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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Absinthe History
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jdm
now, i know that there are plently of absinthe makers using age-old original recipes...do they strickly adhere to these recipes. the wormwood/thujone content is changed, right?

if a recipe of pernod fils was found, and someone followed the steps, did everything exactly as instructed, would the modern version of the original recipe taste exactly like it did in its cocacola heyday?

if this is true, why is current common commercial absinthe so different in flavor?
Ari
As far as I know most don't change the wormwood or chop.gif content.

If the recipe was everything I could go to the local walmart buy some food and make a world-class master-cheferbator meal for $5. But really the quality of herbs, and the way it's made play a big role. A good example of that is BdF and the Brut Alembic, both supposably made from the same recipe yet are noticeably different.
justabob
As Ari said the herbal content has evolved over a hundred year period. Various cultivars of anise, fennel and wormwood would have evolved over time.

The historical recipes listed here and elsewhere are quite accurate. However based on the herbal content of modern day herbs there would be subtle differences in taste.
Oxygenee
QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 18 2006, 09:52 PM) *

now, i know that there are plently of absinthe makers using age-old original recipes...


No there aren't. There are plenty that claim to. There are a tiny handful that are.

QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 18 2006, 09:52 PM) *

do they strickly adhere to these recipes. the wormwood/thujone content is changed, right?


No it's not, at least not by the tiny handful referred to above.

QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 18 2006, 09:52 PM) *

if a recipe of pernod fils was found, and someone followed the steps, did everything exactly as instructed, would the modern version of the original recipe taste exactly like it did in its cocacola heyday?


For all practical purposes, yes, subject only to a few very minor caveats.

QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 18 2006, 09:52 PM) *

if this is true, why is current common commercial absinthe so different in flavor?


Depends entirely on which current commercial absinthes you're talking about.



Oxygenee
QUOTE(justabob @ Sep 18 2006, 10:33 PM) *

As Ari said the herbal content has evolved over a hundred year period. Various cultivars of anise, fennel and wormwood would have evolved over time.


If memory serves, I advanced this as a tentative theory about 6 months ago. It's really just an hypothesis - we don't know whether it's true or not - it may be, but it's equally possible that 21st century artemisia absinthium is absolutely genetically identical to 19th century artemisia absinthium.

I have some circa 1895 plant material, so it may be possible to give a definite answer to this question at some stage in the future.
Lord Stanley
Ummm, you have what? blink.gif
G&C
Old wormwood casks.
tristan
Flavour is so subjective at the best of times, let alone when your comparing things made a hundred years apart.

Even if you were able to take a few contemporary bottles back in time and compare them to "old" absinthes of the same age, made in the same region from the same herbs, you'd probably still find a lot to differentiate them. Hell, just a quick scan of the reviews in the buyers guide show people giving different reviews to the same bottle, or even going back and re-reviewing something they tried a few days ago and finding different flavours and aromas.

Furthermore, making any drink (or food even) is an art form, and makers like to experiment and create things that are uniquely different to other drinks on the market. Just look at wine making, and the thousands of different flavours you get from thousands of wineries and wine makers all using the same "traditional" methods and ingredients. It's the same for all drinks, and absinthe is no exception. I can't claim to have tried any pre-ban absinthe, but I imagine that absinthes back then had the same variations on a theme as do modern ones.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that people's search for so-called "authentic" absinthe that tastes identical to pre-ban absinthe is not only futile but it goes against the artisty of making the drink in the first place. Things evolve because there's no creative merit to making something that has been done before. So you'll never get to taste absinthe exactly as Oscar Wilde did... who gives a damn? He never got to try Jade or Ike or Montmartre or Duplais either, so you're even.
Esseintes
Could it be, that the original question was more focussed on chop.gif? I'm frequently asked if historic Absinthe substantially contained more chop.gif as the sorts manufactured today.

As far as I know there's just one scientifically analysed historic Absinthe - and it didn't contain more than an average product today. Still the question is, if this is really representative. Discussions about chop.gif are worn out and I really don't want to jump on that. Just hypothetically: What would happen, if an historic Absinthe would be proved containing 300mg chop.gif. Discussions would start that evel chop.gif made people really go mad and things like that must not happen again and so on. I'm so sick of it! So just take it how it is - be happy that there are some decent sorts available!

From a taste point of view, I guess some sorts come pretty close to what people drank 100 years ago - still it can't be 100% identical. Maybe one can say, that there are some sorts nowadays, which could have existed 100 years ago.
Hiram
QUOTE(Hiram @ Apr 1 2005, 10:29 PM) *

QUOTE(jmfranc @ Apr 1 2005, 04:24 PM)
So, if I could go back in time and try a number of good Absinthe from 1905, what would they taste like?

That's like asking for a definitive answer to exactly how Mary Magdalene's cootch smelled. It ain't possible to know.

We can generalize, and feel secure that what is being produced today is at least pretty damned close to some of the absinthes of the past. We can duplicate a lot of things: recipes, protocols, even labels; but since we simply don't have the same precise ingredients (or the individual variations introduced to the processes but not documented), there's no way to know for sure.

Just such a simple thing as the wormwood or fennel being grown in a different region can change the entire flavor in a big way. Hell, changing the base alcohol can make a huge difference.

To the best of my knowledge, no one posssesses sufficient documentation to reproduce an exact copy of any particular brand of fresh pre-ban.


Nowadays, even the global air is different enough—not to mention climate, soil, and agricultural practices—to yield a different product in spite of genetics.
Marc
QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 18 2006, 07:52 PM) *

if this is true, why is current common commercial absinthe so different in flavor?


jdm, have you personally sampled a pre-ban absinthe ? which one ?
Donnie Darko
The largest problem that is faced when attempting to revive a vintage absinthe is not only herb sourcing, but also alcohol base and determining the process used to make it. Since, as far as I am aware, no master distiller of Absinthe prior to the ban wrote down every scrap of minutia about their process, that requires a certain amount of educated guesswork and experimentation in addition to research.

As for alcohol base, we know exactly where Pernod Fils got their base alcohol, but that specific alcohol base source no longer exists, so the best that can be done is to find Marc from that region of France made from wines similar to what was used prior to the ban. Also, because Absinthe is no longer as popular, there isn't much of a market for wineries to sell high-proof Marc to absinthe distillers. They used to have a direct railway from the alcohol source in the South of France to the Pernod Fils factory it was in such demand, but a considerable amount of legwork is required these days to find ANY quality Marc, let alone something resembling what was used in vintage absinthe.
jdm
i apologize if i wasn't entirely clear. perhaps, i should've rephrased my post. i was more or less asking which, modern absinthe tastes more similar to vintage (no, i haven't tried any pre-ban. i wish. maybe some experienced tastebuds can help me out here).
and i was wondering if any pre-ban recipes can be made almost exactly as the original (no, i wasn't that interested in chop.gif, i just thought that these days they are using less, no?).

i do understand the wine analogy, as i have worked in a winery for three years. 'terroir' is basically the 'taste' of the region that the grapes came from (due to the particular weather, soil, etc. of that region). i am stretching here, but more or less a wine from the small town of paso robles will taste somewhat similar within the 30+ wineries from that region, and the same in sonoma, etc. etc. (again i am stretching, so much depends on the winemaker, etc.)
so, i would think that there would be strong similarities if a french distillery today could use the same ingredients today as used 100 years ago, from the same source and soil, as well as using the same materials that made it 100 years ago.
as with a swiss distillery, etc.
as i said before, i haven't been lucky enough to try pre-ban, but i am very curious of the taste, as almost every review carries the same, 'this is like no other absinthe that i've tasted' comment.
i am VERY happy to be able to enjoy modern absinthe, but that doesn't mean if a time machine was invented my first visit wouldn't be a quick run to pre-ban france.
jdm
what was the pernod alcohol base, by the way?
Lord Stanley
One problem is that pre-ban absinthe has had the opportunity to age for about 100 years. That alone will change the flavour profile somewhat when compared to a newly made absinthe using a supposedly identical recipe. Some of the flavours may become more pronounced over time while some of them will blend together more uniformly with others.

The Jade absinthes - Edouard and Verte Suisse at least - are purported to be faithful recreations of vintage brands. Unless someone tasted those brands at the turn of the century, vividly remembered that taste and happened to be alive today to try its Jade counterpart, it's tough to say whether or not they taste the same. Conversely, you could save some Jade for 100 years and see if it tastes like pre-ban does today.

One thing that you can take to the bank is that modern Pernod Absinthe tastes nothing like vintage Pernod Fils or properly made modern absinthe.




Pernod Fils used a grape alcohol base as does Jade.
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 19 2006, 04:45 PM) *

what was the pernod alcohol base, by the way?


It came from surplus of Languedoc and Roussillon wines from the Midi region of France, specifically from the Maison Combes. It was a point of pride for them and they even advertised it (which is how we know what Pernod Fils used). I'm not sure how many wineries in the Midi region still offer proof spirit for sale, and AFAIK the Maison Combes is no longer around. I assume there must be some Marc and Trois-Six produced in the Midi region since I'm guessing that's where Jade gets its alcohol base.

In my opinion Jade is closer than any other product on the market to vintage Absinthe, though in my opinion vintage Edouard has a stronger wormwood presence than Jade Edouard, but it's impossible to know for sure since aging for 100 years may bring out the wormwood more.
eric
QUOTE(jdm @ Sep 19 2006, 02:37 PM) *
no, i wasn't that interested in chop.gif , i just thought that these days they are using less, no?





What ever gave you that idea?

Wild Bill Turkey
O.
wooperman
What happens if a company makes a product and it's chop.gif level is higher than allowed? Is there a process (like decaffinating coffee) for removing excess? Or does it never even come to that because decent tasting absinthe simply would not contain that much?
If a country's chop.gif limit prevents people from experimenting with recipes, then less chop.gif allowances could have an indirect affect on current absinth market.
Lord Stanley
The process in France goes something like this...add the word Amer to the label. Suddenly, you're allowed to have 35 mg/kg of thujone instead of 10. It works for Nouvelle Orleans among others. I'm not sure how many absinthes out there actually measure >35 mg/kg so this solution probably works most of the time.
Ari
So far every study I have seen shows the only products that are over 35 mg/l were either poorly made or purposefully jacking their tbones, even over 10 seems to be rare without help.
Fredie
QUOTE(Hiram @ Sep 18 2006, 11:59 PM) *


That's like asking for a definitive answer to exactly how Mary Magdalene's cootch smelled....



Pork?
Loaves & Fishes?
Watered down wine?
vagina.gif


hartsmar
QUOTE(Ari @ Sep 19 2006, 08:39 PM) *

So far every study I have seen shows the only products that are over 35 mg/l were either poorly made or purposefully jacking their tbones, even over 10 seems to be rare without help.


As Lord Stanley said, it works for Nouvelle-Orléans which I have seen reported to contain 22mg/l (numbers from Canadian govt).

Either way, Prattwink; There would be no problem in experimenting with different recipes to see what you can come up with. The only limit would be to actually sell it if it contains above 35mg/l.
tristan
QUOTE(Hiram @ Sep 18 2006, 11:59 PM) *

That's like asking for a definitive answer to exactly how Mary Magdalene's cootch smelled....


Considering she's been dead 2000 years, I'd say, not good.
Fredie
Musty yet dusty.... Tombstone.gif
dr_ordinaire
QUOTE(Oxygenee @ Sep 18 2006, 04:22 PM) *

[
If memory serves, I advanced this as a tentative theory about 6 months ago. It's really just an hypothesis - we don't know whether it's true or not - it may be, but it's equally possible that 21st century artemisia absinthium is absolutely genetically identical to 19th century artemisia absinthium.



Oxy, why would today´s Artemisia absinthium NOT be genetically identical to 19th century´s A.a.? I find it very improbable that someone has been doing genetic engineering on this quite obscure plant.
dr_ordinaire
QUOTE(Ari @ Sep 19 2006, 09:39 PM) *

So far every study I have seen shows the only products that are over 35 mg/l were either poorly made or purposefully jacking their tbones, even over 10 seems to be rare without help.


Are you including Ted´s Amer among the "poorly made"?
Oxygenee
QUOTE(dr_ordinaire @ Sep 22 2006, 07:01 AM) *

QUOTE(Oxygenee @ Sep 18 2006, 04:22 PM) *

[
If memory serves, I advanced this as a tentative theory about 6 months ago. It's really just an hypothesis - we don't know whether it's true or not - it may be, but it's equally possible that 21st century artemisia absinthium is absolutely genetically identical to 19th century artemisia absinthium.



Oxy, why would today´s Artemisia absinthium NOT be genetically identical to 19th century´s A.a.? I find it very improbable that someone has been doing genetic engineering on this quite obscure plant.


It way well be absolutely identcal - but the only way to know for certain, is to undertake an analysis.

Many - I'd think most - cultivated plants (and commercial AA is grown from cultivated, not wild stock) have undergone some degree of hybridisation.
Kirk
Sure, plants vary a little, mostly they acclimatise themselves. Differences can seem great but distillation is also a great equalizer.
The plants we are dealing with (all plants) are undergoing a change due to the increased carbon dioxide in the air. It was recently found that poison Ivy produces as much as 5 times more essential oil than it did 100 years ago. Leafy green and vining plants are growing much more robustly than their Victorian ancestors.
Absinthe today can easily contain more essential oils than its earlier incarnation.
It may be worth noting that the nature of the effects, the geometry of the molecules does not change.
Donnie Darko
Good point on climate change.

Also there are several cultivars of AA, some intense, some weaker. Who knows if a similar variety of cultivars were around 100 years ago? While I know very little about Genetics, there are certainly enough variables in modern wormwood to make pinpointing similarities to vintage wormwood challenging.
Jaded Prole
The vintage was much more bitter.
Donnie Darko
And made you kill your family.
dr_ordinaire
QUOTE(dr_ordinaire @ Sep 21 2006, 09:02 PM) *

QUOTE(Ari @ Sep 19 2006, 09:39 PM) *

So far every study I have seen shows the only products that are over 35 mg/l were either poorly made or purposefully jacking their tbones, even over 10 seems to be rare without help.


Are you including Ted´s Amer among the "poorly made"?


C´mon, Ari, you know that the Dr. is the the Forum´s bull terrier: when I bite, I´m not letting go.

So please tell us: is Ted´s Amer among the "...poorly made ones..." or among the "...purposefully jacking their tbones..."
eric
Does Ted even have an "Amer"?



I have not heard of one.

Fredie
QUOTE(eric @ Sep 22 2006, 05:56 PM) *

Does Ted even have an "Amer"?

Does he?
I hear he's an Amer- icon!!! abs-cheers.gif




(yes, yes.... I know that was lame.... I'll go stand in the corner now.) frusty.gif
The Standard Deviant
The Nouvelle Orléans sold in France is labelled an amer. Ari was talking about absinthes with a thujone content over 35mg/L. Nouvelle Orléans is between 10mg/L and 35mg/L.
Ari
Sorry Dr I was giving you time to realize your mistake and to notice I said above 35 mg/l. There are a few that have used help to get above 10 mg/l and a very few have gone over without any evidence they were trying, FGuy is another example of a product that doesn't list its thujone but consistently comes in at the upper amer level. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the production of these amers to know why they do this but I have a few guesses.
alanmoss
Such as?
justabob
Collecting to far into tails.
Ari
Others here probably have a better idea than I do, however my thoughts would be,
-As justabob said, collecting more tails than normal.
-Use of more of the wormwood, such as stems.
-use of a different wormwood source (one study showed an up to 400% difference in thujone levels from the same recipe but different wormwood sources, although that study didn't break the 5 mg/l level).
-In the case of vertes some of the coloration herbs contain thujone yet are often ignored when talking about it, use of high content herbs or parts could increase final levels.
-A combination.
Oxygenee
In the case of Francois Guy, based on anecdotal evidence, it's more likely something else...
Ari
Interesting. I know the Guy distilleries have some pretty odd ideas about absinthe.
G&C
Like no fennel?
alanmoss
QUOTE(Oxygenee @ Sep 23 2006, 10:05 AM) *

In the case of Francois Guy, based on anecdotal evidence, it's more likely something else...


Such as?
hartsmar
I have never seen F Guy reported above 10mg. Also, they do not label their bottles with anything remotely close to Amer. They are sold all over France.

What on earth are you talking about Ari?

Oxygenee
According to Emmert's 2004 analysis, which you can conveniently find at...cough...http://www.thujone.info/testing.html, Guy has 4.8mg/l of alpha thujone and 20mg/l beta thujone, making 24.8mg in total.

If you're now thinking, my God, France's leading and most vocal (and most self-righteous) producer has been selling his absinthe from inception with a totally illegal label, you'd be absolutely right.

If you're also thinking, wait a minute, isn't this the same Francois Guy who made a huge fuss about the fact that his was the only "safe" absinthe because he alone used special "genetically modified" wormwood that contained almost no thujone, you'd also be absolutely right.

And if you're thinking, well that's just so, like, you know, French, you'd have scored three out of three.

Le hat trick!
Ari
I can't seem to find the other article I was thinking of (possibly as I don't think it was in english). If I remember right it tested thujone in some swiss and in guy and got similar results to Emmert's study.
hartsmar
You're right Oxy... I guess it was the figure 4.8 that was stuck in my head.
French.

dr_ordinaire
QUOTE(Ari @ Sep 23 2006, 09:53 AM) *

Sorry Dr I was giving you time to realize your mistake and to notice I said above 35 mg/l. There are a few that have used help to get above 10 mg/l and a very few have gone over without any evidence they were trying, FGuy is another example of a product that doesn't list its chop.gif but consistently comes in at the upper amer level. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the production of these amers to know why they do this but I have a few guesses.


Touche, Ari.

However, I seem to remember that at one point in this Forum, after Ian´s article, ANYTHING above 10 mg/Kg was NOT authentic. Because original absinthe had, and I quote: "little or no chop.gif". You guys DO remember this, don´t you?

So now the new bar has been set at 35 mg/Kg.

It doesn´t change my point: what is original absinthe is a moving target, and we all know who is moving the goalposts.


eric
QUOTE
It doesn´t change my point: what is original absinthe is a moving target,




I agree with that statement Dr. To a degree.



But I do not think that anybody is to blame for that. Certainly not Ted. I think that it is a combination of our own unrealistic expectations coupled w/ the complex nature of things.



Personally, I do not spend much time worrying about what is original Absinthe.



I am more fascinated w/ the mechanics of it all.

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