Fear is a man's best friend (?)

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Oct 2000:Fear is a man's best friend (?)
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Archive through October 8, 2000  5   10/08 06:18am

By Artemis on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 05:29 pm: Edit

Sorry, Ted, I thought you were baiting me, and I naturally thought of La Fee because of the reviews I've done, it's the only one that drew direct criticism (offline). It's hard to tell the difference sometimes, if I'm being slapped to get my thinking cap going, or just being slapped. I look forward to the discussion.

By Tabreaux on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 05:23 pm: Edit

Relax, I am not implying that La Fee is not distilled, and neither am I implying that I have something conclusive inside my sleeve. I simply wanted to whet your thinking just for a moment that just what if some things that we've all taken for granted weren't exactly what we've assumed them to be. Now, I don't want to rock the boat, but I have some suspicions. I may be right, and I may be wrong. If it turns out that I am wrong, I'll certainly be interested to learn something at the very least.

I was making some comments regarding the Spanish brands, and going back to taste them. I got to thinking about some of the things I'm tasting, and it has me suspecting that most of these products may be at least partly macerated (with essences). I can't go into detail right this minute (due to a lack of time right now), but it might make for an interesting discussion at some point.

Just something to stimulate the mind.

By Artemis on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 04:02 pm: Edit

"These oils can then be added to base alcohol to create liqueurs. I haven't had any absinthe
made like this....."

"What makes you certain? Just curious as to how you arrived at your conclusion."

You mean the conclusion that I haven't had any? You're right. I may well have had some. If you know about some that's made that way, why don't you let us know about it?

"....but such absinthe was made in former times, although apparently recognized to be of inferior quality (source: Delahaye's Histoire de la Fee Verte)."

"Hmmmm....interesting isn't it."

If you have something to say, come out and say it, Ted. Is La Fee made by adding oils to alcohol? If it is, that only shows Delahaye's information is incorrect, because it's not second rate.

By Tabreaux on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 02:00 pm: Edit

"These oils can then be added to base alcohol to create liqueurs. I haven't had any absinthe made like this....."

What makes you certain? Just curious as to how you arrived at your conclusion.


"....but such absinthe was made in former times, although apparently recognized to be of inferior quality (source: Delahaye's Histoire de la Fee Verte)."

Hmmmm....interesting isn't it.

By Tabreaux on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 01:57 pm: Edit

Actually, I think the reviews are quite informative, enjoyable, and entertaining. I've made some notes regarding the few passages I find to be 'presumptious', and I'll post this to the BB. This is intended to offend no one, but is rather constructive criticism. I intend to offer full explanations regarding my comments (to the best of my ability).

I agree in that it is not my job to play 'FDA', but we are possessors of certain knowledge with respect to absinthe, faux absinthe, health and risks. It is not easy for a layman to wade through the mire and sort the facts. I get emailed questions from all directions on this subject, and many persons are confused by garbage they've been told or have read. As a holder of truth, it is appropriate for us to convey truth, especially where the well-being and accuracy of public perception (government perception) of this subject is concerned. I think one of the best things about this site is the fact that it contains more factual information than anywhere else on this subject, and I'd hate to see it stray from that by promoting bunk. Where else can a neophyte go to sort the bull from the facts?

Due to this, I feel it a conflict of interests to make special efforts to justify or glorify those who attempt to promote (possibly dangerous) home made steepage as: “a cross between pot, exstacy (sic), cocaine, strong coffee, and vodka”. Quite frankly, this is pure bullshit. Why promote it directly or indirectly? Isn't there enough of it elsewhere on the web? This site is like a gem among refuse, so why pollute it?

By Artemis on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 12:59 pm: Edit

"I always thought a maceration was a steeped product."

Maceration and steeping are the same thing. The crux of the biscuit is, was the maceration/steeping followed by distillation, or not? If yes, the chance of it being good absinthe is a lot better, but still not guaranteed. Also, essential oils can be derived by maceration followed by distillation. These oils can then be added to base alcohol to create liqueurs. I haven't had any absinthe made like this, but such absinthe was made in former times, although apparently recognized to be of inferior quality (source: Delahaye's Histoire de la Fee Verte).

By Artemis on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 12:40 pm: Edit

Ted wrote:

"However, some of the statements which are made in such a metaphoric manner that they appear to be 'facts', are indeed assumptions, with some being erroneous. There are several such instances in the current reviews. I feel that this should be addressed. Once again, I know the reviews were made in good faith, and much of it is accurate and correct. I certainly don't want to diminish the credibility of the reviewers in any way, and I don't intend to. If anything, illustrating a few points just might improve the credibility of the reviews."

Ted, if I have personally made such erroneous assumptions, please feel free to email me privately - I appreciate that you may be holding back to avoid public embarrasment of the reviewers. In fact, I would be happy to have your critique of any review, by me or by others - after all, that's the way we learn. Although I think the reviews should be humorous and creative, I'm certainly not in favor of misinforming people, either maliciously or through honest ignorance.

What if the Buyers Guide were to have a separate section for absinthe-like products, faux absinthe, etc.? That DIY kit surely has a place in such a section?

As to people poisoning themselves, Ted's point about government intervention is well-taken, but we are not the FDA here and shouldn't try to play their role. Idiot-proofing doesn't even work on idiots. Major league idiots can barely read. They aren't going to read this site, much less learn from it. If any intelligent person reads Perruche's review and decides it's an experience he wants to repeat, well shame on him. At least good information was available to him. The guy selling the kits is obviously not providing it. Perruche's prose is a damn sight more effective than those moronic "your brain on drugs" spots that we get from the likes of the FDA.

By Tabreaux on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 12:12 pm: Edit

Like you illustrated, the literary definitions show that the terms are probably interchangable.

Just from my experiences in matters of liquor, when someone tells me a product is macerated, he is almost always describing to me how it was made by adding essences, coloring, etc., to a spirit. This term is used to describe this process, which occurs frequently in the liquor industry. For example, I recently had a discussion with an anisette maker, who was explaining to me how his product was macerated. Indeed, it was made by adding oils to a spirit.

The term 'steeped' usually implies that herbs were soaked in something, and I mostly see it used to describe home made teas, etc. (e.g. steeping herbs in hot water). Of course, it gets thrown around in absinthe world, and it always refers to something stopped short of distillation.

I merely suggested this common usage for purposes of clarity.

By Bob_chong on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 09:19 am: Edit

Ted:

Where did these defintions come from? You know more about absinthe than I ever will, but I always thought a maceration was a steeped product.

FWIW, the word "steeped" is a participle or something and acts as a describing word. "Maceration," OTOH, is a noun.

maceration: that which softened or separtated into constituent elements by or as if by steeping in fluid (Webster's)

macerate: to steep (fruit or vegetables), as in wine (ibid.)

Thus, aren't steeped and macerated interchangeable? ...steeped some herbs; macerated some herbs...'twas a nasty steep; 'twas a nasty maceration...etc.


BC

By Tabreaux on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 10:24 pm: Edit

"That doesn't scan very well. If you're implying, Ted, that I misled people as to what absinthe is"

No, I wasn't implying that you were doing any such thing. If I thought that, I would have said it directly. This account illustrated a disturbing observation I've made over the years, and it has nothing to do with any one person in particlar. For specific examples, one person almost died from consuming oil of wormwood, because he was told it was absinthe. Others who've had homemade steeps at parties have complained of drinking foul-tasting mixtures (some causing severely upset stomachs), solely because they were told it was "absinthe". I don't know what your opinion is, but in mine, this isn't the absinthe experience.

This is what disturbs me, and unless you want the good old gov't stepping in and taking 'corrective action' in all of this, it should disturb you as well. For this simple reason, I think it is worthwhile and beneficial to adopt a basic definition of what should and shouldn't be regarded as absinthe. Wormwood is a toxic herb and should be handled with knowledge and respect. I simply pointed out that despite your description how unpalatable the steep was, people will drink it solely because it is called "absinthe". Call it something else, and who'd drink it? I think this observation is quite simple and apparent to just about anyone here, and several of us have probably witnessed it first-hand.

As far as a definition of what should and shouldn't be regarded as absinthe, for purposes of discussion, I think something relatively simple should suffice. The first recognized protcol for absinthe was the one made commercial by Mr. Pernod in 1805. Just about everything that followed was based upon this simple theme. This can be simply described as an alcoholic liqueur distilled from Artemisia absinthium and other herbs. Obviously, this excludes some modern commercial products which are sold as "absinthe" or "absinth". Should these products be excluded from the buyer's guide? No, I feel that if anything, the buyer's guide should have a reference to any product sold as "absinthe". If the product falls short of the very basic definition, I think this should be noted in the comments and/or the review. As of the present it seems to be this way.


Finally, I think there's been some confusion in the use of terms. To offer some clarificationi:

Steeped - Steeped herbs in alcohol
Maceration - Oils or extracts added to alcohol

By Perruche_verte on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 09:23 pm: Edit

BTW, thanks for the praise, Marc and Artemis.

By Perruche_verte on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 09:20 pm: Edit

I respect Ted's thoughts without drawing the same conclusions.

"...if people are told that said substance is 'absinthe', some will go to lengths to ingest it nonetheless. Naturally, this mentality isn't a good one, and it will be an incident which is a result of this same thinking that can publicly give 'absinthe' a very bad name..."

It WILL be... that CAN? That doesn't scan very well. If you're implying, Ted, that I misled people as to what absinthe is, what I didn't mention in my account is that a bottle of Mari Mayans was circulating around the same party. Those who tried it vastly preferred it, of course, unless they were the sort of person who hates anise, in which case they shouldn't be drinking absinthe.

Anyone who actually tried the recipe after reading my account would have to be a complete banana.

"...I wouldn't expect to go to a respectable wine information website, and see reviews of 'wine' which is made at home by adding alcohol to grape juice, and I'd certainly be loathe to see a link to a website which promoted this idea as 'wine'."

I don't think it is commonly assumed that one can make 'wine' this way. Unfortunately, no such popular consensus exists on the definition of 'absinthe'. You and others have striven valiantly toward that end, but the fact is there are still products on the market (e.g. Huguet, Absinth King, the Portuguese brands) that are macerated, not distilled, as well as some distilled products that by all reports are total inauthentic crap. Should those be taken out of the Buyer's Guide too?

Actually, I think they should, and should be placed along with Hill's and some others in an _"Absinthes" To Avoid_ section. That is where my review ought to go, if it goes anywhere. I leave it up to the wisdom of the community, and our webmistress.

Phil Heiple has managed to convince himself, and at least a few others, that he has concocted something worthy of the name. He's on the Absinthe Ring, selling kits for something called "DIY Absinthe". At least a few people who are attracted to the idea of DIY are going to take him up on it. They should know what they're getting into. But unless you team up with a few governments and make 'absinthe' an 'appellation controllee' (which would probably preempt your making it in Thailand!), he can use the word as long as he likes. It seems rather ostrich-like not to address the issue at all.

By Tabreaux on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 09:57 am: Edit

Perruche's review was a good one for several reasons, one of them being that since he knows everything that went into this 'faux absinthe', he didn't have to resort to making (erroneous) assumptions. The review was enjoyable to read, because it was detailed and contained considerable color, but nevertheless, he clearly illustrated the fact that undistilled 'faux absinthe' "is a vermifuge, not a social beverage".

Additionally, it also illustrates the (sad) fact that no matter how unpalatable (or even dangerous) something might be, if people are told that said substance is 'absinthe', some will go to lengths to ingest it nonetheless. Naturally, this mentality isn't a good one, and it will be an incident which is a result of this same thinking that can publicly give 'absinthe' a very bad name......yet again. This is not very good scenario for consumers of legitimate products (i.e. most people here).

Artemis, it might interest you to know that neither do I care to reduce the current reviews to a grocery list of facts. However, some of the statements which are made in such a metaphoric manner that they appear to be 'facts', are indeed assumptions, with some being erroneous. There are several such instances in the current reviews. I feel that this should be addressed. Once again, I know the reviews were made in good faith, and much of it is accurate and correct. I certainly don't want to diminish the credibility of the reviewers in any way, and I don't intend to. If anything, illustrating a few points just might improve the credibility of the reviews.

As for if this review should be included in the current reviews, I don't feel this site should be reduced to reviews of DIY 'faux absinthe'. If you want those, just go look at the Erowid site, and you'll see that it is a sorry state of affairs over there. After all, I wouldn't expect to go to a respectable wine information website, and see reviews of 'wine' which is made at home by adding alcohol to grape juice, and I'd certainly be loathe to see a link to a website which promoted this idea as 'wine'. I think you have to draw the line somewhere, and IMO, this is where. Just my thoughts.

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