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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > General Absinthe Discussion
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Kirk
I don't mean this as self promoting, take it as you will, I have an honest question.
I was trying some Blues Cat absinthe and it got me thinking. Good hyssop adds a lot to an absinthe. I started growing hyssop years ago because Artemis told me; " good absinthe requires good hyssop", and he was right.
You can't get good hyssop, except from me, anyone that has seen mine told me there is no other hyssop like it. I can tell you that only one professional distiller uses it in their product, why is that? It does not cost that much, you don't use that much of it and it can do so much for the drink.
What is up with commercial distillers that they put poor grade hyssop in their product when I have available the solution?
I don't get it.
sbmac
Likely because they don't give a fuck, and most drinkers won't know the difference. Either that, or the distillers don't know the difference themselves. Perhaps if they got some of yours to chew on, they'd want to buy more.

Spending that day with you guys, smelling those herbs of yours, and sampling absinthe made with them showed me the difference. Talk about your double-edged sword. I can barely drink half the stuff in my cabinet now.
Donnie Darko
Herb-comparison is quite the eye opening experience. If I were you Kirk I'd send distillers whom you think might be interested small free samples to compare with what they currently use, and pricing.
martin.zufanek
Kirk actually did! He sent me samples of his hyssop and wormwood circa two years ago and after comparison I immediately stopped buying commercial hyssop and started with my own absinthe garden. Now I am using just my own aromatic herbs. So thank you Kirk!
sbmac
Sounds like he's earned bottle or two of L'Ancienne!
I'm enjoying mine Martin…I hope to get more, but understand it's complicated right now.
Kirk
Nah.
Good to hear you're growing it Martin, I think that's the best way for a distiller to go if they can.
Jaded Prole
My hyssop finally died, I have to order more plants this spring. Kirk's herbs are the best.

It seems that some commercial distillers cut too many corners to squeeze out a profit in a tough market. You get out of a product what you put in. I guess it is all about the goal of the venture. Is it to sell the most and spend the least for the higher return or is it to produce a product that one can be proud knowing is the best it can be?

You can taste the difference. That said, I hope to taste some of the Blues Cat when it is available.
Tibro
I've never actually come across any good hyssop. I've been fortunate enough to come across some that's betterer. And the privilege of some that's the bestest. I just like the pretty blue flowers though. Some of the pink ones too. More than that I don't really know.

Gotta say though, there's a conversation at The Lounge that's got me curious about quality nutmeg. I knew a girl once named Meg. Quality female, too. Kinda drove me crazy. Nuts even. But I don't think she liked absinthe. Sounds a little iffy bringing such a nut(Meg) together with absinthe. I'd be interested to hear more about that, Artemis.

Not that I want to promote Meg for anyone else's pleasure. Or pain, even.
Artemis
The nutmeg absinthe was an attempt to capture a nuance of Ted's early Orleans style, which was itself a sort of homage to vintage Herbsaint. It was a gingerbread nuance that I thought I had perceived in both, which probably had little to do with gingerbread (maybe something to do with mugwort) and even less to do with nutmeg. Mostly what the experiment did was prove that myristicin is indeed soluble in ethanol, and that it does to the brain exactly what the literature says it does (Ted grinned and said "myristicin!" when I later mentioned nutmeg to him). Interesting that in the photo Jack posted at the lounge, a halved nutmeg looks like a halved brain. A whole fresh nutmeg (or several; I don't remember) with a super-efficient extraction in less than a liter of ethanol can be a scary thing.

The first beautiful hyssop I saw was grown in Colorado by some hippie the Nephilim had smoked out. That was over ten years ago - the guy had an herb business but later apparently gave it up, as the first I saw was also the last, until Kirk's. Kirk's is very similar in appearance, but more robust. The purple flowers are my favorite part.
Tibro
I guess bread yeast don't produce enough alcohol during the rise to extract enough myristicin to worry about. I love gingerbread. And, yes, it can be yeast risen. But it would be foul with too much nutmeg anyway.

Maybe that's why the chicken milk folks are skimping on the nutmeg in their CO products. Somebody was whining about that at The Lounge too.
pierreverte
QUOTE(Kirk @ Jan 4 2012, 04:23 PM) *

What is up with commercial distillers that they put poor grade hyssop in their product when I have available the solution?
I don't get it.


How much can you grow per year in total, what is your ability to expand, how stable is the estimated output per year, how long do you plan to farm and if you stop, will someone be trained to take over?

eric
I do not know what Kirks annual production is nor would I recommend that he post that information on a public board.
I have seen his plants and I concur that his hyssop is the best quality that I have seen. The climate where he lives seems to be perfect for producing healthy, high yields .
I am confident that his production capability would be able to satisfy even the most ambitious CO producer.

Utilizing herb of this level of quality makes a HUGE difference.
Artemis
Pierre's questions are those that any serious commercial operator would ask of a supplier, and Kirk should take them to heart if he's serious about "having the solution". But what I read into Kirk's question was more frustration than anything that producers would use "poor grade hyssop". Darko had a good suggestion as well. And Martin took a righteous path.
eric
QUOTE
Pierre's questions are those that any serious commercial operator would ask of a supplier


If Absinthe were anything more than a small niche market, perhaps yes.
And if Peter was a "serious CO operator", he would be asking such questions in private instead of on a public forum.
Jack Batemaster
Ô Cassez !
Artemis
QUOTE
If Absinthe were anything more than a small niche market, perhaps yes.


I disagree. Let's say a small producer finds Kirk's hyssop to be everything we claim and then some, and proceeds to rely upon it to make a product that bears the very signature of said hyssop. Buyers of this absinthe come to rely upon it continuing to be what it is. Then Kirk (or whoever - it matters not that it is Kirk) decides "to hell with growing and selling hyssop". Now the producer is up a creek. And if it's not a small niche market to begin with, the inconsistency is almost guaranteed, because there is not enough fantastic hyssop to go around in a big mass market. We all know that inconsistency is a problem in almost all commercial absinthe from the getgo: small market, big market, it doesn't matter.

QUOTE
And if Peter was a "serious CO operator", he would be asking such questions in private instead of on a public forum.


I don't know if Peter is or he isn't, but to be fair, the question was publicly posed and publicly answered. I thought every answer had merit.
Steve
Good hyssop isn't difficult to grow. I had a huge plant in a community garden plot in San Francisco that produced a large quantity of flowers that I had to harvest every week during the summer. I won't say it was equivalent to Kirk's but it was extremely fragrant. I eventually dug the plant up because it was too big, I didn't need that much hyssop, and I wanted to use the space for other plants. I intended to start over with a new plant but the greenhouse got too hot and all the seeds died last spring. Maybe I'll try again this year.
Artemis
I never tried to grow it, but it no doubt helps to have the right soil and climate, which Kirk appears to have. I don't think there's any way it grows well just anywhere. I've never been able to grow delphinium anywhere (for example).
eric
QUOTE
because there is not enough fantastic hyssop to go around in a big mass market.



There is no such thing as a "big mass market" when it comes to craft distilled Absinthe.
When a small maker loses a source, they simply find a replacement.
Happens all the time.
Kirk
QUOTE(pierreverte @ Jan 5 2012, 03:15 PM) *

QUOTE(Kirk @ Jan 4 2012, 04:23 PM) *

What is up with commercial distillers that they put poor grade hyssop in their product when I have available the solution?
I don't get it.


How much can you grow per year in total, what is your ability to expand, how stable is the estimated output per year, how long do you plan to farm and if you stop, will someone be trained to take over?

I get the sense you are implying something, between the lines, are you impugning my ability?
Truth is that last year I grew more hyssop than you and every commercial distiller in the country could ever possibly use Peter.
In fact, I composted over 150 pounds of perfect hyssop. My ability to expand is secure, I would raise less cows, buffalo and pork on my daughters farm, her and my son in law love the work but herbs are less stinky, which answers your last question about who will take over.
My walk in de-humidifier for coloring herbs probably didn't look like much to Artemis when he was here but I can easily process sufficient hyssop for the entire world absinthe production in there. Same thing with the acre of herb beds, the few hundred hyssop plants may not look like much but again, it's enough to supply every absinthe producer in the country. It's no weedy back yard garden either, the rows are laid out straight, well mulched and not a blade of grass in them.
But you're right, when I die, or if I quit, you won't see hyssop like that again, on the scale that I am growing it and am prepared to grow it, it's not just the climate, soil and strain.
Artemis
QUOTE
When a small maker loses a source, they simply find a replacement. Happens all the time.


If that's true, it doesn't matter how good Kirk's hyssop is, and the whole thing is moot.
Artemis
QUOTE
My walk in de-humidifier for coloring herbs probably didn't look like much to Artemis when he was here


Looked pretty impressive to me, but what do I know?

I know how to bring logic to bear when I see an old-time pissing contest arising in the forum. I do know about that. Been on both sides of it. Happened all the time.
Donnie Darko
I like Kirk's answers. That's a man who gives a shit.
Steve
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jan 5 2012, 05:46 PM) *

I never tried to grow it, but it no doubt helps to have the right soil and climate, which Kirk appears to have. I don't think there's any way it grows well just anywhere. I've never been able to grow delphinium anywhere (for example).

I'm sure that's true. I tend to think things are easy to grow when certain things grow vigorously for me with no effort. I would bet hyssop would grow well anywhere rosemary or lavender grow well. I can't grow tomatoes.
Steve
Kirk, I'm pretty sure Peter wasn't implying anything about you. He was just making the point that a commercial absinthe distillery would be foolish to rely completely on one source which may or may not be there in the future. As one of my old bosses said, "Steve, what if you are run over by a truck?".
Kirk
By that logic nobody should strive to be the best because of the pressure to live up to what you once did.
My point is that if the bar is raised, everyone and his brother will feel like living up to it. If I can they can and I'm saying they should.
It sounds like you are saying it's better to make a mediocre product than to make the best because it might be too hard to replicate. I see people replicate the best every day, like it was common practice.
It breaks my heart to see people make and sell bullxit, worse than that is when they excuse it by telling honest craftsmen what they are working so hard for is foolish.
Kirk
Yeah, Petr was just trying to lay a paternal hand on my shoulder but it looked to me like "Hey kid, let me tell you how the real world works"
Kind of like when Ted used to tell everyone "don't even bother trying, you can't do this"
I'm not the only person in the world that could supply a distiller with good product, if you want to try that, talk to me, I think there are thousands of people that could, you may be one of them and I'll help you.
R3al Caravano
I so enjoy this conversion: that I will add something I enjoyed today as well.
"There’s no measure for that distance. – But
you. Eventually you’ll be called; you’ll go, and be
a standard unit through incredible space. No
I don’t want to turn from the pleasures of mattress,
glass, the well-bound book, the well-glazed duck
l’orange with almond slivers, electrical pylon
softened in morning snow, the nylon bunched about
her toes then straightened transparently over a thigh…
But we’ll be called, so must prepare; must even
understand our hands on rocks, in sun, regress
to lizards; even learn to love the light the way the nuclei
of algae do, entire; even learn to love the dust and
even the subatomic bones of dust; and make
the tarpan and aurochs, name them, know them eye to eye."
Steve
QUOTE(Kirk @ Jan 5 2012, 07:12 PM) *

It sounds like you are saying it's better to make a mediocre product than to make the best because it might be too hard to replicate.

Not at all. I think everyone should do as Martin did and grow their own or at least find a couple reliable sources.

I have seen shit hyssop and it's really not worthwhile making anything from it.

By the way, Kirk, your herbs are fantastic and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
Kirk
Well, I was talking to Artemis; "to make a product that bears the very signature of said hyssop. Buyers of this absinthe come to rely upon it continuing to be what it is. Then Kirk (or whoever - it matters not that it is Kirk) decides "to hell with growing and selling hyssop". Now the producer is up a creek."
We are talking of hyssop, last year I couldn't grow enough lemon balm, Pontica and Genepi, hopefully I can live up to everyones needs next year. The main reason I came up short on those is that I underestimated the demand. At the same time I burned 200 pounds of finished wormwood. It's a careful juggling act to not process too much of one and not enough of the other, very difficult to predict needs, very costly to work up herbs that later get composted.
Kirk
If I grew every pound that every producer promised to buy this year I would have burned over a ton of herbs, at a cost of every man hour I have in me. Petr wants me to feel for the ambitchious commercial producer that is worried I can't keep up with his imagined future production? Looks like more smoke to me.
If they were all making great absinthe this whole thread would be moot, but they aren't, not even one of them are. My original point is just one clue to those that would; Great absinthe requires great hyssop.
eric



Tibro
I can't grow tomatoes. And I have a hell of a time finding a proper one from commercial sources. A fruit that folks mostly use like a veg. It's true, sometimes I buy them canned. Difficult to do without. Difficult to give center stage to when there are no stars? If I'm feeding others sometimes I can distract them with my banter. Sometimes it's all I have. Shifting the focus sometimes counts as a save.
Kirk
. . .
Kirk
I'd list the bad absinthe on the market but it would take me all day so I'll just say;
Truth is, it's all bad.

But I'll give you:
maybe not equally.
Tibro
sbmac
Caring a lot about what you grow is a huge part of how good the results are… Climate and soil are only part of the recipe.

I was so impressed with the passion and dedication Kirk displayed when he showed me one of his genepi plants; explaining the details of how it is grown and carefully picked…how the tiny brown areas need to be avoided when selecting the final product. He had the same look and tone as every passionate craftsman or artist I've ever met.

I don't know much about the commercial absinthe process, but as a producer of custom guitars, I source some of my parts and services from small makers. I have had them vanish, quit, retire, and die, but it never stopped me from wanting the best; it's what you do when you want to produce something truly great.

I've always managed to find new people, and occasionally learned to do it myself as a result of learning from the best of them. Yes, what I do is on a small scale, but I would think that folks would want the best elements possible. Peter's questions made sense to me… All valid points from a business POV. Kirk's answers were the kind I'd want to hear if I were a commercial producer. But, like I said, I don't know the inner workings of the absinthe game.
Jaded Prole
If you're not obsessed with artisinal quality, you will create mediocrity.
Kirk
I hurt my head last night, did I kill anyone?
Kirk
Sorry Bro, I didn't mean that.
Artemis
QUOTE
Yeah, Petr was just trying to lay a paternal hand on my shoulder but it looked to me like "Hey kid, let me tell you how the real world works"


There's a difference?
Jaded Prole
Where botanical liqueurs are concerned, no supply is all that secure. Bad seasons happen as do droughts and pestilence. If one is that concerned about long term availability of ingredients, one should make something else.


I hope Kirk's hangover is subsiding.
Kirk
My head hurts and I just got done grinding 50 pounds of raw meat, not exactly a cure for me.
Greytail
Is that the "secret" ingredient in the "blues cat" absinthe?
Jaded Prole
You can't beat that meat!
sbmac
Secret Evil ingredient, that is.

IPB Image

Artemis
QUOTE(R3al Caravano @ Jan 6 2012, 03:17 AM) *
I so enjoy this conversion: that I will add something I enjoyed today as well.
"There's no measure for that distance. ....


That's the best thing you've ever posted here. After a long talk tonight with Eric, I was going to beat this dead horse a little more, but to hell with all that. I don't know who wrote that, but it's the best thing in this thread, and the best thing I've read anywhere in a long time.
Artemis
QUOTE
Shifting the focus sometimes counts as a save.


There it is.
Patlow
(Ed Lover Show says)

Come on, Son!
R3al Caravano
That was merely a stanza of one of my favorite poets: Albert Goldbarth. I highly suggest "Arts and Sciences" (where that one comes from) and "Corpulites" if you can find that one (it's well out of print and really hard to find), most of his other later works are not nearly as good…I had to sell a lot of my books when I was poor and recently started buying back the used copies that I really loved. I had the paperback of "Arts and Sciences" when I bought back a used copy it was a hardback and miraculously enough signed (bought back from from some random online vendor); it does not change the monetary value of the book, but I was very pleased.
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