Absinthe to be made in Pontarlier again

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Absinthe to be made in Pontarlier again
By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 11:38 pm: Edit

$18 a lb is about $40 a Kg, and let me just tell you again, that's a joke. Ca.Cert.Org. or not.

By Timk on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 04:07 pm: Edit

Ok Don, I give up, you win

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 03:25 pm: Edit


Quote:

you little half a queer punk



Some of my best friends are half-queer punks...;)

By Dr_Ordinaire on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 03:07 pm: Edit

Whoa, Don , let me answer one at a time:

Yes, I am fully aware that there is a difference between commecial distillers and amateurs. What for us is insignificant may mean thousands of bucks for you guys at the end of the year. I respect that.

To answer your questions: you were right on on the price: $ 18.00 per pound, for California Organic Certified wormwood. As we know, the price would drop quite a bit if we were to place a standing order of a few tons a year...

The drying process: No, I didn't ignore your comments. It's just I think that the drying process is just a tiny part of the whole process. If we were to worry about the drying process of every herb, then we have to worry about the still being the exactly same size and material as the Pernod's original. We don't want to go there, do we?

Growing my own herbs: I agree with you that it doesn't make any commercial sense. And I hope you'll agree with me that this is what you'll do if you had the land and the disposable income. Making some fully organic absinthe just for the hell of it...

Your 2nd post: I'm not privy to Mountain Rose Herbs P&Ls, but they seem to be a serious company.
Their stuff is California Certified Organic, and as far as I know, this is good. As in: "You fuck up once, you're out!".

Your 3rd post: Yes, I wasn't talking about A. pontica at all. As you know, some recipes don't call for A. pontica.
I don't know about standards outside the U.S.A. I understand the Germans are pretty strict about it.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 03:04 pm: Edit

Whoa, Don , let me answer one at a time:

Yes, I am fully aware that there is a difference between commecial distillers and amateurs. What for us is insignificant may mean thousands of bucks for you guys at the end of the year. I respect that.

To answer your questions: you were right on on the price: $ 18.00 per pound, for California Organic Certified wormwood. As we know, the price would drop quite a bit if we were to place a standing order of a few tons a year...

The drying process: No, I didn't ignore your comments. It's just I think that the drying process is just a tiny part of the whole process. If we were to worry about the drying process of every herb, then we have to worry about the still being the exactly same size and material as the Pernod's original. We don't want to go there, do we?

Growing my own herbs: I agree with you that it doesn't make any commercial sense. And I hope you'll agree with me that this is what you'll do if you had the land and the disposable income. Making some fully organic absinthe just for the hell of it...

Your 2nd post: I'm not privy to Mountain Rose Herbs P&Ls, but they seem to be a serious company.
Their stuff is California Certified Organic, and as far as I know, this is good. As in: "You fuck up once, you're out!".

Your 3rd post: Yes, I wasn't talking about A. pontica at all. As you know, some recipes don't call for A. pontica.
I don't know about standards outside the U.S.A. I understand the Germans are pretty strict about it.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 10:20 am: Edit

Not to belabor the point but to expand it, Dr.O.:

Those cute little M&P herb farms don't supply A.pontica (Roman wormwood) at all, or when they do it turns out to be mugwort or ragweed. This is a topic that has been gone over in great depth on this forum before, although not recently.

Which is perhaps why they are shy about phytosanitary certification.

You see, you misread my remark. I didn't say that absinthium wasn't available in USA, I said it wasn't available in USA for cheap and with assurance of good quality.

The standard of price and quality for herbs is set outside the USA.

The USA and Internet prices are bullshit, let's face it. And the quality is often lousy. I do recommend Herb Farms, who are in Kallisti's directory, they sold me about 20 lbs (wormwood not Roman wormwood)) way back and it was good, but pricy. And it had to be hand carried here as they don't do phytosans.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 09:43 am: Edit

Absinthium prices in USA are usually around $20 a lb or more. See the LFV website. And these vendors are usually unable to service orders in real bulk quantities nor are they set up fopr the paperwork involved in international shipments, such as phytosanitary certificates etc. In short they are Mom and Pop little herb farms, very fashionable but not very significant. Pls don't confuse them with BUSINESSES.

Absinthium prices from the major suppliers outside of the US, are more like $4 a Kg and the quality is better. 90% of the wormwood sold in USA by these outfits is old brown stale shit.

That is a 10:1 difference in price.

We don't deal with amateurs, we deal with professionals.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 09:35 am: Edit

Dr. O., you are half right and half wrong. What is the price from your cutsy little certified organic herb farm? Do they sell by the gram or by the lb? Well, we buy by the metric ton and we pay a tiny fraction of what any US so called supplier sells for and we buy from the 'majors' who supply the beverage and cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries of the world.

Yeah, A.absintheium is a WEED and you left out NOXIOUS in front of that, that's what the botanists call it. And yeah it grows wild and loves to escape cultivation. BUT give it the wrong climate and it turns into fungus.

And you ignored my comments about the drying process.

If you think that growing all your own herbs would make you feel like you've accomplished something, by all means knock yourself out, but pls don't confuse that with absinthe making. Anyone who does so has too much time on their hands. As a commercial proposition it is a joke.

By Dr_Ordinaire on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 09:21 am: Edit

"High quality absinthium is plentiful and CHEAP (not in USA) and it is slow and finicky to grow."

Don, this is totally incorrect. Excellent a. absinthium - Certified Organic, to boot - is readily available in the USA. Try Mountain Rose Herbs, their products are consistently fresh and their service is excellent.

As far as a. absinthium being "slow and finicky to grow", nothing could be further from the truth. I have picked it up by the roadside near San Diego, California. It's a frigging weed, Don! This species is part of the Californian Coastal brush. Right now I have hanging from my garage rafters, drying, a plant gifted by a friend from Healdsburg, No. California. It went from nothing to over 3 ft tall during the summer. A. absinthium is naturally pest resistant, as a matter of fact it will repel pests from nearby plants.

If the people at Armand Guy are growing their own wormwood, more power to them! One of my dreams is one day to have an organic garden and grow ALL the herbs that make up absinthe.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 09:16 am: Edit

Ted, this little pencilneck timk is no more interested in truth and knowledge than he was in meeting you when you were in London. He is purely a stirrer of shit, and everyone here can see it.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

I hope I can close out this abominable thread by saying simply that just like fruits and vegetables, herbs will vary in essential oil content and composition with a variety of factors, including climatic conditions, soil types, and maturity at the time of collection. The better absinthe makers of old were well aware of this, while most modern producers just use whatever is cheapest and easily available. I might add that it is possible to tailor processing such that a greater or lesser concentration of a particular compound is evident in the final product. In doing so, either greater or lesser concentrations of other compounds will likely result as well. Not much more can be said without resorting to speculation.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 08:59 am: Edit

As to Absintheur's 'flawless logic', I will repeat: follow that 'logic' and no one would ever make anything but adulterated piss schlock absinthe for fear of being called 'ahistorical' by the one armed Hollywood master of unreason. His argument is that premium absinthe doesn't count because it was just 15% of total peak absinthe production.

Sorry, vanished Absintheur, you were and are full of it. And so is your little disciple and asslicker timk the kelvinator.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 08:54 am: Edit

Hey, asshole, FUCK YOU. I posted his FIRST name, big fucking deal, so what?

As for YOU, you little half a queer punk, you are and have alkways been merely an ignorant irritant on this forum with nothing to say, nothing to contribute, but your own callow unknowledge and bullshit.

So I can and I will shit on your head whenever and wherever I chose.

By Timk on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 07:16 am: Edit

"You come on here and spout a crock of nonsense about thujone levels vs harvest times from looking at an absurd picture of some strangers crowded round a bare patch of earth."

Actually, it was just a hypothesis, note perhaps at the beginning, its intentions as such were merely to spark conversation - and i never looked at the pictures, as you can see, it was a response to Ted's comment, perhaps if this idea is so absolutely absurd, you or he would like to give me some valid scientific or economic reason why?

"Why shoot off your trap about something that (a) is absurd on its face and (b) you know nothing about?"

I think I have established that it is not an absurd suggestion, and all it was intended to do was to spark some intelligent discussion on the topic, however, you barged in with your usual manner and prevented any intelligent discussion other than that which you wished to take place, this is a recurrent theme, and I wonder if you are not letting your commercial interests have an effect on the way you bully the forum members

"OTHER mechanisms will mandate low thujone levels in distilled absinthes, not what frigging time of year the stuff is harvested."

Would you not agree that it would be much better to have a low thujone level at the time of harvest, as opposed to having to perform other 'adjustments' at the time of distillation?

"You can't arrive at a correct conclusion (other than by accident) from false premises."

Try this one, I think that you will find it correct, non-accidental, and with much premise, Don, You are an Arsehole

"OTHER mechanisms will mandate low thujone levels in distilled absinthes, not what frigging time of year the stuff is harvested."

From the information given, that they were harvesting their absinthium early for no known reason, and that
"The challenge has been to lower the content to safe levels while maintaining the flavour - a feat which M Guy is confident he has achieved",
I do not consider my comment to be anything other that a sensible suggestion, being that this phenominon is observed with other chemicals in plants.

"(Pardon me, Absintheur, wherever you are, for restating your argument.) We did and do reject this as absurd. Anyone prefer to drink schlock? If so the Czechs await."

Being that you publically posted information which he himself asked not be posted, primarily his name, which in combination with other things allowed a forum member to track down who he was and find his real identity, for reasons which I will not go into, and reasons which I imagine you were fully aware of, you posted his name, which forced him to leave the forum, so Don, Watch what you say, "We did and do reject this as absurd" is an absurd logic in it's self, if you cannot see that at a basic level, Absintheurs logic was flawless, then you are far less intelligent than you profess to be.

By Don_Walsh on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 08:36 am: Edit

I see a pattern of the bottom of my shoe on your face, asshole...

You come on here and spout a crock of nonsense about thujone levels vs harvest times from looking at an absurd picture of some strangers crowded round a bare patch of earth.

Why shoot off your trap about something that (a) is absurd on its face and (b) you know nothing about?

You can't arrive at a correct conclusion (other than by accident) from false premises.

Anyone who grows their own absinthium (unless on a massive scale) is a glutton for punishment. High quality absinthium is plentiful and CHEAP (not in USA) and it is slow and finicky to grow. OTHER mechanisms will mandate low thujone levels in distilled absinthes, not what frigging time of year the stuff is harvested.

Then there is the matter of drying the wormowood properly. WHY do you you suppose the large scale absinthe farmers of Bovaresse, Switzerland, had the communal drying house that is now celebratred by the annual Absinthe Festival? Because this step of the production of the required dried herb was best done with econmy of scale TOTALLY absent from the absurd and probably fictitous effort you were kibbitsing about.

What a waste of Kallisti's bandwidth you are! Go kelvinate somewhere else. Twit!

By Timk on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 04:37 am: Edit

Must be the superglue, you couldnt properly insert a bottle up anyones arse for shit - do i see a pattern here?

By Don_Walsh on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 12:14 am: Edit

You've really gotten to be quite good at sphincter control, managing to keep that bottle of Blue Label from sliding out even when you are standing. Or is it the Superglue?

By Timk on Sunday, August 12, 2001 - 01:30 pm: Edit

Sorry i did not cotton on, its just that I have never known you to be polite before

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 05:48 pm: Edit

It was a polite way of saying that you are full of shit.

By Timk on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 02:35 pm: Edit

hmm, that really is not the most interesting of critiques that i have ever recieved, i would have called it an informed connecting of the dots if you will, rather than a speculation, maybe even a hypothesis that i leave to others more knowledgeable to prove or disprove, but this sort of question/speculation/hypothesis is what has produced a great deal of the most interesting scientific discoveries. A suitable parallel does not come to mind, but lets imagine, if you will, that an experimenter produces a similar statement amd then sets out to prove it, "No", Don says: "Speculation, like experimentation, is most often known by and for its abject failures"

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 07:36 am: Edit

Speculation, like experimentation, is most often known by and for its abject failures.

By Timk on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 04:34 am: Edit

"Judging by their attire, it looks like warm weather (i.e. fairly recent). But then again, it may be the intention of the manufacturer to harvest prematurely for reasons that I can only guess. "

Perhaps the alpha thujone content of Artemesia Absinthium varies with the time of year and in order to achieve their 'lowered thujone' level, they harvest prematurely.

Tim

By Don_Walsh on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 09:27 am: Edit

The strength is too low for high herbal oil concentrations to stayt in solution; this is something akin to pastis in strength.

But I don't think the natural coloration is necessarily excluded, by 45% final strength, although I suspect that the life expectancy of any chlorophyllic coloration will be shortened substantially. If that's what you mean, no problems....

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 02:26 am: Edit

I just got a reply from Armand Guy distillers to the effect that the new absinthe won't be available until December, it's alcoholic strength is 45% and it is traditionally coloured with plants. The last two statements would seem to be mutually exclusive.

By Luger on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 12:37 pm: Edit

"Sometimes we are speculating and sometimes Ted has more information than that. Forgive him and us that for"

You just gave me a clear answer, and that was all I asked for. No need to appologize for that,,

My very best regards: Luger

By Don_Walsh on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 10:47 am: Edit

Luger, it's not divination from shape of bottle.

Sometimes we are speculating and sometimes Ted has more information than that. Forgive him and us that for the time being he is still collating and triple checking. In time all will be revealed. Pls allow us the small grace that we are not full of shit and that we have no need or motive to deceive. A small measure of faith will be well rewarded...

By Tabreaux on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 09:37 am: Edit

Without GC data, one can only speculate. Nevertheless, essences derived from alcoholic extraction, water distillation, and alcoholic distillation all differ in composition, and oftentimes the differences are readily detectable by taste.

By Luger on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 09:15 am: Edit

"It is my belief and I think Ted's, that mixing absinthe from essential oils is an inherently inferior technique and that
macerating herbs in alcohol and water, then distilling the mixture in situ, is the superior and much more authentic
and traditional method."

I´m not arguing against that at all!
I just wonder how one recognize these products?
When I read the posts here on the Forum, I get the impression that everyone but me knows what is distilled and what is not. Sometimes even the shape of the bottle seems to be sufficient to know this.

So the trick is??


Cheers: Luger

By Absinthedrinker on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 02:04 am: Edit

Thanks for the wealth of information on still design, I stand corrected in my assumption that the stills shown in the Armand photo indicate the use of gin heads. As someone more used to the still design seen in the Highlands of Scotland such domes and devices are distinctly 'foreign'. However I am pretty sure that the combination of text, photos and exhibits I saw at Boveresse did indicate that gin heads were in use by some distillers, which in the light of what has been said elsewhere I do find curious.

By Don_Walsh on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 01:15 am: Edit

By 'maceration' Ted means 'mixing essential oils of herbs with alcohol and water'. You surmised correctly. The term is also used to mean 'steeping herbs in alcohol and water', i.e., preparing a steep liquor, usually to be distilled subsequently. The two usages are somewhat confusing.

Yes, essential oils are usually prepared by steam distillation, although other techniques are possible, and depending on which technique is employed, the composition of the essential oil will vary subtly.

It is my belief and I think Ted's, that mixing absinthe from essential oils is an inherently inferior technique and that macerating herbs in alcohol and water, then distilling the mixture in situ, is the superior and much more authentic and traditional method.

Some people like Absintheur, argued that since most 19th century absinthes were schlock that schlock techniques were just as authentic or more so than premium techniques. (Pardon me, Absintheur, wherever you are, for restating your argument.) We did and do reject this as absurd. Anyone prefer to drink schlock? If so the Czechs await.

By Luger on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 12:54 am: Edit

Hi again!

" pastis is frequently made by a combination of distillation *and*
maceration."

So by "maceration" you mean throwing *oils* in the alcohol, and not throwing *herbs* in the alcohol?


" Oils are steam distilled and carry a very different profile than essences
derived from alcholic distillation."

Ok, so that is the trick. I thought *some* brands of oils were *distilled*.
I learn something new every day :-)

So the answer to the question is that an ordinary consumer cannot easily tell if it is made by distilling or adding of oils? The taste may differ. Not necessarily a bad difference, and not necessarily good, but at least different?

Best regards: Luger

By Pataphysician on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 07:16 pm: Edit

Well let's just say it DOES have something to do with pussy.

By Admin on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 04:36 pm: Edit


Quote:

Having my slash going the wrong way would be a novel experience indeed




is that like petting a cat the wrong direction?

By Artemis on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 03:32 pm: Edit

The very nice drawing posted by Don (as do the photos on Armand Guy's website, if you look closely) reveal why there is no herb basket in the onion. Apart from the fact the drawing shows none, you can see that the onion is attached to the boiler by a circular pattern of (probably threaded) fasteners (i.e., bolts).

This means that it is intended to be removed (otherwise it would be welded on), but not quickly removed. This tells us the removal is done for maintenance, but not for daily operation.

If they were putting anything into the onion on an operational basis, they would have provided an easy means to do so, such as a doorway or hatch, which you can see on the main body of these stills.

This is true of all pressure vessels - I've written maintenance procedures for many such (though none of them were stills), and these principles are common even today in industry with regard to boilers, vessels, tanks, etc.

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:13 pm: Edit

Having my slash going the wrong way would be a novel experience indeed...but thanks with the help.

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:11 pm: Edit

alembic

By Admin on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 01:15 pm: Edit

Don, you've got your slash goin' the wrong way:

\

not

/

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 07:24 am: Edit

I guess the image function is down...

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 07:21 am: Edit

Here's a current model US made (Vendome Brass & Copper) 100 gallon charge size, steam heated alembic still. The onion dome can be removed and replaced with a 4-tray rectifying tower, and the thing on the right side above the condenser is a variable reflux head, which when used with the almbic is set to 100% takeoff.

/image{alembic}

By Tabreaux on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 06:25 am: Edit

What seems to be confusing you is the fact that pastis is frequently made by a combination of distillation *and* maceration.

To the educated analyst, GC data can conclusively indicate the difference between a product that is distilled as opposed to one that is macerated with oils. Oils are steam distilled and carry a very different profile than essences derived from alcholic distillation. This is why you really cannot make absinthe via maceration (e.g. Czech) without making something nontraditional and possibly even nasty.

By Luger on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 02:14 am: Edit

Hello all!

"I wondered when I saw those people bending over essentially bare ground, but the website
doesn't say in what month that picture was taken."

To me it looks as if they are *planting*. In colder climates it is common to grow the herbs in greenhouses during the winter, and then re-plant them on the outside in the spring. This is done with fragile herbs. Could it be Pontica? The text says nothing about the picture showing harvesting of Wormwood, it is mentioned, but not specifically to the picture.

I believe so anyway,,,

I also am very ignorant. You see I am not able to tell if a product is made from essential oils or properly distilled, by just looking at a picture of a bottle. Several sources about Pastis ( Not this Forum ) says it is distilled, other says it is not. So how can I tell? Since these oils ( sometimes ) are made by distilling, the actual components could be the same, so a GC can not be the whole answer, or ? Or have the Pastis makers bought their stills just to show the ignorant customers, while they in fact never use them, so they can have a laugh at dinner break, while discussing their rip-offs???


Best regards: Luger

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:10 pm: Edit

The onion dome, by whatever nickname one wants to call it, is not a specialized piece of a still, and is not used only for cognac, or gin, or absinthe. It is a routine piece of pot still design. Yes, POT STILL. Not rectifying still, not reflux still. Pot still. Such a still can be used for making anything from whiskey to rum to eau-de-vie or anything listed above. While it is possible to find ancient and modern post stills without it, it is more common to find them with it, regardless of what liquor is being produced.

As with any still, some slight refluxing does take place in the headspace of the still. This is not to be confused with a dedicated reflux head, much less a true fractionating column and still head. A reflux head is one that is designed to increase the amount of reflux compared to a simple pot still. However, a reflux head per se does not permit control of the reflux ratio nor does it provide for a column.

A fractionating still incorporated a packed or tray-fitted column which is allowed to reach equilibrium before any take-off, and a still head which provides for precise control of reflux ratio -- ratio of condensed liquid returned to the column versus taken off. Until equilibrium is reached in the column, this is always set to 100% return. After the column has equilibrated, this ought to be set to 1:10 or so for a good seperation. In this manner, zones of pure components will form in the column and can be stripped off one by one, the temperature at the still head will be that of the pure component.

For absinthe making only the simple pot still is suitable, as both reflux stills and fractionating stills will strip the oils out of the alcohol and return them to the pot.

Reflux stills and fractionating stills are preferred for purifying raw ethanol.

By the way why is M.Guy allegedly growing his own absinthe herb? A.absinthium is readily available commercially throughout Europe, in bulk, cheap, and of magnificent quality. There is nothing to be gained from growing one's own.

By Artemis on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 03:47 pm: Edit

I should have written, that *if* we were talking about making absinthe, the second sense would be intended, since we are alrady starting with clean alcohol.

Since the description refers to Cognac being distilled from wine, maybe both things are going on at once.

By Artemis on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 03:44 pm: Edit

I found the following on a Cognac site. It seems to confirm my speculation and the information provided by Mr. Cognac to our ex-forum friend:

A capital in the shape of an olive or pear surmounts the boiler, ... to prevent foam from getting into the condenser. But the main role of this component is to sort certain components of the vapor ... which condense on the interior wall (of the capital) cooled by the ambient air, and which return to the boiler. But that can't be compared with what is called rectification in industrial fractionating columns, which by comparison are of extreme brutality, without nuance.

So it's a "bump trap" as well.

Note that "rectification" is used in old texts about absinthe distillation in two senses: rectification of alcohol to begin with, to make it suitable for drinking, and rectification *during* the absinthe making process, to keep nasty-tasting phlegms out of the product. In the above description, the second sense is intended.

By Simonsuisse on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 03:23 pm: Edit

I heard a rumour that Pernod where going to to re-launch with absinthe in the same way. But i checked it out and it turns out they where, but they have decided against it. To what reason i don't know.
But this ressurection might be good. Like Ted said. Judging by they're current pastis, the absinthe should be worth a tasting.

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 01:32 pm: Edit

Anyway, we will taste it for sure and our taste buds will tell us what to think of it...

By Zman7 on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 01:14 pm: Edit

Gentlemen,
Thank you for answering my questions.
Marc

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 11:21 am: Edit

"I wondered about that myself when I saw those people bending over essentially bare ground, but the website doesn't say in what month that picture was taken."


Judging by their attire, it looks like warm weather (i.e. fairly recent). But then again, it may be the intention of the manufacturer to harvest prematurely for reasons that I can only guess.

By Artemis on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 11:05 am: Edit

"At least two of these showed a bulbous copper dome on the top of the still into which they said a basket of herbs was placed to receive the alcohol vapour from the still."

I see a potential disparity between what was "showed" (a copper dome, a Moor's Head) and what "they said" ("a basket of herbs was placed ..."). I wouldn't put much faith in what "they said" unless the drawings, in cross-sectional view or otherwise, showed such a basket. Whoever wrote the description may not have understood the function of what was shown in the drawing. This would not be a first - even some of Delahaye's prose in her "Histoire" shows a flawed understanding of what's represented in some of the old pictures therein. The use of such a basket to make absinthe is not mentioned in any text I've read which describes the old methods. I haven't read them all (wish I could find them), but I've read a few. And as Don has pointed out, you don't want herbs or anything else turning the still into a reflux column if you're making absinthe. I very much doubt there was anything in that Moor's Head but vapor.

"Gin making is sometimes done with maceration/distillation and sometimes done with percolation."

I misspoke when I said "it's not like making gin". I assumed all gin was made with an herb basket; I really don't know much about gin.

"The absinthium crop will be considered premature by the old standards."

I wondered about that myself when I saw those people bending over essentially bare ground, but the website doesn't say in what month that picture was taken. I suppose it's possible those plants could have matured by today, which is about when they would have been traditionally harvested.

"To what purpose does the Moor's head on these stills perform?"

That was the subject of some debate here more than a year ago. One of the individuals involved (since departed the forum) wrote to one of the Cognac makers in France (they still use those stills) to pose that question. The Cognac master responded that it served to help keep the heavier, undesirable components in the slurry (called phlegms, these are also present in absinthe mixes) in the still and out of the product.

"Does it cause some of the evaporating water that rises with the alcohol and herbal essences to condense and drop back into the pot?"

That was my guess - to put it in other words, it would provide increased reflux action in what would otherwise be (mostly) a non-reluxing still. If the water holds the phlegms (in fact, it does, according to the old texts) that would jibe with what the Cognac man said.

The individual who contacted the Cognac man later had the chance to experiment with such a device and said it appeared to increase the efficiency of the apparatus. I take what the Cognac man said on faith, because it makes sense, and I know how undesirable phlegms are in the liquor (ALL the old absinthe texts agree on that). But my guess at how the Moor's Head helps do that, technically speaking is just a guess. Don and/or Ted may well know exactly how it functions.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:46 am: Edit

The herbs could be suspended in the dome for several reasons, one of which being ease of cleaning and quick turnaround. The results yielded by this method will be different than other methods, and still characteristics play a substantial role in the final outcome.

Other things I felt worthy of note were:

* The low 45 degree content. I have little doubt that this will be the strength of the final product, as it is concurrent with the other products made by this manufacturer. The manufacturer may intentionally limit the strength for certain reasons, one of which may be to limit herbal content for legal reasons, and also to perhaps create a better, more widely accepted public image than may be created by the elevated abuse potential of a 140 proof product that is still viewed by many in France as 'poison'.

* The producer's statement that the current product will not be the same strength (herbal) as the old absinthes. The manufacturer suggests that the content will be relatively simple.

* The absinthium crop will be considered premature by the old standards.


Regardless, if it is of similar quality to their current liqueurs d'anise, it will be a better product than the current commercial excuses.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:40 am: Edit

Look, if the botanicals are in the dome above the pot then much of the liquor will reflux back into the pot because the botanicals will act as column packing.

A gin head should be in parallel to the pot so that the vapor passes through it, extracts oils, and condenses into the receiver.

YES it is possible to make something like absinthe by percolation but there is no evidence that this was traditional, and no evidence that Pernod did it this way, and anyone who suggests otherwise needs to re-examine their sources.

Any primer on liqueur making from Middle Ages onward recognizes maceration, percolation, and distillation as the three fundamental techniques of liqueur making. Traditional absinthe making involves the two OTHER than percolation.

Gin making is sometimes done with maceration/distillation and sometimes done with percolation.

The processes and the liquors are related.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:29 am: Edit

Onion domes are commonly employed on generic traditional copper stills even today, viz. Vendome Brass & Copper's stills, as I have posted here before (with a reflux/rectifying head). There is little difference between 19th century and 21st century copper pot stills in terms of essential technology. The two top artisans are Jacob Meyer in Germany and the aforementioned Vendome in Kentucky. Vendome even make a little 5 gallon model. But I like their 100 gallon modular Batch Distillation Unit. $40,000 or so. But beautiful.

By Zman7 on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:28 am: Edit

Artemis, Ted or Don,
Perhaps you could answer a question for me. To what purpose does the Moor's head on these stills perform? Does it cause some of the evaporating water that rises with the alcohol and herbal essences to condense and drop back into the pot? Thanks,
Marc

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:26 am: Edit

Artemis - When I visited the exhibition at Boveresse there were several 'alambics' on display together with illustrations from old texts. At least two of these showed a bulbous copper dome on the top of the still into which they said a basket of herbs was placed to receive the alcohol vapour from the still. They called this a gin head and some british gin distillers use this method (rather than steeping/maceration). I have never heard of this method of making absinthe anywhere else but it certainly seems to have happened

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:23 am: Edit

I trusted the author of the post to know the difference between a gin head and an onion dome.

Silly me.

By Artemis on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 09:05 am: Edit

"I noticed on their web site that the picture of their stills shows them to be fitted with 'gin heads' as are the stills in the old picture postcard of the Pernod factory."

How can you tell? Unless I misunderstand what a "gin head" is, you can't tell by looking at the outside of the still whether there's one in there or not. Isn't a gin head a percolator basket filled with herbs, through which the vapors rise? I'm not aware that anybody ever made absinthe that way, nor that anybody is making it like that today. Are you referring to that bulge on the top of the still? That's called a "chaptieau" (tent) or Tete d'Maure (Moor's head). It's not an herb holder unless I'm badly misinformed, which is possible, but I doubt it.

"This would suggest that they extract their essences by steam rather than steeping wouldn't it?"

Not at all. Steam is the source of the heat to drive the process. That's a matter of convenience (i.e., you don't have to light a fire with wood under every still). But that doesn't make it a steam distillation. The herbs and the alcohol, and water, are sitting in the bottom of that still. The action of the steam on this slurry in turn gets it hot, resulting in vaporization, which rises into the Moor's Head and then into the swan's neck and condenser to turn back into liquid. It's not like making gin and it's not steam distillation, which is a separate process used directly upon botanicals (I don't think any alcohol is involved) to draw essential oils out. These oils are later *added* to potable alcohol to create the desired drink.

Did you see the designer bottles at the Armand Guy site? A picture of the stills is screened right onto the glass. Beautiful old stills, but frighteningly reminiscent of Corona Beer bottles.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 07:02 am: Edit

The manufacture of modern pastis and liqueurs d'anise most frequently involves a combination of both distillation and maceration. It actually costs less to do it this way, and as you mentioned, does not yield the same results as does traditional distilling of herbs. This is but one reason why modern pastis does not taste anything like old absinthe, even if the same materials are employed in the making thereof.

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 04:09 am: Edit

That is what I meant Don, alcohol/vapour extraction. I can't see why they would bother doing their own water extraction to obtain oils and then use these in pastis/absinthe manufacture. Wouldn't that be a waste of effort when they could buy the oils directly. I speculate because the final product will surely be more authentic if made with herbs rather than essenses.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 03:38 am: Edit

If you mean 'percolation' via a gin type botanicals basket, and assuming that the 'steam' is alcohol/water vapor, then you are correct.

However, if it is STEAM (water vapor) then they are just extracting oils, then mixing with alcohol, a la pastis.

Hybrid processes are also possible. Anyway, no one knows what they are using equipment shown in photos for, it could be used for nothing or for anything. Why speculate?

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, August 01, 2001 - 02:40 am: Edit

I noticed on their web site that the picture of their stills shows them to be fitted with 'gin heads' as are the stills in the old picture postcard of the Pernod factory. This would suggest that they extract their essences by steam rather than steeping wouldn't it?

By Perruche_Verte on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 06:27 pm: Edit

If you visit their website (www.pontarlier-anis.com/uk for English)
and click on "News", then on "Great news for
the absinthe lovers", you will see a photo of people bent over an absinthe patch.

By Heiko on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 11:13 am: Edit

If everything in that article is as exact as the other "information" I wouldn't be sure the new absinthe will be 45%. Maybe the distiller said something about pastis being 45% and the interviewer didn't listen. Just like he didn't listen when he wrote the following: La Bleue goes from white to blue to green when water is added and the 'fact' about thujone in cannabis...

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:52 am: Edit

If French law limits alcohol level, why is La Fee, made in France, bottled at 68 degree?

It seems more likely that this fellow, a pastis maker, intends to simply make absinthe a la pastis (from oils) and at a pastis alcoholic strength.

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 06:40 am: Edit

I think that the big problem is that at 45% alcohol the product cannot be coloured in the traditional way. I am not sure what the current French law on maximum alcohol is, but Ponsec (the pastis from Armand Guy) is only 45% and Oxygénée is 55%. It seems odd that he would go to all that trouble to recreate absinthe but only make it 45% if higher alcohol were permitted. At any rate it will no doubt be an interesting product.

By Wolfgang on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 06:23 am: Edit

I wonder if Mr. Franois realy believe in all those misinformations or if he`s just telling this to protect his right to produce absinthe... Sometimes it`s easyer to tell a little lie than to dismantle a whole legend.

By Heiko on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:50 am: Edit

I like the color change from white to green with a little intermediate blue:

"'This is the real thing,' said Franois, 37, dashing water into a slug of the stuff and observing the slow change of colour from white, to blue to faint, opalescent green."

By Absinthedrinker on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 08:26 am: Edit

A recent article in the UK newspaper 'The Telegraph' has an interview with Franois Guy of the Armand Guy distillery in Pontarlier. He confirms that he is once again making absinthe and will be relaunching this in autumn [to coincide with the Pontarlier Festival].

WARNING: The article contains some awful howlers and misinformation.

http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/07/21/wabs21.xml

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