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Mata Hari Website updated

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Ok guys, we've set up a new Mata Hari website for the U.S. www.AbsintheMataHari.com that adheres to the social responsibility guidelines we've been discussing. It's still a work in progress, but I'd welcome feedback from the group.

 

On a related subject, I had an interesting conversation with Alan Moss of La Clandestine...we were talking about how the manufacturers should consider getting together to promote the category. What stimualated the idea was how the gin folks got together for the Juniperlooza session at TOTC. I don't have specific ideas yet, but did want to get some feedback.

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It's a little better than the marketing materials that were originally sent out, but there are a few things that I'd have issues with.

 

The strengths of absinthe is not depending on the amount of alcohol (always between 100-150 PROOF) but on the amount of grand wormwood!

 

Herbs must be macerated in high proof alcohol to extract the essential oils, especially from Grand Wormwood which is the source of the notorious thujone component.

 

In some parts of the site, you discuss how thujone doesn't have the 'effects' that people think it does, but you also have smatterings of passages such as the above, which indicates that there may indeed be something else that is unspoken.

 

Thujone is a neurotoxin that is produced by the Grand Wormwood plant and extracted through maceration and distillation. In Europe the maximum allowed is 35ppm and in the U.S. the maximum is 10 ppm. These levels are extremely low and, contrary to popular mythology, do not cause hallucinations.

In the above passage, you kind of shoot yourself in the foot. In the first passage I quoted, you mentioned that there need to be a lot of wormwood in an absinthe to make it 'potent', but then in the above passage you downplay your absinthe, representing it as one that doesn't have much at all.

 

So, all in all, the site basically keeps saying 'Yes it is. No it's not. Yes it is. No it's not.'

 

But again, it's definitely an improvement. The removal of the fire ritual was a welcome change. I hope to see further improvements!

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I don't see any reason to mention thujone at all.

Of course there are very good reasons to mention it, extensively, with a link pointing here.

Otherwise consumers will ask about it, again and again.

That's one of the first thing I've been through when I first met the Fée Verte, anyone else?

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Of course there are very good reasons to mention it, Otherwise consumers will ask about it, again and again.

I would think you're correct. Sweeping it under the rug isn't going to make consumer curiosity go away. Considering the heaping amounts of false and misleading information out there, I think addressing the reality of Thujone isn't just smart marketing - it's socially responsible.

 

I'm not sure why so many brands talk the right talk about Thujone and then evade a direct answer. What does anyone have to lose by being honest and direct. "The Thujone Level in our Absinthe is 10 PPM as approved by the FDA" Something along those lines.

 

It's not a proprietary recipe ingredient, it is what it is. It seems to me that there's an awful lot of talk and effort towards debunking Thujone and an equal amount in keeping the actual amount secret.

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Of course there are very good reasons to mention it, extensively, with a link pointing here.

Otherwise consumers will ask about it, again and again.

That's one of the first thing I've been through when I first met the Fée Verte, anyone else?

 

I dunno about that. These are American consumers, they haven't been treated to as much of the thujone hype as the European markets. It doesn't do anything at these concentrations, so what difference does it make how much of it is in Mata Hari? Why not list all the other ingredients then as well?

 

Now obviously plenty of potential consumers of absinthe in America still have misconceptions about absinthe making you trip ballz, and certainly I think it's important to dispell that myth, but I'd consider that at this point in time mentioning thujone on the site is going lend more credibility to it having some effect, even if it's done as a straight statement of fact.

 

But you're probably right, it needs to be a comprehensive website, maybe my objection is more about the fact that it's mentioned so prominently in the first paragraph on the front page.

 

In other words, instead of this:

 

Made with Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) which is the source of thujone, the component of controversy which was the reason for the ban on Absinthe in the U.S. and Europe in the last century.

 

I think it's more effective to have this:

 

Mata Hari is made with Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), the component of controversy which was the reason for the ban on Absinthe in the U.S. and Europe in the last century.

 

I'd also follow it up with something like:

 

Today, science has shown that having Grande Wormwood in absinthe is not dangerous or hallucinogenic, and we are allowed to once again enjoy this famous beverage.

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And I think someone already mentioned it, but what is this supposed to mean?

 

The strengths of absinthe is not depending on the amount of alcohol (always between 100-150 PROOF) but on the amount of grand wormwood!

 

Uhm, no.

 

 

On the coloring section, I'm not sure what this sentence is supposed to mean as the grammar is a bit off:

 

Artificially colored: artificial coloring with dyes gives these products an unnatural bright green color and are considered as modern absinthes.

 

 

Then on the absinthe history page:

 

Authentic or “real” Absinthe is commonly distinguished by the use of Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) as an ingredient. Grande Wormwood is the principal source of thujone, the component in Absinthe that was responsible for its being banned in the last century.

 

In October 2007 the ban on Absinthe was eased, allowing those containing a maximum thujone level of 10 ppm to be sold in the United States.

 

This is not entirely accurate as I understand the regulations, someone correct me if I'm wrong but the regulations didn't actually change, someone just realized that the definition of "thujone-free" had an error margin that went up to 10ppm.

 

Additionally, I would include a paragraph referencing the fact that there have been scientific tests done on pre-ban and modern absinthes that indicate the thujone levels were not sufficient to be dangerous or hallucinogenic in any way, and that any ongoing efforts by salacious marketers to suggest that this substance has such an effect on the drinker is not supported by any scientific evidence.

 

I didn't see any mention of the secondary effect though, I don't know what the regs are in this regard, but maybe a description like this would be helpful:

 

"Drinkers of Mata Hari may however feel a pleasant awakeness that is common with absinthe thanks to the mild stimulative effect of the various herbs involved in the distillation process."

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Steve, the site looks great and is a definite improvement; I think you're on the right track. I agree with Shabba on the press packets we received.

 

I don't see any reason to mention thujone at all.

Agreed. It validates the modern false marketing that re-defined absinthe in the modern mind as a recreational drug. Few people realize that 90% of the modern perception of absinthe was created by modern marketers of a less than ethical bent.

 

By giving thujone any sort of time aside from a simple informative statement as to its lack of relevance and a link to thujone.info—or, dare I say, here—you send the message that it's relevant. It's really only of interest to people approaching absinthe as a drug, and that's a segment that won't be repeat buyers once they realize that it's not.

 

What is “Bohemian” Style?

 

Traditionally, there are three basic styles of Absinthe:

 

* Bohèmian: With a lower level of aniseed to reduce the dominant flavor of licorice. This style is ideal for mixing.

* Parisian: Higher level of aniseed and stronger licorice taste

* Blanche: A clear version of Absinthe

 

I'm not sure where these distinctions came from, they appear to be borrowed from La Fée, but they're not founded in fact.

 

I suppose it depends on what qualifies as "tradition" but there's no evidence of any such thing as a Bohemian, low-or-no-anise style of absinthe, and no historical references to such a thing until Hill's authenticity was challenged in the late 90's.

 

The historic mentions of styles of absinthe are informal and referred to levels of quality based on method of manufacture: ordinaire, demi-fine and fine. Some would add suisse.

 

There are references to regional styles: Pontarlier, Nimes, Besançon, Lyons, Montpellier, Fougerolles, etc. The detailed formulas and processes for these can be found in these books and in all of them anise is the principle ingredient.

 

It appears to be a trend that one producer will take bytes from another, and another from them, so on down the line, each assuming they're borrowing from an authoritative source. I'd recommend that all producers and their marketing teams start cracking the books. The truth is out there. ;)

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I don't know if I would be so quick to dismiss the awareness of Thujone or the curiosity of it in the American market. Consider the huge presence of hundreds of web sites that promote a Thujone high and infer either indirectly of directly that the higher the Thujone level the more powerful the "effect"

 

Add to that the success of do it yourself kits and Thujone Extract which is peddled on stand alone sites and auction venues like eBay. You can add to that celebrities like Manson who rave about taking a few drops of pure Thujone and boasts it's his favorite drug. And this a guy with his own brand.

 

Manson Interview here

 

Since drinking and purchasing Absinthe on a fairly regular basis it seems not a day goes by that someone doesn't ask about the hallucinogenic effects. They may not know a damn thing about Absinthe, never heard the word Thujone but they know Absinthe is notorious for something. And from that point all they have to is Google to find themselves bombarded with tons of conflicting information.

 

Addressing the issues of Thujone up front by producers is in my opinion to their benefit, financially and ethically.

 

As a consumer I still wonder about it. I raise the same eyebrow with the research by Ted Breaux as I do by research done or funded by pharmaceutical companies for their own product. Self interest just screams to loud, at least in my ears. I mean no disrespect to Ted but a degree of cynicism exists, at least for me. And I don't think I'm much different than any other Absinthe loving consumer.

 

Devoid of any scientific training I can only go by my gut as a consumer. Thujone at high doses is a neuro toxin. Many "Poisons" at levels lower than their lethal dose serve as medicine and recreational drugs. Unless we were there, back in the 1800's how does anyone really know?

 

And as a consumer and not an expert, I'll look to brands that level with me. As for those that ignore the 400 pound guerilla in the room my guess is they'll do just fine.

 

But those brands, those producers who just net it out via their promotion, their web site, their marketing. Those are the guys who are going to win credibility those are the guys who after the inevitable shake out, will remain strong and sound - Because that's exactly how they started out.

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Devoid of any scientific training I can only go by my gut as a consumer. Thujone at high doses is a neuro toxin. Many "Poisons" at levels lower than their lethal dose serve as medicine and recreational drugs. Unless we were there, back in the 1800's how does anyone really know?

 

1) By drinking pre-ban absinthe.

 

2) By drinking absinthe made exactly the same way as pre-ban absinthe.

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1) By drinking pre-ban absinthe.

 

2) By drinking absinthe made exactly the same way as pre-ban absinthe.

1)How do we know beyond doubt that pre-ban absinthe today is exactly how it was was back when it was first bottled?

 

2) How do we know that the integirty of the ingediants are the same today? How does anyone know what worked back then, yeilds the same results today?

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1) By drinking pre-ban absinthe.

 

2) By drinking absinthe made exactly the same way as pre-ban absinthe.

1)How do we know beyond doubt that pre-ban absinthe today is exactly how it was was back when it was first bottled?

 

2) How do we know that the integirty of the ingediants are the same today? How does anyone know what worked back then, yeilds the same results today?

Do some research. Poke around this site, Oxy's site and thujone.info. This topic has been beaten to death.

 

There have been studies on the stability of thujone in an alcohol suspension. There's also gobs and gobs of information about how it's difficult to bring thujone over in the distillate.

 

Add to that the fact that the analysis of thujone in both current brands and pre-ban samples show very comparable levels, logic would dictate that you would come to the conclusion that the samples have stayed very close to how it was back then, with just some aging added in.

 

Of course we can't say that vintage absinthe is 'exactly' how it was back in the day. Aging obviously imparts some changes. But based on all of the current scientific evidence, we can say that the 'culprit' hasn't changed much, if at all. But if there actually was any truth to the whole toxicity of wormwood and thujone, don't you think we would have seen a lot more documentation on it? There were literally tens of millions of people drinking absinthe on a daily basis.

 

How does anyone know what worked back then, yeilds the same results today?

Why wouldn't it? Remember, there are parts of the world where absinthe was never banned, and saw continuous operation well after the bans took place. If it were so toxic, then why didn't we see those same ill effects in those areas?

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That was in your pocket?! I thought you were just happy to see me.

 

Always happy to see you and willing to share.

 

Sorry I strayed off topic. :wave2:

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It validates the modern false marketing that re-defined absinthe in the modern mind as a recreational drug.
You mispelled "deteriorates".

 

It's really only of interest to people approaching absinthe as a drug, and that's a segment that won't be repeat buyers once they realize that it's not.
Don't believe so, wait for absinthe to be in every bar and every nightclub. Be realistic, have you seen how quickly it grows in the US medias compared to how it grew 7-8 years ago in France?

 

I don't know if I would be so quick to dismiss the awareness of Thujone or the curiosity of it in the American market. Consider the huge presence of hundreds of web sites that promote a Thujone high and infer either indirectly of directly that the higher the Thujone level the more powerful the "effect"

 

Add to that the success of do it yourself kits and Thujone Extract which is peddled on stand alone sites and auction venues like eBay. You can add to that celebrities like Manson who rave about taking a few drops of pure Thujone and boasts it's his favorite drug. And this a guy with his own brand.

Agreed.

There must be a 'balance' somewhere.

Hide the truth is what they did a century ago.

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As I already told Steve, the site is a definite improvement.

 

Of course he has to work out a way to get it found*: at the moment a consumer searching for "absinthe Mata Hari" will find the Austrian site (top result on Google). That result and all the consequent "thujone hyping**" there does run the risk for Steve of confusing the message he gives to American consumers. For Steve's sake, I hope the TTB don't do that google search.

 

I don't see any reason to mention thujone at all.

Of course there are very good reasons to mention it

A key fact is that stating "thujone" on an absinthe site will get you more visitors. I have seen two studies showing that "thujone" is the second most important keyword sending visitors to Liqueurs de France (where they will find Ian's excellent article), but none of us would criticise LDF for that.

 

* A start point would be to ask Hiram to link to the new site (and NOT the old one) in the brand review section.

 

** Actually we should be pleased that the Austrian site calls it "thujon," which reduces the number of people finding it by accident. I'll be looking out for a spelling correction there soon!

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These are American consumers, they haven't been treated to as much of the thujone hype as the European markets.
Wrong. The absinthe American market is just arousing and it's already full of thujone references everywhere.

As Alan just demonstrated, how do you think American consumers are coming to absinthe? From Verlaine?

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IMHO the Obsello website does a pretty good job of balancing responsible info with marketing presentation. Plus the look/feel/music make me feel warm and fuzzy when I visit it :wub:

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Thanks for your comments. I think about websites this way...you never get it right, you just keep getting it better. So this is a work in progress. I'm making some changes that address these concerns.

It's a little better than the marketing materials that were originally sent out, but there are a few things that I'd have issues with.

 

The strengths of absinthe is not depending on the amount of alcohol (always between 100-150 PROOF) but on the amount of grand wormwood!

 

Herbs must be macerated in high proof alcohol to extract the essential oils, especially from Grand Wormwood which is the source of the notorious thujone component.

 

In some parts of the site, you discuss how thujone doesn't have the 'effects' that people think it does, but you also have smatterings of passages such as the above, which indicates that there may indeed be something else that is unspoken.

 

Thujone is a neurotoxin that is produced by the Grand Wormwood plant and extracted through maceration and distillation. In Europe the maximum allowed is 35ppm and in the U.S. the maximum is 10 ppm. These levels are extremely low and, contrary to popular mythology, do not cause hallucinations.

In the above passage, you kind of shoot yourself in the foot. In the first passage I quoted, you mentioned that there need to be a lot of wormwood in an absinthe to make it 'potent', but then in the above passage you downplay your absinthe, representing it as one that doesn't have much at all.

 

So, all in all, the site basically keeps saying 'Yes it is. No it's not. Yes it is. No it's not.'

 

But again, it's definitely an improvement. The removal of the fire ritual was a welcome change. I hope to see further improvements!

 

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Very interesting discussion. My/our point of view coincides with PeterL and Doctor Love (great screen name btw). One of the first things I do when developing a website is a very rigorous keyword review. "Thujone" came up second on the list after several spelling variants of Absinthe. So we know for a fact that people are frequently using the word "Thujone" in search queries, therefore it should be included in the copy, becaue that's how Google will know a given website is relevant to the search.

 

As to the issue of how it's referred to, I agree with the comments that it should be presented as a factual statement. I've made some additional changes to the site that I think address that.

Of course there are very good reasons to mention it, extensively, with a link pointing here.

Otherwise consumers will ask about it, again and again.

That's one of the first thing I've been through when I first met the Fée Verte, anyone else?

 

I dunno about that. These are American consumers, they haven't been treated to as much of the thujone hype as the European markets. It doesn't do anything at these concentrations, so what difference does it make how much of it is in Mata Hari? Why not list all the other ingredients then as well?

 

Now obviously plenty of potential consumers of absinthe in America still have misconceptions about absinthe making you trip ballz, and certainly I think it's important to dispell that myth, but I'd consider that at this point in time mentioning thujone on the site is going lend more credibility to it having some effect, even if it's done as a straight statement of fact.

 

But you're probably right, it needs to be a comprehensive website, maybe my objection is more about the fact that it's mentioned so prominently in the first paragraph on the front page.

 

In other words, instead of this:

 

Made with Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) which is the source of thujone, the component of controversy which was the reason for the ban on Absinthe in the U.S. and Europe in the last century.

 

I think it's more effective to have this:

 

Mata Hari is made with Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), the component of controversy which was the reason for the ban on Absinthe in the U.S. and Europe in the last century.

 

I'd also follow it up with something like:

 

Today, science has shown that having Grande Wormwood in absinthe is not dangerous or hallucinogenic, and we are allowed to once again enjoy this famous beverage.

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Again, some good points that I've addressed on the site. I think the wording on the ban is sufficiently clear. One thing we've learned definitively through our quant and qual research on other brands is consumers don't want chemistry lessons or legal interpretations...just simple statements that answer the most common questions I've found consumers are asking...is it "real", and is it legal to buy it.

And I think someone already mentioned it, but what is this supposed to mean?

 

The strengths of absinthe is not depending on the amount of alcohol (always between 100-150 PROOF) but on the amount of grand wormwood!

 

Uhm, no.

 

 

On the coloring section, I'm not sure what this sentence is supposed to mean as the grammar is a bit off:

 

Artificially colored: artificial coloring with dyes gives these products an unnatural bright green color and are considered as modern absinthes.

 

 

Then on the absinthe history page:

 

Authentic or “real” Absinthe is commonly distinguished by the use of Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) as an ingredient. Grande Wormwood is the principal source of thujone, the component in Absinthe that was responsible for its being banned in the last century.

 

In October 2007 the ban on Absinthe was eased, allowing those containing a maximum thujone level of 10 ppm to be sold in the United States.

 

This is not entirely accurate as I understand the regulations, someone correct me if I'm wrong but the regulations didn't actually change, someone just realized that the definition of "thujone-free" had an error margin that went up to 10ppm.

 

Additionally, I would include a paragraph referencing the fact that there have been scientific tests done on pre-ban and modern absinthes that indicate the thujone levels were not sufficient to be dangerous or hallucinogenic in any way, and that any ongoing efforts by salacious marketers to suggest that this substance has such an effect on the drinker is not supported by any scientific evidence.

 

I didn't see any mention of the secondary effect though, I don't know what the regs are in this regard, but maybe a description like this would be helpful:

 

"Drinkers of Mata Hari may however feel a pleasant awakeness that is common with absinthe thanks to the mild stimulative effect of the various herbs involved in the distillation process."

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