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Le Tourment Vert

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I was actually emailed by a forum member and asked to add my thoughts. I don't have any huge insights that others haven't offered, but my take on it is, "if you don't want to do a good job with that, then there are a lot of people who would kill to trade with you."

 

I'm not even suggesting that making a great absinthe is what they should necessarily do. Just make a decent one.

 

Oh, and about the colouring issue. My opinion is that natural colouring is just way the hell cooler than artificial. It looks better and it has a positive impact on the flavour if done properly. Artificial colouring is lazy and cheap. What's so awesome about it being green (or in LTV's case, blue) if it's just because you dumped some food colouring in it? It's an imitation. It's taking a short cut. If you feel like your natural colouring isn't doing the job and needs some artificial enhancement, then either you need to keep working on it until you get better or you don't know what it's supposed to look like and have skewed standards. It's not supposed to look nuclear green or like poison does in a comic book.

 

I'm not trying to be an ass. Just saying that making crap is a missed opportunity. I could see the temptation to hock cheap crap for the sake of rolling in cash and cackling like a madman if there were a huge market for it like with shit beer and shit whiskey, but absinthe is sooooooo 2007. Nobody much cares anymore except the people who really care. Then again I could be totally wrong.

 

Y'all don't have to welcome me back every time :) I actually drop by and read some posts about once a week or so, but I don't have much to contribute cuz I haven't had anything new even though I really want to.

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You're not being an ass, you're being frank with the truth, and I'm grateful for it. I value your contributions quite a bit and hope you'll grace us more often.

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I've been pressed for time recently and haven't had the chance to read every single post, so bear with me if this has been asked already, but:

 

MINOTT: Just to clarify, what PRECISELY caused you to plan the LTV formula change? Surely it must have been something major. Pressure from the TTB? Or just constantly poor feedback from your consumers?

 

HIRAM: Why in the hell is minott a "gold member"? Furthermore, what in the blazes IS a gold member?

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HIRAM: Why in the hell is minott a "gold member"? Furthermore, what in the blazes IS a gold member?

 

This one I can answer. Being a "gold member" (forgive me -- I'm trying not to snicker at the Austin Powers-ness of that phrase) means that Minott has donated $20 to the site, and purchased a subscription. See the link here for different levels.

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Yeah, when you subscribe you have the option of having it be a public thing or keep it anonymous. The majority of subscribers use the private option. I'm glad because I don't want to ever see it turn into a situation where one poster is more valued or has the appearance of being more valued than another because of how much support he or she lends. I visit a forum where everyone wears huge badges beside their avatars based on how much they've paid and it annoys me severely. It becomes a peer pressure thing.

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Wow. I've just logged on after work and there's a lot to respond to. Where to begin?

1. I joined the WS because I thought I would benefit from the knowledge and insights you all have.

2. I joined at $20 because I thought that was what seemed right to do. No agenda.

3. I announced my intent to change the formula because I believe it will improve our product. And if those changes aren't right I'll change it again. I think products can and should evolve. It has nothing to do with TTB or consumers.

4. I would like our product to be commercially successful but I would also like it to be respected by experts like yourselves.

5. "Starting Over" is not economically feasible for me.

6. I understand your skepticism. The only way I can demonstrate my sincerity is to show you the product.

7. There seems to be an assumption that this is all about money for me. That is not the case. I'd like to be a part of re-establishing absinthe as a viable part of the US spirits industry.

8. There is no bad consultant to blame. I received advice from lots of people as we developed the product. Maybe some of the advice was mis-guided but ultimately the final decisions were mine.

9. I don't see anything wrong with making an absinthe that can be described as made for cocktails or using absinthe in full measure as substitute for other spirits such as vodka or rum. Many mixologists we have met seem to like working with absinthe in this way. I realize this may not be the historical tradition but does that make it wrong?

10. I have never said we are the only one that can be mixed in cocktails. We have focused on this because I think it is an area of serving absinthe that needs education. Many people know about the traditional drip but less know about absinthe in cocktails - at least from what I see.

11. I believe Tourment can and will be an absinthe that you may all enjoy. I need a little time to get there.

 

Finally, I need to ask if you really want me to be part of your forums? The apparent anger and vitriol in your posts makes me think I might be intruding in a place I don't belong.

 

I really do respect your opinions and your desire to protect the integrity of absinthe.

 

Would you prefer I not participate?

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Good comments/questions.

 

In my view, and that of many others here (and elsewhere), Tourment Vert is not absinthe. See the thread on defining absinthe. This seems to be a fundamental difference between us.

 

Since we don't see Tourment Vert as absinthe, then, by definition, we see everything you do in the name of absinthe as misleading the consumer.

 

You cannot protect the integrity of absinthe with a product that isn't absinthe.

 

I could add a lot more, but maybe we should address this key issue now. Without progress on this, we may indeed not get much further.

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Good comments/questions.

 

In my view, and that of many others here (and elsewhere), Tourment Vert is not absinthe. See the thread on defining absinthe. This seems to be a fundamental difference between us.

 

Since we don't see Tourment Vert as absinthe, then, by definition, we see everything you do in the name of absinthe as misleading the consumer.

 

You cannot protect the integrity of absinthe with a product that isn't absinthe.

 

I could add a lot more, but maybe we should address this key issue now. Without progress on this, we may indeed not get much further.

 

Alan -

 

I think you're exactly right.

 

Needless to say, I believe Tourment is absinthe and can point to lots of definitions that support that belief.

 

In the WS forums I now see more a specific definition.

 

It is not my wish to argue the relative validity of definitions.

 

I have announced our intent to alter the formula because I think it will improve our product and also because I believe it will meet the WS definition.

 

I am not trying to quiet critics. I am trying to develop the product.

 

Common ground?

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Alan -

Not sure where you are but it's very late here and I am exhausted. I look forward (I think) to picking this up in the morning.

Thanks.

Minott

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Needless to say, I believe Tourment is absinthe and can point to lots of definitions that support that belief.

I really think this is what we want to focus on.

 

Can you explain a little further your beliefs about how your brand compares with 'authentic' or 'traditional' absinthe? What exactly would YOUR definition of absinthe be?

 

The WS uses Belle Epoque era recipes and brands in order to come up with our definition of absinthe. Given that those qualities are what made absinthe the popular beverage that it is, it seems the most logical point of reference.

 

Czech absinth would have never been labelled absinth at all if the product in the Belle Epoque never existed.

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Minott, I appreciate your candor and your attempt to answer an avalanche of issues. Thanks.

Finally, I need to ask if you really want me to be part of your forums? The apparent anger and vitriol in your posts makes me think I might be intruding in a place I don't belong.

It's not anger; we speak passionately about our passion. While I remain skeptical, I also hope I'm wrong. Because I don't consider LTV absinthe, your advertising it as such has been more of a hindrance to WS's mission than a help. That said, I am certain no one would ask you to leave. In fact, you are very welcome here and I look forward to the continuing conversation.

 

Needless to say, I believe Tourment is absinthe and can point to lots of definitions that support that belief.

I am aware of only one legal definition (the Swiss) and the various attempts of WS to nail down a definition based on historical absinthe. Please provide those other definitions. I am willing to be educated and enlightened.

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I am late to the party, but I will share my thoughts, which by the way, mirror those of the experts.

 

You saw the popularity and mystique of absinthe and wanted to capitalize on it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's the American way. I applaud you for making the effort. However, you did not do enough research and your product was crappy. You put the marketing department into high gear and they tried to pull the wool over the unknowing public's eyes. Epic Fail. Wouldn't it make more sense to sell a genuine product that stands on it's own merit?

 

Get back to the drawing board and hire a real expert or two to help you develop a good authentic absinthe. This should not be hard to do. I'm sure there are several here on this board that would be willing to work with you if you are sincere. Take someone on as a partner if need be.

 

You would only need a decent product to turn this around. It would sell with out having to use spin marketing, and then you would be able to afford to develop a second better absinthe to accompany it. I think this is very "doable."

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Alan -

Not sure where you are but it's very late here and I am exhausted. I look forward (I think) to picking this up in the morning.

Thanks.

Minott

Sorry, our time zones don't fit well: I'm in UK. Now back to the question of definition ..

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There are some here who have the knowledge and the passion, but lack the infrastructure. You have the infrastructure and need someone with knowledge and passion. I see this as an opportunity.

 

 

 

No. I am not talking about me. I already have a job that I love and I am not qualified for this.

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9. I don't see anything wrong with making an absinthe that can be described as made for cocktails or using absinthe in full measure as substitute for other spirits such as vodka or rum. Many mixologists we have met seem to like working with absinthe in this way. I realize this may not be the historical tradition but does that make it wrong?

No, that's not wrong. But that's different from bastardizing absinthe to fit some made-up niche. Traditional absinthe does it fine. It's not like there isn't a wide range of flavour possibilities even within the most basic agreed-upon definition of what absinthe is. LTV at this point just does not meet that definition.

 

Finally, I need to ask if you really want me to be part of your forums? The apparent anger and vitriol in your posts makes me think I might be intruding in a place I don't belong.

Okay, if we are going to discuss this you're just going to have to grow thicker skin. Sorry. This is an extremely polite conversation and if you think there's anger and vitriol here then you'd be eaten alive at other forums for absinthe enthusiasts. In particular you've apparently never seen the vicious things I've said to people who I thought were being unscrupulous. I'm currently taking what you're saying at face value and giving you the benefit of the doubt.

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I don't have much to contribute cuz I haven't had anything new even though I really want to.

I forgot to comment on the above.

 

I look forward to fixing your problem in September. :cheers:

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I wish you hadn't said that starting over isn't ecconomically feasable. Because that pretty much seals the deal right there. For your product to ever be considered absinthe it has to be totally reborn. If you cannot do that, then I see a problem.

 

As for you being here, we welcome everyone. Like others have said, we have a very respectable group here, and when we start being curt and direct it is because, above all else, we are here for the preservation and resurrection of true, traditional style absinthe. Like many have said before--as well as myself--if LTV and its future incarnations do no adhere to the very simple standards of what constitutes absinthe, even barely, it will never be so. There's another thread right now where a very good discussion is going about an absinthe definition for the states; I suggest you keep an eye on it!

 

And as for you being able to point to sources to show LTV is absinthe, please don't make those claims because everyone here knows there is no such thing. Absinthe just isn't a subjective thing. Someone mentioned earlier that my statement of "we know absinthe when we see it" is akin to that judge years back saying he knew pornography when he saw it. But that isn't true. This isn't a "moral" issue, it is a product issue. There are lots of variations between shoes, and lots of variations between what constitutes a sneaker, but a sneaker and a loafer are both shoes, and yet you can clearly point to one without a doubt 10 times out of 10. Absinthe is like this.

 

Anything that resembles Czechsinthe is such, that's just how it is. If LTV was, or is ever distilled like absinthe, then it will be one. And then it will be judged on its own merits as an absinthe and no ambiguity about what it is will exist.

 

Keep in mind, you may very well totally redo LTV and produce a traditional absinthe, but it could still suck.

 

If making great absinthe was easy I'd use my bath tub on weekends...

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pt, I've got to take exception to a couple of statements:

 

I wish you hadn't said that starting over isn't ecconomically feasable. Because that pretty much seals the deal right there. For your product to ever be considered absinthe it has to be totally reborn. If you cannot do that, then I see a problem.

I don't know if I agree with that. Given that (apparently) we're starting with a distilled base that is then 'garnished' with additional essences and/or colorings, we have a good starting point. Several people on this forum have agreed in the past that it is possible to create a good oil mix. It's what needs to be done to make it good that counts.

 

I don't think LTV needs to go back to the drawing board and throw out everything that's been done so far. I think they need to throw out a few things, add a few things, and tweak a few things. It make never be a great absinthe like Pacifique, Marteau, etc, but it still might be able to pass for absinthe. Keep in mind, there are a LOT of products out there that get terrible ratings, but that are still considered absinthe.

 

And as for you being able to point to sources to show LTV is absinthe, please don't make those claims because everyone here knows there is no such thing.
I don't think these are the types of statements that need to be made right now. I think it's vitally important for us to understand where he got his information as to the definition of absinthe. That could very well explain quite a few things. That creates the foundation of a good discussion and an educational opportunity, which very well could lead to a dramatic change in their product and a change in our opinion of said product.

 

By shutting down a conversation before it even starts, we're effectively closing the door to any possible benefit to him being here.

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For LTV to be absinthe there are just two things I'd say need to be done: Don't add sweetener. Make anise and wormwood the predominant flavours.

 

Do whatever you want with artificial colouring and additional herbs and whatnot.

 

Now, if you want to make a good absinthe, then yes, there's a whole lot of work to be done.

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I look forward to fixing your problem in September. :cheers:

Man, it looks like I'm not going to make it. I'm real sorry. But I need a tooth pulled and work done on the car. I only wish it were closer.

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For LTV to be absinthe there are just two things I'd say need to be done: Don't add sweetener. Make anise and wormwood the predominant flavours.

I think even these are major changes. Which are going to significantly change Tourment's cost of goods, and hence the price in the market. I'd be interested to know if minott is considering that.

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Funny thing is, it doesn't taste like sugar. It tastes like aspartame. I'm sure it's not, but boy does it taste like it.

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The definition I subscribed to in development is the general one that absinthe is a higher alcohol content spirit 45%+ containing predominant character of anise with fennel and Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and green color in the case of the french verte type.

 

You can save yourselves the trouble of attacking this. I understand now that following the was probably naive. I've learned a lot since then - much of it here at WS - thus the changes I have planned.

 

I am becoming skeptical myself that even with the changes and best intentions, the general consensus here will be that you don't like Tourment.

 

We are going to do our best however.

 

Thanks for your feedback.

 

Minott

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The definition I subscribed to in development is the general one that absinthe is a higher alcohol content spirit 45%+ containing predominant character of anise with fennel and Grand Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and green color in the case of the french verte type.

Not far off at all. I don't agree that fennel is required, although I prefer it. And since absinthe is by definition a liquor and not a liqueur, added sweetener is not acceptable.

 

Now here's where we get into an issue of perception that may have a lot to do with experience: predominant character of anise with fennel and Grand Wormwood. To me, when I taste LTV, I don't taste that. I taste a tiny bit of anise in the finish and I can't find the wormwood at all. These, being the predominant flavours, should jump out at the taster. They should be unmistakable. They shouldn't take a backseat to anything whatsoever. If you drink 30 different commercial absinthes that are accepted by the people here as being absinthes, from oil mixes to the finest products available, you'll find a few shared qualities that all of them have, no matter how different they are. LTV doesn't have those shared qualities.

 

Look, everyone here has different tastes. You make the anise and wormwood more dominant and remove the sweetener and there will be only a minority who say it's not absinthe. Most of us will probably still not like it as a product but some might. And some might think it's okay sometimes (I like NS70 every now and then) even if they usually drink finer products. But at least at that point there wouldn't be the issue of representing a product that is not absinthe as being absinthe.

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pt, I've got to take exception to a couple of statements:

 

I wish you hadn't said that starting over isn't ecconomically feasable. Because that pretty much seals the deal right there. For your product to ever be considered absinthe it has to be totally reborn. If you cannot do that, then I see a problem.

I don't know if I agree with that. Given that (apparently) we're starting with a distilled base that is then 'garnished' with additional essences and/or colorings, we have a good starting point. Several people on this forum have agreed in the past that it is possible to create a good oil mix. It's what needs to be done to make it good that counts.

 

I don't think LTV needs to go back to the drawing board and throw out everything that's been done so far. I think they need to throw out a few things, add a few things, and tweak a few things. It make never be a great absinthe like Pacifique, Marteau, etc, but it still might be able to pass for absinthe. Keep in mind, there are a LOT of products out there that get terrible ratings, but that are still considered absinthe.

 

And as for you being able to point to sources to show LTV is absinthe, please don't make those claims because everyone here knows there is no such thing.
I don't think these are the types of statements that need to be made right now. I think it's vitally important for us to understand where he got his information as to the definition of absinthe. That could very well explain quite a few things. That creates the foundation of a good discussion and an educational opportunity, which very well could lead to a dramatic change in their product and a change in our opinion of said product.

 

By shutting down a conversation before it even starts, we're effectively closing the door to any possible benefit to him being here.

 

I defer. I was a bit hasty!

 

On another note--and I'm really not trying to be rude here--but how was it even decided to call LTV a verte when it is clearly blue?

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For LTV to be absinthe there are just two things I'd say need to be done: Don't add sweetener. Make anise and wormwood the predominant flavours.

I think even these are major changes. Which are going to significantly change Tourment's cost of goods, and hence the price in the market. I'd be interested to know if minott is considering that.

 

Really? Taking out sweetener going to cost MORE money? Isn't the absence of the cost of the sweetener going to decrease overall production costs?

 

Along with that, adding a bit more anise essence (or even better, distilling more anise) will probably cost more, but not incrementally so.

 

 

I am becoming skeptical myself that even with the changes and best intentions, the general consensus here will be that you don't like Tourment.

I think that there will always be traditionalists who just don't like anything that falls out of their range of 'top notch' absinthe. There will most certainly always be 'absinthe snobs'. But keep in mind, there are plenty of brands that many of us don't necessarily care for, but which we respect.

 

I don't think people would go so far out of their way to bash your product if they genuinely feel like you took some of their considerations to heart and put together a product that more closely resembles traditional absinthe in terms of flavor and appearance. I think there also is the possibility of a lot of respect earned by those efforts as well as efforts to curb misleading advertising.

 

Do those things, and I think a lot of people will be quite happy.

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I am becoming skeptical myself that even with the changes and best intentions, the general consensus here will be that you don't like Tourment.

This sounds like somebody who is not an absinthe distiller despairing that, even after making the adjustments to his formula that he's had suggested to him, his product will not share the high opinion reserved for absinthe made by dedicated artists.

 

It won't, I can confirm that for you in advance.

 

But that's not what you're after, anyway, is it? You're not trying to make 100 point wine. You want your product to be a shelf-stable, lowish-alcohol standard absinthe product that can be brought to the masses inexpensively, and what you hope to accomplish with this new formula is to get the product closer to real absinthe so that it will no longer be sneered at by enthusiasts.

 

I believe you can accomplish this easily, and further, I believe you will.

If I'm correct about the market segment you're shooting for, it's within your grasp. The enthusiasts here don't have to love your product to be willing to accept it as real absinthe and stop bashing it. I'm sure you're already getting a picture of what changes will need to be made to have your absinthe accepted as genuine by the enthusiast community.

 

Going beyond that, into making an absinthe loved by people accustomed to paying $100 a bottle for artisanal products in the category, would take more of an investment of time, sweat, love and money than you probably mean to devote to this. No shame in that, none at all.

 

Edit: Brian basically said it better while I was posting.

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