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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Absinthe History
Artemis
I had always thought that "Premier" was supposed to be descriptive of a certain brand of absinthe (in short, advertising copy), but it wasn't, it was the family name of the man who started the distillery. Anyway, someone posted a 1930s newspaper article about him at the French forum and I translated it. Rather than chew my cabbage twice, I'll just link it here rather than post the whole mess.

http://www.museeabsinthe.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2719
Jaded Prole
Thanks. Great work, I could feel the pain of dumping those great vats into the river. Though I've never had the chance to taste Premier fils. I'm grateful for the reawakening, however gradual, of the green fairy.
Provenance
I think I tried it. I remember it as being quite light and floral.
L'Assommoir
Nice work! Thanks for the translation!
Artemis
Thanks, guys.
It proved to be not as informative as I had hoped at first glance, but it contained some nice details, such as the dumping of the absinthe, and the fact that the government promised to compensate people and never delivered (go figure).
I'm not sure if I've ever tasted Premier.
Some further rudimentary research indicates that probably a lot of wormwood came from the Vercors area and the Dauphine Alps in the late 19th century, so I doubt Premier was the only distiller to use it. I don't know what the situation is today, but surely the same quantity of wormwood isn't produced there today, even if the quality is the same, which maybe it's not. It goes to an issue that's been discussed here and at the French forum - why aren't people making something that good anymore?
Hillbilly
Thank you for the translation. That was a very enjoyable read. Even for a simple fellow like me.
Although I did feel a tinge of sadness reading where after all those years of hard work, and growing your passion into a thriving business, to have it yanked out from under you and told NO MORE! Having your livelihood stolen by an ignorant mass of misinformed gubment and public officials.

Yes, I felt a small piece of his pain.

And shame.
Jaded Prole
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jan 22 2014, 08:08 PM) *

It goes to an issue that's been discussed here and at the French forum - why aren't people making something that good anymore?

I would say that what was being made by then was the product of a century of knowledge and an infrastructure of agriculture that no longer exists. I also doubt that there was as much government regulation as the liquor industry has today -- especially toward Absinthe. Finally, the period in which pre-ban Absinthe was made was a time of high craft where products were a mark of pride, not simply commodities to squeeze as much profit out of as possible from production shortcuts to market. Even then, as the article states, " The great producers could be counted on a few fingers. "
Kirk
Industrial agriculture is a deal with the devil.
Tibro
I doubt that the devil of industrial agriculture was as sinister then as it is today. I'd be inclined to think it might have been as benign, in many ways, as much of modern mom and pop production is today. Better living through chemistry and all.
Artemis
Which brings to mind a question I might as well pose here. With some states easing up on cannabis, someone asked me (not in these exacts words), how is the supply side being addressed? I didn't know. Is the stuff being furnished by the government? I know the federal government has (or used to) a cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi. Or will growers be licensed and taxed? Or what? It's an agriculture that could put a lot of people in the green, so to speak. Not that they aren't already, but I mean legally. The government can always find ways to fuck such a thing up, but at least it's not the nightmare that prohibition is.

EDIT: I received an answer privately that satisfies my curiosity, so nobody needs to address it further. I can understand why it's a sensitive subject, and it was out of place in this thread to begin with, but we don't do moving, hiding, and deleting of posts here, so I'll leave it up.
Artemis
QUOTE
I would say that what was being made by then was the product of a century of knowledge and an infrastructure of agriculture that no longer exists.

Well it's not that the question remained unanswered. I answered that way myself, but it's nice to get validation from old published sources. Old commies, too.
QUOTE
a time of high craft where products were a mark of pride, not simply commodities to squeeze as much profit out of as possible from production shortcuts to market
.
Speaking of that, also over there, it was announced (for the how many-eth time?) that Pernod is going to make a real absinthe. Yawn. Someone (an American, actually, I think the same person who posed the first question) said yay! I disagreed, to put it mildly.
Artemis
QUOTE
after all those years of hard work, and growing your passion into a thriving business

Check this out:
IPB Image
Jaded Prole
Nice!
Artemis
I tried to find photos of the town today, but none of them were satisfactory. I did run across that old bill of sale, and the size of the factory amazed me. Apparently that's the place in the suburbs that was built after the original at the Place de Fontaine in town was too small. If I understand correctly, when they resumed operations to make pastis, it was back at the Place de Fontaine, and not at the bigger place. It's likely gone today. Note that the bill of sale is not for liquor of any kind, but for "empty sacks", 250 of them at 35 (cents, I guess) each for a total of 70 (francs, I guess).
Hillbilly
That header is a thing of beauty.
Kirk
I agree with Tibro about the agricultural practices of the past, it was all the same as home grown back then. Today we have a deal where you can buy anything and none of it worth consuming.
L'Assommoir
found More about Premier:
Website, book and museum
http://absinthepremier.com/book.php
Artemis
Nice. A lot cheaper than the old books cited in the article, too.
Artemis
I've been pursuing a search for photos or something of any remaining trace of the Premier factory, with no luck. However, I did find this:
http://www.ac-grenoble.fr/action.culturell...aRevolution.pdf
See page eight. It seems to be a source for the newspaper article, because some of the phrasing is identical. There are some additional details, such as the fact that Premier went out of business altogether in the late 1950s, and their pastis was based upon star anise and licorice (bleh).
Hindering the search is the fact that "Germançon" doesn't seem to be in use anymore as the name of a suburb of, or area near, Romans-sur-Isère. However, the PDF above says the factory was "entre Savasse et Martinette". The Savasse is a river and the Martinette is a canal. They meet at the river Isère.
http://www.ville-romans.fr/upload/docs/5f3...4b3e599baa1.pdf
Here's what the junction of the streams looks like today (http://supermomo07.skyrock.com/3179175043-VISITE-DU-CANAL-DE-LA-MARTINETTE-photo-SM07-PAGE-1-6.html):
IPB Image
I took a little liberty with the translation; it doesn't say the absinthe was dumped into the river, but into the stream. Maybe it was the canal. In any case, the louche is long gone and the absinthe sleeps with the fishes.
L'Assommoir
Here is a website with tons of pictures on Premier

Keep clicking on the 3 flashing arrows for the next page

Here
Artemis
Thanks again; that seems to be much more than even the museum you previously cited has. Too much to digest today, for sure; I'm plumb wore out researching half a dozen subjects. I do have something to add to my original post, but it requires help at the French forum first. Maybe tomorrow.

Artemis
I noticed yesterday that I had left two paragraphs out of the translation - the final two. I had transcribed them, but they were on a separate page and didn't get translated with the rest. They've been added to the piece now, at the link above. This, about pastis, almost made me smile:

" ... tolerable even to the nervous and the bad-tempered, who found in absinthe a terrible aggravating factor for their condition ..."
Provenance
There was a time when absinthe aggravated the ill-tempered. . . .
Artemis
Yeah, every time I drank it, according to my wife and daughter.
It's not without historical precedent, though, Rimbaud pissing on the table and chasing people with a sword and all.
Hillbilly
QUOTE
This, about pastis,
Speaking of…

QUOTE
Pastis is still the preferred French apéritif, especially in the summertime and especially in southern France. After absinthe was banned in France in 1915, substitutes were made at home. People purchased distilled wine spirit from local wineries or the pharmacy and rectified it with anise seeds. No two pastis tasted the same. Sure, there were government limits on the alcohol content, the addition of sweetening, and the distillate's clarity when diluted with water. Officials were still pressured by winegrowers to eradicate distilled spirits in France. They still subscribed to the feeling anise-flavoured spirits were dangerous and caused drunkenness.


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