Jump to content
Zman (Marc Bernhard)

A call to arms

Recommended Posts

But at least one could make the stretch in that there's the precedent of black sambuca. I cold almost see some sort of parallel with black liquorice. Besides, it's the drink of choice for Vlad Blackitty Black Von Spookypants...or something like that.

 

What's purple got...Absinthe Nehi? I shudder to think if it's grape flavored.

 

 

Why not all colors of the rainbow? Check out Le Diable Absinthe. They have the whole spectrum. That said, why the hell not? We all feel a little spookypants sometimes.

 

~ leich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
These absinthe kit vendors keep filling my Google alert emails with spam. So I decided it was time to blog them.

 

But Alan, aren't the spammers essentially correct with respect to thujone and the FDA? From what I've found at the National Toxicology Program site and other government sites, thujone is still banned as a food additive. It seems to me that it's "tolerated" at best in absinthe, because the amounts are so low as to be practically undetectable (at least by the methods used by the FDA).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They banned Sage? There are other liquor products that apparently use Wormwood and are for sale in the US, but they don't seem to need to go through the same review. Is it the stigma of the name absinthe? Wouldn't be surprised.

 

The problem with the kits has nothing to do with thujone. It has to do with the fact that YOU CAN'T MAKE ABSINTHE FROM A KIT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My question wasn't about the kits, Brian. I'm not disputing that the kits are at the least horrible wastes of money that won't produce real absinthe, and at the worst possibly harmful to the health of anyone drinking the results that such a kit would produce.

 

But if anyone is seeking to discredit these spammers and their kits, it would be best to do so in as informative, transparent, and honest a way as possible -- otherwise, the refutation becomes as tainted as their own claims. And to the best of my knowledge, the FDA still has a "no thujone" rule that might allow for 10 ppm, but still essentially amounts to no thujone.

 

So my original question remains -- aren't the spammers (as shady and misleading as they're being) still essentially correct on that count?

 

It also seems to me that they may not be entirely wrong about how the modern absinthes (as sold in the US) are not the same as the pre-ban absinthes in this respect, but I can't find much in the way of definitive information on how much thujone was actually present in the pre-bans (except that most sources are agreed that there was more than is in the current US offerings). Our own FAQs only says: "science has shown through chemical analysis of vintage absinthes and contemporary absinthes made strictly according to historical recipes, that previous estimates of thujone levels in pre-ban absinthe were greatly exaggerated", and that's hardly definitive.

 

I'm not arguing that thujone level has much (if any) effect on taste or the "secondary effects" of absinthe, but since it's clearly such a hot-button issue, having definitive numbers (and being completely open about it when we don't have those numbers) might help lay all the myths and superstitions to rest.

Edited by Jay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like you have some reading to do. ;)

 

Chemical Composition of Vintage Preban Absinthe with Special Reference to Thujone, Fenchone, Pinocamphone, Methanol, Copper, and Antimony Concentrations

 

Thujone's long term stability.

 

The quote from the kit 'article' says:

Also, you may find it very hard to find real wormwood Absinthes because according to some countries legislation restricts wormwood as it contains the chemical thujone.

How exactly do you think that is a true statement, given the fact that the large majority of US made, high quality, absinthes use comparable or equal (sometimes more) amounts of wormwood as the distillation manuals from the Belle Epoque call for?

 

Seems to me you can go to DrinkUpNY and find yourself a wide selection of 'real wormwood absinthe'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember, levels of thujone do not equate to amount of wormwood used in the recipe. The marketing from these kit people is very similar to what you see from companies like Absinthe Original, who say in their newsletters:

 

The so-called absinthe available in the U.S. contains no thujone, the psychoactive element that gives real absinthe its kick. Other absinthe manufacturers, (particularly those selling in the U.S.), are so scared at the stigma of thujone that they decide not to use wormwood in their beverages. Yet, without wormwood, many wouldn’t consider liquor a true absinthe. Such reasoning is appropriate, especially considering the fact that real absinthe is derived from wormwood’s scientific name, Artemisia Absinthium. However, our range of REAL ABSINTHE ORIGINAL is made from 100% wormwood, so you can be assured you’ll be getting the real thing if you decide to order securely and safely online.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
YOU CAN'T MAKE ABSINTHE FROM A KIT.

I used to think that, too.

 

But I saw this ad for an absinthe kit on ebay that looks okay. It has all of the necessary herbs, in dried form. It has a bottle and cork, some labels, a funnel, and instructions. It also comes to your door with 75 sq. yards of copper sheeting, a huge coil of copper line, a welding system, a giant pallet of brick, and a box containing hydrometers, valve sealant and fittings...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Thanks for these links, Brian -- it was just the information I was looking for. I thought I was searching all the forums on the site earlier, but apparently not since the thread you linked didn't crop up on my list. Perhaps it would be worth considering posting those links to the 'Thujone' subsection of the FAQs for interested parties?

 

The quote from the kit 'article' says:
Also, you may find it very hard to find real wormwood Absinthes because according to some countries legislation restricts wormwood as it contains the chemical thujone.

How exactly do you think that is a true statement, given the fact that the large majority of US made, high quality, absinthes use comparable or equal (sometimes more) amounts of wormwood as the distillation manuals from the Belle Epoque call for?

 

I don't think that is a true statement, and never said as much. Perhaps I didn't clarify myself well enough earlier. My thought was that the spam might be right in the assertion that pre-ban absinthes were different from modern absinthes MADE IN THE US in that one respect of thujone content. And I still feel that might be true, given that EU standards are listed as a maximum of 35ppm and the US FDA requires the content be less than 10ppm (to meet their "no thujone" requirement). Is that amount important in any way? Almost everyone here agrees that it is not, and as for me, I would honestly have no idea; my only point was, again, in that one respect, modern US-marketed absinthes are different than pre-ban (and indeed, modern) European absinthes.

 

Thanks again for the info. I'll peruse it in more detail later, and any dead horses that I feel like beating will be beaten in my own time ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The limits might be different, but according to those studies, many of the pre-ban and EU brands would fall under the current US limits.

 

Add to that the fact that many brands that CLAIM to have high thujone actually have little or none (according to givernment studies I've been provided), it just adds to the argument that thujone really doesn't mean anything when it comes to a person's experience with absinthe.

 

It would be interesting to tell someone who claims to have tripped on a bottle of 'high thujone' absinthe that the brand really had none in it. Wonder how they would react.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the FDA still has a "no thujone" rule that might allow for 10 ppm, but still essentially amounts to no thujone.

 

10 ppm is 0.000010

35 ppm is 0.000035

 

The rule applies to certain ingredients in food, though more typically alcoholic beverages, such as Artemisia spp., oak moss, tansy, etc. The TTB ruled in Industry Circular 2007-5 that 10 ppm or less thujone is equivalent to "thujone free" as stated in 21 CFR 172.510.

 

They might as well have said 35 ppm is "no thujone", but 10 ppm is also the EU limit, except for bitters which are allowed 35 ppm. We all know how bitters are expected to be used. No one in their right mind would drink a glass of bitters. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 ppm is 0.000010

35 ppm is 0.000035

 

Huh. Call me slow but I'd never realized that was how little we were talking. Plus, the difference between the two is staggeringly small. I guess I'll have to go chew some sage to get my kicks...

 

Oh, and Brian: care to share the names of some of those non-thujone "thujone bombs"? I'd like to have a laugh too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been given permission to name names, so I guess I shouldn't. However, it would probably be pretty easy to pick a few of them out by doing some digging into which brands magically and apparently coincidentally went from 50-75 mg/l to under 10 mg/l right around the time the new US definition took hold.

 

Others continue to tell their lies and make statements like 'US absinthes don't use wormwood'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But, per her feedback, she apparently offers supernatural products wherein one of her customers "did get the spirit guide's picture + my answers." With eBay-worthy spirit guides leading the way, how could we possibly question the veracity of this information?! :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get pretty pissed off at the amount of Absinthe being sold for outlandish prices on Ebay. I'm sure a few people don't know any better and get suckered into buying them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All about individual's not educated in absinthe..which is why I enjoy this Forum so much...sincere person's on this Forum..expressing their views and supporting true absinthe awareness..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what was the story? When I went to look yesterday it had already been removed so I don't know what the scandal was!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a seller bookmarked for a while, just so I could report all the absinthe he kept selling at x2 the retail price. I don't understand why a "power seller" would risk their account getting closed. Then again, eBay seems to punish the "power sellers" with no more than a slap on the wrist. It's the little guys that get shafted, usually through no fault of their own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a power seller once. Power sellers empower ebay with $$$. Ebay won't punish them and risk losing their goose that lays golden egg.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So not only are you a manatee, but you were also once a goose? Maybe if you close your eyes and concentrate you can muster up another one of those eggs, just for old times sake. My mailing address is...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×