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Hill's Czech style Absinth


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#1 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 10:30 AM

Hello all,

My name is Tom Hill. I am part of the Hill family who make Hill's Absinth amoung many other very high quality spirits. I do not understand why there is such hostility towards Czech Absinth and why so many people spread lies about the quality of our drink and about what we claim. No one has ever contacted us for information and some websites provide a false distorted history and use phrases such as "Hill's claims they have an alternative to the French tradition...ect,ect" We have never said this and I don't care what our UK rep has said in the past and I have never seen any proof of this anyways. Radomil Hill was a master distiller, featured even in TIME magazine as a master craftsman from Europe. Look at your Coca-Cola for example, they have changed the taste of their product yet it is still called Coke. Absinthe was traditionally a very anisey drink. Some people like the taste but why do you think it was never banned in the UK? English people don't generally care for sweet anise drinks so why bann it when there isn't alot of people drinking it anyways. Radomil my great uncle, made Abinthe the traditional way, like I said he was a master distiller and Europe is very small, France is only hours away. Like the English and many other countries like North America he wanted to add Absinth to his line of products. He decided to make it with less anise and used a modern distilling process. He invented Bohemian style Absinth spelt without the (e) because that is how we write Absinthe in Czech. It is still distilled from artemisia absinthium and 19 other herbs which makes it Absinth, just a differnt evolved type. This is why it is so popular and this is why you even have this forum in the first place. La Fee who make French Absinthe in France even copied our Bohemian syle Absinth. Why throw all Czech Absinth into one barrel because of a few copy cats, besides the French invented "fake" Absinthe when it was banned. Come to our distillery in Czech or one of our stores or maybe come and take a tour of The Green Tree Distillery which has been producing since 1518 who work with us to make Absinth. If you don't like the taste fine, maybe try drinking it with water and sugar like you do traditional Absinthe. Also don't harp on us because you don't like the way Absinth was marketed. We were not involved in this and this is not why Absinthe is illegal in your country the USA. With all do recpect what do you expect when you live in a country where you can go to war and kill people with a fully automatic weapon but can't even go to a bar and have a beer after you get back!

#2 Alan Moss

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 10:49 AM

Welcome, Tom. I hope we can have a good discussion here. I like your website and I note that you don't hype thujone like others do.
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#3 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 11:15 AM

Welcome Tom, thanks for joining us. I'll be able to answer more completely later with my own take on various issues, but other duties call at the moment.

Everyone remember: keep it civil. Direct, even difficult, questions and and opinions are more than welcome, but insults and abuse will meet with zero tolerance. This is hopefully an opportunity we've hoped for for a long time, let's not blow it and try to have a meaningful dialog.

Also, Tom, we keep nationalist politics out of here. Our contention has nothing to do with national origin or as our friend Drabsinthe would say, "race".

I'll start off with these:

Is there any evidence that Hill's Absinth was made prior to 1990? Bottles, labels, ads, pricelists, catalogs, etc.?

What is the basic method of manufacture of Hill's Absinth? Are any whole natural botanicals used at your facility; any essential oils? I'm not asking for proprietary details, only the same basic information that most major distillers of, say, whisky, proudly explain to the public.

Do you feel that any spirit containing wormwood may be called absinthe? If not, what do you feel determines that a spirit may be called absinthe?

There are other traditional drinks which contain wormwood and many other botanicals, such as some aquavits, besk and other bitters. Are they absinthe?

We know that the drink at the center of the "absinthe idea" is a very specific anise-flavored spirit which rose to popularity in 19th century Switzerland and France. We know that this is the drink that Rimbaud and Van Gogh and all the other heavily marketed artists actually drank and that it is this drink which people seek for the "absinthe experience." Is it fair to claim that a spirit which resembles this original one in no particular way is the same one?

If ouzo or arak or raki had a similar deeply romantic and sensational history, would it be feasible or authentic for a distiller to create and market a non-anise version for those who don't like anise?

Maker of Marteau Absinthe
Master Distiller, Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
www.absinthemarteau.com
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#4 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 11:19 AM

Welcome, Tom. I hope we can have a good discussion here. I like your website and I note that you don't hype thujone like others do.


Thank-you Alan. I have a feeling you guys might be mad at the hype of thujone because it makes your case to make it legal in the USA harder. Is this true? One thing to remember is that without the hype of thujone how would companies justify making Absinthe? Isn't this what makes it popular? I can honestly say that me along with people I know all agree that Absinth gives you a very different type of feeling then compared to a similar percentage alcoholic drink. Other than the reason stated above I can't think of any other that would make everyone here so sensitive to it. What do you think?

#5 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:12 PM

Welcome Tom, thanks for joining us. I'll be able to answer more completely later with my own take on various issues, but other duties call at the moment.

Everyone remember: keep it civil. Direct, even difficult, questions and and opinions are more than welcome, but insults and abuse will meet with zero tolerance. This is hopefully an opportunity we've hoped for for a long time, let's not blow it and try to have a meaningful dialog.

Also, Tom, we keep nationalist politics out of here. Our contention has nothing to do with national origin or as our friend Drabsinthe would say, "race".

I'll start off with this:

Is there any evidence that Hill's Absinth was made prior to 1990? Bottles, labels, ads, pricelists, catalogs, etc.?

What is the basic method of manufacture of Hill's Absinth? Are any whole natural botanicals used at your facility; any essential oils? I'm not asking for proprietary details, only the same basic information that most major distillers of, say, whisky, proudly explain to the public.

Do you feel that any spirit containing wormwood may be called absinthe? If not, what do you feel determines that a spirit may be called absinthe?



Ok that is fair.

About bottles labels or adds. Please understand this. It was a differnt time. When communists took over our country after the war they punished people who owned businesses by not allowing them to go to higher education for example and they confiscated my great uncles car even though it was his personal car not part of the business, which makes him mad even to this day. We endured communism for 40 years with no end in sight. Why would he then keep lables, bottles or adds. Also at that time in Czech it was a regional drink and adds were not produced. My father Vladimir is in Czech and I have requested that he try to get some proof for you. They have 7 old recipes that he used.

Yes our basic method is to distill alcohol using wormood which is macerated in the drink along with herbs and oils. We are not doing "cold mixing" as is stated in wikipedia, which by the way has your website as one of its sources.

I understand that you want proof but are we on trial here? It seems that others just state what their drink is made of and that's it. No one asks for proof. We have from the beginning stated how we make our drink yet like a criminal we have to prove our truthfulness. If Mr. Jack Daniels was here would you ask him for proof that he makes a real whiskey and not a fake whiskey? Look at who we are and our tradition and then ask yourself would a master distiller make a fake low quality Absinth? Look at Czech also. Have you seen our country? Do you know that Pilsner was the first clear beer made and that every beer now is a copy of this Czech invention? Do you see us asking for proof that Budweiser makes their beer like beer from Budweise in Czech?

I would like to however curb this Czech style or Bohemian style absinth bashing so this is what I will do. Since I am not a master distiller like my great uncle Radomil Hill and I do not want to make a fool of myself I will put together a package for this website to show our basic processes and old recipes.

I also think that I deserve an apology from many of your writers for all the untruthful statements about our company and our products but this will probably never happen.

Also the reason that my family never fought back against all the nonsence that was on the internet was because they do not speak English well enough.

One more thing for now. Just like a court case when I prove what I say to be true will you remove some of the untruth's from your website? I don't mind people not liking the taste of our Absinth and critizing it on taste but anyone who compares any spirits to mouthwash or listirine or something you would not drink (I hope) is unproffesional in my opinion.

#6 peridot

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:14 PM

I have a feeling you guys might be mad at the hype of thujone because it makes your case to make it legal in the USA harder. Is this true?

To be entirely fair, yes, that is part of why we dislike the thujone hype, but is by no means all of it. The reason why thujone hype hurts chances of importing absinthe for sale in the US is because the FDA does not base its regulations regarding thujone on science; it bases it on myth and reputation. More importantly, though, thujone has not scientifically been connected to the "absinthe effect." What makes you believe that thujone is the cause? Absinthe, when made well, is a fine drink and we don't like that it's marketed like a drug.

One thing to remember is that without the hype of thujone how would companies justify making Absinthe? Isn't this what makes it popular?

A great absinthe is great for the same reason any other well-crafted liquor is. You could ask why Emile Pernot, Matter-Luginbühl, Artemisia, Jade, and others make absinthe if they're not hyping thujone. If they don't put an emphasis on thujone should they not make their fine products?

I can honestly say that me along with people I know all agree that Absinth gives you a very different type of feeling then compared to a similar percentage alcoholic drink.

Sure it does. And Tequila, Scotch, Bourbon, rum, gin, wine, beer, and mead all give me as much a different feeling from each other than absinthe does from any other liquor. The "secondaries" or "absinthe effect" of absinthe isn't even something I experience to any noticeable degree unless I'm drinking a whole lot of it... just like any other liquor's particular, individual intoxication.

Also, to clarify, when we say "Czechsinth", we do not mean just any absinthe from the Czech Republic. We specifically mean anisefree products that call themselves "absinthe" or "absinth." Since these products originated in and are still mostly produced in one area the label reflects that area. However, there are a couple of absinthes produced in the Czech Republic that we do not call "Czechsinth" and there are products produced in other countries that we do.

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#7 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:34 PM

Welcome, Tom, and thanks for starting the conversation.

Actually, it isn't the thujone that makes absinthe popular with people who like to drink it, it's the taste. Thujone makes absinth popular with people who hope it will be a narcotic, or a drug, and these people most often take the drink in quick shots because they don't care about the taste.

That's the source of a lot of the issues between our side of the absinthe "argument" and yours. According to your questions, it sounds like you honestly don't know why anybody would make or buy absinthe if it wasn't for the thujone.

The whole world of french/swiss absinthe revolves around the taste of the drink, so much so that we here in America are excited about a new absinthe that's coming to the market that will have almost NO thujone, but will have (we hope) the same TASTE as the absinthe made a hundred years ago.

Since the Bohemian-style absinth does not have the taste of historical absinthe, because it isn't made the same way, or using the same ingredients, we don't think it should be given the same name as historical absinthe. (EDIT: I think spefically spelling out 'Bohemian-Style Absinth' does help to adress this, though.)

We do not believe thujone is responsible for the subtle but unique feeling you get from absinthe. The different quality to the drunk that you get from absinthe, which makes you feel different from whiskey, for example, is the effect of the interaction of the unique qualities of herbal extracts (some of which are natural stimulants) with the alcohol.

For me, the proof of this is that I have sampled several high-thujone absinthes, and several that claim to have almsot none, and the quality of the intoxication has not been noticeably different. I got that same, distinctive "absinthe drunk" from both. The main difference between the two experiences was that I enjoyed the TASTE of the french and swiss brands, and did not enjoy the taste of the max-thujone brands.
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#8 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:40 PM

Do you feel that any spirit containing wormwood may be called absinthe? If not, what do you feel determines that a spirit may be called absinthe?

There are other traditional drinks which contain wormwood and many other botanicals, such as some aquavits, besk and other bitters. Are they absinthe?

We know that the drink at the center of the "absinthe idea" is a very specific anise-flavored spirit which rose to popularity in 19th century Switzerland and France. We know that this is the drink that Rimbaud and Van Gogh and all the other heavily marketed artists actually drank and that it is this drink which people seek for the "absinthe experience." Is it fair to claim that a spirit which resembles this original one in no particular way is the same one?

If ouzo or arak or raki had a similar deeply romantic and sensational history, would it be feasible or authentic for a distiller to create and market a non-anise version for those who don't like anise?



No I do not feel that any drink containind wormwood can be called Absinthe. It has to be distilled from it. Just like we have spirits distilled from cherries in Czech we also have similar tasing spirits but they are alcohol with added cherry essences. These are not the same.

Like I have said the only difference in our Absinth is our addition of "less" anise, not "no anise" and my uncles ingenious distillation process which I will expalin further after taking to my family. Ouzo is an anise based drink, Absinthe is not. It is a wormwood based drink. You have many very differnent tasting rums, but they are all called rums no? Some are very sweet and some are not.

Let's talk about why Absinthe rose to popularity recently. Why can't you traditional Absinthe drinkers be happy and thankful to my great uncle Radomil for making your obscure drink poular again. How many people like Ouzo in America or Canada? Not many. Do you see people ordering Ouzo at clubs and parties? Some maybe. If Spain was producing Absenta non-stop why didn't they start the Absinthe revival. Why? Because just face the fact most North Americans do not generally like the taste and neither do many people where Absinthe is now popular. It was because of my family that our less anise Absinth broke through and in turn brought attention to your beloved traditional French or Swiss Absinthe.

I can understand your frustration that some people might think that Czech's invented Absinthe or that it is not an anisey drink traditionally which it was. We never did claim these things and we always claim that ours is a Bohemian style.

#9 peridot

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:44 PM

I understand that you want proof but are we on trial here?

Yeah, pretty much.

We want proof that what you make can be legitimately called absinthe. That means old recipes, protocols, etc. All of our current historical evidence says that absinthe's primary flavour is anise, regardless of its name. Period. Hills and others seem to be trying to use the history and legend of absinthe to their advantage while producing a drink that isn't similar at all. Absinthe is "cool" to a lot of people so they want to drink absinthe even though they don't like the taste. If someone didn't like gin would you make a gin without juniper so that they could get that gin-drinking image or mojo or mystique or whatever?

Do you know that Pilsner was the first clear beer made and that every beer now is a copy of this Czech invention? Do you see us asking for proof that Budweiser makes their beer like beer from Budweise in Czech?

Czech beer is quite good and American Budweiser is a terrible, terrible imitation. But it's at least made with beer ingredients. You can't say it's not beer. Only that it's terrible beer. That's why your comparison doesn't fit.

I also think that I deserve an apology from many of your writers for all the untruthful statements about our company and our products but this will probably never happen.

Please tell us which statements are not true and then prove they're not.

I don't mind people not liking the taste of our Absinth and critizing it on taste but anyone who compares any spirits to mouthwash or listirine or something you would not drink (I hope) is unproffesional in my opinion.

That's contradictory. If someone thinks it tastes like mouthwash its their opinion. Drinkers, even snobby ones like us, do not have any obligation to be professional.

Also, even if you could prove that your product has some historical precedent, it still has nothing to do with the absinthe traditionally made in Switzerland or France except that it's alcoholic and contains wormwood. That's the drink we drink here, and it's the drink that absinthe history is all about.

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#10 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:56 PM

For the record, I have never tried Hill's, and do not know what it tastes like. I will not say anything about the taste of Hill's.

But I have tasted quite a few thujone-marketed brands, all had strong, non-absinthe flavours, and at least one that calls itself Bohemian-style that did in fact taste exactly like minty mouthwash. You have to be able to call a thing what it is.
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#11 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 01:26 PM

[absinthe] It is a wormwood based drink.

Based on what evidence?

If "bohemian style" is not the same as traditional absinthe, why is the lure and history of traditional absinthe used to market it?
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#12 Alan Moss

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 01:40 PM

Tom, to show that there are no hard feelings on my part, I have taken down the blog entry I posted yesterday about Czech Absinthe (at least on a temporary basis).

Personally I don't want this discussion to focus too much on Hill's. As I said earlier, I think Hill's marketing as seen on their web site is honest with no thujone hyping and no "ultimate panty remover" claims.

I think that the issues go beyond Hill's. As I see it the issues are:

- Thujone-hyping in general by several other Czech companies and their affiliates.
- Panty remover/aphrodisiac/date rape positioning by some Czech companies.
- The apparent creation of a false heritage for Czech absinthe.

If Tom could help persuade the other Czech companies to adopt a more responsible position, at least on the first two of these, we would be making progress.
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#13 peridot

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 01:42 PM

On more thing for the time being, don't you think that this is a bit dishonest:

With a smooth flavor that has stood the test of 80 years, Hill's Absinth has earned its reputation as the world's premiere wormwood liquor.

Smooth since 1920


I got that from the Hills Absinth website, by the way.

"Stood the test of 80 years" implies that the product has been in production for 80 years and has been sold for that long. 1920 is when Hill's Liqueure was founded, right? You said Randomil made the current recipe (the one that is presumably the basis for the entire Czech-style) and, according to the website, he was born in 1924. So it can't possibly have been produced since 1920. Or even since 1927 (80 years ago). So when was it first produced, and more importantly, when was it first sold?

All the evidence we have says that Hill's Absinth first went on sale in the 1990s using a recipe that has nothing to do with traditional absinthe and which doesn't even louche, thus requiring the creation of a new, different "ritual" to make up for the fact that the old water drip is meaningless with it.

I agree with Wild Bill. You seem to find the concept of drinking absinthe for its non-effect qualities (appearance, flavour, aroma) alien. I find that disturbing but not surprising.

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#14 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 02:09 PM

If Mr. Jack Daniels was here would you ask him for proof that he makes a real whiskey and not a fake whiskey

No, all I'd have to do is taste it. Also, there are strict laws here about what a whiskey must contain in order to be called whiskey. For instance, a bourbon must contain at least 51% maize, among other criteria. Before a drink can be sold here, samples, processes, ingredient lists—in short, everything to do with producing the drink—must be submitted to a government agency (the TTB) for approval. And I sincerely hope we can achieve the same form of designation of Type and Class criteria for absinthe.

I also think that I deserve an apology from many of your writers for all the untruthful statements about our company and our products but this will probably never happen.... Just like a court case when I prove what I say to be true will you remove some of the untruth's from your website?

I'm unaware of any untruths on my site but will gladly remove anything that is not factual.

Ouzo is an anise based drink, Absinthe is not. It is a wormwood based drink.

That's where you are mistaken. Nineteenth century absinthe was a specific type of spirit. That spirit was—and is—an anise drink, a wormwood flavored anise drink. If you can name one 19th century sans-anise absinthe, you may have more of an argument. I sincerely don't mean this as an insult, but it seems like you need to study a bit more about the history of absinthe, because there are some pretty basic errors in your line of reasoning.

Let's talk about why Absinthe rose to popularity recently. Why can't you traditional Absinthe drinkers be happy and thankful to my great uncle Radomil for making your obscure drink poular again.

We are! But that is a sentimental point and has no bearing whatsoever on whether the product can legitimately called absinthe.

How many people like Ouzo in America or Canada? Not many. Do you see people ordering Ouzo at clubs and parties? Some maybe. If Spain was producing Absenta non-stop why didn't they start the Absinthe revival.

Because George Rowley found Hill's in Prague, not in Spain. The rest was marketing and hyping up the dangerous reputation of the drink in order to appeal to the unsuspecting masses. In my opinion, you have more to be upset with George about than us. He started it.

Why? Because just face the fact most North Americans do not generally like the taste and neither do many people where Absinthe is now popular. It was because of my family that our less anise Absinth broke through and in turn brought attention to your beloved traditional French or Swiss Absinthe.
... I can understand your frustration that some people might think that Czech's invented Absinthe or that it is not an anisey drink traditionally which it was. We never did claim these things and we always claim that ours is a Bohemian style.

There never was any such thing as a Bohemian style absinthe. Which brings me to another point no one ever makes: The "Bohemian Movement" of the Belle Époque had nothing whatsoever to do with Bohemia, but this little piece of trivia is too obscure for the general public. Still, this accidental connection is enough for marketing purposes.

I've tasted Hill's. I have a bottle. I found it unpleasant and completely unlike any absinthe. That said, it's not the worst absinth I've had. That distinction is shared by Staroplzenecky and Elixier (German).

Another thing: communists or no, is it even remotely possible that absolutely every shred of evidence for Hill's prior to 1990 completely vanished from the entire planet?

Tom, I pretty much agree with Alan in regards to the degree of responsibility Hill's has in the current trend of Czech absinthe advertising. While I still don't consider Hill's an authentic absinthe, there are much, much worse—and intentional—culprits out there. May I ask what your connection is to the family business?

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#15 Gertz

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 02:47 PM

No I do not feel that any drink containind wormwood can be called Absinthe. It has to be distilled from it.


I disagree. Of course, it all boils down to how we want to define absinthe. I tend to use the norms of the heyday of absinthe - the 19th century - as a guideline: if it could be passed on as absinthe back then, it can be called absinthe today. That means that the definition is a matter of a specific flavour, not the method of manufacture. Many absinthes in the 19th century was made by mixing essential oils with neutral alcohol - it is a perfectly legitimate way of making absinthe, although it is not suitable for top quality products. On the other hand, you can make a distillation of wormwood which isn't absinthe - for instance, if anise isn't a substantial part of the flavour profile. Even within this definition - a wormwood flavoured, anise based drink - there is a lot of room for variation of taste; just compare, say, pre-ban Pernod Fils, Jade Nouvelle -Orléans, Clandestine La Bleue and Wormwood Blanche.
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#16 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 02:51 PM

Well, I see the problem here now. First off I don't care what "other" Czech Absinth brands do, it is their business and personally I don't really like them because they have tried to copy our familires recipe and it seems they have done some misleading marketing.

To Peridot, yes my comparison with Budweiser beer does fit. It is not made from beer ingredients, read the label. It is made from rice!!!! Beer should be made from hops and barely and wheat and also the word Budweiser means from the town of Budweise. Is your Budweiser from Czech? No.

To be fair, who are you guys that want proof? Are you self appointed Absinthe police?
Also what Absinth are you drinking there anyways I thought it was illegal in the US. How much taste experience can you really have? Don't be mad at us, we didn't make it illegal in your country.

Why didn't your society excist before Hill's started the renewed interest in Absinthe and try to make it legal back then before the Czech bad marketing?

How can I prove to you what we have in our Absinth and how we make it without revealing our secrets? Look how all these other Czech brands jumped on the bandwagon, do you think they would not be interested to know how we do things? Does Kentucky Fried Chicken tell you their secret herbs and spices. Do you ask them to prove that they use them? No they just say they do and if you don't like it then what can they do, don't eat it.

Peridot, Absinth was never Hill's most popular drink until some people discovered it when they were in Czech. The Absinth that Hill's made in the 1920's was different then what Radomil made the later on. So what? I think your just being a little to picky.

No, no, no you are putting words into my mouth. What I mean is that the fact that Absinthe was banned and all the stories around it help it to be more popular. You may be trying to stop people from saying this and keep it quiet to convince your government to make it legal again, but that is your guys problem. We in the free world here have no problem with talking about it's strange qualities.

Are you asking me Ari, based on what evidence Absinthe is a wormwood based drink? Maybe you should do some more research. The scientific name for wormwood is Artemisia Absinthium, hence the name of the drink Absinthe. Why would they call it Absinthe if that wasn't what it is distilled from? In Czech we also have Slivovice, sliv is the word for a plum in Czech hence slivovice. That's it's main ingredient, that is what it is distilled from. Wormwood however is a trickier process to use to make alcohol from.

Alan, where is your proof. All you people want proof from me, where is your proof. I don't search the internet for other Czech Absinth and what they claim. You say they say these things, show me!

I urge you anti-Czech style Absinth hard line people to get off your behinds and go to Czech. See what we do and all the other drinks we make. Then you might not be so hasty in judgement. It is our unique distillation process that makes the herbs more potent in our Absinth. That is why it is known by many people to create a strange drunk. All these people that try to say that wormwood makes you hallucinate are wrong. It is the interaction of all the herbs in the drink that cause it's specail drunk. Also remember different people have different reactions to herbs. Many people will have many different experiences with Absinth.

I live in Canada also and have realized that people out here are not used to very hard alcohol. You give them something that's only 50% alcohol and they cringe, no wonder they either don't like our Absinth straight or no wonder they don't feel anything from it, they're just to pissed to notice!

Wild Bill Turkey, again you live in the USA correct? What Absinth have you tasted that tastes like mint mouthwash? I think you got ripped off.

No Peridot, you prove they are true. For example people say that "Hill's claim to have an alternative to the French tradition of pouring water of sugar into the Absinth" We have never said this and I shouldn't have to prove that this is not true, you should have to prove that we said it! And by we I mean someone from the Hill's Liquere Company. I can't control what other people blab out on the internet about our products as you can see.

Peridot you say you don't have to be a proffesional? Does that mean you are not a proffesional in Absinthe tasting? Why are you even here then?

You say "Also, even if you could prove that your product has some historical precedent, it still has nothing to do with the absinthe traditionally made in Switzerland or France except that it's alcoholic and contains wormwood. That's the drink we drink here, and it's the drink that absinthe history is all about"

Here you go again saying that our drink "contains wormwood" No, it is distilled from wormwood. You are just making assumption after assumption, you do not feel you have to be proffesional, so why don't you just not post in this thread. I would rather speak to proffesionals like Alan who are here to learn as well as give advice. You seem to be here only to bash.

#17 Gertz

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:01 PM

Also what Absinth are you drinking there anyways I thought it was illegal in the US. How much taste experience can you really have?


The Americans on this board have pretty much the same taste experience as us over here in Europe. They can easily order absinthe from overseas and have it shipped.

Many members here (including myself) have tasted a very wide selection of today's commercial offerings. Plus various non-commercial absinthes made according to old recipes. Plus original absinthe from before the ban.
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#18 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:02 PM

Are you asking me Ari, based on what evidence Absinthe is a wormwood based drink? Maybe you should do some more research. The scientific name for wormwood is Artemisia Absinthium, hence the name of the drink Absinthe.

Why yes I know this, however "absinthe" is not just a wormwood based drink. Is there any reason to believe absinthe only requires distilled wormwood beyond it's name? If pernod called it "Fennel" would you consider Fennel the only requirement?
Many czech companies, including Hills have linked their product to an anise based drink, why?
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#19 Gertz

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:09 PM

Why didn't your society excist before Hill's started the renewed interest in Absinthe and try to make it legal back then before the Czech bad marketing?


Because Hill's is very much responsible for this renewed interest. You are perfectly right in that, and, as Hiram stated, we all know that, and we appreciate that. The next chapter in the story, however, was that those interested in historical absinthe wasn't too happy about the taste of Hill's. Those who had had original, pre-ban absinthe could tell that Hill's had little or nothing to do with that.
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#20 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:31 PM

Tom, take a breath, you're getting a much more fair hand here than you will anywhere else on the web. We also don't have to hash this all out in one day. No one is attackng you, we just have some pointed questions that we've had a long time to think about and research on our own.

Let's leave the sentimental bits out of this, please, and stick to absinthe. I'll give you the Budweiser, though, it's crap.

No, we're not the absinthe police, but we are passionate about it. Many of us spend inordinant amounts of time studying it and researching the truth about it, that's why we get upset when we see someone marketing the myth and romance of it but delivering something else.

As for how much absinthe we've tasted? I personally stopped keeping count at around 125 different absinthes, and that was over a year or so ago I think.

No one is asking for trade secrets, as I said above. But we dot want something that's sold as absinthe to taste like absinthe, which is still a wormwood-flavored anise spirit.

What we're asking for proof of is any kind of evidence that Hill's absinthe existed before 1990. Proof of any sort of Czech absinth tradition before 1990. If someone claims a tradition that is greatly different than the one attested by history, the burden of proof is on them. Can we enforce this? No. But we can guide consumers who are looking for an authentic 19th style absinthe in where to find one. The huge majority of products marketed as absinthe and made in Eastern and Central Europe are inferior in every criteria for a traditional 19th century absinthe, so we steer them away from those whenever we can.

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#21 peridot

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:31 PM

Sigh.

To Peridot, yes my comparison with Budweiser beer does fit. It is not made from beer ingredients, read the label. It is made from rice!!!! Beer should be made from hops and barely and wheat and also the word Budweiser means from the town of Budweise. Is your Budweiser from Czech? No.

No, rice is an ingredient in Budweiser but it still contains barley, hops, yeast, and water, the four ingredients essential to any beer. Also, Budweiser is a brand name. We're not talking about your company making an inferior quality absinthe and naming it after a town. We're talking about your company making a product that doesn't even contain all of the essential ingredients as an established type of liquor, but giving it the same name. Your comparison would more accurately fit Doubs absinthe.

To be fair, who are you guys that want proof? Are you self appointed Absinthe police?
Also what Absinth are you drinking there anyways I thought it was illegal in the US. How much taste experience can you really have? Don't be mad at us, we didn't make it illegal in your country.

I don't know. You came here.

Absinthe isn't "illegal" here, per se. Its importation is prohibited by customs guidelines, which aren't laws; they're guidelines about how to enforce laws. The customs guidelines regarding absinthe don't match FDA regulations. No absinthe except Lucid is FDA approved but owning non-FDA approved liquor isn't illegal. I can't be arrested for owning it. And if I'm caught importing it the only thing that happens is it gets seized by customs.

Please drop this "your criticism only stems from being mad that absinthe isn't legal in your country and you think it's our fault" line of reasoning. It's dishonest.

Why didn't your society excist before Hill's started the renewed interest in Absinthe and try to make it legal back then before the Czech bad marketing?

What the absinthe movement owes to your company's efforts has nothing to do with criticism of your product or similar ones.

How can I prove to you what we have in our Absinth and how we make it without revealing our secrets? Look how all these other Czech brands jumped on the bandwagon, do you think they would not be interested to know how we do things? Does Kentucky Fried Chicken tell you their secret herbs and spices. Do you ask them to prove that they use them? No they just say they do and if you don't like it then what can they do, don't eat it.

We're not asking what's in your absinthe. We're asking when it was first commercially produced. We already know enough about what it doesn't contain for us to argue that it's not legitimate.

Peridot, Absinth was never Hill's most popular drink until some people discovered it when they were in Czech. The Absinth that Hill's made in the 1920's was different then what Radomil made the later on. So what? I think your just being a little to picky.

You're exactly making the point that the product that your company says has stood the test of time for 80 years is not the same product that has been produced for that long. Besides, I've never seen any proof that Hill's made any absinthe or absinth at all before the Czech-style product and I've never seen any evidence that even that was sold before 1990. Withstanding the test of time means being a tried and true product that has been commercial for the entire duration. If you make a product, then take it off the market, then sell it again it hasn't exactly withstood the test of time has it? Its recipe may have not deteriorated in the drawer where it was kept but that's nothing to brag about.

No, no, no you are putting words into my mouth. What I mean is that the fact that Absinthe was banned and all the stories around it help it to be more popular. You may be trying to stop people from saying this and keep it quiet to convince your government to make it legal again, but that is your guys problem. We in the free world here have no problem with talking about it's strange qualities.

We are trying to clear its name with FACTS.

Are you asking me Ari, based on what evidence Absinthe is a wormwood based drink? Maybe you should do some more research. The scientific name for wormwood is Artemisia Absinthium, hence the name of the drink Absinthe. Why would they call it Absinthe if that wasn't what it is distilled from? In Czech we also have Slivovice, sliv is the word for a plum in Czech hence slivovice. That's it's main ingredient, that is what it is distilled from. Wormwood however is a trickier process to use to make alcohol from.

That's not what he was asking you. He was asking why you think it's soley wormwood based as opposed to being an anise-based liquor that is flavoured with wormwood. Because if you actually do real research and look at old distillation protocols and recipes you'll see that anise is not only present in absinthe, but generally is used in twice the quantity of the grande wormwood. We've never seen any evidence of any absinthe before the release of Hill's that didn't use anise as the most abundant herb, which indicates that anise isn't optional, but one of several defining aspects of its character.

I urge you anti-Czech style Absinth hard line people to get off your behinds and go to Czech. See what we do and all the other drinks we make. Then you might not be so hasty in judgement. It is our unique distillation process that makes the herbs more potent in our Absinth.

You don't seem to understand. It doesn't matter if it's the nectar of the Gods if it's not absinthe. And even if your product was spectacular we'd have a problem with using the absinthe/ absinth name.

I live in Canada also and have realized that people out here are not used to very hard alcohol. You give them something that's only 50% alcohol and they cringe, no wonder they either don't like our Absinth straight or no wonder they don't feel anything from it, they're just to pissed to notice!

The reason absinthe is meant to be consumed with water is because slowly adding the water causes the essential oils to precipitate out, unlocking the flavour and aroma. With your absinth there apparently isn't any point in doing that. Well, that kinda flies in the face of absinthe tradition, don't you think?

No Peridot, you prove they are true. For example people say that "Hill's claim to have an alternative to the French tradition of pouring water of sugar into the Absinth" We have never said this and I shouldn't have to prove that this is not true, you should have to prove that we said it! And by we I mean someone from the Hill's Liquere Company. I can't control what other people blab out on the internet about our products as you can see.

I'm not asking you to prove that! I've told you what I'm asking you to prove already. The very fact of taking the name of a "notorious" drink when not making a product remotely similar is disingenuous and appears to be marketing-oriented, even if you never say "this is the drink Van Gogh drank."

Peridot you say you don't have to be a proffesional? Does that mean you are not a proffesional in Absinthe tasting? Why are you even here then?

Professionals by definition are paid for what they do. I'm not. How many people in the world are? No connoisseur has a responsibility to adhere to any "professional" language when reviewing an absinthe. My only responsibility is to accurately say what it tastes like to me.

You say "Also, even if you could prove that your product has some historical precedent, it still has nothing to do with the absinthe traditionally made in Switzerland or France except that it's alcoholic and contains wormwood. That's the drink we drink here, and it's the drink that absinthe history is all about"

Here you go again saying that our drink "contains wormwood" No, it is distilled from wormwood. You are just making assumption after assumption, you do not feel you have to be proffesional, so why don't you just not post in this thread. I would rather speak to proffesionals like Alan who are here to learn as well as give advice. You seem to be here only to bash.

You're being obtuse. I use "contains wormwood" to mean is distilled with it. Every brand of absinthe I drink is distilled with wormwood and I say "contains wormwood" when referring to them. A lot of your arguments appear to have been manufactured to avoid clearly answering the more important question of why you think your product should be called absinthe/ absinth.

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#22 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:48 PM

Tom, take a breath, you're getting a much more fair hand here than you will anywhere else on the web. We also don't have to hash this all out in one day.

Exactly, we are willing to wait for answers that may need time or effort. Just because a bunch of people are posting/asking all at once, doesn't mean they need to be all answered just as fast.
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#23 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:49 PM

Alan, my name is Tomas Hill and Radomil Hill is my father's uncle.

Gertz, we are a historical Absinth maybe not as old as the French or Swiss. How can you people blame us for what Rowely has said? Where is your proof of what he said? I'm not saying I don't believe you just I would like to see his words. Also Rowely didn't find it in Prague. A band called the sugar cubes went to a town in Czech where the sugar cube was invented and discovered our Absinth. They brought it to the UK and then 2 parties were fighting over the rights to it and then they started marketing it. How can we be responsible for what they say? You just said however that you are thankfull for this. Our website is related to the family business directly and I do not see anything harmful on the education of Absinthe on there.

No Ari I am not saying it is only a wormwood based drink, I'm just saying that is it's one of the main ingredients along with other herbs. We do have anise in our drink, just less how many times do I have to say this and it is not barely noticable, you can smell it. Sure it's not as much as the traditional Absinthe but it is present. Are you saying just because there is less of a certain ingredient it should be called something else. Believe when I say that our Absinth is made with traditional herbs and ingredients. Also like Gertz says Absinth was made in lots of differnt ways in the past and still called Absinthe. My opinion is that true Absinth should be 68%alc or more. May I suggest reading History in a Bottle?

Like I said we are not trying to be or replace traditional Absinthe. We have created something slightly different and because of our political situation we have only recently made it known.

Radomil Hill researched Absinthe and had several old recipes which he used to make what is known as Hill's Absinth, the only true orginal Bohemian Absinth.

I tell people all the time about the differences and I even have French Style Absinth for people to try. Unfortunatly I have found most people prefer the Bohemian Style.

#24 Brian Robinson

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 03:58 PM

Welcome! I'm very glad to see someone with your background on the site. I think if we can all control emotions and our tones, we can make some good ground here. I applaud your decision to join. :cheers:

Also what Absinth are you drinking there anyways I thought it was illegal in the US. How much taste experience can you really have? Don't be mad at us, we didn't make it illegal in your country.


I've tasted more than 60 brands of absinthe/absinth/absenta, etc from all over the world, FYI. Also, many of the members of this site aren't living in the U.S. Many more travel frequently to parts of the world where absinthe is legal.

Regarding comparison, most people to whom I introduce absinthe get tastes of several different brands, including Czech stuff. In fact, many people I first talk to about absinthe tell me something along the lines of "Ew, no way, I tried that stuff before, it was nasty." When I prod them about it, it usually ends up being a Czech or Mexican style like Sebor or Staro. When I introduce them to traditionally made French or Swiss absinthe, they are amazed at the difference.

My problem is not will ALL czech absinth. I can't honestly say that I enjoyed most of the ones I've tried (more than a dozen), but there's a place for these drinks. They just shouldn't be taking advantage of the uneducated masses by trying to pose as authentic absinthe.

My problem is with:

1) Deceptive marketing practices
2) Claims that the thujone bombs that certain distillers are producing are replicas of what was being consumed during Absinthe's heyday.
3) Claims that herbs can somehow magically distill into the alcohol inside the bottle
4) Claims of superior quality, when it's obvious that many use artificial coloring and inferior ingredients
5) Using Thujone to play to the 'ballztrippin' crowd
etc. etc.

Surprisingly, after quoting from Czechabsinthe.com several weeks ago on several forums, where it described its product as a well known hallucinogenic and aphrodesiac, is has since been edited to remove those claims. Those claims had been on the site for years.

Coincidence? I think not...

Would you venture to say that you know of any Czech absinthes/absinths, etc that truly make you hallucinate? Please elaborate if so.
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#25 Jaded Prole

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:06 PM

What in essence is unique about the Hill's distillation process? Is it the distillation of oils and essences added to the alcohol or this idea of "distillation in the bottle?" I like many have tried a variety of modern absintes as well as pre-ban absinthe. What absinthes have you tried that you can speak with authority on the authenticity of Hills as an absinthe? Every brand gets a fair tasting and rating on the absinthe buyers guide at La Fee Verte and Hill's rated rather poorly.

#26 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:07 PM

This is from the Hill's website:

Albin Hill established Hill's Liguere in 1920. He starting out as a wine wholesaler and soon after began producing his own liquor and liqueurs. His son Radomil was born in 1924. He grew up with the business and in his late teens went to Prague to study in the school of liqueur mixing and production. At that time there were only 3 such schools in the whole of Europe, in Berlin, Paris, and Prague.

In 1947, Radomil Hill started his own arm of the firm in Valasske Mezirici, in North Moravia. The father and son operation prospered producing specialties such as Absinth, Radigast (herbal liqueur named after the Slavic God of War) 160 proof 'Alpsky Rum' (Alp Style Rum), and Zubrovka (Bison Grass Vodka, good for the sex drive!), Bison Grass handpicked from the Gomel Region in Ukraine.

Unfortunately in 1948 all things changed for the Hill's. The new communist regime began their program of nationalizing every business meaning that all company land and property were confiscated, including Radomil's own car.

Albin Hill was forced to work as night watchmen in his senior years. No pension was given to him as he was considered a capitalist by the state. He died a broken man.

In 1950 Radomil Hill went to work for Fruta in Bohemia, (a state-created liquor producing monopoly) as a truck driver. It became known that Radomil had expert knowledge about producing liquors and moved up in the company until he reached chief of production. Because of his capitalist past, and not being in the communist party, he could not assume the position of CEO. Although in all practicality he was.

1990 after the Velvet Revolution Radomil Hill was one of the first to negotiate the return of his property. He had 50 oak casks of 500 Liters capacity made and once again the family business began to thrive. Today, 72 kinds of liquor are produced including Hill's Absinth

According to this, Hill's absinth could only have been made for at most one year and there remains no evidence of it at all.

It's a sad and yet inspiring family history, and your people have a right to be proud of it, but I see no reason to call this wormwood liquor "absinthe."

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Master Distiller, Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#27 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:09 PM

Are you saying just because there is less of a certain ingredient it should be called something else. Believe when I say that our Absinth is made with traditional herbs and ingredients.

Yes, if product A is an anise based liquor and product B only uses anise but it's not the main flavor then they are different products. One isn't better than the other just different.
But again I'm curious why you use an anise based liquor to market your not anise based liquor?

Like I said we are not trying to be or replace traditional Absinthe. We have created something slightly different and because of our political situation we have only recently made it known.

Radomil Hill researched Absinthe and had several old recipes which he used to make what is known as Hill's Absinth, the only true orginal Bohemian Absinth.

Is it possible we can see these recipes?

I find that statement interesting. If Hills is Absinthe then other companies have evidence it is not the only czech/bohemian made absinthe and also not the original.
Hills is only the 'true original bohemian-style' if it's not Absinthe.
(For that statement Absinthe=anise-based and Bohemian-style=not-anise-based)
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#28 Hill

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:10 PM

I guess what it all boils down to is that you want to see proof of our history in Absinthe making. I will do my best to get this for you.

We are not trying to be a traditional French or Swiss Absinthe. We use references to the older era of Absinthe even though ours tastes quite different because what we produced is still classified as an Absinth.

Now you will for sure ask " And who classified Hill's as an Absinth?" How about a man that went to one of only three schools in Europe (Paris, Berlin and Prague) that taught alcohol mixing and distilling. Read some history on who this person is. If anyone is qualified to make this classification wouldn't it be Radomil? Hill's makes many spirits. Some have traditional names and some have Hill's own name. If he felt that what he was making was to far to be called Absinthe he would of named it something else. I don't think that he would ever believe at the time that his Absinth would become so popular.

I think the best would be for me to find the proof you seek. I also think it is fair for our drink to be at least called Bohemian or Czech Style Absinth and not reduced to some backyard made swill. Believe me we have alot of people that love Hill's and Green Tree Absinth and we have done some good things for Absinthe.

#29 Grey Boy

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:11 PM

About bottles labels or adds. Please understand this. It was a differnt time. When communists took over our country after the war they punished people who owned businesses by not allowing them to go to higher education for example and they confiscated my great uncles car even though it was his personal car not part of the business, which makes him mad even to this day. We endured communism for 40 years with no end in sight. Why would he then keep lables, bottles or adds. Also at that time in Czech it was a regional drink and adds were not produced.


So the communists destroyed all the absinthe info and let the beer info survive,
how convenient.
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#30 Jaded Prole

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:14 PM

The Slivovitz too! I've also had some excellent Czech cherry vishnik made long before velvet revolution.


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