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> The Kosher Fairy, The Quest for Kosher Absinthe
FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 12 2015, 11:51 PM
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Hello everyone and thanks for the warm welcome over in the Newbie section.

As I mentioned on that thread. I am a new Absinthe drinker that is somewhat limited by what Absinthes I can and cannot drink as I am a religious Jew and adhere to strict Kosher laws.

The only thing that could make an Abnsithe not Kosher is its use of grapes, brandy, wine etc in its Alcohol base.

This is made somewhat easier in the US with ingredient labeling laws. However, most websites for the importation of Absinthes are not very helpful disclosing what base the alcohol is.

My goal here is to create a short list of Absinthe that:

A) Are certified Kosher and by whom

B) Could be Kosher (because they are distilled using grain, beet sugar, honey or adhere to the strict guidelines behind a kosher grape product). Is it all grain all the time. Do they also make a wine based absinthe. If so are the same distillery equipment used etc. Its important to note that for some Jews, this information is ok while others will not partake of the drink unless it has a Kosher certification or is listed on a Kosher supervised service website

C) For sure uses grape products.


I should also ad that I am not a Rabbi. My knowledge about Kosher and not Kosher is purely from what I know by being an Orthodox Jew. The laws of Kosher can get very complicated so by no means should my words be considered final. If you are Jewish and looking for a Kosher Absinthe and have questions you should consult your Rav or Rebbe.

WHATS KOSHER?

By Kosher I am only referring to the strictest Orthodox Jewish interpretation and in no way mean to debase any brands that are not kosher. People who keep kosher will be grateful to know that they cannot partake and the brands that are listed usually know that they already are not. Some have even looked into Kosher certification and and/or have affiliation with a brand that has Kosher certification (I am thinking of Jade and Lucid).

When it comes to grape based products and Kosher, wine, more than any other food or drink, represents the holiness and separateness of the Jewish people. It is used for the sanctification of Shabbat and Yom Tov and at Jewish simchot. In the Beit Hamikdash wine was poured upon the altar together with the sacrifice.

However, since wine was and still is used in many forms of idolatrous worship, it has a unique status in Jewish law, which places extra restrictions on the making and handling of wine. This includes wine used for non-ceremonial purposes.

The production and handling of kosher wine must be done exclusively by Jews. Wine, grape juice, and all products containing wine or grape juice must remain solely in Jewish hands during the manufacturing process and also after the seal of the bottle has been opened. We are not allowed to drink any wine or grape juice, or any drink containing wine or grape juice, which has been touched by a non-Jew after the seal of the bottle has been opened.

Like all things there is of course an exception and that is wine that is Yayin Mevushal or Boiled Wine

Kosher wine (or grape juice) which has been boiled prior to the bottling process is called yayin mevushal. In the time of the Temple, boiling wine rendered it unfit to be brought upon the Altar.

Yayin mevushal is not considered "sacramental wine" and is therefore not included in the prohibition against being handled by non-Jews. This wine must, as with all kosher wines, bear the symbol of a reliable supervision organization and it should say yayin mevushal. But the wine still must meet all other other kosher qualifications listed above.

A wide variety of domestic and imported kosher wines under reliable supervision has been added to the sweet Concords traditionally associated with kosher wines (Kedem, Manachwitz). Many of these wines are yayin mevushal, as indicated on the label.

What Does This Mean For Grape Ingredients In Processed Foods and Absinthes?

All liquids produced from fresh or dried grapes, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, such as grape juice, and wine vinegar, are in the same category as wine in Jewish Law. Therefore, foods with grape flavoring or additives must always have a reliable hechsher (certification). Examples are jam, soda, popsicles, candy, juice packed fruit, fruit punch, and lemonade.

Alcoholic drinks such as cognac, brandy and absinthe that have wine bases fall into the same category. This goes for liqueurs and blended whiskeys that are often blended with wine. All such beverages require kosher supervision, as does herring in wine sauce.

Even cream of tartar is made from wine sediment and needs rabbinical supervision.

It is also important to note that a food can be considered non-kosher if it is produced with the same equipment that uses non-kosher grape or wine, especially if the equipment is used for heading the food or alcohol and is made of a porous material like metal, ceramics etc. Such equipment can be kashered in-between batches. This creates some problems regarding certain distillers I have talked to.

I should also note that even amongst orthodox circles there is, as in all things, a discrepancy. For example, even though a distillery might only ever use grain neutral spirits, there are many orthodox Jews who will not consume the product unless it has a certification or is on a approved list (see end of post). Others are fine relying on their own knowledge etc.

What About Passover?

Under normal circumstances grape-based Absinthes would be Kosher for Passover. But this would only be the case if A) The wine or grape was kosher and B) that the distillery does not also use grain-based products in their equipment or thoroughly cleaned the equipment in between batches before producing a kosher for Passover product.

I should note that grain-based distilleries owned by a Jew or Jews must shut down during the week of Passover, and/or sell all their grain to a non-Jew during the week of Passover, in order to continue producing a Kosher product as grain owned by a Jew during Passover becomes unfit (not kosher).

All of this is, as I am sure you are aware, is based on the law of Chametz.

For those that don't know what I am talking about, Chametz is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen). Our sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven, unless fully baked within eighteen minutes (what you probably know as matzah). Jews are commanded by the Torah that if a food contains even a trace of chametz, we don’t eat it, we don’t derive benefit from it, and we make sure not to have any of it in our possession for all the days of Passover.

In G-d's own words:

19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whosoever shall eatnthat which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land.

20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.' {P}


Hence the Matzah.

To be certain that a product is kosher for Passover, it must have rabbinical certification. Otherwise it is possible that it contains chametz ingredients, or traces of chametz if it was processed on the same equipment as chametz products. Thus, unless a product is certified Kosher for Passover, we consider it chametz, and make sure not to have it in our possession on Passover.

What does this mean for Absinthe?

Any time grains (wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oat) ferment or come into contact with hot liquids, the result is chametz. Many types of alcohol are made of, or contain, fermented grain and are therefore chametz. Alcoholic beverages made of other substances are permitted. In fact there is kosher for Passover plum brandy and potato vodka. Before purchasing, Orthodox Jews ascertain that the beverage is certified as kosher for Passover. As far as I understand, Lucid Absinthe is not certified Kosher for Passover even though it uses Beet alcohol instead of grain.
Ashkenazic Jews, who traditionally refrain from eating legumes on Passover, avoid alcohol produced from legumes as well. In addition, there are some (including Chabad) who traditionally avoid all alcohol on Passover (with the exception of wine).

The whole purpose of my effort is because I saw the low-quality absinthes rise to the top on Kosher lists, so I might to make sure that the higher quality ones have an opportunity to get in front of this spirit loving demographic. Especially as Purim approaches ;-).

If you are interested in a list of approved alcoholic beverages you can find more information here.
http://www.kashrut.c…ticles/liquor2/

In my next post I will list what I have learned so far.


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There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 12 2015, 11:58 PM
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I have reached out to a few distilleries, all of which have been very familiar with the issues involved.

What I have learned is that being brand specific is no longer good enough as some brands will have a variation of both or will make other type of spirits with grape bases. When that is the case deeper questions must be asked.

As learn more I will ad to directly to this post

BASED ON PAST THREADS & EMAILS AND MORE, HERE IS WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR:

WITH KOSHER CERTIFICATION
Lucid - OU - Parve
Doubs Premium Absinthe - London Beth Din - Parve
Arack Mabrouka Absinthe - Rabbinate K.gt and DT Beit Yosef (Israel)

Pernod Absinthe - 40% (REALLY A PASTIS) - London Beth Din - Parve (I am the one that pointed out to them that the PERNOD ABSINTHE 68% Vol listed on p.113 of The Really Jewish Food Guide 2014 as approved Parev is now made with grape alcohol and is therefore NOT KOSHER.)

KOSHER BUT LOW QUALITY ABSINTHE
Trenet
Rodniks - Triangle K - Authorised by Rabanut Harashit of Israel
Rodniks Black - Authorised by Rabanut Harashit of Israel
Staroplzenecky KOSHER Absinth 64%
Absinth 35
Black Absinthe 80
Hapsburg Green
Dr.Rauchs 50 cl



COULD BE KOSHER (Product Specific)
La Muse Verte
Pacfique
Vieux Carre
Kuebler
Tenneyson Absinthe Royal
Vilya
Meadow of Love
Walton Waters
Marteau Belle Époque (NOT the Master's Reserve, which IS made with grape spirits)
Versinthe (Liquoristerie de Provence)

Artémisia-Bugnon
La Clandestine
Absinthe Angélique Verte Suisse - 70 cl
Absinthe Butterfly

Matter Luginbühl (Tempus Fugit?)
Duplias Verte
Mansinthe

OriginalAbsinthes.com
Absinthe Original (I know I know)
Absinthe King Gold (Again, I know I know)


COULD BE KOSHER (BUT NEEDS TO BE PRODUCT SPECIFIC)
Un Emile (Emile Pernod)
F Guy
Lemercier
La Fee


NOT KOSHER
Any of the Jades :-(
St George
Leopold
La Sorciere Verte and Blance
Emperor Norton

Pernod
Pernod Absinthe 68%
Absinthe Pernod Rocette Traditionelle

Fguy
La Fée XS Francaise

Emile Pernot
Absinthe Vieux Pontarlier


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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Jaded Prole
post Jan 13 2015, 12:50 AM
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The best surviving absinthes being old and from before the ban are not Kosher. Meadow of Love and Walton Waters are made with grain neutral spirits. Few if any absinthes are made under rabbinical supervision, unlike slivovitz. Still, though some spend years interpreting and parsing talmud and mishnah, distillation was not prevalent when those old laws were written and I would think all that boiling and purification would separate the end result from "wine" as it was originally understood. But for a few wine brands, all liquors are handled if not made by gentiles. Still, you can feel safe drinking the brands I mentioned in that no grape spirits are used.

Welcome.


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A fine absinthe is the product of knowledge, craftsmanship, and talent. An exceptional absinthe is the product of those things plus obsession. Most absinthe is the product of marketing.
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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 13 2015, 01:41 AM
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QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Jan 13 2015, 12:50 AM) *

The best surviving absinthes being old and from before the ban are not Kosher. Meadow of Love and Walton Waters are made with grain neutral spirits. Few if any absinthes are made under rabbinical supervision, unlike slivovitz. Still, though some spend years interpreting and parsing talmud and mishnah, distillation was not prevalent when those old laws were written and I would think all that boiling and purification would separate the end result from "wine" as it was originally understood. But for a few wine brands, all liquors are handled if not made by gentiles. Still, you can feel safe drinking the brands I mentioned in that no grape spirits are used.

Welcome.


Thanks!

I have seen in some places the words Kosher associated with Meadow of Love… but not sure if it was refering to it being "kosher" in terms of how Absinthes go" or Kosher in terms of Jewish law.


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 13 2015, 01:45 AM
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QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Jan 13 2015, 12:50 AM) *

The best surviving absinthes being old and from before the ban are not Kosher.



I understand that some, like Pernod, were made with grain. But being that they were made so long ago and there was no supervision I would pretty much label any vintage Absinthe as not kosher, unfortunately.

Religious Jews, however, did drink Absinthe, as the memoir of the 6th Lubuvitcher Rebbe attests to.

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/…-the-Maggid.htm

Heres a blurb

QUOTE
On the way, Reb Mordechai mentioned that for several years it had been his custom at the end of Yom Kippur to recite Havdalah over absinthe (a strong, bitter liquor brewed from an extract of certain plants), and he dispatched someone to fetch him some absinthe. Meanwhile, he and Reb Chayim went into his private chamber.


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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chrysippvs
post Jan 13 2015, 02:59 AM
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This is something I have thought a good bit myself (being in the kosher-ish camp, too) and actually wondered about historically.

Another thing to worry about is finishing. Some otherwise kosher-able absinthes have been known to use horse-hair filters, for instance, in the process which would much more than likely render them treif. The OU hechsher for Lucid is solid and I have no knowledge of anything that would render it posul. We can PM about that if you have more questions.

I have several friends that are much more frum than myself and Lucid is the direction that I point them in and they were all satisfied that it was a solid balance between quality absinthe and making sure to stay on the derekh.

Now, after reading that great article you sent, I'm going to start a minhag of making post-Yom Kippur havdalah with absinthe! Thanks for that link - it made my night.


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Oxygenee
post Jan 13 2015, 07:18 AM
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What an interesting thread. I think we're only beginning to explore the interaction of alcoholic beverages with the Jewish faith.


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...et c’est l’absinthe enfin, la grande absinthe ou la petite, parure chaste des montagnes et des rivages marins, fille des grand vents purs, blé des espaces vierges, emblème de la liberté farouche.
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Jaded Prole
post Jan 13 2015, 01:51 PM
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Thanks, FarbrengenVerte for the story of Reb Mordechai. Though I'm a secular, non-religious Ashkenazi, I do enjoy our culture, traditions, food and of course, the spirits. I know that fruit brandies like Vishnic and Slivovitz are firmly in our tradition, nice to see Absinthe there as well.


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A fine absinthe is the product of knowledge, craftsmanship, and talent. An exceptional absinthe is the product of those things plus obsession. Most absinthe is the product of marketing.
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Artemis
post Jan 13 2015, 04:09 PM
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Refreshing to have a newcomer bring solid information on a subject not previously addressed.
QUOTE

I have seen in some places the words Kosher associated with Meadow of Love… but not sure if it was refering to it being "kosher" in terms of how Absinthes go" or Kosher in terms of Jewish law.


Meadow of Love is made by Cheryl. She's a Buddhist, I think. For sure there's a Buddha in the distillery, and an altar with incense. I've been there and witnessed the process, but the only rabbi present was Rabbi Kirk, and he's far from Kosher, just look at his avatar. All Delaware Phoenix absinthes are made with grain alcohol. Pacifique also uses grain alcohol.

QUOTE
I understand that some, like Pernod, were made with grain.

Actually, they were proud of using French grape alcohol and touted their products as such. But keep in mind that there were a number of products bearing the name "Pernod", and they were not all made in the same distillery or by the same Pernods. Besides, it seems that the reality was that they used what they could get, and there was a time, due to the devastation of the grape crop by disease, when grape alcohol was scarce.


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Il arrive souvent que les personnes couvertes d’esprit enflamme courent en appelant du secours.
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post Jan 13 2015, 05:10 PM
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The base used in Pacifique is Kosher but not for Passover.


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"If I knew I was going to live this long I'da taken better care of myself." - Kirk

No threat is Friendly.

Just drink it or sink it.
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post Jan 13 2015, 07:44 PM
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Unless you wanna pass it on over to me. Ba dum tssk.


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“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.” Aldo Leopold

Them's what picks together.…sticks together.
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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 15 2015, 08:52 PM
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QUOTE(Jaded Prole @ Jan 13 2015, 01:51 PM) *

Thanks, FarbrengenVerte for the story of Reb Mordechai. Though I'm a secular, non-religious Ashkenazi, I do enjoy our culture, traditions, food and of course, the spirits. I know that fruit brandies like Vishnic and Slivovitz are firmly in our tradition, nice to see Absinthe there as well.



I know right. The only issue is that that story was written by the 6th Lubuvitcher Rebber in a letter to his daughter (who became the Rebetzin of The Rebbe that everyone probably knows about.). He probably write that letter in the early 1900's when Absinthe meant one thing.

The story, however, takes place during the time of of the Bal Shem Tov which puts it around 1750-1770ish. In which case Absinthe, especially in Poland, could have meant something else entirely.

Absinthe is also mentioned in a well known legal text written by the Chofitz Chiam (famous for his laws about not speaking badly about other people). The work I am refering to is the Mishnah Beruah and it prohibits Absinthe drinking on the Sabbath. The reason that the Mishnah Bereua prohibits the consumption of Absinthe on Shabbos is because of its healing qualities as all medications are prohibited on shabbas (except in life treating and other circumstances). However, if a food is normally consumed by healthy people as well, although it may have had healing properties, it may be consumed on Shabbat. Therefore, of one regular drinks absinthe as pleasurable drink and not for remedial purposes, it may be consumed on Shabbos.

Here is a link to the text in English translation.

The Mishnah Beruah was written in the latter part of the 1800's or early 1900's. Its author, known as the Chofetz Chiam, return his soul to the creator in the 1930's. This time means he could have been talking about the Absinthe we all know and love… but because he was living in Poland (where apparently the La Verte Absinthe was not known to be so popular) it could be that he was referring to, like in the story of Reb Mordachai, the original medicinal Absinttum (which was more like wormwood soaked in wine).

And, there is also no such thing as a non-religious Jew ;-)


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There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 15 2015, 09:04 PM
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QUOTE(Oxygenee @ Jan 13 2015, 07:18 AM) *

What an interesting thread. I think we're only beginning to explore the interaction of alcoholic beverages with the Jewish faith.


Well, the next big Jewish Holiday is Purim.

From the Talmudic tractate Megillah (7b):

Rava said: A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai"

The issue of whether and how Rava’s statement should be implemented in practice is a matter of disagreement between various Halachic authorities. The question, however, is not what Rava means, but whether or not the Talmud contains another opinion, contrary to Rava’s.

Many of the greatest Rabbis follow Rava’s ruling. Maimonides writes: "What is the obligation of the [Purim] feast? That one should eat meat … and drink wine until he is drunk and falls asleep from drunkenness" The Rif, Rosh, Tur and Shulchan Aruch all cite Rava’s dictum without any qualification. The Rama, on the other hand, comments that "There are others who say that one need not become that drunk, but rather that one should drink more than is one’s custom." The Rama concludes: "Whether one drinks more or drinks less, the main thing is that his intention is for the sake of Heaven."

To summarize: All Halachic authorities are unanimous in ruling that it is a mitzvah to drink, and drink to excess, on Purim, though there are differences of opinion as to whether the obligation is to get as drunk as Rava enjoins, or to a lesser degree. In any case, the concept of becoming intoxicated on Purim to the point that one’s reason is totally incapacitated is a legitimate Halachic position, which requires understanding and validation regardless of whether or not it is accepted in practice.

From Chabad.org

QUOTE
In sum, there is one day in the year in which we enjoy direct, immediate access to various truths. This day is Purim. For Jews that rejoice on Purim--in a way that rejoices in his bond with G-d without equivocation--has no need for reason. For he is in touch with his truest self--a self before which his animalistic drives are neutralized, a self which requires no medium by which to express itself and no intermediaries by which to relate to its source in G-d.

The Jew who rejoices on Purim no longer requires the mind to tell him the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai"; he is above it all, relating to the divine truth that transcends the bifurcation of good and evil. For the Jew who rejoices on Purim, the mind is utterly superfluous, something which only encumbers the outpouring of his soul, something which only quantifies and qualifies that which is infinite and all-pervading. So he puts his mind to sleep for a few hours, in order to allow his true self to emerge.


I strongly urge any Jews reading this to find your local chabad shul for a purim you'll never forget. Bring some Lucid with you and you will be the hit of the party I am sure.

Here is what it looks like :)

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2frPSMVsDi4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 15 2015, 09:13 PM
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QUOTE(G&C @ Jan 13 2015, 05:10 PM) *

The base used in Pacifique is Kosher but not for Passover.


Interesting. When I asked the folks at Jade for any other Absinthes to look into for Kosher purposes they mentioned (without authoritavly saying anything, that Pacifique could be worth looking into.


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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FarbrengenVerte
post Jan 15 2015, 09:19 PM
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QUOTE(Artemis @ Jan 13 2015, 04:09 PM) *

Actually, they were proud of using French grape alcohol and touted their products as such. But keep in mind that there were a number of products bearing the name "Pernod", and they were not all made in the same distillery or by the same Pernods. Besides, it seems that the reality was that they used what they could get, and there was a time, due to the devastation of the grape crop by disease, when grape alcohol was scarce.


I see. I got that info from here.

In that article Serious Eats says:

QUOTE
In late 2013, Pernod Ricard announced a re-launch of its original Pernod Absinthe formula ($68 for 750 mL), re-created based on records from the 1800s. In the restored recipe, the neutral base shifted to a grape spirit to provide a fuller body and texture, they started sourcing wormwood from the fields of Pontarlier, France, and they shifted to coloring the spirit through the maceration of botanicals like stinging nettles instead of using dyes. The results, in our eyes, are a pleasant upgrade. The re-formulation tastes like a more upscale, refined version of what made the last iteration of Pernod a classic, with the same botanicals like melissa (an herb in the mint family also known as lemon balm), minty hyssop, and savory fennel. The anise is still present in about the same dose, but the taste doesn't have as much of a bitter metallic twang on the finish.


--------------------
There is an old yiddish chassidic saying:
Dos vos es ken oiftaun a Chassidishe farbrengen ken malach Michoel nit oiftaun
What a Chassidic farbrengen can accomplish cannot even be accomplished by the Angel Michael.

LA CHAIM VERTE!

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