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Sol2Sol

The Future of Ordering From Europe?

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So today I was thrilled to hear from my local VABC store that they had a few bottles of Leopold Bros in stock. We just last week got Lucid here in Roanoke! Anyway, the store manager was asking me about absinthe and what was good and what was not and what to look for in future orders. I was happy to suggest some things and then mentioned that I bought most of my absinthe from Europe. She asked why and then said *they* are working on making it harder to import absinthe into the States as it's cutting into the sales here in the US. I was a little concerned but composed myself enough to say, 'if we could get more quality absinthes here, I wouldn't have to order from Europe.' At that point I mentioned that the 6 bottles of Absente they had isn't really absinthe despite what the label says.

 

Point is, are we looking at future duty taxes and red tape now that there's absinthe competition between US and European sales? I've recently read about Texas banning online sales. Who's next?

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I have mixed feelings but mostly, I'm excited to see how it will work out. Certainly, I think it will be to our advantage.

 

My mixed feelings involved the people behind the businesses that helped me enjoy so many delicious beverages. Of course, they did it for a price (it is after all, business) but a good business person knows the value of taking care of their customers. So it has been with a little remorse that my absinthe dollars have been going to businesses inside the States and not my friends in Europe. Taxes and red tape will not come close to the cost or hassle of overseas shipping.

 

America will also continue to see domestic absinthe improve, too. Leopold and North Shore are doing fine jobs and we are only scant weeks away from two domestic offerings (Marteau & Pacifique) that will challenge the very best anywhere.

 

As to the future? I know Oxy is tackling Canada and hopefully, looking to get gallons of absinthe into the US. I'm sure Alan was instrumental in helping get Clandestine here and hopefully, more is coming from Bugnon, too. I'd say the future is looking pretty sweet.

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Regarding online sales in the US:

 

States weren't liking the fact that wineries were selling their wares over the internet. When a CA winery sells wine, CA gets the state liquor tax, even if it's sold over the internet to someone in another state. So they started passing laws you could only do internet sales within the state, and to buy wines and spirits over the internet from out of state could have been a crime.

 

The US Supreme Court said you can't do that (ie restrict the internet sales to just from within your own state, that's interfering with interstate commerce, and only the Federal govt can do regulate that).

 

States don't know what to do with this new-fangled thing called the Internet, where people can buy things from out-of-state and not pay in-state sales taxes (in many cases). Now with wine and liquor being sold online, there's the potential for loss of revenue. And for a Control state, (like PA) where all sales are supposed to be through the state controlled stores, they see even more potential for loss of revenue.

 

So Texas has decided the solution is to "ban" such sales. S. Carolina has recently established regulations for wineries outside the state to sell direct into the state, but the paperwork is extensive, requiring registration, paying a fee, reporting your sales, paying tax to SC, as well as reporting to the state all individuals who buy more than X amount from you. Basically, they said we'll treat you as though you were located in our state (except for the reporting individual customers part, I think that's new).

 

It is not an issue of one political party over another, but it is something that as a purchaser and consumer of alcoholic beverages, people need to let their representatives know how they feel about this. Even very liberal states have quite conservative Liquor Control Boards/Liquor Authorities that seem to think that Prohibition ended yesterday.

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I'm surprised that this topic hasn't aroused more interest since it's quite an important issue for many of us (whichever side of the fence we sit on).

She .. said *they* are working on making it harder to import absinthe into the States as it's cutting into the sales here in the US.

Yes, I had heard that rumour too. In fact we have already stopped our own direct sales from Absinthe-Suisse to the USA, but entirely of our own accord. Specifically because we want to support our importer, wholesalers and retail clients, rather than compete with them. Not all European companies seem to take that view.

I was a little concerned but composed myself enough to say, 'if we could get more quality absinthes here, I wouldn't have to order from Europe.'

If 10 of the range available from the better absinthe shops were sold in the USA, would people here really stop buying from Europe? 20? 30? I think that there would always be a reason to buy ex-Europe ... always one more niche product.

Point is, are we looking at future duty taxes and red tape now that there's absinthe competition between US and European sales? I've recently read about Texas banning online sales. Who's next?

Texas is a separate issue which DP has covered.

 

"Future duty taxes?" I think the "Government's" approach would be that those who import from Europe are not paying US Duties and taxes; also that this is avoiding America's Three Tier alchohol distribution system. Both of these exist for a reason, and, as suppliers, we would of course prefer conditions to be equal. "Level playing field" etc. Most of the Europeans selling absinthe in the USA have probably had to cut ex-distillery prices significantly to accommodate duties, taxes, and the additional cost structure of the Three Tier system. But we do so, because we think it will be worth it in the long-term. Others (notably including those who hype thujone) take a different view.

 

(It is right, by the way, to ignore comparative pricing on this. Currently the strength of the dollar may make the European option a little more attractive. Foreign exchange issues aside, I believe the US option will become increasingly attractive financially.)

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Alan, I really agree with you. I can not foresee a time when I ONLY want to purchase products in the USA. There is too much out there in the world, and too many fabulous offerings, and one-off offerings to limit myself to USA only purchases. Being able to purchase locally makes me very happy indeed, and will make me even happier when there is a brand I actually like on my local liquor shelf (which should be happening very soon), but to limit myself, no I think not.

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I can not foresee a time when I ONLY want to purchase products in the USA.

 

I can, and it won't be in the distant future, either.

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Well if we get Edouard, VS, PF1901, Blanchette, Helfrich Verte and Blanche, Balance, Twin Tec, La P'tite, L'Italienne and a decent attempt at a historical rouge here in the US, then yeah, I'll never order from Europe again. I might have accidentally left a couple out tho. ;)

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I'm about to place one for the Brut d'lambic, Brevans Giger, and the Absinthe Promethee myself. It will probably be a cold day in hell before all the good stuff from LDF and Absinthe.de becomes available in the US.

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It will probably be a cold day in hell before all the good stuff from LDF and Absinthe.de becomes available in the US.

 

Don't forget Absinthe Classics.

 

And I'm sure Peter, Ian, and Oxy aren't losing any sleep, all snugly and warm next to the fire, and brimstone. :devil:

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You make a valid point, there, Dakini.

 

Actually, all our faux absinthe should be required to contain a higher level of thujone than the French stuff.

 

I mean, this is America, so shouldn't our indigenous offerings be legally designated as Amersinthes? :devil:

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I agreed whole-heartedly with you tongue wagger. In fact, I think all the producers in America need to band together and file a GRAS Notification with the FDA including all the documentation that we all know well, plus appropriate EU regulations, etc. If no one files, the FDA will leave things as they are.

 

I think absinthe distillers should focus on producing the best absinthe possible, and I'm sure over time we can get AA that's a low thujone chemotype. I've gotten a couple encouraging comments about some protoypes, and I'm certain that thujone is not the reason why. (Even as an effect on the flavor, I'm sure there's none.)

 

Maybe I'll just have to make a Sagesinthe. :devil:

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Excellent idea!

 

Then, when those inevitable frat boys set it ablaze, it'll smell like alcohol-laced marijuana, and they think they're drunk, trippin', and stoned, all at the same time! :yahoo:

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I was wondering if anyone had some info on Texas' "Ban" of online sales that DP and Alan mentioned? I've looked all over the interwebs and can't find anything. If sites like DUNY say they can ship to Texas should a legit consumer in Texas such as myself have anything to worry about? I'd like to try something other than Lucid which is all that's available locally. Thanks in advance to anyone who might have any insight for me.

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I did some poking around and didn't find anything. Since some counties might be dry, it could be restrictions placed by the shipping companies rather than an actual state law. But that's just speculating on my part.

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As a former bartender I know the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) can be a real PITA, but I can't find any online sales ban info either. If anything is up it prolly has to do with taxes (follow the money, you'll get to the truth!). I have a birthday coming up and I think that is a great excuse to give LDF or DUNY some business. Thanks for looking out DP!

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DUNY announced a couple of weeks ago that they couldn't ship to Texas any more, and there was a heated discussion on a MySpace blog. But I can't find anything about this on the DUNY site now.

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I too saw the announcement on DUNY a week or so ago about not shipping to Texas. I went back to the site yesterday and couldn't find it. :twitchsmile:

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I found this in DUNY's FAQs...

 

"Due to recent state regulations, we are no longer able to offer shipping to Texas. Orders placed with a Texas "ship to" address will be canceled and we will issue a complete refund."

 

I have emailed them to ask what's up. I'll post the reply when it comes to me. I would bet it's my beloved TABC and taxes.

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I've gotten a couple encouraging comments about some protoypes, and I'm certain that thujone is not the reason why. (Even as an effect on the flavor, I'm sure there's none.)

 

Maybe I'll just have to make a Sagesinthe. :devil:

 

Skip the Sagesinthe, but do continue on the prototype. I sincerely hope you have good luck with your work. Just make sure (despite the paperwork) you do your best to have this distributed to PA. There's a couple of us who are quite thirsty for something truly good down here. Sometime or another I'd like to visit the distillery, if it wouldn't be too much of a hassle. I don't think I'm that far off...or are you waaay upstate?

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I was joking about the Sagesinthe.

 

I explored the PA system, and it seems that it's possible to register with them on their Special Orders, and I can tell them my minimum is one bottle. But I have no idea what their markup is.

 

I'm not way upstate, about an hour east of Binghamton. mapquest says 4 hours, but it looks like they're sending you over hill and dale. So perhaps a bit longer than that.

 

Right now still waiting on my :censor1: state. So not much action yet.

 

Like Leopold, I'm not officially open to the public, but forum folks aren't really the public. So you're welcome to visit.

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I was joking about the Sagesinthe.

 

Damn, what a bummer!

 

I was so hoping that you'd invited Purple Mark to be your first guest distiller.

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