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The Traveller

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  1. If only I could come up with one precious thing: more time! I will be delighted to gather the evidence. As I stated in a previous post, I had a bad week, correction, I'm having a bad year so far, thus my boiled up state. A note on Port: it's a unique product like Champagne. The only drink legally named Champagne in the world, as is Cognac, it's the drink made in the wine region of Champagne in France. There are international laws protecting this designation and the same applies to Port. There is only one true Port, the one produced in the wine region of Port. If I'm not mistaken it's even illegal internationally for a wine to be named Port if it's not produced in the Port region in Portugal. It's the unique characteristics of the terrain, specific grapes, sunshine hours, rain, humidity, care and preparation that makes a Port. Anything NOT coming out of the slopes of the river Douro in Portugal (that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site exactly for that reason. Man-made landscape, tremendous visual impact when cruising down the river, check them out) is not Port, like anything not coming out of the region of Champagne in France is not Champagne. But don't take my word for granted, go to the official site: www.ivp.pt and see for yourselfs, cheers
  2. It's not too much of a stretch, and the domestic production of absinthe, grape spirit, mint spirit, fig spirit, almond spirit and several other traditional spirits is not and never was illegal in Portugal and therefore there was never the need to put it out of the public eye, on the contrary, domestic traditional distillers are glad to be exposed to be able to sell their products.
  3. ...And may I inquire you as to what is your problem with my assertions concerning grape spirit and Portugal? First, I am well aware that absinthe was invented in Switzerland, I drink absinthe for 15 years in a country where absinthe was never banned and where it exists for more than 180 years. Second, I never stated that grape spirit is unique to Portugal (?!), but I might since Portugal has unique types of grapes, some of which produce something uinique to Portugal called Port Wine, something you may have heard. Portugal has an extremely rich history of wine production dating back to the times when it was part of the roman empire. It's a wine country. (period) Third, I was just trying to give my contribution to a member that inquired about grape spirit, so we where talking about absinthe AND grape spirit. Fourth, there are several dozens of portuguese poets and writers that mention absinthe either in their works or in their personal correspondance, which is no coincidence nor extraordinary, since it was among the intelectuals and artists that absinthe was widely drank in the XIX century Lisbon (the capital of Portugal), throughout the XX century and even now in the XXI. The most famous portuguese absintheur was Fernando Pessoa, a XX century poet admired and widely read all over the world (I think there is a fan of Pessoa among the members of this forum). Among his "pen-pals" was one Aleister Crowley. Fifth, people using their bathtubs to infuse wormwood in industrial ethanol all over the planet have nothing to do with Portugal, where copper allembics, viniards and every single one of the herbs composing absinthe (excluding angelica archaengelica) are common, natural, native and abundant AND used since at least the 1820's.
  4. The thing is i'm not mistaking any f*** thing, there are dozens of references to absinthe among portuguese poets and writers from the early XIX century to last year, not wormwood infusions (wine infused with wormwood is a very old beverage in this 900 years old country), absinthe, absinto. I really can't understand why on earth should it be so extraordinary that absinthe in Portugal exists and it's produced since at least the early XIX century.
  5. None of this is true. The references you mention are to wormwood, or to wormwood-infused drinks, not to the distilled combination of anise, fennel and wormwood we now mean by the word absinthe. By way of example: The reference by Southey refers to the dining halls at All Souls college, Oxford: "Their silver cups...are called ox-eyes, and an ox-eye of wormwood is a favourite draught here. Beer with an infusion of wormwood was to be had nowhere else." There are many earlier references to wormwood infused beer, usually called purl, including several in Pepys' diaries. There are countless references to wormwood and absinthe in classical literature, the Bible and all manner of other literature up to the mid 19th century - none of them refer to the modern drink absinthe. <{POST_SNAPBACK}> ...What can I say? This was the icing on the cake of a perfectly miserable week... I proud myself in respecting every points of view and Oxy's an exception ( in a positive way) because he is the great researcher, collector and absinthe specialist we all know. For that I respect his opinions above most of the other fellow WS members. This said, I don't ask anything else but at least some respect for my own opinions, in this case not even personal opinions, facts, I gathered with some sacrifice of my own very busy time. So, to simply say "None of this is true" is not very respectful. As I said, my intention was to, from my own free and good will, gather all the info I have to share with other people interested in absinthe, foolish me, I thought I was actually contributing with something worthwhile. But my sentence was harsh and severe, "none of this is true". E per si muove (Galileo dixit, attention, it might not be correctly transcribed...)
  6. Igneouss, I'm not an absinthe expert, but my family has been producing grape spirit for some generations as a by-product of wine production. The thing is you don't usually distille wine to produce grape spirit, what you distille is the "left-over" material, a fermented mass of whole grapes, called the mosto in portuguese (not sure what the term is in english). I suspect that it was that kind of grape spirit what was used in the XIX century and apparently still is in high-quality absinthes today. What you get from distilling wine is a little different, it's cognac (though only the spirit produced in that french region has the right to be named that way) or brandy. And it's true that according to the type of grape you get different grape spirits, so I guess there are a lot of variables to consider. As to the previous comment by Oxy, I'm working on it (the evidences, I mean). But I wasn't refering to commercial brands, much like what happens with grape spirit in Portugal, virtually every small wine producer produces also grape spirit, my thesis, based on personal accounts including my own, is that absinthe was (still is, hopefully) produced at a domestic level, totally handicrafted and following old recipes. As to the presence of absinthe in Portugal, it's relatively well documented that the soldiers of Napoleon that invaded Portugal in the early XIX century brought absinthe with them. A portuguese poet of french descent, Bocage, who died in 1807, wrote both prose and poetry about absinthe. Lord Byron himself, who spend some time in Portugal, also refers to portuguese absinthe. Robert Southey also mentions it in his personal journal. When I can find the time I'll compile all this info into one organized file with pictures, transcriptions and documents and I'll send it to Hiram and to Oxy.
  7. Hopefully some time very soon, I'll be able to prove (by tasting it) what I have gathered from personal accounts of persons that began drinking absinthe in the 1940's and still did a few years ago. You'll be surprised at how many things remained unchanged in domestic distilleries. The allembics, for one, were built between the 1880's and the 1930's and the production methods are much older. What can change it's the quality of the herbs (supposedly for the worst) because the quality of the grape spirit is even better (according to the old drinkers). So we have the same recipe, the same ingredients, better grape spirit, the same allembics...It maybe only my wishful thinking, but I suspect for some time that I'm on something very interesting here (hence my very immodest boasting about Portugal's handcrafted absinthe, for which I apologise...)...
  8. ...except for the fact that absinthe is being distilled in Portugal since at least the 1820's and for the fact that home distilling is legal, both the production and the selling.
  9. May I beg to differ, since good distilled absinthe identical to the pre-ban french and swiss was produced and consumed not only in Spain but also in Portugal up untill the 1960's. Moreover, traditional absinthe is still being produced today in small domestic distilleries at least in Portugal. So there are plenty of people alive and kicking that drank the 1940's, 50's and 60's absinthe and the domestic and traditional absinthe that reached the XXI century, my most humble self included...
  10. Well, true fado only exists in remote and completely untouristy houses in old parts of Lisbon. There you can listen to amateurs who sing every night with their soul, expressing all their feelings. In Coimbra the fado is connected to the student tradition of the city (the unniversity of Coimbra is one of the oldest in the world, founded in the 12th century), it's the students that traditionally sing it, more in the past then now. This said, there is now a wave of New Fado with young artists that blend fado influences with other sounds: Madredeus, Mariza, Mizia, A Naifa. These are available everywhere on the net, especially Madredeus, try them out. Oh, and that's correct on the brazillians, they do pronounce those and many other words very differently from native portuguese. Fernando Pessoa, one of Portugal's most famous poets (must definitely read this man, he wrote under 7 different alias each of them with a different personality, childhood, etc. amazing poet, it's entire works are translated into english) used to say that "brazillian" it's portuguese with sugar...
  11. Fado would be better, for as much as I like it, Tom Jobim it's brazillian portuguese, it sounds almost like a completely different language from native portuguese...funny thing is we portuguese comprehend everything a brazillian says but in Brazil films from Portugal have to be subtitled...
  12. We have 3 big symphonic orchestras, two state funded, the Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon and the Symphonic Orchestra of the North and the Gulbenkian Orchestra, funded by a private foundation, Gulbenkian. All of them have foreign musicians, in fact, almost half of the musicians are not portuguese.
  13. It's really no wonder most southern european countries have anis drinks because anis, at least the green one, seems to grow spontaneously everywhere around here. As part of my ongoing investigation I've been reading a book by an old man (80 something) specialist in finding plants in the open country and in the book he identifies and acknowledges as common both green anis, fennel and melissa. He also mentions that arthemisa absinthium (traditionally called losna in portuguese) used to be much more common but today it's not. And this because in the old days all farmers used to plant arthemisa (and also coriander) along with their ledduces and cabbages because the plant kept the insects away, and today witht he generalized use of chemicals and industrial production there is no more place for arthemisa...But some still do it, in their samll domestic productions. By the way, when I find myself less busy with my non-absinthe related activities, I will take and post the photos I've been mentioning: my grandfathers allembic (unfortunately only used SO FAR to produce some excellent grape-alcohol), arthemisa in public gardens, maybe wild green anis if I can find it and my latest discovery, an old (1940's) and unfortunately empty bottle of the much desired traditional portuguese absinthe. I'm also trying to contact the last producers still remaining over here, if I can get my hands (again) in some of that absinthe I can send some of you guys a sample. It's not easy, the only one I knew died 2 years ago with the ripe old age of 91 and he didn't produced absinthe for the last 5 years or so. The last absinthe I drank made by him came in 5 liters plastic bottles, no labels, no nothing, but very good and costed about a third of a bottle of Kübler...
  14. There are three countries in Europe where absinthe has always remained legal, UK, Spain and Portugal, but only Portugal and Spain have been producing it since the early XIX century. So all EU regulations regarding absinthe, at least in Portugal, don't really apply since there were no limitations of any kind before. Moreover, if it's true that absinthe is somewhat forgotten in most of Spain (and the rest of Europe), in Portugal it's not. A lesser quality absinthe, macerated, is available in every bar, cafe, club or supermarket in the country. The true distilled absinthe, however, seems to be disappearing from memory and from reality since it's very hard to get (totally handcrafted, traditional, I'm on a personal quest to preserve it but it's close to mission impossible...). P.S. I've just noticed that you are Daemon, I guess I had allready told you this info...Nm.
  15. Well, I totally understand Hiram's point of view, it would be very hard to swallow the presence of Czchec producers... I also agree that the W.S. already is a kind of international absinthe association, but I think that absinthe needs something else, something stronger and real, less virtual. An organism that could establish the differences between distilled and macerated absinthe and that by testing the products would determine it's validity. That would rule out everything without artemisia absinthium in it. The trouble is that absinthe can't be confined to a single space of production, like Champagne that can only be named that way if it's produced in the Champagne recognized area in France, or Port wine that can only come from the Port wine region in the river Douro valley in northern Portugal. But this kind of international organism could determine, based on the history of production, in which geographical zones absinthe could be produced and marketed with that name, like Val-de-Travers, northern Spain, northern Portugal, etc...Of course that other products and distillers would continue to commercialize their crap, but at least people would know that this asociation would only recognize authentic, traditional products. As to the "fear" of legalization of absinthe in the US because it can loose it's "aura"...Come on, I think everybody could only benefit from it being legal in the US...I can tell you that despite being legal ever since the beggining of the 19th century, real absinthe in Portugal still has a kind of controversial fame, so it's not just the fact of being legal or not that can determine the mystery "aura" of absinthe... Finally, I made quite clear that for this to work properly it had to be a producers AND consumers association, profit couldn't possibly be the only reason for this to exist.