Of the Art of Distillation

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived thru April 2001:Of the Art of Distillation
By Chrysippvs on Saturday, April 14, 2001 - 09:59 am: Edit

More likely vague laws are always in the side of the lawmakers. Imagine how difficult it would be to prosecute someone for absinthe without chemical anlysis. With a definition like that you could very easily prosecute. The more stipulations you tag onto the work "absinthe" the more they have to work for the case, which in most cases for the Swiss, simply is not worth it.

- J

By Germanandy on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 05:26 pm: Edit


By Tabreaux on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 05:12 pm: Edit

The crudness of that definition certainly reflects the limits of understanding of lawmakers with regard to absinthe.

By Germanandy on Friday, April 13, 2001 - 03:41 pm: Edit

here is a definition of what absinthe is, i found it on the website of the swiss' government (it's in german language)

SR 817.02 Lebensmittelverordnung
2. Titel: Besondere Bestimmungen
40. Kapitel: Absinthverbot
Art. 432
Art. 434 Definitionen
Art. 433

1 Fabrikation, Einfuhr, Transport, Verkauf und Aufbewahrung zum Zwecke des Verkaufs von Absinth oder Nachahmungen von Absinth sind verboten.

2 Als Absinth gilt jede Spirituose, die Thujon sowie aromatische Bestandteile des Wermutkrautes in Verbindung mit anderen aromatischen Stoffen, wie Anis, Fenchel und dergleichen enthält, nach Anis oder Fenchel riecht und beim Verdünnen mit Wasser ein trübes Getränk ergibt.

3 Als Nachahmungen des Absinthes gelten alle mit Anis, Fenchel und dergleichen aromatisierten, alkoholhaltigen Getränke, die:

beim Verdünnen mit 14 Volumenteilen destilliertem Wasser von 20 °C eine Trübung ergeben, die nach Zugabe von weiteren 16 Volumenteilen destilliertem Wasser von 20 °C nicht vollständig verschwindet; oder

mehr als 45 Volumenprozent Ethylalkohol aufweisen.

Stand am 1999-11-23

short translation of part 2:

absinthe is a spirit that contains thuyone as well as aromatic elements of wormwood in connection with other aromatic substances, as anise, as fenel and contains such like that, smells like anise or fenel and makes a cloudy drink.

i hope the translation is ok and makes sense(maybe there are some errors but that's the best i can do ;-)).


By Petermarc on Thursday, April 12, 2001 - 01:11 am: Edit

tickles the hell out of me, too...

By Artemis on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 05:03 pm: Edit

I should clarify that last post of mine - NOT a knock on Ted by any means.

It just tickles the hell out of me that REAL absinthe is in France after an absence of ??? years, and it came from America. Whether Ted's or the stuff in the glasses against the Eiffel Tower got there first - well, it was just about a dead heat I guess, but France was well served either way.

Personally, if I was to kick around in a French graveyard looking for some body (pun there) to toast, it would be Dr. Ordinaire or one of the Pernods, but it's all for the good, I guess.

By Artemis on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 01:31 pm: Edit

"Oh and yes as you probably saw in the photo from the "Absinthe is Legal" post. There is little cause for concern. Though I must say those guys drinking in the park were pretty ballsy."

For the record, what was in that photo was NOT made by Ted.

By Ekmass on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 11:47 am: Edit

BTW Kallisti, though we have never met, would you consider paying a visit to the home of the Green Fairy, Paris that is (ok Switzerland is the true home but hey)?

By Ekmass on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 10:51 am: Edit

Peter, that is quite a chic piece of head-gear you are sporting there. Where can I get one. Ted, we will get to work. Oh and yes as you probably saw in the photo from the "Absinthe is Legal" post. There is little cause for concern. Though I must say those guys drinking in the park were pretty ballsy.

By Petermarc on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 10:26 am: Edit

i'm toast...new goth fashion hits paris...
sure it's easy to say that ian, when you've got your unsuspecting wife carrying it ;-)

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 10:13 am: Edit

Ok, I feel better. Worthy of note is that I will be coming to London soon Mr. Absinthedrinker. I will be bringing along the parfum. I am glad to see that you put my EP to good use.

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 09:50 am: Edit

Ted, don't worry about carrying absinthe around Paris, I never travel without it. Spent a whole morning wandering around Montparnasse cemetary with a mini bottle of your EP and a glass looking for Baudelaire's resting place to toast his memory. I swear they've moved it.

By the way you will recognise Peter in Paris by the black rectangle that he wears across his eyes these days (http://www.the-greener-site.de/Absinthe/Guide/Selbstversuch/selbstversuch.html)

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 09:13 am: Edit

Well, late June - early July is fine. I'll leave it to you guys in France to pick a weekend and tell us, then we can get coordinated.

By Ekmass on Wednesday, April 11, 2001 - 09:01 am: Edit

Ted if you got some dates we can do a little research for you. Tlautrec I will be here around then.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 09:02 pm: Edit

I know only a little about the ethylene oxide process, and I don't know to what extent it is being used here. Nothing like a good gamma source IMO.

By Frater_Carfax on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 08:39 pm: Edit

Even better :-)

Just interested, as the herbal medicine industry in Australia seems to use TLC fingerprinting as the norm, and as the absinthe application is culinary rather than medicinal, I wasn't sure to what extent you profile your ingredients. And now I know.......

An aside question, do you know what the status in the US is with regards to ethylene oxide sterilisation of herbs used in food products?- it is being phased in here in Oz in preference to irradiation.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 07:54 pm: Edit

Why TLC when you can MS?

By Frater_Carfax on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 07:32 pm: Edit

Ted, do you go so far as to use TLC analysis for your raw supplies?



By Tabreaux on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 06:07 pm: Edit

Petermarc, I would like to trek to Paris, but I am apprehensive about being arrested for carrying along a bottle or two of suspicious looking 'parfum'. I don't need to 'squat', but if you can enlighten me as to simple but safe lodging in the area, that would be helpful, as Paris is rather large. If I had to choose, I would prefer to enjoy the sites of Paris than to see some guys with pot stills make modern 'La Bleue' on the back of a trailer. If you want to coordinate something in Paris, let's arrange it.

Mr Carfax, when I mentioned 'regional herbs', I was referring to the specific varieties of herbs indigenous to the region in question. As for the specific source of herbs of the proper variety, like grapes, the quality and characteristics thereof vary markedly with the geographical region (e.g. latitude, soil, climate, growing and harvesting time and techniques, etc., etc.) from which they are sourced.

By Tlautrec on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 05:36 pm: Edit


I would like to take you up on your open invitation to share an heure verte with any of us who happen to be visiting Paris. By any chance, will you be in town between June 30 and July 7? If so, I'd like to try to connect with you and Eric. Please feel free to e-mail me at tlautrec@altavista.com to discuss in more detail. Thanks.

By Frater_Carfax on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Ted, I really like your definition

"Absinthe is a liquor made from the spirituous distillation of A. absinthium and other regional culinary and medicinal herbs, traditionally colored naturally, again using specific herbs indigenous to the region where the liquor was invented. "

I can see certain parallels in this to things that have gone on in the wine industry...Australian wine makers (as have others worldwide I imagine) are prevented from calling their wines after "styles" of wine associated with particular French traditions- you cannot call a sparkling white "Champagne" although you can say it is made to Methode Champenoise...and I can see validity to this, sure you might be using the same grape and method, but the climatic conditions are quite different which probably produces some differences, thus is it really Champagne?

I had never really thought much about absinthe (or other spirits and liqueurs for that matter) in having "regional" definition according to the sourcing of its "original" components, but given the constituent specification variety you would get depending on where you sourced the herbs from, you may be able to say it's made to an absinthe method, but is it absinthe in the strict traditional sense?

But hey, I'm just as happy to drink anything made to a Methode Absinthe....(within reason of course)

By Petermarc on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 03:25 pm: Edit

yes, quite comfortable (great apartment) well located (hate eric) beautiful building (kill eric and squat at his apartment)one of my favorite restaurants just down the street, eiffel tower just around the corner...it would be a pleasure to have you visit ted, but i have always extended an invitation for l'heure verte to anyone who has mentioned they were visiting paris (of course, if you need a place to stay, it's at eric's!;-))i think boveresse will be a hoot, and most likely more absinthe-friendly (or at least, aware) than paris...

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 10:53 am: Edit

Absinthe is a liquor made from the spirituous distillation of A. absinthium and other regional culinary and medicinal herbs, traditionally colored naturally, again using specific herbs indigenous to the region where the liquor was invented. The 'complexity' lies within the bounds of the above definition, so within this definition, there are many possibilities, some being more 'traditional' than others.

In the same way, gin is not made by sticking juniper berries in vodka. There are different variations in making gin, but they all revolve around distillation of juniper and various spices.

As far as me going to Paris, I can go anytime so long as I have a purpose or invitation to go. I'd rather go to Paris than Bovaresse.

By Ekmass on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit

Ted and Bob, what you say makes sense, but I am endeavoring to know, what exactly is "absinthe", thoretically? Wine is a pretty straightforwrd drink but as we all know, absinthe is a complex drink. I might ask the same question of gin. There are many gins on the market, but if I put juniper berries in a drink is that gin? Basically, is there a specific thing that absinthe must have other than wormwood? This really is more of a philosophical question than a practical one. On another note, Ted, you really ought to think about comming to Bovaresse or at least Paris. I am just setting up my aprtment and would love to have a get together. Petermarc can attest to the fact that is is quite a comfortable place.
PS Don you are most welcome as well.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 08:34 am: Edit

The inventor of absinthe distilled certain herbs in a spirit, including A. absinthium to create the liquor "absinthe". This is what was first commercialized as absinthe, and is absinthe. Something that does not contain A. absinthium or is not made in the same basic manner will have markedly different constituents and properties, and therefore will be different (i.e. not absinthe). Although liquors which differ in these manners are called "absinthe", it is simply incorrect and misleading to do so.

To use an analogy, wine is a fermentation of grapes. To add grape juice to diluted vodka and call it "wine" is incorrect, misleading, and naturally, inferior in many ways to the real thing. You can apply this directly to absinthe as well.

By Bob_Chong on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 08:22 am: Edit

Is Absintheur around? j/k

Absinthe must have wormwood, but that doesn't mean that everything that has wormwood is absinthe. It would be faulty logic to assume so.

If a cheeseburger has to have cheese, does that mean that everything that has cheese could also be a considered cheesburger? Because I put basil in my chili, does that mean my chili is actually some kind of pesto now? Bad analogies, I admit, but the point is that one ingredient found in different things doesn't render them something else.


By Ekmass on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 05:40 am: Edit

The question then is, when is a drink w/ wormwood considered "absinthe" and when is it just alcohol w/ wormwood?

By Wormwood on Tuesday, April 10, 2001 - 04:22 am: Edit

As far as I know the ancient Romans or Greeks first mixed alcohol and wormwood together. They used it as a cure for paracitic worms. Wormwood has been a cure for worms almost since recorded history (hence the name), but the Romans found that if you mixed it with wine you could boost this effect. In ancient Greece Pythagoras proscribed wormwood soaked in wine to aid labor in childbirth. Hippocratesprescribed it for jaundice, rheumatism, amenia and menstrual pain.

Its medicinal use it also referance in the Bible, Egyptian Papyri and early Syrian texts.

By Chrysippvs on Monday, April 09, 2001 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Yeah Absinthe-like substances were developed as early as the 12th century. St. T of A (via Jabr) developed along with Albertus Magnus several herbal recipes for curing aliments of the stomach using wormwood. The alchemists were heavily using herbs via Greek "chumeia (odd word, may mean extraction of plant essences" from around the time of Zoisimos and possible earlier in Alexandria. Germans, using new distillery methods, in the early 16th and late 15th centuries developed the first potent wormwood drinks, like the AC above.

It is interesting to note that Newton, being a devout alchemist, tinkered with some wormwood concoctions. He was a terrible hypochondriac and developed what he called "elixir absinthii" which he claimed reduced him to "fits of falling." He of course nixed the recipe. For the academics this was of course as he was writing the principia, but before his "opticks" work.

Absinthe and Alchemy have a neat history...I am currently doing some research and may write a rather lengthy paper on the subject....

By Frater_Carfax on Monday, April 09, 2001 - 08:38 pm: Edit

Don't know if this has appeared on the forum previously....

Just been doing a little research on alchemy and absinthe and came across an interesting recipe for a distilled spirit containing wormwood, written in 1651 by a John French in book 2 of his Art of Distillation.


Take of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmegs, zedoary, galangal, long pepper, citron pill, spikenard, lignum aloes, cububs, cardamum, calamus aromaticus, germander, ground pine, mace, white frankincense, tormentil, hermodactyls, the pith of dwarf elder, juniper berries, bay berries, theseeds and flowers of motherwort, the seeds of smallage, the seeds of fennel, seeds of anise, the leaves of sorrel, the leaves of sage, the leaves of felwort, rosemary, marJoram, mints, pennyroyal, stechados, the flowers of elder, the flowers of red roses, the flowers of white roses, of the leaves of scabious, rue, the lesser moonwort, agrimony, centory, fumitory, pimpernel, sow thistle, eyebright, maidenhair, endive, red launders, aloes - of each two ounces, pure amber, the best rhubarb - of each two drams, dried figs, raisins of the sun, stoned dates, sweet almonds, grains of the pine - of each an ounce.
Of the best aqua vitae to the quantity of them all, of the best hard sugar a pound, of white honey half a pound. Then add the root of gentian, flowers of rosemary, pepperwort, the root of briony, sow bread, wormwood - of each half an ounce.
Now before these are distilled, quench gold being made red hot, oftentimes in the aforesaid water, put therein oriental pearls beaten small an ounce, and then distill it after 24 hours infusion.
This is a very cordial water, good against faintings and infection.

There are a couple of other recipes, which can be found at


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