Floaters in Lasala

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Nov 2000:Floaters in Lasala
By Perruche_verte on Saturday, November 18, 2000 - 11:18 am: Edit

"For $12 US, what did you expect? Gold?"

"Spanish soil is not for sale! Please return it immediately."

Anyone else? ;-)

By Midas on Saturday, November 18, 2000 - 01:02 am: Edit

'Excuse me waiter, there's dirt in my absinthe..." Sounds like a Monty Python sketch!

By Perruche_verte on Friday, November 17, 2000 - 08:23 pm: Edit

I should be at the bottom of a bottle of LaSala very soon (*hic*), so I'll try to investigate those "floaters". A number of people have pointed out that putting ice in anise liqueurs will cause the anethole to bead up and float on the surface. If Eleusis is right, this LaSala just got too cold and something -- anethole? -- began to precipitate. I'll see if it floats when I add water.

I didn't notice a taste difference in this bottle -- one had particles and the other didn't -- but the anise is more subdued in LaSala anyway.

BTW, I notice that my bottle of Ricard says, "Ne Pas Conserver au Froid -- Do Not Refrigerate" Do you suppose the intent is to avoid this effect? Compare to drinks with lower anise content -- the UK distributor for Sebor advises drinking it over ice.

If it's just "foreign matter" (i.e., dirt) I definitely won't buy this stuff again.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 02:41 pm: Edit

The specific content of Sebor leads me to believe that it is unlikely that one should expect to see any oily residue.

By Black_rabbit on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 11:51 am: Edit

Well, I don't think the sediment in my Sebor bottle is oil... guesses on that one? I will no doubt get to the bottom of the bottle some day, and take a sample then, but in the meantime...

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 09:40 am: Edit

Your guess is as good as mine.

By Eleusis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 09:35 am: Edit

If the sediment in Lasala is a precipitate, could it be from the cold temperatures during shipping? I don't recall ever having this problem during the warmer parts of the year.
I know that in some clandestine type chemistry, seperation of products is done by freezing to cause the precipitation to drop out. Just a wild guess.

By Don_walsh on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 09:21 am: Edit

Bob C.: my old Da' the latin teacher might smack my knuckles with a ruler if he hears about this.

I think I got that translation from a medieval-liquors website, I will have to go look.

I think I will stick to pig latin.

By Don_walsh on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 09:17 am: Edit

Any absinthe made by simply steeping/macerating herbs (perforce including A.absinthium) without subsequently distilling -- required to exclude the horribly bitter absinthins from the potable product -- would be literally undrinkable. Ignoring this simple truth is the origin of the 'absinthe is undrinkably bitter' myth that the Goths so love.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 09:13 am: Edit

Language, especially translated language, can be tricky. If a producer describes 'maceration with herbs', then subsequent distillation should be assumed. I would trust this ONLY if it came directly from a producer's website or literature. If it comes from a distributor, take it with a grain of salt. The vast majority of distributor's detailed descriptions of absinthe products are absolutely erroneous and misleading. Many products and distributors would be more credible if the descriptions were omitted entirely.

By Grimbergen on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 08:31 am: Edit


I recall reading here that some of the producers claim that their absinthe is made through maceration. Is it safe to assume that they mean maceration followed by distillation, and that they are simply trying to contrast their products with those made with oils?


By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 11:49 pm: Edit

Grim: you correctly answered your own questions.

1. Yes, 'distilled absinthe' is first steeped (macerated) with herbs in strong alcohol and then distilled. The distillation is essential to remove the VERY unwanted bitter tannins. Usually a third step, coloration by further berbs, follows, and this involves not only adding chlorophyllic color but also finishing flavors. It is by far the trickiest and most difficult step to master and to perform consistently. So those who have done so tend to look down on products which are artificially colored or not colored at all, as technically inferior, and actually inferior.

2. Yes, macerated absinthe (from herbs) would be essentially the first step of the above, but bottled without distillation. It would be FOUL.

3. Yes, absinthes made from essential oils are mixtures of essential oils in alcohol, and probably artificially colored. Yes, essential oils are usually but NOT necessarily steam distilled. And Ted is right about steam distillation not being as selective as distilling with strong alcohol. There is a large temperature difference and other differences.

4. Percolation would involve distilling alcohol through herbs rather than with herbs. In my opinion this would necessarily mean a less efficient extraction of oils. As I said -- I am not aware that any absinthe has ever been made this way, but other liquors and liqueurs certainly are. Gin, for the best example.

Hope this clarifies!

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 11:29 pm: Edit

Actually, there is one flavor in Segarra in which just its presence leads me to believe that this product is indeed distilled. Also, I know it sounds a little weird, but I can't help but wonder if it might sit in wood for a little while, prior to being bottled. Regardless, they blended both aspects of both the old and new in this product, and I do consider it to be the most interesting of the Spanish fare.

As for the rest (other than maybe La Fee), I am not inclined to believe they are distilled from herbs, but that is my opinion.

By Bob_chong on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 10:56 pm: Edit


Do you think Segarra is made with oils? If so, exclusively or not?



By Tabreaux on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 10:30 pm: Edit

I suspect that more products are made from oils than most on this BB might believe. When you can offer a product at a wholesale price of $5, that makes me wonder.

Nevertheless, steeping herbs does not create absinthe. Absinthe was made from distillation from the start. Distillation performs a critical function, and without it, you can't make anything drinkable with any degree of herbal content, much less anything that resembles classic absinthe.

Maceration with oils is a gray area where the defining lines are concerned. Oils are made from distillation, but they are made with steam distillation, which isn't as selective as alcohol distillation due to the temperature differences. Absinthes made with oils are cheaper and inferior in comparison to the pedigree products, which are made through steepage of herbs and subsequent distillation. Cheap absinthes were made from oils then, and they almost certainly are now. It's hard to say that such products aren't absinthe, as they do include oils from an inferior distillation (e.g. steam), and this idea isn't new. If the old distillers could have made the quality of products they desired using oils, they would have. The same would hold true today.

As far as sediment in La Sala, what appears to be sediment may precipitating oils. If you passed a sample containing precipitating oils through a very fine filter, you'd probably find that you would not be able to remove this 'sediment' (I've tried it), which supports my theory. This is usually present as a swirling haze which settles at the bottom of the bottle. If you are seeing very tiny dust-like individual particles, this may be foreign matter, not oils. As far as if La Sala is made with oils, I tend to believe that most of the current, inexpensive products are, and even the expensive ones (Czech).

By Perruche_verte on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 09:57 pm: Edit

Eleusis, I saw those in my LaSala too. I have no idea what they are. They don't really float; they lie on the bottom and swirl around if you move the bottle. Ted seems to think this product is made with essential oils, so I don't know where the solid matter would come from.

LaSala is OK (does need sugar!) but I think I prefer Deva and Segarra.

By Bob_chong on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 09:40 pm: Edit

From the Latin...
macer : thin, lean, poor.
macero : to soften, weaken, reduce, torment, tease, vex.

I have no idea where you got "chew" from. Sorry.


By Grimbergen on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 09:39 pm: Edit


I was wondering if you could straighten out some of the terminology and processes for me.

In making a macerated absinthe would you simply steep the herbs in ethanol without a subsequent distillations?

Likewise, if one were to use percolation, would there be a subsequent distillation?

What do you mean when you talk about absinthe or pastis made form essential oils? The oils are extracted through steam distillation, or some other method and then added to the base ethanol/water?

What do you mean by distilled absinthe? Herbs steeped in ethanol followed by a distillation?


By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 09:20 pm: Edit

Ted, that covers distilled absinthe and absinthe made up from essential oils. To that I think we need to add straight-out macerated absinthe (from herbs) although it would perforce taste horrible, as it would still be absinthe.

I am still uneasy about describing absinthe made from essential oils as 'macerated' as I don't think this is quite proper. Maceration always implies interaction of (usually warm) alcohol and herbs. It (the verb macerate) means literally 'to chew'. Alcohol chewing on, digesting the herbs.

A similar but distinct technique is percolation, this is how gin is made, absinthe could be made this way. In principle this would yield slightly different results. I am not aware that percolation has ever been used to make absinthe, commercially or otherwise. (And folks, don't try this with your coffee percolators. Same technique -- wrong apparatus.)

You and I believe that distilled absinthe is best as this is how all the premium b.e. absinthes that we know of were made. So we think of absinthes made from oils as inferior, even heretical. Absintheur, I suspect, would demurr about this as not necessarily so. I suspect in both cases we (all three of us) don't really have conclusive proof that a premium absinthe can't be made from oils, or that one can be...here the Missouri attitude applies. Show me!

Likewise most pastis are made from oils but there isn't any reason apart from economics why one can't be made from herbs and distillation. But would the consumer be willing to pay for a premium pastis? Ricard and Herbsaint are quite inexpensive. Would we pay 10X more for a better pastis? I suspect not.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 08:30 pm: Edit

Some additional notes:

I would go so far to say that any liqueur which is made from distillation (or perhaps a distillate) of A. absinthium can be considered as absinthe, and that anise flavoring and a strength of at least 45 degrees were hallmark characteristic of most of the classic, famous, Belle Epoch era absinthes.

Most of the modern absinthes (especially those of Spanish origin) taste much more like modern pastis than original absinthe, and this has to do with the type, number, and concentration of herbs (or essences), as well as modern manufacturing methods. As far as the coloring and visual aesthetics, both modern absinthe and pastis has a greater louche than the original absinthes. Artificial color is the rule today, and the absence of the coloring herbs leaves something missing from the flavor and bouquet (as Frenchman pointed out) in comparison to the originals.

By Absintheur on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 06:21 pm: Edit

"How about the others, from what I remember Tbreaux writing all of these modern absinthe's are pastis, What's the real word on that? Please correct me."

Consider yourself corrected.

Even on his most militantly a-modern day Ted's never said this. What he's said very roughly boils down to:

1) Any anise flavored beverage with Artemesia absinthium in it meets his definition of absinthe, regardless of whether it has a flavor, color, and other ingredients that render it closer to Paul Ricard's Pastis than Edouard Pernod's Absinthe.

2) He doesn't appreciate the aesthetics of modern absinthe because, generally speaking, it's aesthetic reminds him more of Paul Ricard's Pastis than Edouard Pernod's Absinthe.

These two threads are the relavent ones:

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The debate breaks down to the elements of essentialism vs. new historicism inherent in the definition of absinthe. The two aren't mutually exclusive schools of thought outside the world of absinthe... but... around these parts folks take something of an interest...

By Eleusis on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 05:35 pm: Edit

I just received some more bottles of Absinthe, this time I look through the Lasala's unopened bottle and they have floaters within the liquid. I havn't opened it as of yet, makes me nervous to see little specks spinning around inside my alcohol. The deva's and mari's and segarra's are clear looking. Anyone ever notice this before with their own Lasala that they ordered? If Mari's has no wormwood then do you consider it real absinthe? How about the others, from what I remember Tbreaux writing all of these modern absinthe's are pastis, What's the real word on that? Please correct me.


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