How long does it take to go through a bottle of this stuff, anyway?

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Dec 2000:How long does it take to go through a bottle of this stuff, anyway?
By Don_walsh on Tuesday, October 03, 2000 - 10:13 am: Edit

I don't think the analogy holds...the French ban is based on absinthe
supposedly being bad for consumption (as the French Douanne clearly tried to
hammer into you!) while firearms are useful tools in the hands of some. The
French wouldn't argue that absinthe is a useful substance under any
conditions...of course we opine that the ban is a fraud for the benefit of
the vintners, to curtail revenue going to the 'wrong' people (as a lot of
pre-ban makers were gangsters and so on), and maybe a pre-WWI measure to dry
out the troops and potential troops...mostly, the vintner bit (them in league with the prohibition forces) being my favorite theory.

I don't know for certain that La Fee is made in France, or out of France. People have posted to this point in contradictory fashion here. I wish they (GB) would provide a definite answer, but that may not be in their interests.

By Fellraven on Tuesday, October 03, 2000 - 12:53 am: Edit

Perruche Verte - Sorry, I can't remember the brand of the Andorran product. It wasn't heavily branded but I might recognise the name if I saw/heard it.

I don't know if there's any attraction to a return trip to the place - there's only so much perfume, electrical goods etc one can use, and the place is one vast building site. The economy is clearly booming but it's not a place to go for anything other than duty free. The traffic congestion in Andorra la Vella has to be seen to be believed - like London in the rush hour but constant from about 8am to 9pm - and parking is difficult.

As to whether I'd have another go at bringing absinthe out of the country, well I'm not sure about that either. The price may be tempting but the quality is probably highly off-putting unless one bought a bottle and had a taste before buying a lot. If it's as bad as it sounds like it might be, there's little lost in pouring the rest down the drain.

When I was caught this time, I was able to plead ignorance. If I get caught again and my details match up with those already on Customs files (they had a laptop, presumably with modem, and seemed to be entering my personal details directly onto a database), that won't be an option.

I don't know how frequent the customs checks are south of Ax. It may be daily or merely occasional. However I did notice that *every* non-French car was pulled over, but only a small proportion of the French ones.

One possible dodge would be either to use the Ax route early in the morning or late in the evening (presumably the customs people have homes to go to) or to conceal the goods in the undergrowth in one of the lay-bys and return for it later in the day when the coast is clear.

On the other hand, using a different escape route (via the Tet valley or into Spain) seems sensible.

Chrysippus - This transportation question raises the interesting issue that opting for road freight from Spirits Corner in Spain clearly takes the stuff through France, unless road freight for the UK and Ireland is carried from Santander/Bilbao by ferry. In don't imagine there is any serious possibility of the stuff being confiscated from a haulier's lorry en route through France, but one wonders how French (or indeed EU) law handles this particular point.

Don - I assume the French position on manufacturing for export is rather like the UK position on handguns. We still make them but for our own security forces and for export only.

By Don_walsh on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 08:01 pm: Edit

We had this whole elaborate discussion a while back...the French law does not seem to regard manufacture for export as 'manufacturing' for the purposes of the absinthe ban.

If indeed La Fee is made in the Cz Rep but is marked Made In France, then GB is cheating the UK Customs & Excise on taxes, as France is EU while CZ is not. That's why La Fee is cheaper than Hills. Less tax.

Nice loophole, isn't it?

By Eric on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 06:29 pm: Edit

my bottle of la fee says "made in france" on the front label, and "produced in france for green utopia Ltd., bayford, herts. UK" on the back label.
I don't know if it is the truth or not.

By Chrysippvs on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 05:07 pm: Edit

From what my e-mail exchanges to Madam Delahaye it was developed by a Pastis expert in France under special premission (Just like her getting premission to have and transport absinthe in France for the museum) from the French govt. She also seemed to indicate it was not being made in France as the 5th republic made it illegal to produce, have, drink, transport absinthe.

_ J

By Perruche_verte on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 03:54 pm: Edit

If their website is correct, La Fee was developed in France but is actually produced in the Czech Republic.

I have never tried Pere Kermann. The information people have supplied to the Buyer's Guide seems to indicate it's a French faux-absinthe (not really recommended) which is produced in France legally. Possibly the word "absinthe" on the label was enough to make them seize it.

Sorry to hear about that unpleasant incident, Fellraven. Better luck on your next trip!

P.S. Which Andorran brand were you bringing back?

By Petermarc on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 03:41 pm: Edit

fellraven,
thanks for the account...is la fée actually
made in france, being that it is hand-in-hand
with hills, i thought it might be made in czech-land,too....?

By Fellraven on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 01:05 pm: Edit

Nope, it was Pere Something-or-other I think. Tapering sort of bottle, looked like mouthwash.

By Don_walsh on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 12:36 pm: Edit

The French export one being La Fee?

By Fellraven on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 11:26 am: Edit

Petermarc

It was definitely treated as a problem with the absinthe. I wasn't sure of the quantities of spirits I was allowed to import to the EU from Andorra and in the event the customs people confiscated all the absinthe amidst frantic warnings about what it would do to my brain if I drank it, but left me in possession of *more* other spirits (Armagnac mostly) than I was legally permitted to bring in without charging me any more duty on it.

As you will recall if you have been to Andorra, absinthe is sold openly at 20FFr (c$3) per litre in almost all of the booze shops but there is never a sign to indicate "Not to be exported to France" or whatever. Hence, the ordinary purchaser sees an exotic/legendary drink and assumes it's a safe buy.

It's actually a pretty good scam by the shop keepers in Andorra. Half of all visitors are going to be heading north into France. If they put clear warnings on the product about its illegality in France, they'd lose half their sales. Once the sale is made, it's no skin off their nose whether the stuff is confiscated 10 miles down the road. I suspect that the French authorities take the view that most of the people they catch with absinthe are genuinely unaware of its illegality in France, which is why I think they left me with the sop of allowing me a bit more of the other booze than they strictly needed to. They were also rather embarrassed when I pointed out to them that half of the stuff they confiscated from me was actually French made.

You're right - there are no border formalities between France and Spain these days. Since absinthe is legal in Spain, the safest way to get the stuff out of Andorra is to take it across to Spain and then cross back into France via another route, eg the motorway which runs north from Barcelona and past Perpignan.

In essence, there is only one way the French customs authorities can run a major stop and search operation on traffic leaving Andorra, and that is on the road north to Ax. It has a number of substantial lay-bys (no doubt designed or enhanced for the purpose) where vehicles can be pulled off the road without disrupting other traffic, though I understand that they almost always use the one just south of Ax. Also there are *no* turnings off that road until you reach Ax. (I notice in my previous post I said north of Ax - my mistake; the customs operations are definitely south of Ax.)

The *other* road out of Andorra to France, which leads down the Tet valley is too narrow and winding for a stop and search operation and also has a number of minor roads leading off it fairly soon after leaving Andorra. It's a matter of studying the map and looking at the logistics.

Having said that, the only brands I saw in Andorra were the local semi-generic one and the French export one. I saw none of the Spanish brands which most regular posters seem to prefer.

By Petermarc on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 03:01 pm: Edit

fellraven-
ax-les-thermes---how was this situation treated
by the french authorities...as a violation of
liquor limit laws or absinthe? there are lots of
french who go to andorra to avoid the TVA,
it's brutal here as you know, makes it cheaper to buy good french bordeaux in the us. just curious
as there were no authorities at the spanish border
when i came back from barcelona.

By Fellraven on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 02:21 pm: Edit

Perruche Verte

On the confiscation issue, no, not in the US because I ain't *in* the US. However I did have 6 litres of Andorran and French product confiscated by French customs at a serious roadblock a couple of kms north of Ax-en-Thermes (?) between the Pyrenees and Foix. Fined around 250 FFr for the privilege.

Still, I think I know how to avoid the road blocks next time ....

AND it was only 20FFr (£2) per litre.

By Marc on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:44 am: Edit

Don,

I'm obviously not paranoid. I order what I want, when I want it...and fuck the risk. So far, so good. Of course, I may be setting myself up for a big fall. If so, I hope you'll write me when I'm in jail. Stop trying to read subtext in my posts. There is no hidden agenda in what I write. We are posting in a forum connected to a website that freely and fearlessly provides sources for absinthe. So far, no one's been busted. You are about to unleash a new and exciting product on the market. I'll be the first in line. I'll buy direct. I don't need no middleman pimp to assay my goods. If it doesn't work out, that's okay. If I worried about the ramifications of my every action, I'd never leave home.

By Don Walsh on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:32 am: Edit

No not funny.

Sure, the same 'risk' that you'll be taking buying from us, you take buying from UK, Spain and CZ and France, which apparently you do in some significant measure if we can judge by your own posts. You might want to be a little less garrulous, if you also want to be paranoid, don't you think?

Since no one seems to be able to poiint to a single seizure of absinthe coming in from anywhere by hand carry or by post or common carrier it seems pretty risk free. Or at least, very low risk.

----------

All this has nothing to do with the posts I made about the risks inherent in DIY. Does it?

By Marc on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:26 am: Edit

Don, 4 a.m. is my peak period. I'm in the nightclub business. Am I shitfaced? I don't think so. I'm into my 3rd glass of Bayliss & Fortune Zinfandel, a 15 buck Zin that tastes like a 50 buck bottle of Turley. After all the heaviness of the past 24 hours, I thought we should kick back and have some fun in the forum. If I were with you in the Big Mango right now, I'd give you a hug. You big lug.

By Marc on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:22 am: Edit

Don, Oh come on, it was kind of funny. I envision you as the Orson Welles of absinthe. You remember that ad campaign about not selling Gallo wine before it's time? My point was that I will be taking the same risk ordering absinthe from you that Betty and Justin are trying to protect me from. Ask me if I care.

By Don Walsh on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:18 am: Edit

Thanks, Bob

Marc: the post about the NY State ABC guys was NOT repeat NOT something aimed at you. It really was info I got from good ole Dean who lives upstate from you. And it was just intended as an example of non-federal interference.

I wasn't launching a personal diatribe against you.

So why are you going off on me and Ted?

It's 4 AM where you are. Are you shitfaced? I have no desire to quarrel with you.

By Bob Chong on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:12 am: Edit

Thank God, Don...for a minute, I thought you were becoming a Bettina apologist. ;-)

j/k

BC

By Bob Chong on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:10 am: Edit

Don--sorry for the confusion. When I said "they" in my one post and "the other two folks" in the other post, I actually meant Betty and the other domestic person. I was unclear with my pronouns, I guess. Need to review my rules for antecedents, make sure I have no dangling participles, etc. (You'll also notice that I put the % sign in front of the number in one post--evidence of my fouth glass of Segarra tonight.)

I have read what you have written about your product, etc., and I know full well you are neither domestic nor a charlatan. My ire is with the folks who buy Spanish absinthe and sell it for 400% of cost. I bet they can't wait to get ahold of your stuff and start selling it for $399 a pop and act like they are doing us a favor.

Again, I didn't mean you. Grammatical misunderstanding.


BC

By Don Walsh on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:06 am: Edit

By the way

Bad joke, Marc.

By Don Walsh on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 01:04 am: Edit

Marc

I call 'em like I see 'em. And I am irked to be accused of insincerity. Nephilim says I am discouraging people from DIY so I can boost sales of Ted's products. Well, if we have to depend on purchases by the DIYers to succeed, we're screwed already. It's a JOKE!

Now you seem to be saying I am using scare tactics. Sorry. I'm just trying to give good advice.

Betty's the one who builds her sales on people afraid to have their Fairy come through the mails or customs. Not us.

As for ourselves, we are legal licensed commercial liqueur makers in another country. Just like the Spanish and the Czechs and the French. And the Japanese, if Suntory would ever sell Hermes to anyone.

Someone wants to engage in DIY, fine, but they ought to go into it with their eyes open and a clear idea of what penalties can befall them. It isn't a joke. And it isn't about absinthe. It's about alcohol taxes. MUCH MORE SERIOUS and don't doubt it for a minute.

I'm sure you didn't mean to accuse me of insincerity, did you?

By Marc on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 12:47 am: Edit

Don and Ted's ad campaign:

GOOD ABSINTHE DOESN'T COME CHEAP. A $100 AND A LITTLE HARD TIME IS A SMALL PRICE TO PAY FOR A WORLD CLASS DRINK. AND DON'T FORGET, OUR ABSINTHE GETS BETTER WITH TIME, SO, WHEN YOU'RE DONE DOING YOURS, YOU'LL BE READY FOR OURS. DON AND TED'S ABSINTHE: THE PREFFERED BEVERAGE OF JAILBIRDS EVERYWHERE.

Don, what do you think? Is it a go?

By Marc on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 12:35 am: Edit

Don, if you're going to be exporting to the States, then stop scaring the shit out of us with all this DEA, AFT and customs stuff. I hope that rap ain't part of your ad campaign.

By Don Walsh on Thursday, September 28, 2000 - 12:14 am: Edit

Bob, redirect pls.

Ted and I aren't in the 'domestic' business, you are thinking of Betty.

We aren't recommending that route. We are about to be exporting to US. And at <$100 and a much much superior product.

By Bob Chong on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 11:10 pm: Edit

I forgot one thing--aren't there any "head-stash" dealers? Long, long ago, when I was engaged in certain black-market activities, I operated under the head-stash mentality. If I could sell 3 portions of something, I could have the fourth one for free. The $120 bottle of Deva turns this ratio on its head (and then some: one bottle sold = four free bottles for oneself). I'd even be happy to see a 1:1 ratio (i.e., a %100 mark-up). If I thought there was a market demand for this (and there might be, I just don't know), I'd do the damn thing myself and sell stuff for half of what the other two folks sell for--just to get my absinthe for free. If anyone is worried about customs and such, email me. I'll gladly part with some of my stash for twice what I paid. A bargain, when compared to the other domestic sources.

BC

By Bob Chong on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 11:02 pm: Edit

For me, the rewards are far superior to the risks. I'd rather sneak something by the law folks than pay through the nose. I understand the concerns brought up by Ted and Don, but I just could never bring myself to support a 400% mark-up. At those prices, you'd think they are selling gold-plated crack.

BC

By Don Walsh on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 10:41 pm: Edit

In addition to the three federal entities Ted mentioned, there are the local and state ABC guys to consider.

US Customs 'officially' won't allow personal importation via a customs port of entry that is in a local/state jurisdiction that prohibits unlicensed import of alcohol.

NY State is one such. Theoretically, NY State law requires that all imports, even personal handcarries, be done through a licensed NY State liquor wholesaler.

The observed fact that US Customs seems to ignore its own edicts in this regard even in NY, just confuses the issue.

That NY ABC people stake out liquor stores in NJ during the holiday season and tail NY-plated vehicles leaving those stores with booze, and bust them at the state line, is well known.

My source on this is our own Dean. Pls direct all kudos and brickbats on this subject to him and not me. I don't live in NY State.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 09:03 pm: Edit

FWIW, there are three entities to be considered when importing anything aloholic:

(1) U.S. Customs
(2) ATF
(3) U.S. Mail

U.S. Customs is likely the least of problems. No C4, no RDX, no U235 or naughty contraband and you should be ok.

ATF can be involved if the shipment is a large one (beyond the personal allowance). They may seek tax money, and if they feel it is for redistribution, they may not release it at all.

U.S. Mail may not like it if you send alcohol through the mail, as it is technically illegal. This is done everyday, and I know of packages which were inspected and still allowed through. It seems to be a no-no due to reasons of taxation, which mey be why they may let them slide. This appears to be treated as an administrative action (as opposed to criminal), and I know of one case where a bottle was seized and replaced with a nasty note from the Postal Inspector (maybe he likes to drink).

By Marc on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 07:28 pm: Edit

I have been ordering absinthe from overseas sources for almost two years without any problems. I received one order of 18 bottles of Mari Mayans from spiritscorner. 12 were broken. (The FedEx delivery man was soaking wet and smelled of anise. I' not kidding.)spiritscorner replaced all the broken bottles free of charge! Good people.

By Perruche_verte on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 07:01 pm: Edit

Speaking of which -- has anyone EVER had Customs confiscate their absinthe?

Seems to me I read one mention of it in an old thread, but I can't remember the author's name and I'm too lazy to dig through all the threads to find it.

What happens? Do they send you a note saying "Your package containing X has been confiscated due to Regulation Y concerning the importing of...", etc.? Or does it just disappear?

By Bob Chong on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 06:42 pm: Edit

FWIW, SC will replace broken or confiscated bottles. Where's the risk? The FDA busts in an confiscates my Deva and my expired yogurt? They want to know why I left my celery stored outside of the crisper?

If someone can relate stories about SC deals gone sour, please let me know.

Don't get scared into paying an extra $100/bottle. It's ridiculous. A 400% mark-up is not about risk management: it is about preying on the unsuspecting public and the easily frightened. It's ptbarnum.com, baby.

BC

By Grizlupo on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 06:24 pm: Edit

Re: Domestic v. International Retailers... This is not about "charlatanism" but "risk-management." The simple fact is that you cannot walk into your local (U.S.) liquor store and buy a bottle of Deva along with a six-pack of beer. There is cost and risk (of international breakage and other obvious factors) involved in bringing Deva into the U.S. When you buy from local retailers, you are asking them to assume these risks and should be willing to pay for it. If you buy directly, you may pay less, but the risk is yours.

The bottom line is that neither the local retailers nor SC are charlatans, IMHO, but hardworking people of integrity selling products under very different circumstances. Comparing them "Apples" to "Apples" is fair to neither.

By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 06:01 pm: Edit

One man's capitalism is another man's charlatanism.

Never heard a more true statement

By Bob Chong on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 05:46 pm: Edit

I second the Spiritscorner idea. The domestic "retailers" (read: charlatans) charge $120 per bottle of Deva. You can get five bottles for $125.72 (at today's exchange rate) from SC. Two bottles would be $60.06, four bottles would be $114.80. IOW, five is your best deal (unless you want to go ahead and order 42 bottles or something).


If you're trying the Spanish stuff, all that the domestic sources do is offer a 400% mark-up to play middleman. A sweet racket if you can get it. However, they do offer other absinthe that SC does not carry, and that might be worth the price for you.

No offense to the domestic retailers. I call 'em as I see 'em. One man's capitalism is another man's charlatanism.

BC

By Marc on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 02:53 pm: Edit

Bryan,

It depends on what brand you purchase. Mari Mayans is 70cl, Deva is 100cl. With the Deva, figure on getting about thirty servings. To 1 ounce of absinthe you will add 4 or 5 ounces of water. If you drink three glasses of absinthe a day, a bottle of Deva should last you 10 days.
If you order several bottles of Deva from spiritscorner, it should end up costing you about $30 a bottle. The cost per serving: $1.

By Bryan Rockstroh on Wednesday, September 27, 2000 - 02:35 pm: Edit

Hi all,

I've never had absinthe in my life but I'm going to order some pretty soon here, probably from a domestic source. I can barely afford a bottle so I'm wondering, how long does a bottle of absinthe last on average? Can you take drink after drink or should you limit it to X number of drinks per day or week? Sure, the brain damage factor has me a little concerned, but more than that -- I can't afford that much of it :)

Also, my friends want to try it, too.

Thanks everyone.

BR

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