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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > The Monkey Hole > The Cellar
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Alan
Of course, this isn't true of absinthes ... or any other spirits!
Oxygenee
An idiotic article.

Of course gold and silver medals mean something in any big, properly organised international competition such as the IWC or IWSC. "Plonk" doesn't win the top awards at this level. And of course the likes of Cru Classe Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy generally isn't entered - the fact that they can sell out their production on the basis of their historical track record doesn't invalidate the awards given to other less famous wines.

At any serious competition wines are tasted absolutely blind, by highly experienced judges, and there are usually oversight panels as well, to retaste any controversial or statistically unusual flights.

And, for what it's worth, the IWSC, which judges absinthe, awards a significantly lower percentage of medals than either of the two competitions mentioned in the article.
dr_ordinaire
So, for us the "wine-clueless-ones", what is the best source of information about the quality of a wine?
Patlow
i like wine spectator... lots on food and travel as well as bargain wines that are great, etc. looks nice on coffee table as well...

hey, maybe we should start an absinthe magazine???
Alan
That's a good question. Probably depends on your location and your budget.

In England, I'd use the weekend newspapers because they have pretty good journalists who would recommend good wine AND where to get them at special prices (one piece of information without the other is not so useful).

In the USA, there's Wine Spectator. A lot of the best information is free online here.

Edit: Patlow beat me to it. Great minds think alike!
Patlow
Every month the absinthe magazine will be super glossy, high end, with another celeb enjoying/talking about absinthe... Don't worry PR people can get anybody on the cover of cigar mags, absinthe won't be much more difficult.

Absinthe ratings, events, history, etc., etc...

There will be satirical pieces as well...

Britney Spears featured driving with her kids in the front seat, no belts, sipping on a SLERPIS™!

We have enough smarties here to make this happen. What can we call it?
Alan
The Daily Fairy?

Oh, no, it's a monthly ...

So The Monthly Muse.

I need to go fix a drink for some inspiration ... it's OK ... it's nearly 5 pm here.


Patlow
Has to be Absintheur.

And the first cover HAS to be Marilyn Manson (or Ted)... heh. Or the Absinthe Mafia. That could be a name too! The Absinthe Mafia.
peridot
Absintheur has my vote. Sounds like a wonderful idea if the market is such that the magazine could actually sell enough issues to support itself.
pierreverte
i like it too...i named a blog i started a couple of years ago and never used 'The Modern Absintheur'
http://modernabsintheur.blogspot.com/

i made it green and that was as far as i got...
The Standard Deviant
Absintheur.

Perhaps The Absinthe Mafia could be a column.
Ari
It's a pretty good idea, but it would really need to contain something different than what can be found on the web.
Touch-money
I know I'd buy a monthly subscription!
Jaded Prole
I like it!

Mabe it could have Eric and the gang in front of the Distillery of Emile Pernot!

Gertz
Absintheur is almost too obvious.

PTFA?

The Pork Chop?

...™?
jacal01
Monthly Period Ical

Lunar Louche
Absomphe
More like Lunar Douche.
Patlow
more like Lunar Park!

http://www.randomhouse.com/kvpa/eastonellis/
Oxygenee
QUOTE(Alan @ Nov 10 2006, 08:32 PM) *

In England, I'd use the weekend newspapers because they have pretty good journalists who would recommend good wine AND where to get them at special prices (one piece of information without the other is not so useful).


Nooooo!

Wine journalisism in mass market newspapers is generally a complete waste of time: it's either the regurgitation of press releases, or heavily influenced by the hospitality - unlimited bottles, lavish dinners, "research" trips to exotic locations - thrown at these journalists by producers, distributors and retailers. No reputable newspaper would allow its restaurant critic to accept free meals, or only review restaurants that solicted reviews. Yet this is exactly what wine journalists for most newspapers do. I've never met one who actually pays for the wine they review, or can't be persuaded to give a favourable review after a three hour lunch. I've been on the inside of this system, and I can tell you it's corrupt as all hell.

There's a huge amount of deeply mediocre wine around, and almost all of it will be eulogised somewhere by a newspaper jpurnalist along the lines of "crisp and delicious", "a fruity quaffer", "bursting with summer berries", "great balance", "lashings of oak", "wonderful lunchtime wine" or some such gumph.

When was the last time a newspaper journalist went into a supermarket, actually bought and paid for 10 bottles of wines, and reviewed 6 of them as "bland and insipid", "over-sulphured", "no varietal character at all" etc? The answer is "never", and yet the verifiable truth is that 60% of the wines on the average supermarket shelf are indeed deserving of just this sort of criticism.

A handful of wine journals are better. Decanter is only a shadow of its former self, but Wine Spectator in the US is very good for Californian wines (and also OK for big name French wines, less so for smaller producers). Parker's Wine Advocate newsletters are excellent, but his taste is highly specific, so if you don't like hugely extracted wines, you'll disagree with a lot of his ratings.

The Hugh Johnson Wine Guide, a pocket format book, is indispensable, and will pay for itself over and over again, even if you only use it occasionally.

Contrary to what the Times article suggests, if you're standing in a supermarket or wine retailer with no other reference, a gold or silver medal sticker from IWC, IWSC, or Decanter is an extremely good indicator that the wine will be at least worth drinking. Bronze medals and lower, "Producer of the Year" and other peripheral awards are obviously less useful. But the judging at any of the big international wine competions has vastly more integrity than the reviews by your daily paper's wine hack.
Oxygenee
I should add that the "bargains" pointed out by newspapers are just a specious as their reviews, and another prime example of de facto collusion between wine journalists and the industry they are meant to be commenting on.

Here's exactly how it works in the UK:
Your wine is worth £4 a bottle. Tesco (or some other big supermarket) puts it on their shelves for a fortnight, at £8 per bottle. You sell 100 cases to the curious and the ignorant. Then they put it on the aisle ends as a"Two for one special" or "50% off, only £3.99!". The columnist at a national newspaper lists the wine as one of his "Bargains of the week". You sell 10000 cases to the gullible consumer. I'm not exaggerating for effect here, this is EXACTLY how the system works. Something like 60% of Tesco's total wine sales comes from these so-called "specials", and other supermarkets are no different.

Generally: there are no huge bargains in wine. The actual price you see the bottle on offer for, is what it's worth, give or take say 10%. 30, 40 and 50% discounts are almost never genuine, but simply a result of the kind of manipulated pricing I've described above.
Alan
Just for a change, Oxy and I disagree! I used to know a lot of the top UK wine writers, e.g. Jane MacQuitty, and she's still giving UK shoppers some pretty good advice. See her current recommendations.

Jane is neither a hack, nor, from my experience, is she corrupt. Obviously I can't speak for all wine journalists.





Oxygenee
Read Giles Coren's or Micheal Winner's restaurant reviews. You'll find bad reviews outnumber good ones by at least 3 to one. This reflects reality - mediocre, overpriced restaurants far out number decent, great value ones. Count the number of restaurants they reviewed where they were comped for the meal. Zero.

Read the movie reviews in any national newspaper. The number of movies panned, or given one or two stars out of five, far exceeds the good reviews, for the same reasons as above.

Ditto TV reviews.

However, when it comes to wine reviews, there are no bad reviews at all. When last did Jane MacQuitty or anyone else do a review of Tesco's or Waitrose's or Saintsbury's wines and find that more than 60% of them are mediocre, and at least 10% are absolute crap? Never. And yet this is the reality of supermarket wines, as anyone who regularly buys wine from them will know. When did she last publish a list pf the most overpriced wines? Never. When did she say Oddbins Xmas specials weren't amazing value? Never. With wine reviews, it's all good news all the time, everytime.

I'm not saying reviewers like MacQuitty are personally corrupt, in the sense that they accept cash for favourable reviews, or other crude tradeoffs like this. Of course not - they're decent people. Some of my best friends are, literally, wine reviewers. I'm saying the wine reviewing business as praticed in national newspapers is institutionally corrupt, and will remain so, until someone has the guts to do what so far only one man - Robert Parker - has ever done: not accept free samples, free lunches, free hotels, free trips. Until such time, the reviewers in your national newspaper will remain beholden to the big producers, distributors and supermarkets.

Meaningful and worthwhile reviews in any field require two things:

1.The people doing the reviews musn't be the same people - or the same type of people - as those being reviewed. Working chefs aren't asked to review restaurants. Working authors are asked to review books all the time. Thus restaurant reviews are reliable, book reviews aren't. Words like "lyrical prose" btw have the same role in high-end book reviews as "crisp" or "fruity" have in wine reviews - meaningless fillers that sound complimentary but convey no real meaning at all. Never read a book that's described as "lyrical" - nor for that matter should you ever read a book whose blurb includes the phrase "one woman's lonely struggle". But I digress.

2.The people being reviewed musn't be making a substantial contribution to the costs of those reviewing them, or effectively determining what they review by providing free samples and lavish hospitality. This is why restaurant reviews are reliable, but hotel or resort reviews are meaningless, effectively just advertorial. And this is why the vast majority of wine reviews reflect only a rose-tinted view of the real world.
Donnie Darko
A friend of mine, who shall rename nameless, wrote wine reviews for a prominent New England newspaper. He knew wine marketing representatives quite well, as they'd line up to give him mutiple bottles of everything they made. He'd get free lunches from them regularly. He was also an outstanding writer, and could come up with all sorts of memorable descriptions for the various wines he was given.

The only problem is he knew nothing about wine making or wine tasting. His regular wines of choice when not drinking the ones for review was either Bolla Merlot or Yellowtail Shiraz. He happened to be 22 years old and a college senior, with no previous journalism experience. He landed the job via author Jamaica Kincaid, as he was her personal assistant for a summer, and she was friendly with one of the managing editors at the newspaper, which, not surprisingly, always favourably reviewed her books.

Does this anecdote prove that wine reviewing is for the most part unreliable bullshit? No, but it suggests that one needs no credentials beyond an ability to write to be a successful wine reviewer.

As for book reviews, Oxy is dead on the money in that category too. I know two career book reviewers, and it's a rare occaision when they read most of the book they're assigned to review. On a good day, they generally read the first chapter, first and last page of the middle chapters, and the last two to three pages of the final chapter, and that is what their review is based upon.
Kirk
Yes, and the authors were lucky he read that much of them.
Face it: we are in an archival quagmire, everyone is an entry and we all suck.
A preponderance of the stuff has killed the latest flower.
The only thing that hurts more than being data is being out done by a new one,
some little shit that hit it.
Give me one more piece of what's real, I want to feel one more bit before I die,
don't get the wrong idea, you little prick, I'm not ready to bite it,
but I'd sure like to see you right what I've picked out as wrong, now,
how're you gonna do it?
Kirk
Now wait a minute, especially you porkster, I wasn't referring to you,
you're certainly no prick, don't let my words fool you, I'm raging against time, I'm out of my mind but I'd like to pre-empt my ending. I mean something more .
AndrewT
Man, it's been way too long since I've seen you get all poetic and shit. abs-cheers.gif
Kirk
Ears burning, little one? You're the one that will be left when we're gone,
scare you? Doesn't bother me, when I'm gone it's all done, at least for me.
traineraz
Andrew will just have to carry on with the publication of the magazine, including a lifetime retrospective of the work of master silversmith Kirk Burkett.

By the way, considering demand, wouldn't a quarterly or even less frequent publication be more appropriate for the fantasy magazine? Coffe-table-book quality, with review information, artwork, and articles that make it something people would keep in their home libraries for decades.
Kirk
I'd like to have a single page,
it would be metal,
maybe an impression.
AndrewT
You could reproduce some Monet in it and etch in an article about Debussy. Har har.
Kirk
A reproduction of an etching of money?
I'm not that good.
AndrewT
I feel too lazy at the moment to post a screencap from History of the World.
dr_ordinaire
QUOTE(peridot @ Nov 10 2006, 10:06 AM) *

Absintheur has my vote. Sounds like a wonderful idea if the market is such that the magazine could actually sell enough issues to support itself.


You might be surprised. Go to a Barnes and Noble and check the obscure activities that are "magazined" there.

Stuff like "Naked Quilting" and "X-treme Crochet".

I like the idea of an "Absintheur" magazine... mostly because I know who would be writing "The Contrarian" column. Based on past experience, it will increase circulation.
traineraz
O, I think you've finally said something EVERYONE here will agree upon! LARS!.gif
AndrewT
You would be an indispensable facet of any absinthe magazine, Dr. O! I'd definately be willing to contribute in any way I could should this idea come to any sort of fruition.
traineraz
<-- Copy editor. yes.gif

Sixer would take it too far and lose touch with the common man. nono.gif




Lest Absomphe beat me to the punch, yes, I've touched my share of common men.
peridot
I'd love to help in any way I could. I'm pretty well-rounded, but music is my only specialty.
dr_ordinaire
Based on the new-found popularity of absinthe, it's only a matter of time before the "Absintheur" magazine hits the stands with AAARRRGHHHHH:

The FLAMING SUGAR CEREMONY!!!! in the cover.


Let's find a Forumite who can put this magazine together and prevent the definitive demise of the old absinthe tradition.
peridot
Yeah, better to get it on the shelves before Czechsinth culture releases their magazine, featuring:

"why KOSGold r0xx0rz j00r b0xx0rz p.29"
"only reel czech brands are like 19th century stuff lol p.42"
"frathouse fire safety while pounding back flaming shots p. 86"
"8 page mini colouring book p. 91"

Ack.
AndrewT
That's a very good point. Does anyone know the process to getting a magazine on the stands? And is anyone willing to fork out the money required to get it started?

Also, on a side note, does this have the potential to negatively impact the ability to make it through customs? I mean, if we put out a publication that says you can order it from the internet, will that make customs perk up and actually look for the stuff? Or am I just being naively paranoid?
traineraz
Forbes said you can order absinthe on the Internets using the Google, didn't they?

Perhaps such a magazine should not be US-based, but UK-based, even if most of the writing and such comes from the US? I imagine distributors could help with business connections for production, as well as providing advertising revenue (their own ads, and connections to obtain ads from distillers). Their ads being in a UK-based magazine might not seem QUITE so obviously directed at the American market . . .

Important question: What are the goals? If the goal is preaching to the choir, then a pretty magazine with Belle Epoque imagery will be fine. And it may as well be produced by a vanity press in a limited run, for the people here who want a copy for the coffee table, because it's not going to cover its expenses. No ads, thick glossy acid-free paper, etc. $25 an issue.

If the goal is reaching the next generation of absinthe consumers and providing them a way to learn about a class of product that you don't do in a flaming shot, then other techniques, or a combination of methods, may be more effective.

What I see? First Issue: Marilyn Manson on the cover, behind a Frenchman fountain dripping over a Burkett grille or spoon into an LdF repro Pontarlier glass, with a bottle of Manson's new product beside.

Or perhaps Manson putting his hand in the way of a Flamer about to light his sugar cube ablaze, as Manson glares at the Flamer!

Manson may not suit the "traditional" image for absinthe, but apparently Markus is crafting a quality product, and Manson could not only drive first-issue sales but also speak directly to the majority of US absinth-buyers. You know, the Balz-Trippers™ who ARE likely to burn the frat house down, or die of "absinth poisoning", or some other crap that'd bring about a real crackdown. Or who could instead listen to their idol, or their girlfriend who idolizes him, and buy good absinthe ("I HAD to buy it, she kept asking for it, and ya know I wasn't GETTIN' NONE if I DIDN'T . . . and ya know, it's not bad, try some"), and subscribe to the magazine because he was on the cover and agreed to write a review or something once a quarter. Many of us have seen interviews with him, he's intelligent and has picked a quality distiller to work with, he'd definitely be an asset even if some folks don't like his image or music or politics or whatever. But not on the cover EVERY issue.

Honestly, I'd suggest shooting for a hip, urban feel -- Manhattan, Paris, London, 2006 -- rather than a Paris, 1900 feel. More Metropolitan Home than Antique Stained Glass Quarterly. Lifestyle orientation, with modestly-upscale furnishings and clothing; not like Esquire, with $600 shirts being the low end; affordable to the middle class. Enough goth flavor to retain that set, while steering them toward something beyond Hot Topic.

This ain't great-grandad's absinthe. Nor is it a kiddie drink to slam after you get off your shift at Starbuck's. It's something to grow with. It's sophisticated yet cool, and you can be, too. Here's how.



(Do we know anybody who's sophisticated yet cool? Or at least in publishing?)
peridot
I think reaching the next generation is the best approach. I also agree with striking a balance. Enough of a dark or gothic image to draw in that crowd without being enough to causing vomit to bubble in the throats of more sophisticated readers. There's tons of information to be had about absinthe and all things related to it and a magazine would be a concise way to hard-copy it for distribution. For the "how it works" types there could be features on distilleries and new products, profiles on both common and uncommon ingredients, basic rundowns on how the big equipment works, etc. But then there could be features on all nature of other shit like popular and underground media, furniture, clothes, celebrities, bars, and whatever else. Since it would probably be slow to gather readers and since there's only so many products by so many distilleries on the market, it would probably be best to start with infrequent issues. Perhaps start quarterly and increase frequency of new issues as (or if) readership climbs.

If the magazine was UK-based it still might turn US Customs attention to incoming packages if it had enough US readers, but then again they might not care either way. I'm sure someone here could shed more light on that issue.
ubu
The number of quality absinthes that have been released lately, as well as the number of mediocre to awful releases that we've always been faced with would warrant a review section (though the buyer's guide here will always be definitive in my opinion).
I haven't read it in years, but I remember Vegetarian Times having music reviews. Because there is a very diverse range in interests among the forum members here, perhaps books, music, films and art could have their place in such a magazine.
With absinthe's growing media attention, I don't think it would be very difficult to get advertisers, but it definitely would be smarter to do so in the U.K.
I think the idea of people who love absinthe putting a magazine out is wonderful and it will be a shame if it doesn't happen. There are tons of talented people on this forum and I think the biggest obstacle would be getting it organized.
For the love of god, do it! I'll be glad to contribute in any way possible.
AndrewT
I agree with the idea of keeping it more down to earth for a new generation, although I will add that a reasonable degree of Belle Epoque-inspired design could really attract the classier goth crowds. It would definately help to get Manson involved, even if just with some photo shoots for us. He's definately one of the most intelligent people in popular music today.

Another thing to think about is that if it's published in a country where it's at least possible to do hobbyist distilling, some (anonymous?) HGers can post tips and explanations of the more complex processes. I also think that any kind of art related article would fit well with the subject, as well as some chemistry articles as well. Perhaps a chemist could write an in-depth article explaining the causes of the louche or something similar.

And if I get my Latin-translating butt in gear, maybe we can try for a chapter of Oxy's Latin text each quarter or so. Perhaps we should try publishing this magazine online before going for the real deal?
peridot
QUOTE(AndrewT @ Nov 13 2006, 07:38 AM) *

Perhaps we should try publishing this magazine online before going for the real deal?


Not a bad idea. That could help generate interest before spending $$ on printing it.
Jaded Prole
I think it should aim for a high end readership, like a good wine or cigar mag. Doing one or two issues online would be good. As for publishing, I think there are publishers that produce a lot of mags that might be interested in tapping into a new specialty market.
Donnie Darko
QUOTE(AndrewT @ Nov 13 2006, 12:14 AM) *

That's a very good point. Does anyone know the process to getting a magazine on the stands? And is anyone willing to fork out the money required to get it started?


For me, the Virtual Absinthe Museum monthly newsletter is basically a magazine sans advertising. To make a print mag, it should probably be a quarterly one, and one would have to get advertisers and pay freelance journalists. Also consider that most other liquor mags, like Whisky magazine, have an issue 8 times a year, and I'd assume their subscription base to be exponentially larger than what an absinthe magazine would attract.
jacal01
I had an exchange recently with Green Car Journal on that very issue. Published quarterly, its inaugural issue on my subscription consisted almost entirely of multi-page “special advertising sections” and new car reviews, including a full size SUV(?!), which were basically photo shoots, with color glossy pictures and maybe a half-page of accompanying text. It appeared more like promotional product literature than true industry developments journalism. I suggested that it be ought to be renamed Green Car Buyer’s Guide or something.

It really seems like any magazine objectivity had been co-opted by the automobile manufacturers in an attempt to meet publishing and distribution expenses. Too bad, but maybe indicative of trade magazine economics in general, especially ones with a small subscription base.
traineraz
For some ballpark stuff, www.publishingbiz.com has some info:

QUOTE
Question: How much does it cost to start a magazine?
People ask this question all the time, and unfortunately, its impossible to answer without knowing exactly what kind of publication you have in mind. They spent $20 million to launch Oprah's magazine, O. Any national consumer magazine that reaches a million readers or so, like Oprah's does, would cost the same, but entrepreneurs rarely launch anything at that scale.

We spent $150,000 to launch PC Magazine from a kitchen table in 1981 and it would take about $3 million to do the same thing today. These days, you also have to factor in the cost of launching both in print and on the web, which we did not have to to do with PC Magazine. Read out startup story.

At the other extreme, people start zines with next to nothing. If you stick to the web, or print very few copies (like 5,000 or less), and use mostly volunteer writers and contributors, and nobody gets paid for anything, you can start out with a few thousand dollars. Figure $1 per copy for printing, plus $.35 for postage and do the math. But realize that you're not paying yourself or your writers or your designers or anyone else. Many independent publishers DO start out by using their credit cards and spending less than $30,000 or so. [my emphasis]

But if people get paid, and if you print in the neighborhood of 10,000 copies or so, and if you spend a little money on promotion (to get some paid readers or enough web traffic to support some ads), then you should expect to spend between $250,000 and $500,000 to get far enough along that you can hope to begin breaking even.


And a useful article: Elements of a Magazine Business Plan

Seems the biggest hurdle would be cost, especially if starting with a print version. Electronic may be the way to go; can still bring in advertising, and can still have a subscription edition (for this nominal fee, you can read the full articles now, instead of waiting 6 months . . .) and advertising to cover expenses.

Second biggest hurdle would be ensuring people are committed to running such a venture long-term. After all, a one-off coffee-table book on a limited run may be a lark, but growing a magazine is a business. Just maintaining it electronically, when working to arrange/conduct/report interviews, photography, and assorted features, would be a lot of work for one person.

If a major goal is to beat the Assbath industry to the punch, it seems web-based would be the way to go. Such a 'zine would serve as both a resource in itself and a funnel to direct people here and to associated forums and websites.

Perhaps a different, hybrid model would make sense. How does this sound:

A monthly or quarterly e-zine, with click-through banner advertising to cover most expenses. Regular columns are accessible to everyone all the time; for special interviews and feature articles, only the first half of the article is available without a low-cost electronic subscription. Six months after publication, the "old" interviews and feature articles are available to all for free.

Images online are only available at a maximum (web-appropriate) resolution, unless purchased via download or print version. Graphic artworks can be marketed with a commission to the 'zine, printed per order on paper, canvas, T-shirt, mailing label, whatever. No overhead, and income to our starving artists.

An ANNUAL review is issued, on archival-quality paper, bound, with high-quality imagery. This review is the coffee-table quality book, which includes ALL the articles, columns, reviews, etc. from the past year, and BIG, full-page photos showing the intricate detail of a Burkett grille, for example, or the slow louche of l'Artisanale. Some extra special features should also be included, which will not be available on the website. What a great holiday gift for people who don't want to buy their kids/friends/neighbors actual liquor!!

Perhaps text is in English and in French (or other language, whatever will hit the biggest market; Cascadian?). For the first year, perhaps there's a first run of 1000 (arbitrary number); x are sold at a below-retail above-wholesale price ($35/45?) via pre-order, y are sent to distributors and absinthe retailers as promotional items, and 1000 - x - y get sold via the website post-press at retail ($65?), and also through bookstores, liquor stores, absinthe festivals.

Depending upon the sales of the first run of the Annual Review, additional copies could be printed to meet demand. If it sells well, we have a foundation for the next year's initial run size.

If it doesn't sell, we're out the cost of the initial press run. The next year, we do only a run of what's pre-ordered plus a couple hundred as promotional and archive.

This model keeps advertising out of the print version entirely by charging full cost plus margin for a high-quality bound book rather than a disposable magazine, and keeps total publishing costs low by focusing primarily on the web. As an added bonus, it establishes an annual record of all the happenings in the Absinthe Revival!
peridot
That's awesome. A lot of great info right there. I definitely think that's a practical and cool way to do it, or at least get it going.
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