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Alan Moss

The Absinthe Masters

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People ask for free bottles so they can have a private party? Pretty ballsy.

That was my interpretation of the typed words on my screen.

Typed words can be interpreted in many ways...that was never my intent.

See what I mean.

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When other members were saying free bottles were asked for for a private party, and how wrong that was, it needed to be corrected.
Great event or not (and by all accounts, it was great), isn't that exactly what happened? It was a private party consisting of 20 people. It wasn't an event that was specifically geared toward providing any information to the masses, in relation to the event itself, or the results of the blind tasting. Correct?

 

 

Who, and how did I throw anyone under the bus?

Sorry, but throwing half a dozen names around, and expecting those names to provide you with an excuse for certain actions (whether intentional or not) is exactly that. Deflection and transference seem to be the main tactics you employ when you feel attacked.

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Ok guys, sorry this turned into something so nuts! Those references were not meant as excuses, I was only explaining that I did my best to check with you guys on details. I didn't see or intend that as throwing folks under the bus, I simply didn't want it looking like we did this without consulting anyone! I think very highly of you all, and WS is important to me.

 

Please understand everything I do here is because I am enjoying the world of absinthe so much, and attribute so much of this to WS! If we ever do another event out here as several folks have asked, we'll plan it carefully, get more guidance, hopefully have more people involved in planning who know the ropes, and make certain all details and protocols are covered.

 

Julie and I had no idea that asking distillers to donate bottles would be considered bad form, and if any of you felt that way, we would have liked to have known! Have a good night folks.

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So kids, what have we learned?

...

Specify whether it is a blind tasting or just for fun.

If it is a blind tasting, do it right and publish the results.

...

I'm taking Joe's quote out of context here, and also taking off on a bit of a tangent, but wanted to make a couple of general comments regarding tastings. This isn't related directly to the NO/OC/NY events, so mods, please move this if it messes up this thread --

 

I think there are a couple of different ways to do blind tastings, with different goals. There is value in the blind tasting as Joe describes, where experienced tasters evaluate some number of absinthes and results are published. There is also value in holding blind tastings where the goal is education of less experienced tasters rather than publishing results that may come across with some level of credibility because they have WS or some other organization behind them. We've had similar discussions around the review section of this site and experience level of the reviewers (I won't say more about that for fear of derailing things even more).

 

So I want to repeat what Joe said, but a little more specifically: if a blind tasting is being done as a formal WS thing, and there is expectation that there will be valuable feedback provided for people outside the group doing the tasting, then by all means, "do it right". But I think there is a place for WS-sponsored blind tasting events, where the value is for the members/tasters, and not necessarily for outside parties.

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I'm taking Joe's quote out of context here, and also taking off on a bit of a tangent,...
Please do. Derail this train wreck! Seriously, I like your ideas. Dang, it would be so cool if you could mastermind the events at RMGH 2011! Seriously.
So I want to repeat what Joe said, but a little more specifically:
And far more elegantly. :cheers:

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Well, OK. But that's a different conversation.

 

I'm sorry to be a little late to the party here (had a little trouble with those pesky "opening/closing" quote commands), but the tone of this thread got my dander up a bit, as well. Listen, I have no problem with someone being taken to task if their representations or actions are misleading or dishonest. However, to assume that they were so, just because someone else implied that, is certainly not fair or appropriate. Also, to gang up and impugn a member here just because they are the only one to step up in their own defense, is not justified, and not in the spirit of community that I think we are trying to foster here.

 

I think it is always inappropriate to air that kind of laundry in the forum, rather than in a PM. However, if you do, you need to be clear and accountable for what you assert. In the absense of more information, it seems to me that what we have here is regrets by a supplier the morning after. He (or they) could have always said NO. Otherwise, live with your decision or explain clearly how your business deal was misrepresented.

 

My comments;

 

None of these tastings provided any real information that was shared with the totality of the producers (even though some producers went to considerable expense and effort to provide free bottles, especially considering these are still private events that can be professionally considered no more than a better-informed tasting party, with no real marketing value as of yet, which is why most producers enter into contests in the first place).

 

I'm just not up to speed with the NO tasting, however, I remember seeing the results of the OC tasting. The published results of the NY tasting were limited.

 

What were your expectations? Why did you have those?

 

to be fair, that event was never intended to be one that had its results published. It was more of just a fun get together.

 

I like 'fun get-togethers'. However, that was not how it was conveyed to the distributors and producers who were asked for free bottles for the event.

 

I think it's a little unfair, in a public forum, to make a comment like this and not specify exactly what the representations were.

 

Would you like to elaborate? If not, I think you should retract.

 

People ask for free bottles so they can have a private party? Pretty ballsy.

 

The way I see it, it was not a private party. It was talked about for months in advance in this forum, there were expectations of attendance by at least one big shot here, and if any corrections were due concerning this event's legitimacy, they should have happened by the management here, beforehand. And FYI, Bill, it is not uncommon for suppliers of all kinds of alcohol beverages to be asked to support events ranging from this level to major levels to promote their products. A supplier can always decline.

 

No offense, but stop with the violin playing. How many hours do you think I spent organizing the Ocean City event, with sponsorships from Kamal and Santasti (the palate cleansing beverage), utlizing two of my dad's hotels, developing contacts in the beverage media to disseminate results, contacting producers, writing the final analysis, etc? Probably a lot more time (and money) than you did. So, like Joe said, stop it. Every host of a get together goes through considerable time and expense. For ANY get together. Absinthe related or not.

 

Well, I guess you win, Brian. Although, I wonder what made those sponsorships more correct than the support asked for by the NY event.

 

I am incredibly insulted by the tone of this thread.

Then you should lighten up and quit making it all about you. Because it's not.

 

It appears to be at least one third about sbmac and his event, and anyone else involved in the events mentioned here certainly is welcome, in my opinion, to step forward and defend themselves.

 

...I'm sorry to be so defensive. It was mentioned earlier in the post that distillers were not told the facts. ...Who, and how did I throw anyone under the bus?

 

I'm kinda' wondering the same thing.

 

Who's throwing who under the bus, here?

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Julie and I had no idea that asking distillers to donate bottles would be considered bad form, and if any of you felt that way, we would have liked to have known!
For the record, I had no problem with your request which I declined for reasons that had nothing to do with the nature of the event.

 

Well, OK. But that's a different conversation.

 

I'm sorry to be a little late to the party here, but the tone of this thread ....

Actually I think this thread was originally about the Absinthe Masters. At least we all seem to be agreed how we feel about that!

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And FYI, Bill, it is not uncommon for suppliers of all kinds of alcohol beverages to be asked to support events ranging from this level to major levels to promote their products. A supplier can always decline.

I stand corrected. I've never held an event or put one together. Maybe it seemed that way to me for different reasons or my interpretation. Sour grapes happen. <shrug>

 

Like m.a.mccullough posted, let's kill it and move along. Nothing more to see here, let's move along.

 

:cheers:

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I wonder what made those sponsorships more correct than the support asked for by the NY event.

Because the OC event was specifically intended to be a FORMAL blind tasting event with results published in a national magazine.

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Fingerpickin', I appreciate your comments. As frequently happens in these little firestorms, a second conversation is taking place via PM which can confuse the whole process especially on the forum surface. Suffice it to say, sbmac and I have had a sincere discussion via PM and while we may not completely agree, we understand each others' position better. You and I both know the constraints I work under to provide sample bottles and now I believe sbmac does, too. I more clearly understand his intention. It wasn't a wasted conversation in my mind although perhaps a little clunky.

 

Despite appearances, the Advisory board is not in constant communication but we each operate as free agents so it is possible Gwydion bestowed his blessings on the Catskill event. It struck me as being odd and as I said, presumptuous. How many WS events are there? OC, a sponsored event in NO and the occasional event in Seattle. I think that's about it.

 

RMGH is not and never has been a WS event. We do not solicit free booze but welcome contributions made by those attending. It is a "for fun" event and I think it would inappropriate to ask someone not attending to send free booze. This was my sticking point for the firestorm and I offer my sincere apologies for muddying up the water.

 

I suspect this has actually been a very positive conversation which should lead to answering the unasked question, "What is an official WS Event?" Clearly some guideline are in order otherwise, anyone could host a party, claim WS sponsorship and start hitting up producers. That would indeed be ballsy.

 

Moving on is good but reassessing and gleaning from what happened is better. Ultimately, no one has been thrown under the bus. No one should feel uncomfortable with a grand time enjoyed in NY but everyone has an opportunity to learn a little more on how to make this society work a little smoother.

 

Santé!

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Hey Joe, I do agree and understand! Our PMs may have been partially "clunky" on my end, do to a time zone difference and a very long hard day with a hormonal teen son. T'was a long very challenging day, and I was certainly not at my best last night! You are a gentleman, and your honesty and up-front PMs were received with open ears. All is well on my end.

 

Perhaps there needs to be a protocol for events...an outline and guide. This way, well-meaning people who are trying to support things won't step in it by mistake, and these things can be avoided in the future! We are afterall, brothers and sisters with so much common ground. It's just plain silly to be bickering when we all want the same thing!

 

For the record, I have always been someone willing to dive in to things to bring people together. As a half-year newbie when the planning started for this event, I can certainly see where folks might say "HUH?" I assure you, plenty of PMs between Brian and Gwydion occured, and I did ask whatever questions came into my mind... Perhaps there were things I didn't think of however. Everyone who offered advice was helpful, and that helped make the event so nice. Julie and I really did care about doing things as best we could. It was a celebration of WS members meeting and getting to know each other, learning, and sampling many new things. Much absinthe has been purchased since this event by several of the new members who were there, so certainly good things came out of it for the distillers and vendors!

 

The opportunity for growth is so huge here...if we had guidlines for putting an event together, and an experienced mentor involved each time, think of the good stuff that would come from it! Perhaps this was all a good lesson in what we can do together in the future. :cheers:

 

Best, Scott

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Hi All, I'm sorry I haven't been here in quite awhile! Sometimes real life intervenes. Here's my 2 cents worth from the peanut gallery with my being a new member here. I had a wonderful time at the Catskill event, as did my husband and sisters. None of us had ever been to a absinthe event but we all decided we'd go to another as it was so much fun. We all had a great time! Julie and Scott worked very hard so that we could get together and have a good time. I think that everyone there had a great time! It was also great to meet other WS members. I think for future events it would be good to set guidelines and perhaps have a mentor there if possible, to avoid hurting folks who've worked so hard to make it happen. We can all learn from this.

:)

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As I'd voiced to Scott several times, the success or failure of the event wasn't what was in question. By all accounts, it seems to have been very successful in that regard.

 

We just want to make sure we clarify the intent of any future events, and follow the correct protocols based on what the event is.

 

Glad you had fun!

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As frequently happens in these little firestorms, a second conversation is taking place via PM which can confuse the whole process especially on the forum surface. Suffice it to say, sbmac and I have had a sincere discussion via PM and while we may not completely agree, we understand each others' position better.

Same. Scott and I have been conversing the entire time via PM as well.

 

I only mention that, because, to the casual observer, it might seem like the past couple of pages were just a bitch session against Scott. They weren't. I think Scott and I understand each other quite well at this point. He also knows that I might come across a bit more harshly than some others who are better wordsmiths.

 

I applaud Scott's enthusiasm for absinthe, and his desire to help the WS and to educate his friends about the drink. Hell, if everyone shared his enthusiasm, we'd have a hell of a lot more reviews posted. ;) I look forward to us working together a bit more closely in the future so we can make sure we're all on the same page.

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I applaud Scott's enthusiasm for absinthe, and his desire to help the WS and to educate his friends about the drink. Hell, if everyone shared his enthusiasm, we'd have a hell of a lot more reviews posted.

I applaud it as well. Not to mention the effort that has went into his book, all at the same time as planning the event. We all had a great time and my further thoughts will be in my PM reply to Scott since I'm not that familiar with the background of the "requests" that seem to be a source of concern here. And yes Brian, with the new tasting book in my possession I hope to get some reviews posted again. Damn, in checking I see it's almost 3 years since my last review. Doesn't seem that long. :cheers:

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I've taken my time to read and reread many of the threads here. As a new member of the WS and an attendee of the Catskill event I have some observations and a question.

 

The event that was held, as I recall it, was pretty much as it was promoted as a gathering to learn about absinthe. It was also promoted on the site for sometime and I would have liked to have met even more attendees.

 

Producers who provided product in my mind were wise, because I for one tasted things I may not have selected on my own prior to the event. So to this degree it provided real marketing value for them, it cost them their price of a bottle and shipping.

 

I didn't know whether our results would be shared, however having been part of wine tastings and having run my own tasting panel, which was published, for wines and spirits the i thought format was fair for the amount of people tasting.

 

Our time spent with Cheryl learning about Absinthe was extremely valuable for me. The $ spent in Catskills Cellar was good for them.

 

So, as was said by others this was a successful event.

 

My questions

How did this end up where it got?

Based on my experience with Absinthe and the learning's of the bohemian nature of the culture I don't get the tact of the WS elders needing to bestow approvals on anything.

 

As a newbie what does the WS think this type of thread conveys about them?

 

Suggestion as a marketer

- I think brand guidelines should be developed for the WS brand, to protect the integrity of the brand itself.

However I would hope the WS society should be encouraging as many tasting events as possible in order to build a better society. Quite frankly if I were a producer I be sending bottles to reviewers and/or events in hopes of getting them tasted.

 

As far as formatting tastings I think its quite honestly up to the organizer how they care to format it. Does the WS really want to get involved with administering that? I wouldn't.

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Based on my experience with Absinthe and the learning's of the bohemian nature of the culture I don't get the tact of the WS elders needing to bestow approvals on anything.

Nobody needs approval from WS to just host an absinthe tasting or party whatsoever and nobody has ever suggested that they do.

 

But it's not unreasonable at all to expect approval before slapping the WS name on it.

 

Those are two separate issues that get conflated way too easily.

 

Having not attended anything in a few years, I don't know anything about the events that are specifically being referenced in this thread, so I'm speaking generally.

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I don't get the tact of the WS elders needing to bestow approvals on anything.
What consumer advocacy group do you know of would let anyone use their name on any event without approval? Especially if that group's name is being used in communications with producers.

 

As a newbie what does the WS think this type of thread conveys about them?
It conveys that we are trying to implement quality control and help preserve the integrity of the group.

 

- I think brand guidelines should be developed for the WS brand, to protect the integrity of the brand itself.
That's what this thread is trying to show is happening. As a 'newbie' you wouldn't be aware of the original guidelines we had pinned in the events section, which gave everyone pointers on what and what not to do. It got taken down for updating, but due to other demands, it never was put back up. I've taken care of that today.

 

However I would hope the WS society should be encouraging as many tasting events as possible in order to build a better society.
You should do some more poking around. Or even look in my sig line. ;) We encourage tastings all the time. But producers should not in any way shape or form be expected to send free product for all of them. They'd go broke!

 

Quite frankly if I were a producer I be sending bottles to reviewers and/or events in hopes of getting them tasted.
Quite frankly, I don't think you understand the profit margins that many absinthe producers are operating within. Expecting them to send free bottles to the dozens of events that happen each year wouldn't be a profitable decision. Most people on this site would hear about the brand and probably buy it anyway, if they read a few reviews from others.

 

As far as formatting tastings I think its quite honestly up to the organizer how they care to format it. Does the WS really want to get involved with administering that? I wouldn't.

Isn't that the quality control you're speaking of earlier in this post? How do you suggest we implement quality control and maintain credibility if each tasting event is allowed to be formatted differently? It's simply not possible to do both at the same time. It is in the Society's best interests to make sure every brand is put on a level playing field when formally reviewed, which is why we developed protocols and review guidelines.

 

Get togethers are get togethers. No one needs to police them. They happen all the time. Tastings are informal but still educational and informative. But if the event is supposed to be a formal, Wormwood Society branded and endorsed event, it should be held to specific guidelines.

 

Wouldn't you agree?

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As a 'newbie' you wouldn't be aware of the original guidelines we had pinned in the events section, which gave everyone pointers on what and what not to do. It got taken down for updating, but due to other demands, it never was put back up. I've taken care of that today.

 

Brian, is this the pinned item you were referring to? I'm not completely up to speed on the terms and so forth, so I wanted to make sure I was reading the right one.

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That is the new one I put up today for review and discussion. It won't be pinned until we have discussed it and feel it is appropriate and vetted.

 

Pinned just basically means that it will be at the top of the section regardless of how long it's been since the last post appeared in it. It will be easy to see and locate.

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Sorry gang, I’ve been away on business and didn’t have my computer with me. So here goes…

I mentioned to one or two people that a WS member was donating a large amount of pre-ban asking it to be put into the tasting. Nobody said anything to me about this being a mistake.

I will fess up to causing such a ruckus here. It was I – I had often wondered about the hype surrounding the PB’s and thought it would be great to conduct a ‘social experiment’ to see how an average absinthe imbiber would rate a Pre-Ban in a blind tasting. Would it measure up? I intended to find out.

 

…and the most recent tasting in New York had a vintage absinthe thrown in blind with the rest, which completely skews the results.

I suppose that is to be determined by how the results will be interpreted. And even if so, how could a distiller not benefit from a comparison with original product of the era? I personally see no foul in it, but for varieties sake (as it can’t be in every blind tasting event) where it may be seen as an anomaly in the overall results.

 

There had been some off-line discussions on how a Pre-Ban would stand up against domestic and import brands of current; I thought this smaller setting would be the right time to have the social experiment play out. If it has caused such a stir, I apologize – but I think it was valuable to have done.

 

Pre-ban should not be included at Blind tastings.

Fair enough; to each their own ;)

 

From an organizational standpoint, I can’t comment since I was unable to attend the Catskills event – but I do know that I wish I could have, if only to have been able to see first-hand the results of the tasting event. I am sorry that it has ruffled so many feathers here on the forum.

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Truth be told, I think it would be great fun to toss a pre-ban into a tasting round, unbeknown to the tasters. Just not in an event where the results intending to be made public might be skewed. I'm not surprised you were the culprit. I know how exquisitely generous the Gentleman of Verona is!

 

I don't think feathers are terribly ruffled, either. We became a little snitty, learned from it and are better for it. Sometimes, that's what progress looks like.

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Thank you I feel dully spanked and will refrain from posting in the future. I sense a level of either hostility or feeling of superiority in this thread by yourself and Joe. That's a shame I would prefer a nurturing approach.

 

I don't get the tact of the WS elders needing to bestow approvals on anything.
What consumer advocacy group do you know of would let anyone use their name on any event without approval? Especially if that group's name is being used in communications with producers.

 

As a newbie what does the WS think this type of thread conveys about them?
It conveys that we are trying to implement quality control and help preserve the integrity of the group.

 

- I think brand guidelines should be developed for the WS brand, to protect the integrity of the brand itself.
That's what this thread is trying to show is happening. As a 'newbie' you wouldn't be aware of the original guidelines we had pinned in the events section, which gave everyone pointers on what and what not to do. It got taken down for updating, but due to other demands, it never was put back up. I've taken care of that today.

 

However I would hope the WS society should be encouraging as many tasting events as possible in order to build a better society.
You should do some more poking around. Or even look in my sig line. ;) We encourage tastings all the time. But producers should not in any way shape or form be expected to send free product for all of them. They'd go broke!

 

Quite frankly if I were a producer I be sending bottles to reviewers and/or events in hopes of getting them tasted.
Quite frankly, I don't think you understand the profit margins that many absinthe producers are operating within. Expecting them to send free bottles to the dozens of events that happen each year wouldn't be a profitable decision. Most people on this site would hear about the brand and probably buy it anyway, if they read a few reviews from others.

 

As far as formatting tastings I think its quite honestly up to the organizer how they care to format it. Does the WS really want to get involved with administering that? I wouldn't.

Isn't that the quality control you're speaking of earlier in this post? How do you suggest we implement quality control and maintain credibility if each tasting event is allowed to be formatted differently? It's simply not possible to do both at the same time. It is in the Society's best interests to make sure every brand is put on a level playing field when formally reviewed, which is why we developed protocols and review guidelines.

 

Get togethers are get togethers. No one needs to police them. They happen all the time. Tastings are informal but still educational and informative. But if the event is supposed to be a formal, Wormwood Society branded and endorsed event, it should be held to specific guidelines.

 

Wouldn't you agree?

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Thank you I feel dully spanked and will refrain from posting in the future. I sense a level of either hostility or feeling of superiority in this thread by yourself and Joe. That's a shame I would prefer a nurturing approach.

And being a smartass helps to create a nurturing approach?

 

I wasn't spanking you. I was responding to your comments with factual data and anecdotal evidence based on my own experience with the intent of fostering the debate. You made points. I made counterpoints. None were personal attacks, nor were they offensive. I took the same exact tone (and even used the same wording in some points) as you did.

 

There is no hostility, nor a feeling of superiority. I tried to explain the situation from the side of someone who is fully informed, both in brand management and creation, and in the absinthe community. If you took that as a spanking, then I'm not sure exactly how I could have responded differently while still touching on all of the points.

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