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Kubler Coming to the States?


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#1 TheGreenOne

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 08:26 AM

According to Bloomberg News, Yves Kuebler is planning on selling absinthe in the US. His company, Blackmint is "now looking for ways to break into the U.S. market, where absinthe is illegal."

Kuebler is quoted as saying

"You can't spell it 'absinthe' in the U.S.,'' said Karl. "If you say `absinthe,' it's 'no, no, no.' You have to find a way around it.'' Blackmint will seek sales in the U.S. by lowering the potency from 53 percent to 45 percent and changing the label to comply with rules, he said.


Is he aware of the specific FDA issues regarding absinthe? Does he think that if he calls it something else that the government will not actually test for thujone? Or is he planning on selling absente and let people think it's absinthe?

And what does lower the proof have to do with importing spirits into the US? After all, you can get Chartreuse most anywhere and it has a higher alcohol content than Kuebler.

Still, this is an issue to watch. Bloomberg focuses on business stories not culture or general news. Something is going on.

#2 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 08:42 AM

Interesting. If it is straight absinthe Kuebler then this will be the first possible challenge to the FDA's regulations. The change in strength is odd. The only strength regulation in the US is some states don't allow anything over 75.5% to be sold. It's not like the US has a taste for lower strength, the main selling point of 151 rum is the 151 proof alcohol concentration. That makes me think this might be another absente attempt.

A couple other interesting quotes from the article,

Since the Swiss made absinthe production legal in March, Kuebler's firm Blackmint has sold 80,000 bottles, twice its target for the year... While there are no industry figures for absinthe sales, Karl estimated at least 400,000 bottles of absinthe were produced last year and may exceed 500,000 in 2005.

`The Czechs are putting green dye in it and calling it absinthe,'' said Ted Breaux... BBH Spirits Ltd., the No. 1 seller of absinthe in the U.K., the biggest market for absinthe, defended the popularity of its Hill's Absinth brand and other Czech-style absinthes as filling a need for ``what consumers wanted.''

I didn't know customers wanted windowcleaner flavored alcohol. A great example of marketing telling people want they want.

Kuebler's bottles are in every Swiss duty-free airport shop in Zurich, Geneva and Basel and Blackmint's Karl is negotiating as well with ice cream makers for an absinthe-flavored ice cream.


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#3 plunger

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 08:48 AM

I don't know about that ice cream idea, but if the recipe stays the same even with a lower alcohol content I would be very happy :wave:
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#4 Oscar

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 08:51 AM

It won’t happen that way.
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#5 Larspeart

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 10:09 AM

Nonsense. That's all this is.

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#6 thegreenimp

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 11:37 AM

I'd love to sit back and watch the fun when Kuebler goes to the FDA, I hope he has a big bag of cash, a lobbyist, and a good lawyer.

After hearing from a VP at Sazerac Co. tell me what it's like to deal with the Feds on making bitters, Kuebler is in for a fun time. :laf:
At the close of the day drink an Herbsaint Frappé,...Legendre Herbsaint, always served when absinthe is called for.
The History of Legendre Herbsaint

#7 Absomphe

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 01:16 PM

If you ask Jack (when he returns to the land of the living, that is), he'll tell you that Yves Kübler's absinthe is really pastis anyway, since it contains no wormword, and therefore, no thujone. So, exporting it into the U.S. shouldn't be a problem if he changes the labeling.

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

You got a problem with that?


#8 MrGreenGenes

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:14 PM

There has been some debate as to how much thujone absinthe really contains anyway, so it's not clear that absinthe by a different name would really be illegal.
If it's legal is it as fun?

#9 G&C

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:28 PM

Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn!

#10 Nepenthes

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:32 PM

There has been some debate as to how much thujone absinthe really contains anyway, so it's not clear that absinthe by a different name would really be illegal.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Sure it would. wormwood is banned from food products by name.
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#11 G&C

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:35 PM

End of Story

#12 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:40 PM

Absomphe: Although very little thujone seems to come through distillation, other herbs in absinthe contain thujone so it would be possible for a pastis to contain tjones. Although that would probably be more of an issue with vertes which might get some tjones from colouration herbs.

The odd thing (as far as I understand the regulations) you could make a drink with a ton of thujone from Common sage and it shouldn't be stopped, but put some wormwood into the mix, and the beverage needs to be thujone free (since you can't tell where the thujone came from).

Nepenthes: The regulations I've seen don't ban wormwood only wormwood that contains thujone. So if you could strip thujone from the wormwood, the resulting herb could be used. Although it does appear customs bans the importations of "absinthe" by name.
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#13 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:42 PM

Can someone point me to the statute that prohibits the name "absinthe"? I'll be damned if I can find it and I've crawled all over the Code of Federal Regulations.

I'm betting that there isn't one, and that "absinthe" is prohibited based on presumed content.

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Confessions of an Absinthiste


#14 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:52 PM

The only one I've found is the customs "prohibited" list and since they will refer you to ATF (which will now refer you to the FDA) it seems to be presumed that absinthe contains wormwood and thujone.
I bet if the FDA were to remove the thujone ban on wormwood tomorrow, customs would need to be petitioned to change their regulations as they don't seem to know why they prohibit absinthe, they just do.
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#15 plunger

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 03:54 PM

What if Kübler imported the ingredients into the US and then contracted someone here to do the distilling?

edit: from laws section "Note that as this is written it applies to all Artemisia species, not just absinthium."

nevermind
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#16 thegreenimp

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 08:24 AM

Can someone point me to the statute that prohibits the name "absinthe"?  I'll be damned if I can find it and I've crawled all over the Code of Federal Regulations.

I'm betting that there isn't one, and that "absinthe" is prohibited based on presumed content.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Good luck finding a clear cut answer from the guys in charge. :wacko:

In 1934 when J.M. Legendre first released what we know as Herbsaint, it was called originally "Legendre Absinthe" for a few months. (No wormwood was in Legendre Absinthe)

The then controlling federal bureau for alcohol, objected to the use of the word "absinthe" on Legendre's label, and they were told to change the labeling, so J. Marion Legendre coined the name "Herbsaint" for his product.

In talking with a retired Legendre person, dealing with the Govt. regarding alcohol products, is both confusing, and a major P.I.T.A., as regs. & personnel are often contradictory.

It's interesting though, that Sazerac / Legendre is able to have the image of a wormwood plant on the current label of Herbsaint.

The Gentleman holding my early 30's bottle saw quite a bit of Herbsaint production in his day.

Attached Files


At the close of the day drink an Herbsaint Frappé,...Legendre Herbsaint, always served when absinthe is called for.
The History of Legendre Herbsaint

#17 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:15 AM

The only one I've found is the customs "prohibited" list and since they will differ you to ATF (which will now differ you to the FDA) ...
I bet if the FDA were to remove the thujone ban on wormwood tomorrow, customs would need to be petitioned to change their regulations as they don't seem to know why they prohibit absinthe, they just do.

The Customs Department's job is to enforce the regulations of other agencies, they just (theoretically) do what they're told by the FDA, BATF, and Department of Homeland Security.

What if Kubler imported the ingredients into the US and then contracted someone here to do the distilling?

edit: from laws section "Note that as this is written it applies to all Artemisia species, not just absinthium."

nevermind

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Regardless of species, importation of ingredients wouldn't be the problem—we have them all here. The problem is simply that thujone is not permitted in food or beverages in the US. It's been pointed out that there are many plants used in foods that do in fact contain thujone, but the regulation applies to "finished foods" i.e., ready to consume. It doesn't apply to dietary supplements or condiments.

Thanks, Imp. That's great information. Was there any flack for Legendre calling the product absinthe without having wormwood in it? I mean, did the public know; did anyone criticize, etc.?

Maker of Marteau Absinthe
Master Distiller, Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#18 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:32 AM

How I understand the laws is that thujone is only banned in a finished food product if that food product contains a a certain source. For example, finished food with wormwood and thujone is a no no, but a finished food with sage oil that happens to contain thujone is technically acceptable.

It would really seem that you could make a sage liquor with a ramped up amount of thujone, yet a single drop of it in absinthe makes it illegal.
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#19 plunger

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:51 AM

It sounds like blackmint would have to be real creative to get away with this...and very patient. Thanks to those who have dealt with this topic longer than others in being patient with those who have not.
It's not whether the glass is half empty or half full, it's whether you are pouring or drinking.

#20 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:12 AM

It would really seem that you could make a sage liquor with a ramped up amount of thujone

It may look like that, but good luck getting it approved the way things stand currently.

"Natural flavoring substances and natural adjuvants may be safely used in food in accordance with the following conditions....
( B ) In the appropriate forms ... used alone or in combination with flavoring substances and adjuvants generally recognized as safe in food, previously sanctioned for such use, or regulated in any section of this part."


Currently, no amount of thujone is GRAS and precedents set with AA and other herbs would be applied to any new product presented for approval. However, in order to ban a currently accepted and used product, the FDA has to prove that it is actually harmful.

In harmonization with EU standards, we hope that they will recognize that the small amounts of thujone found in traditionally made absinthe are in fact safe.

Once the illogical, contradictory and tangled state of these statutes is brought to the table, I have every confidence that trace amounts of thujone will become a non-issue and absinthe will be legalized.

I believe this will happen within five years.

Maker of Marteau Absinthe
Master Distiller, Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#21 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:22 AM

It won’t happen that way.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It just might. Finally someone with the means and motivation can put this on the table and require—in the name of fair trade—that the FDA prove that his product is harmful. There is a slowly growing trend for businesses to make the FDA put up or shut up.

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www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#22 Ari (Eric Litton)

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:36 AM

Interesting. That leads to the contradiction that both sage and sage oil (which most likely contain thujone) are considered GRAS yet thujone isn't. So which stands? My guess is that no company which uses a thujone containing plant that isn't specified as needing to be thujone free has bothered to test for thujone and the FDA hasn't bothered to ask.

I agree. with the logical problems, EU regulations and many modern studies there really is no reason for the thujone ban to stand. All it might take is someone with the money or legal standing to challenge the current regulations.
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#23 thegreenimp

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:47 AM

Was there any flack for Legendre calling the product absinthe without having wormwood in it?  I mean, did the public know; did anyone criticize, etc.?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Legendre mentioned in their early advertising that there was no wormwood in Herbsaint, part of it may have been that you just can't call something absinthe, if there is no absinthe in it.

It is interesting that a number of post repeal of prohibition (1934) absinthe substitutes in the U.S., generally had a corrupted spelling of the word absinthe on the label. (absainth, etc.... to the current Absente)

One or two companies have current U.S. Trademarks lurking in the wings regarding absinthe, whether or not they ever get around to doing anything to-wards lifting the ban remains to be seen. (Trademarks have nothing to do with BATF regs. BTW.)

Attached Files


At the close of the day drink an Herbsaint Frappé,...Legendre Herbsaint, always served when absinthe is called for.
The History of Legendre Herbsaint

#24 trioxin

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 10:54 AM

Can someone point me to the statute that prohibits the name "absinthe"?  I'll be damned if I can find it and I've crawled all over the Code of Federal Regulations.

I'm betting that there isn't one, and that "absinthe" is prohibited based on presumed content.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I might be a bit off with this, but doesn't the pastis "Absente" say right on the front "Absinthe Refined" or something similar. I don't think that the word "absinthe" alone would make anything prohibited.
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#25 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:17 AM

The difference there, I believe, is that they aren't really labeling their product absinthe, except in an oblique sort of way. Does it say absinthe on the label, or just in the ad copy? I don't have one on hand.

Maker of Marteau Absinthe
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www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#26 thegreenimp

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:35 AM

Visit the Feds Certificate of Label Approval section if you want a long and winding read. :wacko:
At the close of the day drink an Herbsaint Frappé,...Legendre Herbsaint, always served when absinthe is called for.
The History of Legendre Herbsaint

#27 trioxin

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:55 AM

The difference there, I believe,  is that they aren't really labeling their product absinthe, but they are in an oblique sort of way.  Does it say absinthe on the label, or just in the ad copy?  I don't have one on hand.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I just had the wife snap a pic of the label, it does say "absinthe refined". The pic is a bit fuzzy but here it is anyway.

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#28 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:59 AM

Thanks. So, if labeling is his only concern, Yves Kübler should have no problem. :harhar:

Maker of Marteau Absinthe
Master Distiller, Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
www.absinthemarteau.com
Confessions of an Absinthiste


#29 TheGreenOne

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 11:28 AM

Can someone point me to the statute that prohibits the name "absinthe"?  I'll be damned if I can find it and I've crawled all over the Code of Federal Regulations.

I'm betting that there isn't one, and that "absinthe" is prohibited based on presumed content.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


The only one I've found is the customs "prohibited" list and since they will differ you to ATF (which will now differ you to the FDA) it seems to be presumed that absinthe contains wormwood and thujone.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

ATF (now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive moved to the Justice Department from Treasury) has pretty wide-ranging authority over the labels of alcoholic beverages. If they don't like the word "absinthe" they could probably make that decision stick.

However, absinthe, by name, is not banned in either the CFR or USC. Ironically, this is part of the problem with having it legalized. Because there is no definition as to what constitutes absinthe, it's even harder to get approved. Most substances for humaan consumption have an FDA and/or USDA definition. For example, Grading Manual for Canned Fruit Cocktail.

An essential step to allowing absinthe to be legalized for sale in the US to establish a definition. Easier said than done. However, establishing a definition of absinthe offers an opportunity to make sure that ONLY absinthe is allowed if it is legalized. The lack of clear EU definition is one reason why both Hills and Jade can be called absinth(e). It would be relatively easy to use the definition to prevent Czech windex, artificial colors and even any oil mix from being called absinthe. The definition could also be used to set the permissible de minimus quantities of certain organic compounds -- preferably the same levels set by the EU.

The fight (and there was one) over whether something could be called "fruit cocktail" if it did not contain maraschino cherries is another story...

#30 thegreenimp

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 02:14 PM

ATF (now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive moved to the Justice Department from Treasury) has pretty wide-ranging authority over the labels of alcoholic beverages.  If they don't like the word "absinthe" they could probably make that decision stick.


Very true, read through the Certificate of Label Approval section sometime.

Some of their internal decisions regarding other alcohol related products can be sometimes arbitrary and confusing.
At the close of the day drink an Herbsaint Frappé,...Legendre Herbsaint, always served when absinthe is called for.
The History of Legendre Herbsaint


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