Liqueur de génépy des Alpes

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Liqueur de génépy des Alpes
By Don_Walsh on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 05:55 pm: Edit

Thanks, Artemis, that's so much clearer than a machine translation.

I concurr that dittany is not a significant absinthe herb. I think I recall seeing it listed somewhere, but, could have been Uncle Al, as you say.

Ambiguity of herbs is quite the norm. One needs multiple sources, preferably in the original language. A common name that is duplicated in English probably isn't in French or German.

By Artemis on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 09:19 am: Edit

I have a 19th Century recipe for absinthe blanche which includes Genepi.

I've yet to see one that includes Dittany, in spite of Aleister Crowley's insistence (in Green Goddess) that it's a key herb. Knowing its reputation as a magical herb, I can understand his attitude toward it, but I wonder where he got his information re: Dittany in absinthe.

And it's Dittany of Crete, not those other things called Dittany.

By Artemis on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

"I will await a proper translation by a suitable person. Artemis, wherefore art thou?"

Sorry, I didn't see your post immediately, Don.
Here it is, quick and dirty, but probably pretty close:

Genepi is a plant of the Compositae family, a variety of Armoise or Artemisia. In antiquity the name Artemisia was given to a group of plants with healthful properties. Artemisia is grouped in several categories, the one including genepi is the Absinthium group. Wormwood in fact has the scientific name "Artemisia Absinthium". In the Alps one finds essentially three Artemisias or genepis more or less used by the mountain dwellers:

. Artemisia spicata or Artemisia genipi
. Artemisia mutellina or Artemisia laxa
. Artemisia glacialis

It is necessary to be wary of the common names black or male Genepi (spicata in Ubaye), yellow or female Genepi (mutellina in Ubaye) or white (glacialis in Ubaye), these terms varying from valley to valley and used to designate different plants.
In all cases these plants grow in habitats scattered between altitudes of 2400 to 3500 meters. The nature of the soil, the climate, and the exposure dictate that these three genepis are not to be found just everywhere in the Alps. Depending upon conditions, the height of the sprigs may vary by 5 to 10 cm.

In Ubaye the inhabitants, within the limits of the regulation which restricts the harvest of these rare plants, are interested only in Artemisia spicata and Artemisia mutellina, and not in the much less aromatic Artemisia glacialis.
Analysis of the essential oil extracted from these plants gives different results depending upon the variety. The results confirm the aromatic and organoleptic character that the mountain dwellers have for a very long time found in the genepis that they harvest for use in liqueurs or infusions.

What's more, genepis have been appreciated since the Middle Ages as healing plants. Doctors have confirmed that the reputation of this plant is completely justified for treatment against "the chills". In Ubaye genepi is considered a sudorific herb and febrifuge par excellence. It is further recognized that genepi, which belongs to the same family as wormwood, with its bitter principles, stimulates the secretion of gastric juices. The works dedicated to aromatic plants emphasize the digestive, expectorant, neurotonic and stimulating properties of A.mutellina and A.spicata.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 04:22 pm: Edit

I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. They neither lied nor did they libel absinthe as they could have. If they wish to be kindred spirits (unintentional pun!) why not?

All the confusion about the taxonomy, and such things as their statement that the essential oils' compositions vary from one valley to the next, are interesting, and I would certainly dispute that all Artemisia species are 'wormwood', but they seem harmless sellers of a traditional alpine liqueur, let's let them get on with it. On the strength of Ted's post I think I won't bother buying any, but if I am ever confronted with a bottle, I might take the plunge.

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 01:21 pm: Edit

Here's my ultra lazy translation (because I lost my first attempt due to this damn computer...). Take note that my native language is french and this text is not clear even for me.

Genepi is a veriety of wormwood. In antiquity, we called artemisia some kind of medicinal plants.There's three kind of artemisia and genepi belong to the absinthium category. The scientific name for wormwood is "artemisia absinthium". [why do they talk about that if they dont use it ?]

[Then it goes on with blabla about other variety of artemisia…]

… It's also well known that genepi, belonging to the same family as wormwood (absinthe), with it's bitter components, stimulate digestion.

So it seams they are praying on those looking for absinthe. Or maybe they are themselves very confused ;-)

By Chevalier on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 01:00 pm: Edit

"... of color silver white man" ???

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 12:25 pm: Edit

From an Italian web page massacred by Babelfish:

"GENEPI (Artemisa Genipì-Artemisia Glacialis-Artemisia mutellina)

Characteristics: pianticella herbaceous with the base of the stalk in lignified part. The leaves are 2-3 pennatosette, picciolate, of color silver white man, setose with almost linear segments. The re-united flowers are of yellow color in capolini. The closing happens in summer. The plant is high approximately 10-15 centimeters.

Habitat: characteristic plant of the alpine regions grows taken root between the masses in small forelocks to heights comprised between 1500 and the 3000 meters.

Collection: to medicinal scope they use the pianticella bloomed collection to the beginning of the closing and made essiccare in ombroso and ventilated place. The root can be employed also collecting it in summer.

Warnings: to adhere itself scrupulously to the doses indicated.

Proprieta': the consimili artemisa genipì and other varieties, are in the aspect that in the property, like the glacialis, the spicata one, the mutellina, has come to the ribalta in a enough recent past. Currently if of practical the cultivation to low quotas, also because in many alpine zones this plant re-enters between the species protected. The property of the genepì and the consimili varieties s' centralize on the bitter principles in digestive contained they that them they render excellent in order to manifacture aperitive to you and. Moreover it can be used in order to fight the affections of the respiratory apparatus.

Curiosity: in kitchen it does not come employed, while in the cosmetic field it can be used in order to cleanse the fat skins and to fight the black points. The mountain dwellers use the much species of genepì macerating them in the grappa obtaining of a liqueur stomachino that he seems has the ability to recover mountain sickness."


Furthermore some refs give A.spicata as A.glacialis.

All in all there seems to be a lot of confusion about these plants, and this is just as suggested by the text from the French website.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 12:16 pm: Edit

"A.mutellina" = A. umbelliformis n. splendeas

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 12:09 pm: Edit


"A.genipi" = Tanacetum vulgare var. crispam

It's a tansy variety and not an Artemisia at all.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 12:00 pm: Edit

These are not on the list at all. None of them.

Artemisia spicata (Artemisia genipi)
Artemisia mutellina (Artemisia laxa)
Artemisia glacialis

I will look into this further. Reminds me of the 'secret Artemisia species' that was being claimed as an ingredient in one of the pseudo-Absinthes.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:50 am: Edit

The interesting thing, though, is that the text specifically mentions that their genepi herbs are related to A.Absinthium (which is true enough, but so are daisies) and claims digestiv and neurotonic effects from the oils of these herbs are reported in the scientific literature (but without citations, damn it.)

Unless I'm mistaken, absinthe liqueur is not mentioned directly, but, the connection is strongly suggested (they mention Armoise and Absinthium). It is very hard to tell whether they are being informative, or trading on an 'absinthoid' reputation. Anyone have any ideas along these lines? Chartreuse Diffusion didn't see fit to relate their Genepi to absinthe, but then, they don't do that with Chartreuse, either...

I will go have a look at the list of Artemisia species and their essential oil compositions, and see whether any of these three species (two of them have multiple taxonomical names) are present.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:31 am: Edit

I have two different bottles of this liqueur, and I am not very fond of either of them.

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:27 am: Edit

Rather than rape the language with Babelfish, I will await a proper translation by a suitable person. Artemis, wherefore art thou?

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:25 am: Edit

It's one of several Alpine herbal liqueurs with similar names. Chartreuse Diffusion sells a genepi liqueur made by the Carthusians for example.

These folks have kindly given us a nice list of ingredients and thay all seem to be Artemisia species. Here is the text from their 'Les Plantes' page.

(BTW the stuff is just 80 proof so I think we can rule out certain things, like distillation over herbs This stuff is likely built from oils.)

"Le génépi est une plante de la famille des Composées, une variété d'Armoise ou Artemisia. Dans l'antiquité on appelait Artemisia un ensemble de plantes possédant des propriétés pour la santé. Les Artemisia sont groupées en plusieurs sections, celle qui comprend les génépis est la section Absinthium. L'absinthe a en effet pour nom scientifique "Artemisia Absinthium".

Dans les Alpes on trouve essentiellement trois Artemisia ou génépis plus ou moins utilisés par les montagnards :

. l'Artemisia spicata ou Artemisia genipi
. l'Artemisia mutellina ou Artemisia. laxa
. l'Artemisia glacialis.

Il faut se méfier des appellations courantes du genre Génépi noir ou mâle (spicata en Ubaye), Génépi jaune ou femelle (mutellina en Ubaye) ou blanc (glacialis en Ubaye), ces termes variant d'une vallée à une autre et désignant des plantes différentes.
Dans tous les cas ces plantes poussent en habitat dispersé entre 2400 et 3500 m d'altitude.

La nature des sols ,le climat, l'exposition font que ces trois génépis ne se trouvent pas partout dans les Alpes. Suivant ces conditions la taille des brins peut varier de 5 à 10 cm.
En Ubaye les habitants, dans la limite de la réglementation qui restreint la récolte de ces plantes rares, ne s'intéressent qu'à Artemisia spicata et Artemisia mutellina, et non à Artemisia glacialis beaucoup moins aromatique.

L'analyse de l'huile essentielle extraite des plantes donne des résultats différents suivant la variété examinée. Les résultats confirment l'intérêt aromatique et organoleptique que les montagnards ont depuis fort longtemps trouvé dans les génépis qu'ils cueillent, que ce soit pour l'usage de liqueur ou d'infusion.

En outre les génépis sont appréciés depuis le Moyen-Age comme plantes médicinales. Des médecins ont confirmé que la réputation de cette plante est pleinement justifiée pour les traitements contre les "chaud-et-froid". En Ubaye la plante de génépi est considérée comme l'herbe sudorifique et fébrifuge par excellence. Il est en outre reconnu que le génépi qui appartient à la même famille que l'absinthe, avec ses principes amers, stimule la sécrétion des sucs digestifs. Les ouvrages consacrés aux plantes aromatiques soulignent les propriétés digestives, expectorantes, neurotoniques et stimulantes de A.mutellina et A.spicata."

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:00 am: Edit

What is this ? It`s not clear if they use artemisia absinthium or not...

Anybody have tasted this liquor ?

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