clever fakes, buying a bottle of pre-ban vintage absinthe is as risky as it is both scarce and expensive.
Chevalier
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 1:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Not me, but there are several people around here who have bought vintage Pernod.

You could try asking Betty from "Betina Elixirs" if she has any small samples to sell at www.allthingsabsinthe.com

As for the others ... they'll see your request here and hopefully will answer it.
1888
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Have you done so? Or rather... has this been done to you?
Chevalier
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 12:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Be ready to spend thousands of dollars. Be ready to have people try to con you. Be ready to wait months, even years. Be ready to fly to France (or wherever the bottle may be) in order to inspect it and pick it up personally.
1888
Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2003 - 12:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

So if one wanted to obtain a vintage bottle of Pernod Fils... by vintage I'm thinking 1900 or so...

How much would it set the person back?

Would it be worth it?

Where could you find such a thing?

Where do you think the biggest catch is stored?

The mystery of it has me in it's grasp... it 'feels' like the holy grail. You have this incredibly romantic history... you have the mythology tied to it... it seems to be impossible to find, yet the reward for finding it seems immeasurable!

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