From Julian Segarra

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Old Topics Archived Thru Sep 2000:From Julian Segarra
By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, September 20, 2000 - 02:45 am: Edit

I had a really nice Spanish brandy the last time I was over there, well rounded and very smooth. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, which is a pity because it came to the same price as the meal...


By Don Walsh on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 11:15 am: Edit

I have been drinking Spanish brandies on and off for 30 years. I have never heard of Segarra brandy. In general, the Spanish brandies do not compare well to cognac or armignac. They are harsh and abrasive. They compare well to Metaxa. Or maybe Metaxa compares well to them. It has been quite a few years sicne I went that far down market, actually.

The definitive Spanish brandy is Carlos Primero (Charles the First) and related product from Pedro Domecq. Doubtless there are zillions of other bodegas, but, that's the one that counts.

Any alcohol used in an succesful absinthe steep will be in the 165 or higher proof range. Spanish brandies are half of that. So much for the proposition that Segarra uses 'brandy' for steeping herbs. It would not work.

He may well use wine spirits.

Not the same thing.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 11:08 am: Edit

I don't think you understand what we're saying. For brandy making, this isn't cutting corners. What is desirable for making brandy doesn't apply to absinthe making. Brandy making and absinthe making are entirely different.

By FrenchQuarter on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 10:15 am: Edit

I doubt they would cut corners. Segarra brandy is nationally respected in Spain and runs as much as $1,500 American for a bottle.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 09:46 am: Edit

Well, you could make a one pass distillation of a grape fermentation and call it 'brandy', and I suspect something akin to this is what is used.

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 08:23 am: Edit

If he has a lot of brandy around I guess he could use this as a starting point for making his rectified spirit, it might be his cheapest option, although he would need a special fractionating still.


By Tabreaux on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 07:57 am: Edit

Regardless, commercial grain alcohol, distilled to 95% EtOH (the highest grade of purity available), is the highest quality food-grade alcohol. I know this because I've subjected it to analysis via gas chromatography. Anything else or less will have coloring or flavoring impurities.

By FrenchQaurter on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 07:41 am: Edit

Actually Segarra IS exclusively a brandy distiller. All of his spirits start with brandy, which is why he says this. From my correspondence with him I'm pretty sure he knows the difference, and choses to use brandy, because he has it on hand and believes that it's a higher quality product.

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 07:09 am: Edit

That's right. Absinthe is produced in the same way as gin, rather than, say brandy or whisky. The alcohol should be 'rectified spirit' and, as Don says, as neutral as possible. The only flavouring comes from the botanicals that are steeped prior to the final distillation. The poor quality absinthes of old used industrial alcohol which was likely to contain methyl alcohol and other toxic by-products. Small wonder people went mad when they drank them.


By Don Walsh on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 06:45 am: Edit

It's all a matter of minimizing the unwanted byproducts of fermentation: cogeners. To make a fine quality absinthe, very clean alcohol, low as possible in cogeners, is needed. It's the cogeners that produce headaches and hangovers. Ted is absolutely right; the historical preference for 'wine spirits' instead of grain alcohol reflected this, but modern grain alcohol intended for use in potables is a lot cleaner than anything in the 19th century, or earlier.

We buy the best grade we can and then we clean it up to standards far in excess of what is legally required.

By Black Rabbit on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 06:40 am: Edit

Brandywine used (400 years or so ago) to refer to any hard liquor, as distilled wine was the first source thereof (or so my reading tells me.)

I have seen Brandy used before(in translations) to mean higher proof than fermentation gives you.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 06:06 am: Edit

No, no. In the old days, alcohol derived from grapes was a better quality product than that derived from sugar beets. Grapes make a very clean fermentation, and the alcohol distilled from such fermentations (eau de vie) was regarded as a superior product. The quality of modern grain alcohol surpasses anything available in the old days.

As far as Mr. Segarra's use of the word "brandy", this is simply a misnomer, probably due to the language barrier. You can't take anything which has been translated too literally.

By Bob Chong on Tuesday, September 19, 2000 - 12:06 am: Edit

Any ideas on what this means? I have yet to sample Segarra, but he keeps referring to the absinthe as "brandy." Does this mean it is distilled with wine alcohol rather than grain alcohol? Does this mean that the end result is closer to some of the "original" products, back before grain alcohol became the standard?


By Bob Chong on Thursday, September 14, 2000 - 11:29 pm: Edit

This is an email from Julian Segarra, forwarded to me from La Bodega Del Alacade.

My name is Julián Segarra and I´m the manufacturer of brandy of Chert,
the only and the last in the Maestrazgo district, in the south of the Ebro
River Delta, in Spain.
I do this activity, elaborate liquors, by an artisan distillation of
medical and aromatich seed and plants.
My essential tool is a still of the direct fire of wood with special
qualities confered in its manufacture. This is the most important element
in my liquor manufacture.
The still lets me separe and seat the liquor in its own characteristics
which makes a brandy elaborated with ancient systems , with more than a
century of familiar experience and with the first Registry of Food Industry
in Castellón. ( RIA 12.00001-CS).
The absinth is the first composed brandy ever known, and I make it by
anise seed ( Pimpinella Anisum) and wormwood ( Artemisa Absinthium)
distillation without skill and additional mixture. I´m faithful to a
tradition inherited from my grandfather´s grandfather, with copyright from
the Health General Direction number RSI 30. 04439.CS.
In Maestrazgo district, we enjoy drinking it before the meals as an
aperitif , but its anise gives it stomachic propieties if we drink it after
the meals. Mixed with pinked ice it became muddy and it´s a delicious drink
which it quenches one´s thirst.
Its alcohol quantity, 45 % vol , produces drunkness, like the other
alcohols, and its repeated abuse, alcoholism, is for that I recommend a
responsable and moderated consumption.
I hope you enjoy your party and delight yourself with this " elixir of
life" . Nowadays, no distiller makes it like this because it´s very
difficult to elaborate it like this.

Yours faithfuly,

Julián Segarra Esbrí.

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