Imports to Australia????

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Imports to Australia????
By Frater_Carfax on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 09:03 pm: Edit

Hi MissThing

2 bottles! That's all that was seized.

Technically, providing the absinthe was made according to certain criteria, it would be legal in Australia (in the short term anyway). However, because there are still too many legal uncertainties in Australia I can't imagine a start up distillery would find the financing to do this....yet.

The prohibition on "Oil of Wormwood" only applies to imported product- products containing Oil of Wormwood manufactured in Australia would only have to comply to the relevant legislation depending if it was a food or a medicine. Hence the law is inconsistent.

By Missthing on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 07:04 pm: Edit

Oh, crap. Sorry to hear of the hassles, but I guess if the law is so contradictory then it was bound to happen eventually. I'm just glad you have the knowledge and understanding of the legal side of things to be able to challenge the customs peoples. You've also mentioned that it's a state regulation thingie so maybe I'll be safe in WA? (Heheh, fat chance - the one state in Oz where Sadomasochism literature is illegal, apparently...we are a police state and anything that seems even vaguely naughty is stomped on damn quick!)

I'm curious, was it a large shipment? I'm kinda hoping that the smaller the box the less chance there is of them bothering to open it up...

Also, you say Absinthe can be legally manufactured & sold within Australia - erm, is anyone doing so (or planning to)??? Do you have any more information regarding legal Absinthe manufacture in Oz, or where one would go to find out? Do you know if it is prohibitively expensive to get permits etc or would it be a potential cottage industry when one retires to the countryside... I can see it now... amongst the wineries springs the odd Aussie Absinthe distillery... heheh...

Just curious!

By Frater_Carfax on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 05:16 pm: Edit

Absinthe Update for Antipodeans

I have had the pleasure of having my latest shipment from SC impounded by Australian Customs for containing Oil of Wormwood, and therefore requiring the approval of the Therapeutic Goods Administration for a permit to import a prohibited drug. It appears since the release of Moulin Rouge they have become familiar with our Green Fairy again and are now challenging people importing it when found.

I am currently challenging Customs over their interpretation of these regulations, which has a fundamental flaw in their application. For something to be a prohibited drug, it must be presented as a therapeutic good (medicine)- as absinthe is presented as a food, it should fall out of the TGA jurisdiction.

There are a a number of good reasons for challenging them at the moment, especially on the "Oil of Wormwood" issue, however it is still early in negotiations- I am pretty confident there are good grounds to get the stock through customs....they have already admitted they have released other shipments provided certain arguments can be made so there is a precedent for release.

Don't be scared by the "Prohibited Drug" term I used, it does not mean you are at risk of jail or the like as though you were importing smack, it is in context of a "prohibited pharmaceutical"- and it is hardly "prohibited" when it can be legally manufactured and sold within Australia already without import.... this space.....

By Missthing on Wednesday, July 18, 2001 - 12:44 am: Edit

Thanks - the order is well under $250 (order value, at least... as shipping is more expensive than the items themselves!) I hope they're nice to me...

By Frater_Carfax on Tuesday, July 17, 2001 - 11:55 pm: Edit


you will only have import taxes to pay if customs opens your package and says 'ello ello, what's all this then' - remember, only pay tax on the value of the goods - do not include shipping, it is not required. Technically you should pre-declare if the value is over $250AUS.

By Missthing on Tuesday, July 17, 2001 - 10:44 pm: Edit

Hi there Lord Hobgoblin and Frater Carfax - thanks for the welcome :)

I've ordered some Mari Mayans 70% and some Deva 55%, plus some miniatures - on reflection I'm thinking I should have ordered a bottle of N.S. instead of one of those for more variety. They were very helpful at Spirits Corner and I look forward to the arrival of the shipment - I guess I'm just vaguely worried that I may have some trouble receiving in WA as there are a few things that are illegal here that aren't in other states (but those seem to be usually sex-related...) If there are any other West Aussies here I'd appreciate the sharing of any experiences with importing specifically to WA.

Also, what is the proceedure regarding import taxes into Oz? Is there any delay involved?

By Frater_Carfax on Tuesday, July 17, 2001 - 03:56 pm: Edit

Welcome to the list Missthing

good to have someone from the Western seaboard along for the ride...

What have you ordered for your party?

By Lordhobgoblin on Tuesday, July 17, 2001 - 11:43 am: Edit

Good to see more Aussies on the forum, helps with balancing the forum.


By Missthing on Tuesday, July 17, 2001 - 01:30 am: Edit


I'm a recent discoverer of Absinthe in Perth. Seems we are everywhere... Very pleased to hear Absinthe is ok to import for personal use in Oz (well at least it seems to be?), my friends didn't believe me when I said this stuff will get through customs!

I only really started looking for Absinthe to be able to complete some vintage 1930's cocktail recipes for a theme party. I just hope it arrives in time without hitches! But I've been reminded of my art school days in all this research... what we wouldn't have done for La Fee Verte then :)

By Frater_Carfax on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 11:16 pm: Edit

A note to any Australian importers!

A fellow antipodean forumite is currntly having an experience worth sharing.....

Technically, a customs excise is payable on all alcoholic goods imported into Australia- however, you need to actually seek customs pre-clearance for your imports if they are over $250AUS. So if you get pinged with a large order, not only will you have a big duty to pay, they may slap your wrist as well.

Also- if customs wants the value of the goods for excise reasons- you should remove any costs for overseas freight (however costs for inland freight are excisable).

here is a handy fact sheet


By Diotima on Saturday, June 09, 2001 - 06:49 am: Edit

Hi all ...

Its Saturday night here and I am in self-imposed exile in my flat here as I have to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to hit the trails - I'm a keen bushwalker. So I have been perusing the board a bit....

To Matt first - yes I know Killerby - in fact I am on their mailing list! I don't often buy in single winery dozen lots but I like to get mail-outs so I know when new vintages are out. I don't know the Eyton (on Yarra) brand but I cheated and looked it up in my wine guide - it certainly gets good reviews.

Jonathan - I missed the Triple J interview - pity! Thanks for the legal info. I wonder if the recent new found interest in absinthe (post Moulin Rouge - which I STILL have not seen) will prompt any action - one way or another???? It worries me that a knee jerk response will be taken - with fear of the unknown leading to a complete ban and stronger penalties. I don't do drugs (yes I know alcohol is a drug) personally - but it amazes me that dope is not decriminalised in NSW yet - and the mess created over the injecting room in the Cross just made me want to go bang my head...

Also I saw your lament elsewhere regarding the sad and sorry state of the Aussie dollar. After calculating how much it would cost for a bottle of NS, Deva and Segarra I fully agree! If its OK I will email you in the next couple of days for some advice over the cheapest way to order (ie number of bottles etc). And then I'll start saving my pennies...

Have a good weekend all.

By Frater_Carfax on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 05:56 pm: Edit


"have the authorities here been challenged on the question of why absinthe is 'illegal' - or at least unobtainable on the retail market? Is this a hangover from the distant past??? Or is it current policy that has been challenged and upheld??? "

For the most part, ANZFA (the food authority) don't even know what absinthe is- seriously! They didn't even know what Ricard was. The only place in Australia with a specific law against absinthe is the Northern Territory. Enforcement of food regulations is a individual state matter- not a federal one. It requires a specific complaint to an underfunded State Health department for action to be taken anyway.

However, absinthe does get caught under some key regulations, unless you know the loop holes.:-)

I would elaborate but 'loose lips sink ships'

By strange coincidence as I was writing this, JJJ (our national youth radio network) had an interview with Paul Dillon from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre on Absinthe- some of it was good, a lot of it was prohibitionist era crap, so I managed to get on radio provide some corrections.

Interestingly he said that a couple of importers have already tried to commercially import it into Australia but were stopped by customs - and that he had actually been contacted by customs wanting clarification on its legal status- which he didn't know.

The lack of appropriate legal knowledge plus the lack of an immediate commercial market in Australia is probably why it probably too much effort for most importers.


By Mattb on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 09:24 am: Edit

A Southern wine fancier, eh?
I have to ask, do you ever have any Killerby (from Capel, just North of Margeret River)? It's my aunt and cousin's vineyard. I spent a little time there and have sampled much of the product. My (unbiased - of course) opinion is it's quite good.

And Eyton? A bit closer to you in the Yarra Valley. My (other) cousin is the winemaker there. I've only had a small sampling of their wines as they don't export and I'm in USA. I liked what I had a chance to taste.

Just had to ask...

Cheers and welcome.


By Diotima on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 08:17 am: Edit

Hi fellow Sydney-siders and others,

Oh dear - I've been distracted by a whole heap of work that was lumped on me today. I have just finished it.

I live near Coogee - but I work at Sydney Uni - ie near Newtown. I do research there.

It would be good to meet some fellow fans of things alcoholic!

As said I have not tried absinthe - I love liqueurs but because of the bloody ridiculous taxes they put on alcohol here I don't have a huge collection. My main passion is wine - especially good reds from South Australia.... Who knows if I will like absinthe? I suspect I will. My worst ever alcoholic experience was some bona fide mezcal bought for me from Mexico - it sucked. Badly ... Although I can't describe the taste I can still remember it! And as for things green - I must also admit to thinking that Midori is a noxious poison. Hopefully abisinthe will be a better experience. I am attracted too by the history and the mythology of the drink.

But right now I am rambling - and I have to be alert for a project meeting at uni tomorrow.

Than you all so much for your replies. I will read them properly tomorrow when I can think of something other than work...

One thing - have the authorities here been challenged on the question of why absinthe is 'illegal' - or at least unobtainable on the retail market? Is this a hangover from the distant past??? Or is it current policy that has been challenged and upheld??? Just curious....

By Midas on Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 07:56 am: Edit

join one of us...(beckoning hand, sly expression)

No seriously, the more absintheurs in Sydney, the merrier. As Jonathan said, I'd love to meet up with you for a green cloudy bevvie one afternoon. Whereabouts are you? We're both in Newtown (opposite ends though).

Jonathan: "~ if customs came knocking on my door I have the means to challenge them- (and if anyone in Oz is faced with this let me know and I will assist- I argue with government bodies for a living so would do this as a matter of principle). "
"AAP"? Antedilluvian Absinthe Protector? I can just see you in that cape and one piece. Da Da Daaaaa!

By Frater_Carfax on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 06:54 pm: Edit

Ave Diotima

welcome to the club!

Just to be enigmatic, in Australia absinthe can be illegal, or it could be legal, - this depends on how one chooses to interpret and argue the different regulations that would cover absinthe~ if customs came knocking on my door I have the means to challenge them- (and if anyone in Oz is faced with this let me know and I will assist- I argue with government bodies for a living so would do this as a matter of principle).

As you are also in Sydney, you should join myself and Midas one afternoon, it would be unkind to let you wait until your SC order arrived- as speedy as it is. You can reach me on


By Admin on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 09:01 am: Edit

For a quick answer, out of Barcelona ships worldwide, including Oz... they ship mainly spanish brands with some french pastis' thrown in, for brand details you can read about here:

Just look for the brands under "Spain" or go to the SC website, select the wee english flag button, and search for "absinthe" ... First time buyer recommendations: Absinthe NS, Deva, Segarra .. and buy 3 or more bottles to save oodles on shipping costs.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 08:38 am: Edit

Look for posts by Frater_Carfax and send him a private email. I'm sure he will be delighted to help.

The short story is that you have little to worry about. Just Do It.

And welcome!

By Diotima on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 08:04 am: Edit

Perhaps - in the interests of preserving my guts from the garter making factory - I should be more specific. Timbuktu generally presents less of a problem to importers than Australia. I was interested in finding out who will ship down here and how much it costs and whether I can expect men and women in black to knock at the front door of my humble Sydney flat doing me for illegal possession .. and all that. Pardon my paranoia. Its just when you hear on the news that the guvermint is banning the sale of caffeine drinks to minors (and my bet is everybody) you have to wonder about the import of an allegedly narcotic substance ... yes I know that it it possibly no more narcotic than a caffeine drink but ... you see my point???? Basically I want to try the stuff. I don't want to pay through the nose for it and I don't want to get caught!

By Diotima on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 07:51 am: Edit

Hi - nuther newbie here... Briefly I have long been interested in the history of food and drink generally - and have long been curious about absinthe - which my reference book on spirits told me was out of production - phooey! Then what with Moulin Rouge being released and 'our Kylie' doing the cameo as the green fairy I hear otherwise... Of course its illegal in Australia (lets sugar coat the WORLD) but someone on another board tells me that there are people here who import their personal supplies into Oz - and to cut a long story short I am interested in finding out how ... I love herbal liqueurs - Benedictine, Drambuie MMMMMM and I also love bitters - and anything aniseed flavoured. And I'm a bit of a sucker for anything with such an interesting history too - so any advice would be very welcomed!

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