The man from chert

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: The man from chert
By Germanandy on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 03:09 am: Edit

and another one
peter, dwayne and myself

By Petermarc on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 03:27 pm: Edit


By Petermarc on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 03:26 pm: Edit

just when you thought it was over.

andy gets grampa segarra's tour of 'the still'

By Melinelly on Friday, August 24, 2001 - 07:57 am: Edit

that made my morning, head =) heh

By Petermarc on Friday, August 24, 2001 - 01:44 am: Edit

this is like an episode of 'tales from the city'

By Bob_Chong on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 11:55 pm: Edit

Nice composition, Head. Almost too good.



By Head_Prosthesis on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 10:56 pm: Edit

"Wouldn't it be cool if he had something from the forum hanging up there (e.g., Kallisti's logo)?"

Look at what I uncovered...

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

All those Iberian distillers are making it because somebod(ies) are buying it. When it stops selling, how long d'ya reckon it'll take for the distillers to stop making it?

Does the phrase 'New York minute' not apply?

By Verawench on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 06:15 am: Edit

"I am wondering more and more where on
earth THE market for absinthe is."

Rrrrrriiiight here.

By Aion on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 12:13 am: Edit

No one drinking absenta in Spain,
no (one drinking) absinthe at the Absinthe festival in Boveresse.
I am wondering more and more where on
earth THE market for absinthe is.

By Germanandy on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 11:55 pm: Edit

i found a new le vrai (lasala) absinthe in spain.
at first i thought it was the same as the other with another label but it's quite different.
it tastes pretty good although it didn't louche.
you can find it in every supermarket and it costs about 10$ (1 liter).
i also found every other spanish absinthe, but it wasn't easy.
i have the impression that absinthe is just for the tourists, i haven't met anyone that is drinking absinthe (except the segarras).
also a lot of people in spain think that absinthe is prohibited.


By Petermarc on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 11:33 pm: Edit

as far as i can tell, no one...

By Aion on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 11:18 pm: Edit

"absenta, in general is very hard to find"
"la sala is almost the only brand to be commonly found in spain"

Interesting! So who drinks all that Deva, NS, Herring??
Just wondering.

By Head_Prosthesis on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 07:32 pm: Edit


You really have my work cut out for me.

By Petermarc on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 04:53 pm: Edit

double post

By Petermarc on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 04:52 pm: Edit

Julian had made a joke earlier on during our tasting that took about 5 minutes and a lot of jumping around on his part for me to get. He had pulled out a bottle of dark brown coffee-liquor and started pointing at all the different metal tanks lined up, a plastic hose and the bottle; then, in a gesture that I have also seen in france, he took his finger and pulled down the skin under his eye, causing an appearance like a one-sided basset hound. He starts laughing…I laugh at his gestures, but then my faces crinkles in confusion…he points again at the tanks, making a slashing sign, indicating a low level, then he points at the hose and the bottle and makes the face gesture again…I don’t know what the hell the point to the joke is, but its funny to grandpa and grandma and him…andy and dwayne also seem confused… ‘help me out here!’ no help…julian quickly moves around the room, laughing and not believing I can’t get it. He finds another hose in the corner picks it up, pretends like he’s sticking it into each tank and then the bottle. dwayne jumps in. he means that he’s siphoned off from the bottom of each barrel and put it into the bottle… ‘ahh!’ I get it…a distillery joke, the dregs of the other stuff go into making the coffee-liquor! Dark brown, nasty looking, nudge, nudge, basset hound wink, wink…
I was more releaved than anything, I think julian was, too.
He didn’t have that mischievous grin when he was pouring andy’s absinthe back into the bottle. Two glasses are too much for a taste! I was releaved, once again. Grandpa wasn’t tasting. He picked up the small glass and took a taste, savoring the drink and then went over to andy to discuss it. Focus off me, good…on andy, very good. They discussed alcohol types and how andy's seemed different, indicating his reserve tanks of alcohol…a few other things that I didn’t hear or don’t recall, andy will need to help out here (I had vague hopes of discussing with julian about making absinthe in a traditional way with green color, higher alcohol, etc. but they were dashed with our lack of his language…not that he would have changed anything for me, anyway). he concluded that andy’s was good, but if you are making 5 liters or so for yourself, it’s not the same as making it as a business. I asked him about alcohol percentage levels, and he pointed to the percentage on the bottle and explained how strict the laws were about keeping it no more than .5 degrees in either way in order to pass, and how he measured it himself, right there, and it was even closer than required, in the hundredths.
On the paper he was using to describe this I wrote: THUJONE <10%
He looks at it…then he points to a tank and with much animation replies…very difficult to do…distill, distill, distill, STOP, take measurement…distill, distill, distill, STOP! take another measurement…distill, distill, distill, STOP!! take yet another measurement, very difficult and the measurements can all be different and you have to stop the distillation each time…not worth it…you can make your own conclusions from what he told us…
grandma segarra asked me which one I liked. ‘the absenta’ the absenta?! She seemed a little disturbed, then said, it is very hard to make, it takes so much time! I thought I was going to get an absintheur-lecture, but it turns out that it is just a pain in the ass to make, and she obviously helps. She looked at the topette and asked to taste it…it seemed to surprise julian and the rest of us…she liked it, and andy has attested to her approval of him, although he is privy to more information shared between the two of them…
By the end of the evening we were posing together and julian had declared us all ‘amigos.’
I tried to tell him that more people who like absinthe may come to visit him, but I think he thought I said that they had already been there, as he seemed to act like he couldn’t remember having met them…he has a web-address, but doesn’t have a computer. His friend was handling this for him (you can check out more about his distillery at: translator required.)
It was after 10pm and we had a long way back home…who is driving? the segarras asked. ‘me’ be very careful! I felt quite sober, happily, and had tried to limit myself severely, considering I wanted to try everything…no anis, vodka, lemon, or the several levels of brandy and rum…do you know how to get back to the main highway? they asked (there was only one road) grandma segarra offered to draw a map… ‘no, thank you, I don’t think we’ll need it.’ they walked us out to the car after taking our orders and packing them carefully in boxes…here, I will put tape on them, julian said, and remember to keep it in this direction up, or the bottles may leak. (a major flaw at the segarra distillery is the capping portion of the bottling machine, which does not screw down the caps properly all the time, and possibly the caps, themselves) this has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of his products, although it doesn’t help, and may affect them afterwards, but I am sure bottling machines are expensive…we brought our boxes out to the car and julian made sure they were secure, in an up-right position…I shook hands with him and thanked him…grandma segarra came up to me and made a comment, I think, about it being nice to meet people from elsewhere, and become friends…I put my hands together, interlocking my fingers, and tried to say something about it being nice to get together like that…a look went over her face like I had just asked if she could point us in the direction of the local whore-house…I quickly pulled my hands apart and smiled and tried to rephrase my statement and then she smiled and I kissed her on each cheek. We all hopped into the car and pulled away as the two generations of segarras waved us off. great people, great products...
When we got to the intersection of the road and the freeway, we stopped for gas…I asked the girl behind the glass of the closed quicky-mart/gas station to get us a bottle of water, as it was still quite hot…it was very cold and felt damn nice going down…I wish we had had it back at the distillery.

By Perruche_Verte on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 12:16 pm: Edit

Segarra on its own generally doesn't make me manually exercise my palace of pleasure, but I've been under a lot of stress lately...

By Chevalier on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 12:08 pm: Edit

"In Babeldu did Kubla Fish
A stately leisure-dorm decree ..."

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 - 10:52 am: Edit


"Without haste but without pause, after the sense of smell, the manual orders to exercise the palace of the pleasure."

That's Coleridge, right?

By Head_Prosthesis on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 07:56 pm: Edit

Not approved by Segarra

Nor the Forum Grelims for that matter

By Head_Prosthesis on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 07:55 pm: Edit

Not approved by Segarra

Graffiti Hipster

By Chevalier on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 06:42 pm: Edit

Translators are expensive; I'm lazy; Babel Fish is cheap. Guess who won? One of the Chert article's highlights (gracias a Babel Fish):

"Without haste but without pause, after the sense of smell, the manual orders to exercise the palace of the pleasure."

By Head_Prosthesis on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 06:24 pm: Edit

Translator required.

By Head_Prosthesis on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 04:45 pm: Edit

Hey PM, wait'll I add the porn banners and animated gifs... You'll get at least 23 minutes.

By Petermarc on Monday, August 20, 2001 - 10:03 am: Edit

yikes! quotation marks and capitals! they're too hard to find on a french keyboard...makes me sleepy...jeesh, head, thanks for the 15 minutes!
a few may be most associated with absinthe, but there was none to be had at the 'van gogh bar' in the barrio, although the swedish waiter said people had asked before and they might get sala is almost the only brand to be commonly found in spain; we did not make it to spirits corners, hell, we didn't even make it to the gaudi cathedral...we spent the whole day running around in circles, looking for the bar i first had absinthe in last year...andy found a great herb-shop, and finally we stumbled into a good resturant which was right next to this bar last year, which we never found... absenta, in general is very hard to plans to visit any other distilleries soon, this was all we could do on vacation...i have left alot of unanswered questions we all have for sr.segarra, because i couldn't ask them, very frustrating...andy wanted to hunt down d.e.v.a. in barcelona, and i would have, but my friend and his wife were getting annoyed at all the absinthe shinanagins... it was just too hot, so we all took a siesta...

By Verawench on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 11:18 pm: Edit

It's grandma Segarra I've got my eyes set on. Rrreeeoow!

By Head_Prosthesis on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 11:15 pm: Edit

You gotta promise not to touch Julian while he's staying there. No ruining his old country charm with your big city ways.

By Verawench on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 10:56 pm: Edit

::raises hand:: , you know. All mine, pretty damn permanent and absinthe-friendly.

By Head_Prosthesis on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 10:54 pm: Edit

I'm not through with it but perhaps I can upload it to Kallisti when done or have it hosted somewhere semi-permanently.

By Marc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 10:52 pm: Edit

nice job head.

By Head_Prosthesis on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 10:32 pm: Edit

Or throw up a web page for example THE MAN FROM CHERT

By Bob_Chong on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 07:03 pm: Edit


Whaddya think about linking this thread from the Segarra section in the BG? Seems appropriate, no?


By Perruche_Verte on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 07:00 pm: Edit

Are you guys going to visit the Deva or SinC (Serpis) distilleries and find out how they do it?

By Perruche_Verte on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 06:46 pm: Edit

This gets better and better -- what a great story!
Thanks Petermarc.

By Petermarc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 05:24 pm: Edit

hey andy! we need some of your photos!
10 liters, shit! and i got to keep all mine and dwayne poured alot of it on himself...zombified the next day...but i digress, eh hem...

By Petermarc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 05:19 pm: Edit

julian and grandma segarra (armed with tray of mini-shot glasses) checking out dwayne's digital camera

the segarra's are photo buffs, also, and showed us pictures of a total solar eclipse they had taken with a jury rigged $10 plastic camera that had been fitted with a modified lens made with what looked to be a piece of a metal pipe...the sun had melted part of the plastic aperture...professional quality photos, though...grandpa segarra then brought out two photos of him as a child behind the wheel of a 1927 renault (i believe) which had a crank-start...his father was standing in front of the car and looked exactly like him now...we also had show and tell, when julian brought out his map of the united states, pasted on a piece of was the kind that has little pictures of things that are native to the region, instead of accuracy...near san diego was a little p-38 lightning and seatle, a constellation, amongst many other things that weren't so obvious as to date the map from the 1940's or so...i pointed to florida, then wisconsin and julian got excited...ah, madison! like 'bridges of madison county?' no, dwayne explained, that's in iowa over here...i still couldn't stop looking at the p-38, and then tried explain about san francisco and how people like absinthe didn't really translate...he had a map of spain on the wall(you can see it behind his head in the anis photo) that dated from the 1930's, but looked like it could have been used by a conquistador...then he pointed to the new tourist map taped to a steel tank...'i see chert be spelled with an 'x' like on our michelin map?' NO!
look at this map! look at my label...we do not like this (apparently changing town signs and directions with spray-paint is a pastime of separatist catalonians, basques and, as i discovered later, corsicans, and michelin attempts to be hip) it is spelled
C-H-e-r-t! i don't know his politics and wasn't even going to attempt at discussing it...'ok!, got it'...he went in the back and brought back some papers...they were pages of a FAXed correspondence order from australia for it, the person explained to sr. segarra that they were going to have a 'lana turner party' and were showing a movie that featured absinthe, or something to that effect (i was sure this had to be a friend of midas)he also showed me his kind reponse, and i believe the order was filled, but be in this setting and see that letter was, the segarras do not have a computer, their site is done by a friend, who also receives their e-mail, and the absenta is the only label i saw with the web-site address printed on it... i decided that, even though it might not be correct etiquette(after the NO gathering) to bring out another absinthe, i had brought some of andy's orange absinthe and tempted fate, out of shear curiousity about his opinion and a 'you never know until you do it' attitude...i pulled out the topette and poured two small shot glasses for julian and his father...when julian said no, no, no and started pouring it back in the topette, i was sure i had worn out the welcome...

By Germanandy on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 04:23 pm: Edit


there's nearly nothing more to say, peter did a great job.
it was a pleasure to have him and dwayne in spain, we've had lot's of fun, especialy the first night ;-)
we drank a couple of different absinthes and a lot of red wine(about 10 liters for 4 persons).
at the beginning we've been in the garden of my house and later (in the middle of the night) we went to the beach with dwaynes new leatherbottle full of vino tinto.
it's a miracle that noone of us drowned in the sea.
the next day we get up very late (my wife slept till 3:30 pm) and noone was able to do anything.
and i agree with peter that you should never "mix" absinthe with red wine, i've puked the shit out of me that night ;-)
it was great experience to visit the segarra destillery, the people there were so friendly you won't believe (and i guess grandma segarra fell in love with me ;-))
but peter is a better storyteller, he should finish the whole story.



By Petermarc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 06:37 am: Edit


By Royale on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 05:24 am: Edit

This thread is interesting, informative and amusing. It's threads like these that bring a little joy to my insomnia haunted nights. Thanks petermarc and I too will cheer for a book and thanks Marc for always cracking me up.

By Marc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 03:58 am: Edit


get rid of that smile face or I'll take back every good thing I've ever said about you.

By Petermarc on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 03:05 am: Edit

thanks for the kind words, everyone! :) ...i will try to finish the story today...

By Bob_Chong on Sunday, August 19, 2001 - 01:24 am: Edit

Yes, thank you Petermarc. This is exactly what makes the forum great.

I see a lot of odds and ends hanging on the walls in his distillery (a photo of a goat, a flag, etc.). Wouldn't it be cool if he had something from the forum hanging up there (e.g., Kallisti's logo)?

And Marc's idea of your putting together a little book is fabulous.


By Verawench on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 08:33 pm: Edit

I second Morrigan and Marc. If only we could all be so lucky!

Beautiful, Petermarc.

By Morriganlefey on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 08:16 pm: Edit

Fabulous Petermarc!!

Thank you so much for "taking us all to Chert" in your words. I got little goosebumps seeing an actual picture of Mr. Segarra. Hope I'm not being sexist when I say what an ADORABLE little man he is!! Just like I'd pictured!

Thank you for the wonderful commentary. And I second Marc's suggestion.


By Staticburst on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 07:31 pm: Edit

Marc, i fully agree... petermarc, the story and pictures are fascinating, and has led me to also order a bottle of segarra. i would love to take a tour of this place, as well as other places absinthe is made.. people who make this stuff seem to fascinate me to no end (any chance for a photo tour of Jades setup? ;) )

anyways, great job petermarc, and good reading.
take care.


By Marc on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 06:36 pm: Edit


based on the fine style of your writing and the
informative content of these posts, you should consider putting together a book of your travels to absinthe distilleries. I mean it. This is a subject that deserves to be documented in an intelligent and entertaining manner. You're the man.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 06:35 pm: Edit

The main thing my friends tell me about Spain -- I was agent here for the Spanish govt arms industry 'Defex' and Arsenal La Coruna 'Santa Barbara' but have never been there -- is that there are no restrictions of gigarette smoking in public and no closing times for pubs etc, nightlife goes 24 hours where it wants to. On the other hand my Spanish business associates used to advise me that the Spanish were the toughest to do business with in Europe.

I am retired from that business, but I still know a number of people who live as expats in Spain all or part of the year and like it a lot. Barcelona especially has a rep for being one of the great cities of the world (even more than Madrid). And it is Barcelona and the Catalan region that is most associated with absenta, isn't it? Although Segarra is in Tarragonia. Perhaps that is why it is so different?

By Petermarc on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 06:07 pm: Edit

I wasn’t that interested in trying anis…i’m sure his is one of the best, but i knew what it would do to my taste buds and i had to drive back to andy’s place, which was a good 2-3 hours + north…julian started with a brandy…grandma sergarra brought out a tray with tiny plastic shot glasses stacked 4 high…grampa segerra sat down in a chair and observed, throwing in comments once in a while…god, they were nice people, and patient, too…I couldn’t believe they could deal with us so late, but seemed thrilled that we were there…I hope andy will throw some comments in soon, since I do not wish this report to be one-dimensional, and I’m sure I missed a lot, but julian seemed to feel I was the head of the group and focussed on me, much to my discomfort, as I was shooting out English, French and just a little Spanish, trying to hit the right word or phrase…I can't really comment on the brandy, as I was not really paying attention to it enough for it to merit a critique…what I will say is nothing I put in my mouth was mediocre…rum, gin (ginebra, shit, I first thought this was something made with ginger, due to it’s name…pitiful) as I mentioned before the gin was great, smooth, gliding down like water(i have since made a 'french martini' with it and the absenta, it is a natural)…I think julian thought I was distrustful of the alcoholic content when he drizzled it on the table and set it on fire…it was the first time I had tasted segarra absenta and it was served neat…it was anis-sweet with a light scent of wormwood …’what is it made with?’ absinthe and green anis, only… ‘no star anis or other herbs?’ …no…and sugar? NO sugar! He started pointing to the price list explaining the alcohol content of certain products and whether they had sugar in them or not…when a farmer comes back home, he would drink a glass of absenta and water only, then his thirst would be gone…people in the city use sugar with lesser products…’do you know about deva or la sala?’ he didn’t know about these products, nor did he seem familiar with any other Spanish absenta…

By Petermarc on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 04:50 pm: Edit

I do not believe that most people, or, in fact, anyone, goes to segarra to sample absinthe…on his price list of 27 products (he has, in fact, more) absenta is last…as don has mentioned, he is a brandy-maker…but,in my opinion, the distillery was founded more on the production of distilled anis, a product that circles the Mediterranean, made in almost every country that touches it…the charming terra cotta sculpture which featured the distinctive traditional Spanish anis bottle was, without a doubt, a prized possession at the distillery…julian dusted it off, grabbed a bottle of anis and posed...

By Petermarc on Friday, August 17, 2001 - 05:22 pm: Edit

Traveller’s advisory when visiting european cities…to avoid depression it is best to be blindfolded until you reach the city’s historical district…

Tarragona was not what we thought it would be (at least not me)…it is a bustling port city, full of crappy outskirts, kind of like marseille, but smaller, with more class and less a feeling of dread…it has a very small old town (the part we saw) with a couple of antique stores and I knew that we were screwed when it was obvious that neither andy, my friend dwayne or myself could bluff our way with spanish…when you are in spain, people speak spanish, and we, did not…the guy at the antique store thought I was asking about buying absinthe from him and seemed distressed…the girl at the tourst information desk didn’t know anything about pernod, but helped andy find the number for the segarra distillery and called for him to find out if we could come by…it was late, 5:45pm, as we had started all our days late since showing up at andy’s beach-side doorstep a couple of days before (again, I must warn against mixing absinthe and red wine, whether in the same glass or in your stomach)…and we were not close to chert (about another 150 kilometers) I was guarding the rental car as we had overstayed our meter by visting the impressive 11th – 13th century church, hopelessly looking for absinthe-related items while the town slept from 1 to 5 pm and eating lunch, one of my favorite pastimes.
‘if we don’t go now, I’ll never do it again,’ I whined to my friend Dwayne…he was not enthused, nor does he really like the taste of anis…did you see the map? It’s more than 200 kilometers from here! He joined andy at the tourist info booth while the girl was speaking to julian segarra, apparently having great difficulty understanding him, do to his accent…they returned to the car…we can go, it’s in somebody’s house…’what do you mean? A tasting room?’ no they live at the distillery… ‘when do they close?’ they don’t, it’s their house…it was 6:30pm when we left tarragona…chert is in the middle of nowhere, we arrived at a dusty side road many kilometres from the main highway at about 8:00pm…there was construction on the main road leading to town, so we had to take a detour…the sign said CHERT but someone (a Catalonian independent, presumably) had spray-painted an X over the CH and the Michelin map had spelled it Xert, but it is spelled CHERT on the bottle(more about this later.) I slowly drove into town, expecting the distillery to be like a vineyard or ranch on the outskirts of town…it was a very small, dusty place, with people sitting outside their homes and we were greeted with the smell of manure…this was a ‘real’ country town, almost like driving into a western set, and everyone watched as we came in…I had no idea where the distillery was and it was starting to get dark…I took the first major turn and started looking for signs…and old land rover blocked the letters at first, but then I saw the big green S, then E, G, A and the land rover had SEGARRA painted on the side and over the front windshield…there were a few people outside talking and I parked the car in front…grandma segarra came out of the group, and asked (please note, all language spoken by the segarra’s is in spanish but translated as we assumed was what they said, much handwaving and noises were used in the place of a shared formal language) english? ‘no, americans and a german’ ah, you called us! Julian segarra rushes up to us, welcoming us…this way, this way….there is a young couple who had just finished their tour, the woman cluching a bottle of brandy…it’s like going back in to the 1930’s in there! ‘oh, you speak English, can you translate for us?' No, we were just leaving…’we’ll pay you! For 20 mintutes, even?’ no, we have a child that is waiting for us, have fun! Damn, it was so close, if we had arrived 15 minutes earlier…there was another land rover in the building, which was like and old, large garage…on the left was a door way that lead to a dark kitchen…here is our bottling machine, it can do up to 1200 bottles an hour…from the size of the place, I was thinking that was more like a month’s production…big barrels of brandy lined the wall and one was set apart and marked ‘GRAN MAESTRE’ which is their top of the line, 60+years old and costs $2200(yes, two thousand) for a 70cl bottle…we can only call it brandy, because we are not allowed to call it cognac, since that is a legal French name…. ‘can we take pictures?’ go ahead, do you want to pose in front of the GRAN MAESTRE? Here is the still…a single still (I need to get photos from Dwayne or andy, on reflection, I took surprisingly few, what with the hand waving, and all) sat on top of a brick closed fireplace, wood branches sticking out of a small opening… ‘what kind of wood?’ olive trees…nice… ‘when was it made?’ I couldn’t understand grandpa segarra’s response, so he wrote it with his fingers 1 9 2 8…ok, that’s the distillery…one still!, about 30 different products…I knew any attempt at really detailed questions would be almost impossible to undertake…but the family was cheerful and happy to have us there…what do you like? Julian segarra asked me … ‘absenta’ … he seemed a little surprised and then lead us into the tasting room …

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 11:04 am: Edit

I meant no disrespect to Senor Segarra or his product. By virtually all accounts it is the best Spain has to offer by way of absinthe, the maker obviously takes pride in the long running family business and absinthe is far from his only, or main, product. Brandy is. I understand he makes the finest brandies in Spain (and I always thought the Domecq products were pretty good.) So he also makes the best absenta in Spain and one can probably throw in Portugal, Andorra, and Ibiza for good measure.

I surmise that his method of production, as opposed to the 'coloring' in oak, IS traditional. It was purely the spartan simplicity of the herbs used and the unconventional barrel maturation that I was commenting on, in response to a direct question from someone.

The degree of unconventionality of the barrel maturation he does depends on how long he lets his product rest in the oak, and the exact origins, prior use and treatment of the barrel. It's probably a used US bourbon barrel (as used by Scots whiskey makers) but that still leaves a lot of room for variety.

By Tavarua on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 10:50 am: Edit

I agree with Artemis, concerning Segarra. I am still learning the flavors of various absinthes and would have a hard time categorizing them, but I can identify a superior product. After that, I would have to go with NS. That could be because it, NS, was my first absinthe and the gauge for all others at this point, right or wrong.

By Terminus on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:43 am: Edit

I like Segarra. I don't care if it is "traditional" or not. I don't care if it "absenta" or not. I hate all the other Spanish swill (except Serpis). Deva sucks. I don't care for NS.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:22 am: Edit

I have to give Mr. Segarra credit in making a product that offers some creativity and pride in its construction. Mr. Segarra may not be Mr. H. L. Pernod where absinthe making is concerned, but I give him an 'A' for effort, and it shows when compared to the other Spanish drinks.

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 09:20 am: Edit

I must retaste Segarra tonight in the light of this. If the colour (pale yellow if I recall correctly)comes from the oak barrel then it and the flavour will have more to do with what was in the barrel previously as the Spanish tend to use old American oak rather than New French oak.

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:54 am: Edit

But in no wise is an oak barrel a herb, and certainly this is not a traditional coloring step, nor is the result the traditional color, nor are the flavors introduced, the traditional finishing flavors.

Not to say Segarra is bad, but it certainly ain't traditional, either.

We have previously discussed barrel 'aging' and I think the consensus was that absinthe and the sort of aging employed for whiskeys and brandy (years in oak) was unsuitable and un-necessary. A short maturation period for marriage of flavors is all that is called for.

By Heiko on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:15 am: Edit

I mean, actually he uses three "herbs". Even if the third isn't a herb but an oak barrel, it definitely adds flavor and color to Segarra (and it's totally natural).

Peter, Andy,
do you have more info on Segarra's history? I'd be interested in how and when he decided to make absinthe (DISTILL absinthe the old way). Has he tried other methods before he aged his absinthe in wooden barrels? And how long is it aged?

By Absinthedrinker on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 08:11 am: Edit

I find it surprising that Segarra has such a heavy louche if only green anise is being used, bearing in mind the alcoholic strength of this absinthe would not support very high concentrations.

By Wolfgang on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 07:39 am: Edit

Banjo fairy!


By Wolfgang on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 07:27 am: Edit

Hummm, nice report. Thanks

I never eard of wood barrel aging for absinthe before. I`m surprised to read there`s no sugar added, I didn`t know anis was so sweet on its own. Maybe that`s because they use a lot more anis than wormwood.

Segarra is nice but it could be improved. Do you know if Julian have made some experimentions with other herbs and less wood aging ?

By Don_Walsh on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 07:17 am: Edit

A 2-herb absinthe is like a two-string banjo. Maybe you can pick a tune on it, but don't try cozying up to a symphony orchestra.

Two herbs is simpler then La Bleue. La Bleue at its simplest is three.

In fact anything simpler than two herbs (absinthium and anise) isn't absinthe any more. If it's just anise, it not even pastis or ouzo. If it's just absinthium, it's a good linament, maybe.

By Pataphysician on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 06:54 am: Edit

So how does this compare to historical recipes and methods?

By Heiko on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 06:01 am: Edit

Wow, great idea to visit Mr. Segarra.
Maybe he is going to commercially produce 'Andysinthe'? :-) I think he wouldn't regret (and we all would neither!!)

Now I'm one step closer to identify the flavor I found in different distilled absinthes, including Segarra. It must be the taste of either distilled anise or distilled wormwood (something not to be found in any of the oil-products).

So Segarra is really rather similar to La Bleue - leave out the oak-barrel and you actually have something that could be called a straightforward, simple La Bleue...
One starts to wonder how this product is considered ok by EU laws... ;-)

By Bob_Chong on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 09:41 pm: Edit

This is all very cool. Thanks so much for posting it. Please post more pix when you get the chance! (Also, when you get back, could you give us a nice, voyeuristic account of the whole visit, ala your Boveresee reports? Very enjoyable reading.)


By Perruche_Verte on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 07:31 pm: Edit

Are the oak barrels previously used for brandy? That would add additional flavors.

By _Blackjack on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 07:27 pm: Edit

Well, if Segarra, one of the more complex Spanish products (along with NS), is just Wormwood and Anise, what does that say for the herbal content of the rest...?

By Perruche_Verte on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 06:46 pm: Edit

Extremely cool report and photos -- thanks Petermarc for this and your earlier Boveresse reports. It's great to learn more about one of my favorites. Maybe Andy's influence will lead to new innovations from Senor Segarra?

By Tabreaux on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 04:22 pm: Edit

We mentioned previously that since he was a brandymaker, it would come as no surprise if he stored absinthe in wooden barrels (which gives anything alcholic a certain flavor). Well, there you have it!

By Petermarc on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:11 pm: Edit

the 'coloring step' barrel

By Petermarc on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 03:00 pm: Edit

andy and julian discuss the finer points of absinthe making after julian tries some of andy's 'artisanal' product (even grandma segarra wanted to try some of andy's!)andy

By Petermarc on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 02:55 pm: Edit

had a little field trip to chert to visit julian segarra with germanandy...this is the middle of nowhere in spain...but the nicest family one could ever imagine, or hope to visit when no one speaks the language...but here are a few quick points, since i leave tomorrow again and don't have much time...segarra absenta is distilled using grape spirits, and two plants...grand absinthe and green anis...that's it...oh, and it is colored naturally with another plant, that being an american oak tree...the color is left clear after distilling and then it is aged in oak barrels (well, i only saw one) and that is where the color and the butterscotch or carmel taste comes from...and there is no sugar, i would say a very authentic product along with the 20 or so other things he distills (his gin is spectacular, i told him it was smooth as water and he poured some on his wood table and set it on fire)...a great experience altogether, but i would have loved to have had a translator with time...

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