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Duplais Balance and Earl Grey

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Does anyone find Duplais Balance vaguely reminiscent of Earl Grey tea? It's been almost a year since I've had any, but I sampled some really nice Earl Grey this morning, and I was reminded of the Balance aftertaste.

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It's strange how flavors do that. That ability to fool the palate (most of the people, most of the time) is what the entire artificial flavor industry is based on. Not saying there is anything artificial in either Balance or a good Earl Grey tea. Just saying that, because I had some toothpaste recently that the initial rush of mint reminded me entirely of the Balance for some reason.

 

As for your tea, I can't see there actually being oil of bergamot in Duplais.

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Does anyone find Duplais Balance vaguely reminiscent of Earl Grey tea? It's been almost a year since I've had any, but I sampled some really nice Earl Grey this morning, and I was reminded of the Balance aftertaste.

 

 

Bergamot?

 

 

Bergamot? Why not? If St. George can put stinging nettles in and leave out the green anise and call it absinthe, and have the balls to charge $75, why the hell not?

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Yes, why not... if it works.

 

So long as it has a recognizable anise and wormwood character, is in the appropriate proof range, and the accent flavors work in harmony with the traditional herbs rather than obscuring them, I think the basic criteria are filled. I don't give a rat's ass what kind of anise they're using, either. In my opinion as long as the basics are covered—grand wormwood and anise—makers can use unusual accent botanicals and still call it absinthe.

 

That's not to say it will necessarily be good absinthe, however. I think a well made absinthe will generally have green anise, wormwood and fennel, but I'd stop short of making fennel or green anise pre-requisites.

 

If someone used a tiny, token, undetectable amount of anise and a whole butt-load of peppermint and cinnamon for example, I'd have a hard time accepting it as absinthe. I stick by my suggestion for a Class definition for absinthe:

 

Spirits with a main characteristic flavor derived from anise and Artemisia absinthium wormwood, produced by distillation or mixing of spirits with aromatics or extracts derived from these materials and bottled at not less than 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof).

 

If everyone stuck to Duplais, absinthe would be boring as hell and there wouldn't be enough variety to keep anyone's interest.

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I agree it should have fennel, but a definition has to be based on facts, not ideals.

 

If we went to the TTB and asked for a Class/Type definition for absinthe, they'd expect a strong case for every aspect of it; we'd need to prove what absinthe always was. The only thing we can confidently assert is "a high-proof wormwood and anise spirit." Since, according the same authorities that we generally cite for recipes and techniques, fennel is not necessary to absinthe, I doubt they'd include it in a definition.

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What? Fennel not needed to be absinthe? Pshaw. In every reputable historic absinthe recipe shows three main ingredients to make it absinthe:

GREEN anise

Fennel (usually of the azoricum variety)

Wormwood (A. absinthium)

 

Badiane is NOT anise, at least not in a historical sense related to absinthe. What the historical recipes do show is that after the "Holy Trinity" of absinthe herbs are used, you can add other herbal adjuncts to make your "signature" absinthe.

Also, to be a traditional or true to historical absinthe verte, it must have Roman wormwood. From a historical perspective, I would not call St. George's product "absinthe." I would call it what it is, a flavored brandy.

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In other words, don't let anybody ever say "absinthe is absinthe."

 

Without at least a firm legal definition of what absinthe is, or should be, you can call whatever dreck you come up with as absinthe. Look at all the Czech garbage calling itself absinthe.

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Well, I think that is what we are all after, and I think Hiram has the right idea at least. Then it would be just like all the rest of the spirits on the shelf. Of course, then it really wouldn't be cool, eh?

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I think this is a very noble project that you 'murikans really need to get on. It ain't happenin' on this side of the pond, and if it does there will be some lobbyists in the hunt to make the definition broad enough to be inclusive of some currents liquors that are not absinthe. The definition fight needs to be led from that side of the pond.

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I'm fairly confident that any TTB definition would be sufficiently broad to allow many products to be called absinthe that wouldn't pass muster here.

 

I don't have any inside knowledge of how the TTB works, just reflecting on the broad nature of existing class and type designations.

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All I'm saying is that it's unwise to think about Duplais et al as if they're the Gospel because they only represent a small sample of what was available.

In every reputable historic absinthe recipe
Reputable absinthe brand recipes have yet to be published.

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OK, I should have qualified my statement by adding "In every reputable historic absinthe recipe per Duplais, Fritsch, De Brevan, etc." What they published was the base that most distillers began with. You do not find a traditional absinthe recipe without the Holy Trinity of absinthe herbs. And every verte recipe (from the same authors) has at least pontica and hyssop in it to make it a verte.

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I think you're applying the characteristics peculiar to suisse absinthes to all absinthes.

The Gospel According to Saint Pierre du Plais

 

Extracts of Wormwood and Various Aromatic Spirits.

 

The liquids of which we will speak are of various natures: some serve as drinks, some as toiletries, still others are regarded as medications. All these liquids are obtained by distillation, infusion, or the dissolution of essences.

 

Alcohols charged with the aromatic principles of various substances, mainly of that of the wormwood, are called "wormwood extracts" [extraits d'absinthe]. These liquids do not contain sugar and their degree of proof, as with other alcohols, can be measured by means of the alcohol meter and the thermometer.

 

Like liquors, the extraits d'absinthe are divided into four classes: ordinary, demi-fine, fine, and Swiss; these last are further subdivided into: Absinthes of Pontarlier, of Montpellier and Lyon.

 

The ordinary absinthes are hardly known except in Paris and some big cities; they, as well as the demi-fine and fine, are generally manufactured by the spirit merchants; we will give their receipts in this treaty also.

 

As for those known as Swiss absinthes—of Pontarlier, Montpellier or Lyon—forming the object of a particular trade and a special manufacture, they must naturally find their place in the Treaty of Alcohols.

 

ORDINARY ABSINTHE.

Grand Wormwood, dry and cleaned, 2 kilos 500 gr.

Dry hyssop flowers, 500 grams.

Dry melissa, 500 grams.

Crushed green anise, 2 kilos.

Alcohol 85°, 15 liters.

 

DEMI-FINE ABSINTHE.

Grand wormwood, dry and cleaned, 2 kilos.

Petite wormwood, dry and cleaned, 1 kilo.

Dry hyssop flowers,, 500 grams.

Dry melissa, 500 grams.

Roots of angelica, 125 grams.

Green anise, 4 kilos.

Star anise, 2 kilos.

Fennel, 1 kilo.

Alcohol at 85°, 20 liters.

 

OTHER.

Grand wormwood, dry and cleaned, 2 kilos.

Petite wormwood, dry and cleaned, 1 kilo.

Hyssop, 500 grams.

Peppermint, 500 grams.

Green anise, 4 kilos.

Star anise, 2 kilos.

Fennel, 2 kilos.

Coriander, 1 kilo.

Alcohol at 85°, 25 liters.

 

FINE ABSINTHE.

Grand wormwood, dry and cleaned, 2 kilos.

Petite wormwood, dry and cleaned, 500 gram.

Dry hyssop flowers, 1 kilo.

Dry melissa, 1 kilo.

Green anise, 5 kilos.

Star anise, 1 kilo.

Fennel, 2 kilos.

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