Archive through November 5, 2000

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Nov 2000:New Oxygenee:Archive through November 5, 2000
By Absintheur on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 09:37 am: Edit

"If what Petermarc says is true, and this product (Oxygenee) is test-marketed by Pernod in France, then surely it is an absinthe substitute, not absinthe."

Ok, here's the word from a friend who works in accounting at a subsidiary of Groupe Pernod-Ricard, though not Cusenier:

"i don't know how this product got to the market in france. absinthe is banned and anything sold as absinthe gets seized. maybe they are trying it on in pontarlier to see if it flies with the locals. according to what i can see oxygenee is going to be sold in spain and the uk. i don't know if it's made in france. most of our brands aren't so i doubt it. i don't know if it's "real". i'd bet that it is, it says they've been working on it since 1997."

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 08:17 am: Edit

If what Petermarc says is true, and this product (Oxygenee) is test-marketed by Pernod in France, then surely it is an absinthe substitute, not absinthe. Nevertheless, I hope to give a full taste report soon.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 07:58 am: Edit

don,
the french love violating their own laws, and others, so why all the bother? what the hell do you think the AOC is going to do to a usa producer? (cooks champagne--what pure crap,gallo hearty burgundy, pink chablis--no wonder why the french get pissed, wouldn't you if they named a bottle of urine after your town/region?)personally, i think absinthe is a varietal, not a region, and if there is an AOC, it will be like "absinthe-doubs" AOC and not a blanket "absinthe" except for the cheap stuff, and it won't matter, it will not keep others from using the name, and if they try, and a war is started, well, you know who will give up first, or get their ass kicked... the french love creating laws because it gives them something to do at the assemblée nationale, other than just dissagreeing with each other and the rest of the world on just about everything...however, i will give them credit for saying "fuck-off" to hormone-treated
livestock and not pasturizing the crap out of everything (and pasteur was french)...the french love good food and drink, there are so many people who make their own beverages and food, and it is a pleasure to be a part of it,and enjoy it with people who love it, even though they piss me off a good portion of the time...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 07:23 am: Edit

i was at the armand guy (pontarlier-anis)
distillery when i was in pontarlier...i have a bottle of the non-sugared "a la ancienne" and
pontsec (which is sugared) both are far superior
than pastis and when you want one you ask for "un pont" very regional, can't seem to find it in paris and it is only a 3 hour tgv ride...an amusing converstion was had in the tasting room, that i will share with you when i see you...i'll
bring a bottle for you, if you like...

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 06:48 am: Edit

I know that the Swiss regulations prohibit everything apart from drinking absinthe, but that country is well known for its loose interpretation of national laws at a local level. After all it is now perfectly legal to buy and sell marijuana 'pot pourri' in 50 gram packets from over 150 shops in Switzerland provided it isn't for consumption. Maybe we will see absinthe rubbing alcohol becoming a big seller...

Secondly, I was browsing through the Pontarlier Museum website http://www.bahnhofplatz.com/absinthe/
when I noticed a reference to three distillers in the region which were making 'liqueur d'anise' from original absinthe stills. They are Pernot, "Les fils d'Emile Pernot" ; Deniset-Klainguer and Pierre Guy (successor of Armand Guy). Anyone know anything about these?

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 05:57 am: Edit

Dear Petermarc

I wasn't freaking out, just being emphatic. And I'm sorry, I think you had better look again. No one can call brandy 'cognac' outside of makers in the Cognac region. The Italians can't call their sparkling wine Champagne, it is asti spumonti. The Americans etc call their burgundies by the varietal name, same with their bordeaux. What do you think Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are? Varietals, to avoid the A.O.C.'s wrath. Yeah there are California Burgundies but there are no California or Washington State Bordeaux.

It's just another damned trade barrier, another guild, another bloody N.G.O. telling us all what we can and can't do. Well, I already expressed my opinion of the appropriate response. Thailand isn't a nation much renowned for respecting trademarks and copyrights, you know? There is no single 'Absinthe' district and there never was; so there can be no claim to a specific absinthe geographic origin. It ain't like Chartreuse. It was made in: the Jura, Pontarlier, and Marseilles/Provence; New Orleans; Spain; perhaps elsewhere in 19th century. Unlike wines and brandies (and whiskies) it is NOT tied to specific water, soil conditions, weather etc. that define its flavor. THAT is why appellations origin controllee are appropriate for wines and brandies. THAT is why Scotch isn't made outside Scotland.

This is just an absurd transparent attempt at restraint of trade, by people who can't even make the stuff legally (the Swiss) and can't sell in their own country (the French). Just another bullshit European power play. It deserves approbrium as a mere proposal; if adopted it deserves to be flagrantly violated.

I have plenty of contacts in the French liquor business and they assure me there is no chance of liberalization of the absinthe laws. I have several high level contacts in the Swiss government and diplomatic service and they assure me that the aspirations of the canton of Neuchatel as regards legal production of absinthe are just so much swamp gas. That being the case, the A.O.C. proposal is a matter of "We can't do it but it used to be ours a century ago so you can't do it either."

To that the apropos retort is "Merde."

Pretty soon the Germans will want an AOC on lager, the Czechs on pilsner, and the Peruvians on cocaine. ALL of those have more legitimacy and no less absurdity than the AOC absinthe proposition.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 03:26 am: Edit

absinthedrinker,
if you want, i'll bring some over for you...hopefully all of this can be done before
we leave...

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 03:19 am: Edit

i talked to vinotheque today...oxygénée is,
in fact, made by pernod, and it was put in this region as a test-market (obviously close to switzerland since there is an interest there, i have been asked if i were swiss when inquiring about antiques because i have a bad accent)...he said it has little sugar and needs to be prepared
in the old-style, and i believe he said it comes with a spoon...also, i believe this is made in the same fashion as versinthe or absente with petite absinthe, as he said it had the plants in it, but was "rien a voir" nothing like the original...i have to send him a command sheet by mail and then he can send me a response by mail with the cost for shipping to paris and then i send him a check and then he sends me the product...what a pain...typically french...nice guy, though...i'll let you guys try it...then maybe i'll order some... he said there is an enormous demand for it in the usa, he was getting alot of orders and just got one this morning from new york...marc?
i think pernod should be test marketing it in the usa very soon, if they are watching the trend in a little town on the swiss border...

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 03:10 am: Edit

Go for it Peter, and order a bottle for me too!

By Petermarc on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 01:40 am: Edit

don't freak out, don...even though champagne,
chablis, burgundy (bourgogne),cognac,etc. are all
AOC names, they are happily used by american and
other producers of wine to name their products, many which bear slight resemblance to the original (like hills, maybe). so don't worry about the french monopolizing the name, they might try in their arrogance and pride, but will always be slapped back by the rest of the world...

i called cusenier/byrrh in southern france to ask about oxygénée, they said they had not made it in
years and maybe the vinotheque had bought old stock...i asked them if someone else could be making this and using the name cusenier, he said
that the name was trade-marked...he could not give me any other information...curiouser and curiouser...obviously everyone else has found a way to get some from this store, so i will call them today...

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 07, 2000 - 12:56 am: Edit

It does rather sound like a strategic move viz. the A.O.C. on P-R's part. As a product, neither an absinthe, nor a psuedo-absinthe, nor yet another pastis make any sense for their product line.

Let me tell you a little story I picked up from a Swiss francophone friend who visited from the Jura recently. (Last week.) No this isn't my La Bleue connection, although he was bemused to see some LB here (he has some in his home.)

He lives near the small Swiss village of Champagne. Now this village has been called Champagne since before there was a sparkling wine called Champagne. But, the French, via the A.O.C., are forcing the Swiss to change the name of this small village.

Beware of this grab at an 'appelation' for absinthe. If some French and Swiss have their way, no one will be able to make absinthe and call it Absinthe except for them.

"A major part of French culture is being..." How about the THREE companies in New Orleans who made absinthe a century ago? How about the Spanish who have been making it all these years while it has been banned in France and Switzerland? All to protect the fucking WINE business, and what else is the A.O.C. there for?

This is bullshit of the purest ray serene. No country of alliance of countries owns the name 'absinthe' which is the name of the HERB as well as the liqueur. An appellation is sort of a super-trademark; for what simple trademark owner could oblige a sovereign state to alter their maps and wipe out the name of a village? I say FUCK the A.O.C. and fuck the French and the Swiss if they actually try to pull this stunt.

By Franglais on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 11:25 pm: Edit

I am pretty sure that this is neither supposed
to be nor is marketed as true absinthe. It is
described as absinthe of legal origin,
meaning probably other plants in the
wormwood family. It is available through this
website in France, where absinthe is still very
much illegal and taboo -- as illegal as any
alcohol can be in France, if you understand
the French. (I have some friends who have
great stories about the dirty looks they have
received). I'm curious to know why anyone
thinks this is made in Andorra.

The optimistic point to make is that it is made
by a legitimate distillery with some sort of
distant ties to actual absinthe, i.e. it might be a
lot easier for them to come up with something
that resembles the flavor of absinthe without
having to dupe the world's population. Also, it
is not heavily marketed in France, and does
not even appear on the product directory of
Pernod-Ricard. So, they are not trying to make
a ridiculous gimic out of the whole thing, as is
Absente. I'm just terribly curious to know how
it tastes. Justin, please let everyone know
ASAP.

By Chrysippvs on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 10:36 pm: Edit

I will have a few bottles within a week or so...

I don't think it is absinthe, maybe something liken unto Absente or Versinthe but, not absinthe proper...but I will see in a bit..

take care...

J

By Absintheur on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 10:22 pm: Edit

"I think Ted pointed out that "absinthe" in French can mean a number of plants related to "wormwood"--who knows,maybe most of the plants in the artemisia genus!"

I think that this notion has been propogated by those who sell brands like Versinthe and Absente. Typically the actual distillers make no such claims -- they should know better.

Internet marketers tend to refer to artemesia Absinthium, artemesia Abrotanum, and artemesia Pontica, artemesia Annua, artemesia Stelleriana, and artemesia Sacrorum as wormwood -- and by association absinthe. While this is accurate in English, it's inaccurate in French, where only artemesia Absinthium and artemesia Pontica are absinthes.

I've seen no evidence that such flexibility in reference to absinthe exists outside the American and British marketplaces.

That being said, I doubt that Cusenier Oxygénée is made without the addition of artemesia Absinthium. There is strong indication that French and Swiss regulatory agencies are discussing the establishment of an Apellation d'Origine Contrôllé, even though sale and consumption of absinthe are banned within both countries. This move, though cosmetic, has broad support, as many feel that a major aspect of French culture is being co-opted and debased.

In such an environment, I doubt that Groupe Pernod-Ricard would produce another pastis (they have more than ten in their current line) simply to call it absinthe. This move would subject them to much greater regulatory scrutiny, as well as cut them off totally from all of their most lucrative markets, which seems absurd even in the case of a niche product.

I'm presently attempting to get confirmation as to whether or not this is in fact an absinthe, information as to where it is produced, and whether or not it's an attempt at a true recreation of classic Oxygénée.

By Tabreaux on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 10:09 pm: Edit

Finding a bottle of vintage Pernod Fils, for an affordable figure, is akin to finding the proverbial hen's teeth. It isn't easy.

As far as importers of La Fee, you might be able to get a bottle from Betina (see buyer's guide).

By Jkk on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 09:20 pm: Edit

I think Ted pointed out that "absinthe" in French can mean a number of plants related to "wormwood"--who knows,maybe most of the plants in the artemisia genus!

Here's my translation--a bit free--of the blurb. Not much different from Absintheur's, but what the heck! (Quotation marks around the word wormwood are mine.)

This "wormwood" liqueur--this is its legal appellation--lets you taste for yourself the flavor that so many, famous or not, were fond of at the beginning of the century. Serve it as they did in the old days: slowly add water, as shown in the poster below, so your absinthe oxygenee can louche.

By Treeman5 on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 09:10 pm: Edit

Hey Tabreaux thanx for the respond, well keep me posted on any new developements..I surely would like to try something new..How on earth does someone get vintage Pernod Fils anyway, must be pretty hard to find..In respect to the La Fee, does anyone import that to the US?

By Tabreaux on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 09:03 pm: Edit

We can't make an assessment of Oxygenee simply because no one here has had it yet. I should be able to report on it soon however.

As far as which absinthe is 'best', that is somewhat subjective. If you are referring to which is the 'best' with respect to flavor and quality, my vote goes squarely to La Fee. This product is difficult to get outside of the UK.

Finally, with respect to vintage Pernod Fils, a couple of us have some and have sampled it. Currently, there is nothing available which is put together so well and has the same type of flavor.

By Treeman5 on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 07:58 pm: Edit

So in the whole scene of things, this "new Oxygenee", how does it measure up? I read everyones posts on these various brands, but due to my limited time and means I have only sampled two kinds..I know that I am far from being an officiando on the subject, but honestly they both tasted very much the same.Quite surprising to me, as I brewed the first sample myself..I did however enjoy both thouroughly, especially the stuff someone sent to me..Thanks again (insert name here)it was well appreciated, and I promise to repay the favor.. On another subject, I followed the discussions with "Canute" this last week, and I must say bravo to everyone "involved" it seemed to be quite a little battle going on here..I tip my hat to you all..Know if only my Deva would get here, I'd tip a glass as well..A funny thing, tonight I was watching a really dumb movie I rented "The Brotherhood" and they made a reference to Absinthe in the film..They served it on the rocks in a plastic cup...DUHHHHHHH as well as calling it "The Devil's brew" but I guess that's Hollywood for you..Has anyone seen the film "The Deceiver" with Tim Roth?? Now that was a good movie just full of Absinthe, very enjoyable for me it was..Well I am not as long winded as some of you, and I type very badly so if you haven't seen any of those movies, the first sucked rent the second..And if anyone wishes to tell me the best absinthe currently available and where to get it, please do..And yes I know Pernod Fils vintage, but do YOU have any??

By Absintheur on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 01:07 pm: Edit

"FWIW, unless my French is way off, according to a reference in at least one of Delahaye books, the terms "hygenique" and "oxygenee" referred to thujone free absinthe substitutes. Not that this product is necessarily a 'substitute', but the choice of that name has me amused."

I believe that the confusion here arrises from the fact that Oxygénée Elixer and OXY were both marketed as "hygenique" or thujone-free. Oxygénée absinthe pre-existed the phenomenon of absinthe-hygenique by more than 50 years.

"The old manufacturing plants are long gone, and the modern liquor bears no resemblence to the original....at all."

The dissimilarities between modern Pernod and Pernod Fils Absinthe have much more to do with the gradual changes of the past 50 years than to a concerted breaking with the tradition of the past.

Pernod is presently available only in a 40% concentration. But, prior to 1990 Pernod was available only in a 48% blend with a slightly less sweet and more acid aroma. The differences between these two Pernod blends alone is fairly striking.

This 48% blend seems to have originated in the 1970s when Pernod raised the proof from 45% to stabelize the anise, which was separating in some bottles. Prior to 1955 Pernod was available in two strengths Pernod 51 and Pernod 45, the 51% version was a blonde pastis with a very complex flavor. In the mid-1950s this blend became Pastis 51, which itself has gone through numerous changes, resulting in a significantly less complex product.

To the best of my ability to trace it, Pernod 45 began it's life as Felix Pernod Pastis, a dark green concoction intended to compete with Ricard Pastis which had single handedly reopened the French market to anise beverages. From second hand accounts Felix Pernod Pastis, at 45%, was virtually identical to the Pernod Fils Absinthe, in its 45% concentration, banned 15 years earlier.

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 12:41 pm: Edit

After help from Kallisti here is that bottle
Oxygenee bottle

By Tabreaux on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 09:16 am: Edit

With regard to any lingering connection between the old Pernod company and Pernod-Ricard, if there are any, it seems to be on paper only. Why? The old manufacturing plants are long gone, and the modern liquor bears no resemblence to the original....at all. Since Pernod Fils was the most popular absinthe ever, they could have just as easily removed the absinthium and kept all else the same, which seems the most logical alternative. They didn't. Is this product any different? I'm curious, and 'll know as soon as I taste it.

FWIW, unless my French is way off, according to a reference in at least one of Delahaye books, the terms "hygenique" and "oxygenee" referred to thujone free absinthe substitutes. Not that this product is necessarily a 'substitute', but the choice of that name has me amused.

By Absintheur on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 08:22 am: Edit

"absintheur and justin, have you seen the link between cusenier and byrrh? byrrh has a website..."

Byrrh is owned by Groupe Pernod-Ricard and distributed by Cusenier. Since it divested itself of it's fruit syrup business Cusenier has been focussed primarily on the production and marketing of sparkling and enriched wines, like Byrrh.

"Being that Pernod-Ricard has no relation to the old Pernod company other than the name, I don't view the 'pedigree' in the same regard."

To say that there is no relationship is stretching the case. One was subsumed by the other, but a strong tie certainly exists.

In Pernod-Ricard's case, combined Pernod Fils -- ie. Edouard Pernod et Fils (partriarch), Jules Pernod (unrelated), and Felix Pernod (cousin) -- and all of their assets were acquired by Paul Ricard, the nominal founder of Ricard in the mid-1960s (I believe).

The company is presently chaired by Patrick Ricard, son of Paul Ricard, and owned publicly, with 30% of the stock personally held by the Pernod family.

"Nevertheless, wasn't the old "Oxygenee" label supposed to be a 'safe' thujone-free product?"

I believe this was Oxygénée Elixer, which was a distinct product, after the ban.

"Also, if Pernod-Ricard were squarely behind this, wouldn't this product have a much larger, more visible means of distribution?"

I doubt that they're "squarely" behind this. It's too much of a niche product. That being said, they have over 400 products in their line, many of which have very limited distribution in specialized markets, so small scale production of Oxygénée Absinthe would be consistant with their pre-existing business practices.

"As a side note, I read this distributor's verbiage for Absente, and it was inaccurate, claiming that it was negligibly different from
'the green fairy', and claimed that it contained thujone (which it certainly does not). Should the verbiage for this product be taken at face value?"

I can't comment as to the relative quality of the product; all I can really comment on is who makes it, Pernod-Ricard/Cusenier, where they seem to make it, Andorra, and what they call it, Oxygénée Absinthe.

I find that intriguing, and exciting.

By Petermarc on Monday, November 06, 2000 - 02:38 am: Edit

bob,
still haven't figured out how to resize the pix before, but i am working on it...i am posting pictures anyway in the interest of humanity...
the shop only delivers locally and takes orders for pick-up...i can't believe it isn't available
elsewhere, so i will find it...
absintheur and justin, have you seen the link between cusenier and byrrh? byrrh has a website...

By Absinthedrinker on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 11:45 pm: Edit

Sometime after the ban, Cusenier produced a green pastis called 'Oxy' an 'elixir hygenique' which although presumably thujone free, has wormwood leaves all overthe label. (I'll post a picture of the bottle I have later when I wake up enough to use the scanner). This may be the basis of the new drink.

By Tabreaux on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 11:00 pm: Edit

Being that Pernod-Ricard has no relation to the old Pernod company other than the name, I don't view the 'pedigree' in the same regard. Nevertheless, wasn't the old "Oxygenee" label supposed to be a 'safe' thujone-free product? And if so, would it seem rather curious (and possibly fitting) that they would choose to use this particular product name as opposed to that of any of the old Pernod family derivatives (or any other better known competitor's products)? Also, if Pernod-Ricard were squarely behind this, wouldn't this product have a much larger, more visible means of distribution? As a side note, I read this distributor's verbiage for Absente, and it was inaccurate, claiming that it was negligibly different from 'the green fairy', and claimed that it contained thujone (which it certainly does not). Should the verbiage for this product be taken at face value? It just doesn't add up to me. Nevertheless, it will add up one way or another when I get a sample.

Just reading 'between the lines'.

By Absintheur on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 10:10 pm: Edit

This could be a product of my remedial French, but I don't see the disclaimer as quoted. The reference to legality seems to be in regards to legal appellation, not to legal thujone content.

Secondarily, I suspect that this Oxygénée is being produced in Andorra, as Groupe Pernod-Ricard went out of their way to reregister the copyright there, which would seem, otherwise, to be a pointless expense.

None of this speaks to the relative quality, or legitimacy, of the product. That being said, it's hard to imagine a more impressive pedigree.

By Tabreaux on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 09:20 pm: Edit

I am highly dubious of the content of this product for obvious reasons (legality being foremost). The vague disclaimer in the verbiage seems to support this. This product is likely no more absinthe than is absinthe Trenet. 'Legal' extract of absinthe can mean A. vulgaris, or other dissimilar herbs. Use of the word "absinthe" in French can mean a lot of different things. At this point, Pernod certainly realizes they can call something "absinthe" regardless of the content. This product is probably no more legitimate absinthe than is Absente.

By Midas on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 08:41 pm: Edit

I've been wondering for a while if Pernod would ever get back into the absinthe market, and it looks like their taking their first step back down that path, in a roundabout sort of way. thanks Franglais & Absintheur, this is a fascinating turn of events.

By Absintheur on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 08:00 pm: Edit

In 1857 Eugène Cusenier opened his first distillery in Paris producing primarily Oxygénée Absinthe. The distillery then moved to Pontarlier around the turn of the century, where it produced absinthe until 1915.

From 1915 to 1936, the company produced primarily Haut-Doubs cherry syrup. Then, in 1936 it created Apéritif Ambassadeur. Even with the success of Ambassadeur the bulk of Cusenier's production capacity was dedicated to fruit syrups, which led to their acquisition by Groupe Pernod-Ricard in the 1980s.

In 1996 Cusenier sold its Sironimo brand of sirups to Teisseire. This transfer allowed Cusenier to concentrate on the production, sales and marketing of sparkling wines, sweet wines, wine-based aperitifs and spirits.

In the Cusenier line of spirits are Ambassadeur, Café de Paris, Vabé, Bartissol, Amer Cusenier, and now -- it appears -- Oxygénée Absinthe.

By Grimbergen on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 07:04 pm: Edit

Bob,
I tried the babelfish. That was great. I especially like that Absente was translated as Go Away. If only.

Grim

By Bob_chong on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 06:28 pm: Edit

Petermarc:

Love the pix you always post, but do you know how to resize them? Do so before uploading. Should be a simple procedure.

Also, why can't you mail order from them?

BC

By Bob_chong on Sunday, November 05, 2000 - 06:25 pm: Edit

Thanks for bringing this to light, Franglais. Otherwise, we might have only heard about it later, after someone started offering it for $120/btl stateside.

If anyone wants a good laugh, translate that page or site with babelfish. You'll notice that some of the brands of pastis contain "gasoline of star anise."

BC

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