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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Absinthe in the News & in the Media
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Jaded Prole
Today's paper article on Absinthe, better than the usual.
rob fritz
I remember Evan from last October in Pontarlier, nice fellow and the article is well written, just wish he learned that absinthe does not flow from a fountain wink.gif
Artemis
I'm not going to read it. Anybody who can't get that right can fuck off.
Bruno Rygseck
Thanks for posting this! A good article indeed.
Artemis
NY Times stuff almost never comes up for me anyway. They want me to jump through hoops to read their articles. It's not going to happen.
Tibro
Too many werdz. Not enough of them about beer.
OCvertDe
Good read. I somehow missed the part where he said anything about pouring Absinthe from a fountain… I'm not sure it exists, but it wasn't so good a read that I'm going to pick it apart to verify this.
rob fritz
it is the line directly below the first picture
Tibro
Cutlines are usually not written by the author of the story.
Jaded Prole
But was that him or the regular idiots at the Times? Nothing is perfect but I like how he treated the lady with respect and captured the feeling.




Lotta werdz but I like werdz betterrer than slurping carbonated mash.
Artemis
Writers of an article typically don't write the captions for photos, but they ought to given the courtesy of a review before publication. I once wrote an article about archery and provided a photo I had taken of an archer drawing a bow with stabilizers on it. They look like batons (the kind majorettes twirl) sticking straight out from the front face of the bow. When I saw the article in print, some idiot at the publisher's office had created a caption for the photo to the effect that the archer was "practicing with a dummy arrow" (a stabilizer). Indeed, a dummy was involved, but not at the archery club. I was highly pissed off because my name was on the story; readers who knew the difference, or even those who didn't but might intuit that no purpose whatsoever could possibly be served by a "dummy arrow", would think I was the ignoramus, not the anonymous fool who shat upon my work. So, as you were, Evan. No need for fucking off in this case. But the NY Times still sucks; this has been confirmed.
sbmac
Well, I was quite surprised by this article, and Artemis, I'd love for you to read it. I had no idea this was being written, nor that I was in the article. Were it not for a FB post by a friend, I would have missed it completely. I thought it odd, that after being quoted, and part of a story, that nobody from the Times let me know about it,
but no harm done.

What I can say, is that the writer was really genuine and interested. He hung out with us for a couple days,
and came to the party and fondue dinner. He really enjoyed the company, and spirit of friendship. He was eager to learn, asked lots of questions, and was happy to have mythology dispelled. The walk to Guy's distillery from the St Pierre with Habu, Martin Z. and a bunch of others was a fun day, and for the writer, was clearly very memorable. My favorite part was when Guy invited me up to his personal museum, and the whole gang of seven or eight followed us in. Guy, turned, looked down the stairs, and whistled as if to say "Shit… what have I done?"
OCvertDe
QUOTE(rob fritz @ Jul 6 2014, 08:13 AM) *

it is the line directly below the first picture

Ah yes, I see it now. And can now verify that it was, in fact, credited to someone other than the author.
Tibro
That's a photo credit. Cutlines are usually decided by the desk editor, although they may be created by someone lower on the food chain. One never knows, they're not substantial enough to be credited. Photos get paid for and become part of the photog's portfolio. They expect and deserve credit. The photographer or the author can suggest cutlines for the images but because of house style and/or page layout concerns they are usually only taken as suggestions.

The real revelation of the article may be that Guy makes absinthe. Who knew? Well, to be fair, Kyle Bairnsfather gives credit to vintage Guy for having inspired him to try his hand at absinthe distillation. Now there's pedigree.

And for the record, Evan's built a reputation on writing about beer.
sbmac
I believe he lives in Prague, and I recall him talking about beer as his thing. The fountain being filled with absinthe nonsense under the photo is certainly not from the writer, as he spent days drinking absinthe using fountains. That's clearly ignorance and lack of research on some underling at the last minute.

The only element that was missing from the article, was how absinthe brought all these people together. Bringing friends together, is something absinthe is pretty good at… a talisman of sorts, a symbol, or perhaps simply an excuse. For so many of us, that's the part that matters most.
Provenance
QUOTE
As I approached, I heard the gentle dribble of icy water. Just off the path stood a long basin carved out of a hollowed-out log, into which a stream flowed from a spigot overgrown with verdant moss, almost the same color as the traditional green version of the drink, absinthe verte.

QUOTE
But the bottle I had been promised was nowhere to be seen — spirited off, I imagined, by the Green Fairy herself, or some other mythical inhabitant of the Val-de-Travers.

QUOTE(Artemis @ Jul 5 2014, 02:16 PM) *
I'm not going to read it.

No loss.
Tibro
Yup, thems were the kinda werdz I thought there could be lesser of.
Artemis
It did occur to me that if the guy had been to one of those hen parties in Europe, surely he had seen a fountain in action and would know there was no absinthe in it, so I did think, no way he could have written that, but I got tired of thinking about it before I got to the editor fucking things up solution, which should have occurred to me immediately, but then that archery story was almost 30 years ago. In any case, I prematurely said he should fuck off, but the NY Times is another matter. Very rarely, if I click on a link to something of theirs, it actually comes up. Most often, all that comes up is a sign-up page. As I said, it's never going to happen. I detest them. But apart from that, I can understand signing up to write something and have it posted, but to read what's been posted? I can even understand pay to read, but if it's free anyway, what the fuck do they care who I am or (as is more likely) pretend to be?
QUOTE
But the bottle I had been promised was nowhere to be seen — spirited off, I imagined, by the Green Fairy herself, or some other mythical inhabitant of the Val-de-Travers.

Or an unshaven inhabitant of the Czech Republic.
Bruno Rygseck
QUOTE
He placed a few dry seeds from a different bag in my other hand, which I crushed with my fingers. The room filled with a flowery, fragrant perfume, like that of a strange, possibly poisonous plant.

“That’s the real wormwood,” he said.

Aren't wormwood seeds almost microscopic? Maybe he meant the flowers?
Artemis
Yes.
Probably.
Even the flowers are small.
Poisonous plants can smell pretty good indeed.
Oleander, for example, will kill you deader than dead.
Artemis
Okay, so I rolled the dice and clicked on it, and was rewarded by the article instead of the attitude inspection. Too many words, so I did a speed read. Hard to find any fault. More of a travelogue than a dissection of absinthe, but that's not a bad thing. Not enough gonzo for me, but that's not for everyone.
Jack Batemaster
Comme un livre, trop de mots …
Hillbilly
QUOTE
Christophe Racine, a former druggist and onetime bootlegger, explained “While absinthe was banned, no one had the real wormwood, but used pharmaceutical wormwood."
Is that what made most Swiss la bleues, from what I've read from reviews, to have been almost carbon copies of each other, and just "ok"?
QUOTE
Now try this,---“That’s the real wormwood,” he said.
Now that the Swiss are again farming their own wormwood, the la bleues of today would be better now than just a few short years ago?
Tibro
QUOTE
Or an unshaven inhabitant of the Czech Republic.

?????????????????
IPB Image

Prolly only spirits away rouge assbinths.
Artemis
I found that comment confusing and wrote it off to Swiss distillateur bluster, of which there has never been a shortage, but now that I think about it, there was probably a failure to communicate - I'm confident he was talking about fennel. As previously noted, only Florence fennel is suitable for absinthe. Not too many years ago I was researching herbs for an absinthe "study group" (cough, cough) and learned that as of that year, the vast majority of fennel grown in Europe was destined (as it had been for many years) for the pharmaceutical industry (you know, to flavor cough syrup and the like). That's commonly known as Indian fennel (Jack called it roadside fennel) and good absinthe can't be made with it. And yes, it might well be responsible, at least in part, for the famous cow pasture nuance of clandestine Swiss bleues.
Artemis
That would also explain "a few dry seeds from a different bag" being crushed and giving off a perfume - that's sweet fennel. As Bruno noted, wormwood seeds are almost too small to see, let alone crush, and they aren't used for making absinthe anyway. They probably don't have much of a scent either, although I've never stuck my snout into a handful - that's inviting respiratory distress - smelling wormwood is risky bidness.
eric
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jul 8 2014, 06:19 AM) *
only Florence fennel is suitable for absinthe.


While there is an element of truth in that statement, it is not completely correct. PF stated in their literature that the fennel they used came from the Gard region of France (fenouil du Gard). I would wager that this was not the same as Florence fennel. It more than likely was the same sweet fennel (fenouil doux) that is still produced in southern France for the pharmaceutical industry. Of course one can make a very good absinthe with the seeds derived from sweet Italian bulb fennel or "Florance fennel". I would tend to believe that the majority of Absinthe produced in France and Switzerland prior to the ban did not use it.
Jaded Prole
I agree. I have some fennel doux growing in my yard -- a large plant into its fourth year -- and the fruit is very sweet and reminiscent of that found in the best absinthes.
Jack Batemaster
du Gard
ou
de garde
?

Artemis
Fennel doux (doux=sweet) is grown in southern France for pharmaceuticals, and it was also used by Pernod Fils (according to Eric).
BUT pharmaceutical fennel is the fennel that was used during the ban, thus leading to inferior absinthe (according to Racine).
Something doesn't jibe ...

I have been using the term "Florence fennel" loosely (and even said so previously) to mean sweet fennel as opposed to bitter fennel (roadside fennel, pharmaceutical fennel). Florence fennel is sweet fennel, but not all sweet fennel is Florence fennel. Eric is correct about that. Allow me to clarify: only SWEET fennel (as opposed to bitter fennel) is suitable for absinthe.

Sweet fennel is NOT grown in southern France (or anywhere else in Europe) for the pharmaceutical industry, and here is why:
The European Pharmacopoeia REQUIRES that pharmacopeial grade fennel seed contain not less than four percent volatile oils. AND that volatile oil must be composed of not less than 15% fenchone.
Fenchone is a bitter mixture with a camphor-like odor and flavor. It's what makes roadside fennel nasty.
Bitter fennel oil contains 18-22% fenchone. Sweet fennel oil contains little or none (but it contains a large amount, relatively, of anethole).
The crop grown for the pharmaceutical industry is bitter fennel (roadside fennel). Case closed.
Bitter fennel was almost certainly never used by Pernod Fils for absinthe. If Racine is correct, it was used by bootleggers; he doesn't say why, but apparently they didn't know any better, or it was all they could get, the agriculture for sweet fennel having turned exclusively to the vegetable market after the vast market for the seed collapsed with the absinthe ban.

In summary, I should have been saying that only "sweet" fennel is suitable for absinthe, not that only "Florence" fennel is suitable. Although, Florence fennel is the best sweet fennel and I can prove that with numbers too, if I have to. If Pernod Fils was using sweet fennel grown in France, it was Florence fennel grown in France, or, it was a different variety but with a similar anethole content. There were no doubt considerations other than anethole content for not importing from Italy, such as Customs duties or the like. So, I apologize for engendering confusion by not being precise with words. It wasn't because I didn't know the difference precisely, it was because I was lazy. But I was right about everything else. harhar.gif



Artemis
QUOTE(Jack Batemaster @ Jul 8 2014, 06:55 PM) *
du Gard
ou
de garde?

Apparently it's du Gard. I can find no references to fenouil de Gard (damned few for du Gard). The grammatic differences between de and du would vex a saint. Apparently it's something French speakers do naturally but have a hard time explaining.
Artemis
Or I have a hard time understanding.
http://www.rocketlanguages.com/your-commun...ammar/du-vs-de/
QUOTE
DE and DU are not interchangeable.
'Du' is used as a preposition meaning 'of' or as an adjective meaning 'any/some.'

'De' means 'of/from' in when relating to a noun.

I hope this example sentences help to clarify.

I'd like a slice of bread = Je voudrais une tranche de pain
I'd like some bread = Je voudrais du pain

L'eau a un goût de vin = The water tastes like (of) wine
J'aime le goût du vin = I like the taste of wine


These examples don't help to clarify a thing from a place, but it would seem that it should be "de Gard" based upon the explanation from an alleged master of French.

The moral of the story is, French is fucked up. There's no way to be right, especially if you're a Belgian or an American.
sbmac
My understanding of the fennel thing, as a new student of this subject of various fennels, is that florence fennel is a bulb version of the plant, while the fennel doux, is the non-bulb version of fennel, grown for seed. One of the confusing factors, is that seed and spice companies will often throw all the names together under the heading, in parenthesis, like this: Fennel Seed (Common fennel, sweet fennel, florence fennel). It confused the shit out of me until Eric helped me understand that the seed I'd been sent, was the high-quality herb variety, grown for seed, not the bulb type.

The seeds in bulb fennel will vary, and the vulgar or common fennel is nasty stuff for absinthe. I've had some HGs made by folks who buy this stuff from spice shops, and it's just wrong for absinthe. Florence fennel, though bulb variety, is still really tasty stuff, though it is not typically grown for its seed, but for its bulbs.

If I'm not mistaken, the amazing fennel sold by Kirk, is the herb, non-bulb variety, that is grown for seed. These seeds are exceptionally great. Again, please let me know if I'm wrong about any of this.
Jack Batemaster
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jul 8 2014, 03:11 PM) *

Or I have a hard time understanding.
http://www.rocketlanguages.com/your-commun…ammar/du-vs-de/
QUOTE
DE and DU are not interchangeable.
'Du' is used as a preposition meaning 'of' or as an adjective meaning 'any/some.'

'De' means 'of/from' in when relating to a noun.

I hope this example sentences help to clarify.

I'd like a slice of bread = Je voudrais une tranche de pain
I'd like some bread = Je voudrais du pain

L'eau a un goût de vin = The water tastes like (of) wine
J'aime le goût du vin = I like the taste of wine


These examples don't help to clarify a thing from a place, but it would seem that it should be "de Gard" based upon the explanation from an alleged master of French.

The moral of the story is, French is fucked up. There's no way to be right, especially if you're a Belgian or an American.


En fait, je pense que parce que le «Gard» est une région et la dernière lettre n'est pas une voyelle : on utilise «du». Si le «Gard» est une ville (pas une region ou un pays), on utilise «de». Si on épelle le «Gard» comme «Garde», on utilise aussi «de».


Jack Batemaster
Je viens du Maroc.
Je viens de France.
Je viens des États-Unis.
Je viens du Washington.
Je viens de Californie.
Je viens de Seattle.
Je viens de Los Angeles.
Artemis
QUOTE
Again, please let me know if I'm wrong about any of this.

I wouldn't quibble with it, except that I have always been under the impression, based upon the fact that so many old texts about absinthe refer to Florence fennel, that Florence fennel was at that time, apart from whatever status it had as a vegetable, also grown for seed, and those seeds were used in absinthe and apparently preferred, at least by some distillers of repute, for making absinthe.
It has been my assumption that after absinthe was banned, there was no longer a market for Florence fennel seed, other than for planting more fennel for eating, so the supply of said seed was greatly diminished. Obviously the same would be true of any fennel grown for seed for the absinthe industry. Today it may be the case that Florence fennel is grown more for the bulbs than for the seed, but it wouldn't surprise me if the seed market is making a recovery. My comment about it being preferable is based upon a study of the types and amounts of essential oils found in numerous fennels. Some are tasty in absinthe (anethole) some are not (fenchone) and some are a matter of taste (limonene). Keep in mind that there are several varieties of Florence fennel as well. And as you said, the terms being used loosely has always been a problem - that's what led me to make the study in the first place. It is of course possible that in these old texts, something other than a bulb-producing plant was meant by "Florence fennel", but you can bet your ass that whatever it was not, it WAS a sweet fennel producing seeds with high anethole and low fenchone content. I have rested satisfied lo these ten years that when they said Florence fennel, that's exactly what they meant, but obviously that's risky today, much less across a distance of more than 100 years.
Artemis
QUOTE
was the high-quality herb variety, grown for seed, not the bulb type

To be clear, all fennel produces seed (or will if it's allowed to go to seed), as far as I know. Florence fennel, and maybe some others, produces a bulb-like structure that's eaten as a vegetable. The bulb itself, as far as absinthe is concerned, was never in the discussion.
Artemis
QUOTE
Je viens du Maroc.
Je viens de France.
Je viens des États-Unis.
Je viens du Washington.
Je viens de Californie.
Je viens de Seattle.
Je viens de Los Angeles.


Casey Jones with the yellow pants
Tried to go to heaven but he went to France
sbmac
Artemis, you got me thinking, and then I realized I had a small bottle of Devoille's fennel distillate, from the samples Ian had made up for LDF, of the various herbs, distilled. I opened the fennel bottle and took a sniff. It smelled just like vulgare. I looked at the label, and yes… that's what he used. Common fennel, not florence. So I mixed up a correct portion of AA, Anise, and his fennel distillates, and I got what tastes like absinthe made with crappy fennel. Go figure. It has the distinct funky flavor that common fennel seeds have, as well as the same aroma. You helped me nail something down, so thank you. It is a flavor that I've noticed in quite a few absinthes, and is proof that there are distillers taking the low road with vulgare. Kirk's fennel in contrast, tastes like candy.

Kirk, BTW, those chamomile blossoms you sent were so off-the- hook amazing, I have no words.
Artemis
But even the sweet fennels are broadly classified as vulgare. I long ago decided that you only know what you've got when you've got it, and you know what you've got because you know it (i.e., recognize it from personal experience), usually by having learned the hard way.
QUOTE
It has the distinct funky flavor that common fennel seeds have, as well as the same aroma.

Fenchone. I believe the EU regulates fenchone in absinthe, which is not as misguided as regulation of chop.gif . I seem to remember that there are possible issues with limonene (carcinogen?) as well, and I have to wonder about the possible connection of Spanish Lemon Pledge™ absinthes such as La Sala with poorly selected fennel.
Kirk
What I have is Fennel Doux, FOENICULUM vulgare DULCE, a non bulb forming fennel. Florence fennel is Foeniculum vulgare azoricum it forms a bulb and is grown mainly for that bulb, commonly called finnochio or sometimes anis. To confuse things further, other types of non bulb forming fennel are used as ingredients in food, namely Indian fennel, bronze fennel, 'Purpureum' or 'Nigra', bronze-leaved, these are not good at all in absinthe.
Florence fennel is best used as a vegetable, the bulb and in sausage, the seed. Distilled florence fennel tastes to me like sausage, distilled doux tastes more like candy, candy is good. I've had good absinthe made with florence fennel, but it smelled and tasted like italian sausage.


I excerpted this from an email from a knowledgeable supplier:
"Out of France Our usual sourcing is Egypt and India. I dont know Turkey and Syria quality
The main difference between fennel is their contents in anethol and estragol
Egypt and India small content in anethol, strong content in estragol and the contrary in french fennel
As to the relation between price and quantity: there is no relation for french fennel because the quantities produced are small and every crop is sold immediatly when made and often before".
Artemis
I don't remember any discussion of estragole in the research material, but apparently it also has an anise-like flavor. Apparently it's also carcinogenic. Interesting about the sausage. It's entirely possible that the old references to Florence fennel were really about one or more non-bulb producing sweet fennels, and they were using the term broadly out of custom or ignorance.
The crux of the biscuit is that fennel seeds with as much anethole as possible, and as little as possible of everything else, or almost everything else, are best for absinthe.
Steve
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jul 8 2014, 04:19 AM) *

now that I think about it, there was probably a failure to communicate - I'm confident he was talking about fennel.


Nope. We (Marc, Sevil, Rob Fritz and myself) recently visited Christophe Racine and he said exactly the same thing about wormwood, pharmaceutical and farmed. He had samples of each that he had us smell. The pharmaceutical wormwood smelled like… nothing.
Artemis
I have that study, it's part of the research to which I had reference. I even consulted the table several times in the course of making the above posts. But the table calls it methyl chavicol, which is why I missed it - a footnote does equate it with estragole. Thanks.
QUOTE
he said exactly the same thing about wormwood, pharmaceutical and farmed. He had samples of each that he had us smell. The pharmaceutical wormwood smelled like… nothing.

Okay then. Maybe he held out a handful of wormwood seeds too. But I've had enough absinthe with the "wrong" wormwood and the "wrong" fennel to know that the former isn't as fragrant as it could be (smells like nothing), while the latter smells like something, and that something is not good. Maybe most Swiss clandestine distillers were using lesser quality wormwood (all of them? - bullshit), but I what I tasted in those Bleues wasn't that.
QUOTE
Is that what made most Swiss la bleues, from what I've read from reviews, to have been almost carbon copies of each other, and just "ok"?
QUOTE
Now that the Swiss are again farming their own wormwood, the la bleues of today would be better now than just a few short years ago?

Yes and yes, if you want a simplified version, and a Swiss pharmacist ought to know. Swiss meter maids know more about absinthe than anybody in America.
Hillbilly
QUOTE
Yes and yes, if you want a simplified version

Thank you and thank you. And yes in my case usually the simplerer, the betterer. Although, this thread has been an excellent read with much knowledge shared. I had pretty much stayed away from trying many swiss la bleues for the fact of the mediocre reviews they had received over the years. Now, when the opportunity arises again (ie positive cash flow) it's good to know they may be a viable choice. For I've noticed lately I really enjoy a good clear, uncolored absinthe from time to time. So again, thank you gentlemen for your willingness to share your plethora of knowledge..
Kirk
I have a hard time with the idea that farmers, making clandestine booze, could not find wormwood growing wild, it's an invasive weed, what happened to all the fields of wormwood? Fennel a little less so, but not much, it's easy to grow if you have seed and climate. I have heard said that Pontica was commonly used in place of wormwood. But then, I saw an old paper that Artemis translated that said to grow petite absinthe, sow a new field with wormwood, when it comes up the first time, harvest it and voila: petite wormwood.
In reading up on fennel and other herbs, I have found that the experts disagree about where the line is drawn between subspecies, when I try to nail down the big suppliers for a true name, they usually fall back on "it's genepi Ssp. or 'fennel ssp" and I have to rely on my senses to guide the way. 'A rose by any other name"..
I once got stuck with a load of fennel that tested with a spike of benzene, I wonder if that was really estragole?
sbmac
Really great info guys, thanks.

Provenance
QUOTE(Artemis @ Jul 8 2014, 01:08 PM) *
The European Pharmacopoeia REQUIRES that pharmacopeial grade fennel seed contain not less than four percent volatile oils. AND that volatile oil must be composed of not less than 15% fenchone.
Fenchone is a bitter mixture with a camphor-like odor and flavor. It's what makes roadside fennel nasty.
Bitter fennel oil contains 18-22% fenchone. Sweet fennel oil contains little or none (but it contains a large amount, relatively, of anethole).
The crop grown for the pharmaceutical industry is bitter fennel (roadside fennel).

I wonder which type of fennel was used by Cusenier Oxygenee. The sample I tried was distinctly camphor like and medicinal. Perhaps Cusenier used roadside fennel on the premise that it was healthier. Or, perhaps, the problem was with the sample.
Artemis
QUOTE
I have a hard time with the idea that farmers, making clandestine booze, could not find wormwood growing wild, it's an invasive weed, what happened to all the fields of wormwood?

Indeed. What happened to the dinosaurs? They're all around us. They're birds.
Wormwood and fennel are both considered invasive weeds by the USDA precisely because they go to seed and grow almost anywhere. All those fields in Switzerland went extinct? No, they evolved. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer, but I have a problem with touristy answers, especially from people with an ax to grind (the whole national pride IGP Swiss bullshit). This is the REAL (fill in the blank) ...
QUOTE
to grow petite absinthe, sow a new field with wormwood, when it comes up the first time, harvest it and voila: petite wormwood

Yeah, I had a problem understanding what was meant there, but that was written by farmers. No touristy nuance.
QUOTE
and I have to rely on my senses to guide the way

Exactly. You know it when you know it, know other way.
QUOTE
I wonder which type of fennel was used by Cusenier Oxygenee.

You have reference to the bottle at Allentown. It was so camphorocious, it was sinkable without further delay. It would have kept moths out of the closet. I thought 100 years of degradation had been unkind to it, but yeah, you have to wonder what went into it in the first place.
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