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JohnC

Modern day v pre-ban distillation procedures

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Simplified.

Pre-ban Pernod Fils>Pernod Fils 40s Tarragonna [sic] >Pernod Fils Tarragona 1950 and later.

 

Precisely. And even different samples of Pernod Fils can vary in quality.

 

What I meant to convey is that PF is probably still marginally better than many good HGs; I think the best HG has pretty much overtaken fifties Tarragona.

 

The real difference, of course, is that HG can afford to be idiosyncratic and explore flavour profiles different from traditional absinthe (or even other batches from the same maker), and caters to a small audience that is already interested in absinthe.

 

Preban absinthe was a standard product (i.e., consistently the same product, at least for a given brand) meant to please "le grand public".

 

Compare beer in Bohemia and beer in Belgium: the Czech have excellent Pilsner type beers, better than what you can get in Belgium if you're into that sort of thing (I like it in summer, but I really don't like it when it's cold outside!), but there's little else; Belgium has hundreds of types of very different beers to explore.

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I find myself both in agreement and disagreement with some of your statements. I have tasted many HGs that are much better than vintage PF, Tarragonna or otherwise. There are HGs out there that do an excellent job of recreating pre-ban absinthes, and do a much better job of recreating vintage absinthe than do any of the Jade products. Yes, HG makers can afford to be idiosyncratic. I would guess that that is part of the fun of making HG. There are makers out there that have the goal of recreating vintage clones, and there are makers who are looking to create a great absinthe that suits their own individual tastes. Much of the lauds given to vintage absinthes are justified, but holding it up as the pinnacle of absinthe, is in my opinion, not warranted.

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Besides, there is no one alive who could really tell us what "vintage" absinthe tasted like when it was not vintage. Just a few years of aging can make a HUGE difference.

 

I do know someone who stockpiled several absinthes, just to make that comparison.. But I personally do not have the patience for a "do not open until 2040" sticker over the top of my bottles.

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Much of the lauds given to vintage absinthes are justified, but holding it up as the pinnacle of absinthe, is in my opinion, not warranted.

 

I didn't imply that HG could not be better than vintage absinthe. After all, their makers are freed from the present and past imperatives of large scale production, though making an absinthe that's as good as pre-ban absinthe these days takes a lot of dedication (if there weren't the process, the mere finding of the correct ingredients is sufficiently daunting, more so than at the end of the 19th century).

 

You won't find me arguing that a small producer in Bourgogne can't make better wine than some of the larger Bordeaux estates either.

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Compare beer in Bohemia and beer in Belgium: the Czech have excellent Pilsner type beers, better than what you can get in Belgium if you're into that sort of thing (I like it in summer, but I really don't like it when it's cold outside!), but there's little else; Belgium has hundreds of types of very different beers to explore.

 

Ain't it the truth!

 

I've made a similar comparison here a number of times, except you've substituted Czech beer for its German counterpart. Both of those tend to be reliably consistent, since they are mostly mass produced, pateurized lagers, as opposed to the far more idiosyncratic, and diverse range of Belgian ales, some which can vary somewhat in flavour from year to year, especially the farmhouse Saisons and wild yeast infused Lambics.

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since they are mostly mass produced, pateurized lagers,

 

For what it's worth, here in Belgium, even the Evil Empire (aka InBev) has an unpasteurized lager, Jupiler (taking its name from Jupille, close to Liège).

 

Not as good (by more than a mile) as a Czech Regent, though.

 

http://www.pivovar-regent.cz/en/sluzby.html

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The Regent looks a lot like Pilsener Urquell. The color is the same, as is that blooming head, and I can almost taste the tannins, just looking at the photo. Throw in a lack of Pasteurization, and I'll bet it's a wow, alright!

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JohnC, just to clarify: is the emphasis of your question on how Pernod produced such  quality absinthe in general or simply how it was done by so few people?

 

Both really. And I think the many postings received are answering my implied questions perfectly

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I find myself both in agreement and disagreement with some of your statements. I have tasted many HGs that are much better than vintage PF, Tarragonna or otherwise.  There are HGs out there that do an excellent job of recreating pre-ban absinthes, and do a much better job of recreating vintage absinthe than do any of the Jade products. Yes, HG makers can afford to be idiosyncratic. I would guess that that is part of the fun of making HG. There are makers out there that have the goal of recreating vintage clones, and there are makers who are looking to create a great absinthe that suits their own individual tastes. Much of the lauds given to vintage absinthes are justified, but holding it up as the pinnacle of absinthe, is in my opinion, not warranted.

 

Here Here! I'll drink to that. A pleasant drink is what I like.

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Besides, there is no one alive who could really tell us what "vintage" absinthe tasted like when it was not vintage. Just a few years of aging can make a HUGE difference.

 

I do know someone who stockpiled several absinthes, just to make that comparison.. But I personally do not have the patience for a "do not open until 2040" sticker over the top of my bottles.

 

 

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...

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>Moreover, traditional absinthe is still being produced today in small domestic distilleries at least in Portugal.

 

 

All kinds of booze not only absinthe is made all over the world by home distillers, Portugal is not unique in this regard.

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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.

Good distilled absinthe, yes, but not identical to pre-ban. A 1950s or 60s Pernod Tarragona is not of the same quality as a pre-ban.

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Though I agree that the gap is narrowing there is one thing that modern absinthe will never be able to claim and that is - being pre-ban.

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A theory humbly submitted, if someone has shelled out thousands of dollars for a bottle of pre-ban absinthe they will be loath to admit that it isn't vastly superior to something they could have bought for under a hundred bucks. I have noticed this phenomena many times with over priced wine.

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A theory humbly submitted, if someone has shelled out thousands of dollars for a bottle of pre-ban absinthe

 

I have shelled out $0 for a sample of Pernod Fils, and it hasn't made me think less of it.

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>Moreover, traditional absinthe is still being produced today in small domestic distilleries at least in Portugal.

 

 

All kinds of booze not only absinthe is made all over the world by home distillers, Portugal is not unique in this regard.

 

 

...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.

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Simplified.

Pre-ban Pernod Fils>Pernod Fils 40s Tarragonna>Pernod Fils Tarragona 1950 and later.

 

In order of judged taste and quality.

 

As Gertz said, the processes and recipes have differed as time went on. Traveller, I am not knocking Portugal's absinthe scene in any way, but saying that a recipe made in 1960 is the same as one made in 1900 is ridiculous. Unless it is the same ingredients and base alcohol, it won't be the same.

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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...)...

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So we have the same recipe, the same ingredients, better grape spirit, the same allembics

Even that doesn't guarantee that the outcome will be the same as 100 years ago. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is worse, though. It does indeed sound very interesting, and I think we're all eager to hear about it, when you find out some more.

 

Don't apologize - no need to be immodest about a country that has spawned fado and Pessoa. A hidden absinthe scene just makes it better yet. Gonna go there some day.

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Wujiman has a valid point.

 

Today, I've done a blind testing, using only people who don't drink absinthe (I'm sorry I couldn't do a double blind test, but I won't entrust some of my samples to strangers).

 

I let them smell Pernod Tarragona (1950) and PF from the Cannes Cache (1900-1910) and asked them which one they preferred, and whether there was a lot of difference.

 

100% of the 9 test subjects said both samples were different and that the PF smelled better.

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Recruiting volunteers? Just tell me in what ways I need to lie on my application to find myself as a qualifying test subject. ;)

 

Seriously, though, interesting test, sixela.

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