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BTI announces results of Absinthe review


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#1 Steveski

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:35 PM

The Beverage Tasting Institute just announced the results of their first ever Absinthe review:

Here are the results
94: Pernod -Gold Medal
93: Mata Hari -Gold Medal
92: Kübler-Gold Medal
91: Obsello- Gold Medal
90 Libertine-Gold Medal
90 Australian Vodka Co. Moulin Rooz-Gold Medal
82: La Muse Verte- Bronze Medal

A couple of observations for those not familiar with BTI reviews. The category they put absinthe in was Liqueur Schnapps. Ratings matter more than medals. And while there probably isn't a statistical difference in one rating point, the numbers are meaningful to consumers...90+ in the wine industry (usually associated with Robert Parker or Wine Spectator) can turn a brand from a nobody to a global superstar.
Also It may seem that they give out a lot of gold medals, but it's more a case of not getting a gold than getting one. (e.g. SFWSC gives out "Double Golds"!)

I don't know how many or what other Absinthe's were entered, they don't report that.

And some more background, it was a BTI top award that Grey Goose won back in 1998 that established and validated Grey Goose's positioning as "The World's Best Tasting Vodka" and they've stuck with it every since event though they've been topped by other vodka's in subsequent years. (Don't know if they ever entered again...I wouldn't...how can you do better than best?)

#2 Brian Robinson

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 12:40 PM

This shows me how considerably flawed these reviews are. Anything that would give Pernod a gold medal shows a complete lack of credibility.

There isn't one person I know who has tried the new Pernod (both in the WS and out) and enjoyed it.
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#3 dakini_painter

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 01:04 PM

it was a BTI top award that Grey Goose won back in 1998 that established and validated Grey Goose's positioning as "The World's Best Tasting Vodka"


Just because marketing claims such to be true, doesn't make it so.

Even if you click your heels together three times.

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#4 Zman (Marc Bernhard)

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 01:29 PM

What a joke.

If you don't like anise at all, you're not likely to care for any decent absinthe, as absinthe is an anise flavored drink. It's kind of like asking if there are any good beers that don't taste like hops or malt.----Hiram

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#5 Absomphe

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 02:25 PM

So funny, I forgot to laugh.

Noroms™.

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#6 buddhasynth

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:39 PM

No matter how many times I click my jackbooted heels, Mata Hari still tastes like wee-wee in a bottle.
What part of Klaatu Barada Nikto don't you understand?


...because shoddy absinthes will be flavored with the lubricator of take the lead anise.

#7 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:50 PM

BTI is actually the Beverage Testing Institute, though in this case, I suggest the Bad Taste Institute.
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#8 buddhasynth

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 04:54 PM

the Ministry of Gustatory Unpleasantude..
What part of Klaatu Barada Nikto don't you understand?


...because shoddy absinthes will be flavored with the lubricator of take the lead anise.

#9 Alan Moss

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 08:15 PM

You can see the BTI's consolidated results on absinthe here. Includes earlier scores for La Fée.

It puts their scores into further perspective when you see that La Fée Bohemian is equal no. 1 highest score.
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#10 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 10:09 PM

I'm having a hard time taking it seriously. I keep asking myself:

What were the criteria?
What absinthe experience do the judges have?
Why are they waxing poetic over artificial coloring?
Would they do that with wine?
Why did they judge absinthe in—of all things— the schnapps category, when they have an anise spirits category???

[upon further search, I see they have them listed in the Herbal Liqueur/Bitters category.]

"Click here to see our 2008 Wine Newsletter explaining the marketing benefits we offer for your wines."

*click*

2008 World Wine Championships Newsletter

How much time and money have you spent sending wines to magazines with nothing to show for it? How often have you waited for months with baited breath wondering if you're one of the lucky few to be chosen for publication? And if you are fortunate enough to make it in, how free is that "free" review when afterwards you're solicited to pay thousands of dollars for a label ad and many hundreds more for point-of sale materials?

Do you want to continue to roll the dice with the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast or others, or would you like a guaranteed professional review in your hands within two months? Let us tell you how we can help you sell your wines! For only $95 per wine we will give you:

* Guaranteed, professional reviews from noted experts, beverage writers, and buyers within the industry, done by blind tastings....

Etc.


I don't mean to be a jerk, Steve, but this reminds me of those poetry contests I won a bunch of when I was 17.

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#11 leopold

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 11:23 PM

BTI lists Pernod's suggested price at $39. Now isn't that interesting?

#12 Alan Moss

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 12:31 AM

You can't possibly be suggesting that the BTI makes the odd mistake, can you?
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#13 Boggy

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 01:27 AM

it was a BTI top award that Grey Goose won back in 1998 that established and validated Grey Goose's positioning as "The World's Best Tasting Vodka"

A vodka invented in 1997 gets an award for something it can only dream of. Give me a break.

It puts their scores into further perspective when you see that La Fée Bohemian is equal no. 1 highest score.

Yay! Stones, nutshell, hay, metal ore, saddle soap, it puts new perspective into absinth-making.
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#14 Alan Moss

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:07 AM

Stones ... it puts new perspective into absinth-making.

Gwydion, please note.
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#15 Steveski

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:30 AM

Thanks all for your comments. I'm just sharing the info (and yes, would have posted it no matter what Mata Hari scored). We can all draw our own conclusions. But, the real significance is not what we think in this forum, it's the commercial impact the BTI results have out in the trade and on consumers. While you may criticise the organization, the process or the conclusions, the reality is it is taken quite seriously by the trade and consumers. That's why I made the point of Grey Goose...we always pooh-poohed the fact that they made their name on a now-ten-year-old event that hails a new king every year. Yet the reality is Sidney Frank sold the company for $2B (that's billion), and the foundation for that was the BTI review.

So, you can expect us to be promoting the review results for Mata Hari for one simple and compelling reason...it means something to consumers. It's a credible third-party validation and quality cue to the consumer and a reason to reach out and select that brand.

But,Hiram, you ask some good questions, so I'm going to forward this thread to Jerald O'Kennard and Catrina Cerny who run the show at BTI and let them respond...and I'll post it here.


I'm having a hard time taking it seriously. I keep asking myself:

What were the criteria?
What absinthe experience do the judges have?
Why are they waxing poetic over artificial coloring?
Would they do that with wine?
Why did they judge absinthe in—of all things— the schnapps category, when they have an anise spirits category???

[upon further search, I see they have them listed in the Herbal Liqueur/Bitters category.]

"Click here to see our 2008 Wine Newsletter explaining the marketing benefits we offer for your wines."

*click*

2008 World Wine Championships Newsletter

How much time and money have you spent sending wines to magazines with nothing to show for it? How often have you waited for months with baited breath wondering if you're one of the lucky few to be chosen for publication? And if you are fortunate enough to make it in, how free is that "free" review when afterwards you're solicited to pay thousands of dollars for a label ad and many hundreds more for point-of sale materials?

Do you want to continue to roll the dice with the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast or others, or would you like a guaranteed professional review in your hands within two months? Let us tell you how we can help you sell your wines! For only $95 per wine we will give you:

* Guaranteed, professional reviews from noted experts, beverage writers, and buyers within the industry, done by blind tastings....

Etc.


I don't mean to be a jerk, Steve, but this reminds me of those poetry contests I won a bunch of when I was 17.



#16 Pan Buh

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 03:31 AM

a credible third-party validation and quality cue

You should add, "It passes as..." and "... to gullible consumers who don't trust their own taste"

The whole thing is rather incredible.

#17 Alan Moss

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 03:38 AM

But, the real significance is not what we think in this forum, it's the commercial impact the BTI results have out in the trade and on consumers. While you may criticise the organization, the process or the conclusions, the reality is it is taken quite seriously by the trade and consumers.

Agree 100%. I do some work on a Vodka that has a BTI Platinum medal with a higher score than Grey Goose. BTI provides us good endorsement but regrettably the brand is not yet worth $2 billion.

It appears that the BTI Tasting Panel may not know/understand absinthe as well as vodka, which is hardly surprising. But since very few of the absinthes generally preferred by members here were entered into the BTI tasting, that is hardly surprising. We have some work to do too ...
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#18 dakini_painter

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 04:25 AM

But, the real significance is not what we think in this forum, it's the commercial impact the BTI results have out in the trade and on consumers


Now he's delusional.

Your product should be able to stand on it's own merits without the need for some bogus "award" from people who don't know a damn thing about absinthe.

Grey Goose


A $37 bottle of 80 proof vodka is 63.42% water.

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#19 OMG_Bill

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 04:27 AM

But it's quality water. B)
Some folks may cringe each time I use the term "Booze" regarding these high quality drinks.
I mean no offense. There are bottles of extraordinary booze out there. I've tasted a few. Relax.

#20 Absomphe

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 05:52 AM

So is NYC's tapwater, believe it or not, and it's practically free. B)

Yes, I'm Krinkles the Clown on an absinthe a beer bender.

You got a problem with that?


#21 Jonathan D.

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 06:31 AM

I don't understand how they can taste Obsello side by side with that other stuff and not perceive the vast chasm of difference in flavor and complexity.

#22 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:15 AM

Here at the BIT, we don't do things the pinky in the air way like other testing groups. Our heavily scientific testing format allows us to find out what the everyman on the street thinks about a product. Random people our picked off the street. They slam back 4 shots and jump into the air 3 times. The mean height of these three jumps is ran through a complicated algorithm, giving an error proof score to the beverage.
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#23 Alan Moss

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:28 AM

Not quite correct. BTI tasting methodology here.
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#24 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 09:22 AM

It appears that the BTI Tasting Panel may not know/understand absinthe as well as vodka, which is hardly surprising.

Hardly surprising is right.
Absinthe is a complex, nuanced creation with layers of flavor that come in waves. Many things can go right in an absinthe and it can still be spoiled in the last five minutes with a fault in the coloring step. Aging is critical. The bottle itself makes a difference in the color and longevity of the taste. There's so much to know and understand, and one's taste and subjective reactions are all balanced on the head of a pin when reviewing an absinthe.

Vodka should taste like water.
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#25 elfnmagik

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 10:02 AM

Firewater that is.
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#26 Absomphe

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:50 PM

Butt really quality firewater.

Yes, I'm Krinkles the Clown on an absinthe a beer bender.

You got a problem with that?


#27 Sola

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 06:45 PM

Vodka should taste like water.


If vodka tasted like water I doubt I would ever be sober.

#28 Meatwaggon

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:03 PM

But, the real significance is not what we think in this forum, it's the commercial impact the BTI results have out in the trade and on consumers


Now he's delusional.

Your product should be able to stand on it's own merits without the need for some bogus "award" from people who don't know a damn thing about absinthe.

What "should" happen and what "does" happen isn't necessarily the same thing, and in this case it's clearly not.

And a diamond in the rough is still covered by sh1t until it's discovered.....
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#29 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 08:25 PM

Absolutely true. While I don't particularly subscribe to this school of marketing, Steve's assessment of the market impact of this kind of thing is - literally - right on the money.

I myself wouldn't enter Marteau in a competition that wasn't meaningful to me and I couldn't put a BTI award on my label until I was certain that it would mean something. It doesn't make me feel like I'm a great chef just because my cats beg at the table. (okay, that may have come out wrong, but no offense is intended)

I sincerely don't mean to suggest that the judges aren't erudite wine and spirit evaluators, but absinthe is a whole different ballpark.

We now have people imitating absinthe who have never even tasted what they're imitating. When I see the absinthe equivalent of street wine (not talking about Mata Hari here) getting best in show, it raises some pretty bright red flags.

The judge's absinthe CV is of great importance, in my opinion.

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#30 baubel

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 11:02 PM

Butt really quality firewater.



Which is practically free in Butte, MT.

A little technological fix to a spiritual problem.



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