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Absinthe Ben

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Everything posted by Absinthe Ben

  1. Everyone, Jules has just tipped me off that Eric has been in a hit and run accident. Please give him a call or e-mail and keep him in your prayers. 512-324-7929
  2. Gwydion let's not be rash here, this relationship can still be saved with some...tough love : I think we're all rooting on the Absinthe Mafia to expand. They have the advantage of living in the country that promotes most of these misconceptions. I told Martin once they get bigger they need to organize a march for genuine absinthe!
  3. After a while it became in your best interest to look for trouble, eh? I used to get time outs, which worked well because I liked to snooze...
  4. Hi there, new member. I hope you'll stick around for a while!

  5. man, I haven't seen Ron or Ken either here or at TARN forum for a while now. Tell them to quit hiding for so long, will ya?:)

  6. So I've read, yes. I spent several days reading both sides' arguments a while back, but eventually gave up once threads started going into double-digit page lengths. If there's any sort of enlightening tidbits I need to hear, feel free to PM me. To get insanely geeky and reveal myself as a recovering nerd, this calls to mind one of my favorite aspects of the original "Ghost in the Shell" movie, when the major is discussing her cyborg body's ability to metabolize alcohol at will. "We can just sit here knocking them back, while we wait for our orders". That was a great scene. Why do you wish to recover from being a nerd? I own both films...
  7. Just saw some photos from the get-together with Joe. Man, that looked like a good time!

  8. I guess it was something I said. I really did mean this;I think maybe we need a date night. A couple of absinthes, soft music and candlelight. I think you'll see I'm not such a bad guy! It actually wasn't your post that I was refering to when I mentioned declaring my allegiances. It was something that happened on another forum, where I was directly accused of having a financial interest in one or more companies: When I made the declaration: No one even acknowledged that I had made the declaration at all. Brian, I hope you did not take it as a gesture of skepticism when I didn't directly reply to your declaration of non-affiliation. I thought it spoke for itself, and I take you at your word. Again, being aware of some of the crap you go through, I probably should have said something to affirm my confidence that your words are truthful. Hearing this puts the mind at ease, and I'm sorry to say I did nothing to ease your worries that day.
  9. Bill is so overcome with tears of joy in that photo, it is a true testament to his love for absinthe. Anyway, it looks like a blast! I sincerely wish I could have made it, Joe. Y'all need to move to Detroit already so we can have louche-fests every weekend...
  10. (In reply to Marlow): Again, the idea is to gradually tone down the references to "effect" before removing them completely so sales don't drop off too suddenly. All references, no matter how vague, WILL be removed 100% eventually. The "anise-free" section is something I think we can take care of much sooner. I've just shot off an e-mail asking it to be removed. If you have not already, please read through the rest of the thread and I think you'll see that substantial changes have already been made. I made it very clear that while there has been serious progress, it will take some time before we're walkin' on sunshine. And I'm glad that's the answer...I thought about it hard, and concluded that it was a fact that needed to be transparent in this conversation. Ben, sorry if this caused you any personal discomfort. I think you know I like and admire you and the work you do. Frankly, I think your position in this conversation is actually enhanced by this issue being perfectly clear. I guess it was something I said. I really did mean this; I think maybe we need a date night. A couple of absinthes, soft music and candlelight. I think you'll see I'm not such a bad guy! There is this glaring need in the Absinthe.FM FAQ still; I've had a shitty day. <opinionation mode is off> You know what? After being reminded of all the crap Brian goes through, I feel like a gangsta crying over a paper cut. FPB, you were not out of line, I just over-reacted to a fair question. Maybe I've just been spoiled lately because I haven't been call a snob/elitist/bullshitter for a couple of days. I should have been more clear right from the beginning, absolutely, and being prompted to plainly state I am not affiliated surely has added credibility to this effort. Actually, some credit must be given to Brian here, too. A few days ago he sent me some handy data illustrating some changes in the market that I believe Mike found to be very encouraging. Kudos! Thanks again for the kind words and support! Speedle and Scuto, I agree completely, this'll toughen me up, as I've apparently gotten soft lately. I could be losing my edge, so consider this getting into shape to be a badass again. FPB, thanks for pointing out some loose ends, I will shoot off an e-mail and try to get these resolved. Sorry to hear your day was shitty...a drink or two usually helps me feel better so give that a shot.
  11. All this "we" has had me wondering from early in this conversation... Ben, do you have some kind of fiduciary relationship to any of the Alandia sites? I think it's a fair question. This, also, heightened my curiosity. I have to say I'm saddened that my integrity would be questioned so easily... I am neither employed nor have any sort of affiliation with Alandia. If I did, I wouldn't have put all that work into the survey (will be taken annually), which was passed to ALL vendors to help them improve. I also keep in contact with Kamal on a regular basis to give feedback, discuss upcoming absinthe, etc for DUNY. What else would I say other than "we" when Mike and I are collaborating on improvements? I suppose I could say "Mike and I", but that would be a little tedious... Mike asked if I wanted to create a custom pack that included some of my top choices from their selection, so I took him up on it, yes. I think it should help some new customers looking for an introduction to absinthe.
  12. Any spoilers on who some of your early interviews are with?
  13. Brian, thank you for acknowledging the improvements. As someone also engaged a business career, I'm sure you're well aware that these are tweaks that will completely turn the website on its noggin'. We are setting up a rough timeline of where we want to be and how quickly things can progress without causing a plummet in sales. Joe, if you are worried about the thujone issue, just let me reiterate that eventually Mike DOES want it gone COMPLETELY. But even assuming, say, 20% of his customers are buying based on thujone (and I think we both know it's likely more than that), going cold turkey could have too drastic an effect on business in short order. Even just removing the word thujone is a large first step for someone that has been promoting it for several years. Right now we are looking at ways to give Czechsinth drinkers some sort of incentive to come to the side of genuine absinthe. We are pondering the idea of, for instance, a Duplais mini with any order over $75. That would give Czechsinth drinkers a chance to discover genuine absinthe that they probably never would have bothered with otherwise. Do you have any other ideas we could implement, Joe? Any feedback would be helpful, my friend. Also, you'll be happy to note that I received an e-mail this morning letting me know that he will start going over and revising product descriptions at Alandia before long to tone down thujone mentions. But for the most part, let's try to keep the focus on Absinthe.FM, as its progress over the months will dictate how quickly we can move on to other things like Alandia. The point is, the per bottle rate can be cheaper in some instances, more expensive in others. It could be said that LDF's $52 shipping rate for one bottle is excessive because of the flat rate, but that would be equally unfair. Because of that flat rate, it's not worth a purchase unless you purchase 3 bottles. At .fm most purchases are not going to be worthwhile unless 4 bottles are purchased. So overall, LdF may be a better value in some cases, but like I illustrated, in others .fm can also be the better value. But let's not make this a scenario of picking sides. LdF and DUNY are great sources for authentic absinthe, I don't think anyone is questioning that. Absinthe.fm is getting there, but again, this will take time, and we need to understand that the changes already made are considered massive. To put this into perspective: when I was e-mailing the various US vendors whose absinthe makes up less than 1% of their selection, most of them wouldn't budge on even a single brand. Some I spent a week talking to with zero results. Compare that to changing half of your stock, knowing full well that business will take some sort of hit due to your actions, and that should be deserving of some sort of commendation, don't you think?
  14. A couple other things to note: -Mata Hari will also be removed at both Absinthe.fm and Alandia once the remaining stock is gone. -Alandia has actually already made a few changes like dropping Tabu Strong and Staro Red. -Just added as Absinthe of the Month at Alandia: Eichelberger Brut 83.2 Festival Edition (2007), which is exclusive. It's a start! Though it should be noted that some references have been removed altogether. Let's keep in mind that we can't make decisions that will allow half his customer base to fall off a cliff. With the way business was conducted in the past, there is probably a considerable number of his customers that consider thujone a factor. We will be watching and analyzing the sales trends very carefully before toning it down further, but it will come eventually. Mike DOES want thujone references to be gone ENTIRELY, but cannot afford to do so at the moment. Yes, precisely Bill. When I was pleading my case with him right from the beginning I tried to stress the point that the support of the community will make up for any lost business from his thujone-crazed customers. DUNY's success regarding absinthe from word of mouth comes to mind. Also, like you said, part of his motivation to keep improving is going to come from the community giving him a pat on the back and encouraging him to keep going. Yes, the prices are a bit higher to make up for the free shipping offer, admittedly. But assuming you order enough to qualify it's really not bad at all. Let's compare ordering Eich 68 from LDF vs. Eich 70 from a.fm: a.fm: Eich 70: $65 Shipping: $0 TOTAL PRICE: $65 LdF: Eich 68: $52 Shipping: (for one bottle, assuming 3 are ordered, flat rate price): Approx $17 TOTAL COST: $69 Doesn't seem so outrageous anymore, eh? Also, ordering in multipacks saves you $15 at .fm, so assuming you decided to go that route, that same example would be about $10 cheaper per bottle at Absinthe.fm. When comparing to DUNY, I'm not saying this vendor should be a replacement, but at the very least another consideration; With a per bottle rate of $50-$100, it is about the same price range, and there are plenty not available stateside.
  15. This is the announcement I published this morning: "Around this time, I had intended to post a follow-up report to the 2009 absinthe survey detailing changes that various absinthe vendors have since made to improve their selection. With the exception of Bevmo, I heard back personally from every source I had sent it to, assured with lavish promises of reform. I’m sad to report that despite the survey being widely cited, the response from actual vendors has been minimal. But there is one absinthe vendor that has really stepped up to the plate the past few weeks and taken a genuine pledge to improve. But this is more than just an empty pledge, serious action has already been taken. Mike Schallehn, owner of the well-known absinthe vendor Alandia, has completely overhauled its US-focused sister site Absinthe.fm. Last month, I contacted Mike and we had several conversations regarding the future of absinthe, thujone, and what brands are currently available to his customers. After much planning, you can see that working hand-in-hand, the Absinthe.fm absinthe selection has been improved by over 50%. In addition to overhauling the absinthe selection, "do-it-yourself" items like absinthe essences, and all instances of the word "thujone" have been completely removed. Furthermore, I am thrilled to announce that later this year, work will also begin on Alandia. We need to understand, of course, that Alandia is a massively larger absinthe source, and therefore it is not practical to expect a similar undertaking, but a more gradual, carefully planned execution. For those that are unfamiliar with the Alandia brand, it is one of the top absinthe vendors in the world, providing service to thousands of absinthe enthusiasts in every global absinthe market. I cannot stress enough how significant this change will be to the absinthe market over time. It can be said with confidence that Alandia is a vendor that we will be able to support wholeheartedly. Many factors will dictate the pace at which this rebirth will develop, including sales figures, the absinthe market in its entirety, and the current state of the global economy. Please keep these factors in mind, and realize that this is not a transformation that can be completed overnight. TARN will continue to work with Mr. Schallehn into 2010. We ask that you, the absinthe community, would support this decision with both encouragement and feedback as we continue to push forward." I'll probably be gone by the time people start seeing this announcement, but I should have a chance to check in later this evening and address any comments or questions, as I'm sure there are some things WS will want clarified!
  16. Sounds like a plan! I just wish you were based out of Detroit. Let me know the details and I'd be happy to help get the word out for ya. EDIT: Eh? What happened to the smashing photos of Obsello?
  17. I'm sorry if I'm echoing anyone else's post, as I admittedly did not have time to read every single thought. Regarding the newbie intimidation factor, the way I see it, it has more to do with the number of points involved for each criteria, not necessarily the total number of points. If you look at Fee Verte, it must be terrifying for a first-timer. "I have THIRTY points to work with for aroma? Why are there more points for aroma than taste? I have to rate the colour twice? Help me!" The WS system is very friendly to newbs, but at the expense of detailed scoring. Also, there is still one area of confusion with the two Overall ratings; one representing the "overall average of scores" and the other an "overall impression" so to speak. Personally, I like having as much info as possible, but a lot of people are going to want a more firm bottom line. A half-point system would not be nearly as intimidating as FV; aroma 19/30 or 3 1/2 stars? The latter sounds pretty starightforward and simple to grasp. Transitioning to this system would be a good balance of accessibility and accuracy in my view. On a scale of 1 to 10/100-point system I do think a 10 or 100 rating can be referenced as an actual point, because your score can be more precise with more points to work with. 1 to 5? It is just too difficult not to make it a small range as opposed to a point, or else we should only be seeing a 5 once in a blue moon, especially considering Brian's welcome reminder about absinthe still improving as a whole. Absomphe's example was a very good illustration of this: Thinking of WS review guide 10 years down the line, I'm sure we'll be glad the system was changed now rather than later. While it is unfortunate for the other reviews, I dont think they will be viewed as less accurate, just not as "specific". Brian, I realize this is a very tough decision, and there will be someone unhappy with it no matter what you do. But you've read the arguments and have been mulling over this for months judging by the thread date. There is some passionate conversation here. Truly, this is what working together for a greater good is all about. That said, whatever is decided, we can at least say an improvement was made thanks to a collective effort. Like I said, you're always on the front lines and on top of things, Brian. Maybe we could drop them a friendly reminder.
  18. You'll want to bookmark Alan's list of approved absinthes at The Real Absinthe Blog. Is THAT the deal with Big Chew? Damn, I've been at home biting my nails waiting for some scrap of info about this...thanks, man!
  19. Now THAT would make for an interesting group! I thought I told you not to mention this secret plot, speedle... Wow, that sounds vaguely familiar. Very true. Brian, you're out there busting your ass on the front lines as well and should be commended for that! Speaking of, do you have another Real Absinthe Blog article in the pipeline at all? Your last piece is one of the best I've read on Czechsinthe in a long while.
  20. So what? Virtually every whisky on the market uses artificial color Only in cases of misleading consumers, such as advertising a "verte" as being colored with herbs when it's not, is this even relevant to absinthe. Yes, the colour is the least pressing of the issues here, even if it is still undesirable. It won't be the end of the world if it is left untouched, but the point is, this is the thread to provide feedback and ask questions, which is what I'm doing. Again, who cares? This isn't about quality, it's about identity. You don't get to enforce quality. You do get to insist that brand owners label and market their products honestly. Traditionalist fanatics (and I include myself in that category) tend to get caught up on top of the line traditional quality standards as though they were the standards of identity. That's not only untrue and unrealistic, it's unfair. There are such things as superior absinthe, good absinthe, mediocre absinthe and inferior absinthe and there always was. A producer has the right to enter the segment he wants to. There will always be a place for mass-market-appeal and value brands. And there should be, to keep the category broad and healthy and to supply folks in lower economic strata. Again, what's the point of this thread if questions and feedback are discounted with lines like "who cares?" It will always be just as much about quality as identity, without exception. Quality is enforced by commending premium absinthe, and reprimanding unworthy sink-fodder, while actively spreading awareness of these evaluations. It may not be enough to drive a producer to change their formula, but by making consumer opinion public, it will have an impact on media coverage and sales, among other factors. We can hardly tie them to a chair when it comes to reform, but there are plenty of ways to make our point count. Whether or not an absinthe is a "value" brand is just a small part of that evaluation, but should of course be taken into account. So? Don't drink it. L'OR told me the same thing. We're not their target market. The reason they're interfacing with us is to learn why we assert that LTV does not have the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to absinthe. They're not really concerned whether the tiny niche absinthe expert segment likes it. They are concerned that we say it isn't absinthe. They're here to learn how to make LTV be absinthe, nothing more. Agreed, with one glaring exception. It's not just that they don't care if the experts like it, but everything points to them not caring if much of ANYONE loves the taste. From what I've seen, most of those who are in their target market couldn't give two shits if it tastes like licking a dead goat, so long as it gets the job done. They're here to learn the bare minimum requirements to be considered absinthe, nothing more. If you sunk millions into developing a brand and a bunch of internet nerds started giving you shit about it, you'd be cautious too. Absolutely, which is why this is damage control. Who are you to decide what LTV should aim to be? What compromises have you made? I don't recall Minott or anybody in the LTV team saying anything about aspiring to be a top-shelf absinthe. I do recall hearing him say that all he wanted to do was create a popular brand, not a premium brand. And I don't recall ever asking him to produce a premium brand, just one that's drinkable. Is that too much to ask? Oops, I mean "demand"? Not that I ever claimed to be in a position of authority, nor am on a holy mission to issue demands. Though, from the sound of it, you seem to have a different opinion: If those snippets aren't misleading about my attitude, I don't know what is. And where on Earth did that "You and the TARNsmen" quip come from? Talk about a divisive remark, even more so when you look at the full context. I am at a loss for what prompted these statements, but it seems very out of character for you. What compromises have I made personally? Aside from chronically limiting my social life, free time, and occasionally even turning down clients to work for free on an absinthe-related task for 20+ hours each week? Well, you know, not a lot. So minott wants a popular brand? Here's a tip: create something that tastes good. That would probably be a good first step.
  21. Yep, nothing like some good video games! Do you have 360?

  22. It may look more natural, but it's still an artificial colour, therefore they have learned nothing in this regard...or rather they are simply unwilling to change! Sugar has been removed: Good. One step closer to a real absinthe, but still several steps away. They've added more, but how was the quality of this anise? I've never heard of anyone especially favouring a eucalyptus-dominant absinthe/absinth, so it's hard to see why retaining this characteristic would be considered desirable. Or could the changes be minimal in hopes of retaining their existing customers? I'm glad to hear there is some level of improvement in the balancing issue, but that alone is not enough to win over any traditional absinthe enthusiasts. Overall, this sounds like reluctant baby steps on the path to a much-needed overhaul. "Damage control or a sincere effort to improve the product?" From the look of things, my thought is the former. Minott, I'm sure you're reading this. I can't speak for everyone, but I am not impressed after hearing this report. What is the purpose of such a piddly compromise? If it is sincerely to improve LTV, why settle for a subtle improvement when all feedback (even aside from the reaction of WS/TARN members) points to more drastic changes needed to satisfy consumers? By now, I'm sure you've had top-shelf absinthe and are perfectly aware of what LTV should aim to be, yet I still don't see your product heading in that direction, at least not with any sort of enthusiasm. That is why I believe this is purely a political gesture. But I hope I'm wrong, and that the alterations are substantial (and for the better) when LTV 1.5 launches later this year. I'll be waiting.