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Brian Robinson

La Fee gets flamed

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Glad I got to this an hour before I have to go to bed.

 

I must say my original post was seized upon as much more of an attack on La Fée than it was ever intended to be

 

By the WS or George? It wasn't the WS that asked for the revisit.

 

...and the rewrite seems viewed as much more of an apology for him than it was ever intended to be.

 

Maybe because he was the only person consulted to check facts?

 

In each case I have attempted to present an objective picture aimed at (in as far as anyone reads my blog) a non-specialist audience.

 

Well, I guess that's OK, but when the informed read it, you can't begrudge the expected logical questions.

 

My additional comments about the WS were as a result of what I'd observed since my original post... I think you are very passionate and knowledgeable about the subject... I was trying to paint a picture of the extraordinary dynamics within the absinthe world.

 

Those dynamics exist for a reason. Every day, those of us who are "very passionate and knowledgeable" are faced with the task of dispelling the myths and misinformation proffered by those with an agenda, not based on anything factual and provable, which has significant traction with the personality that is uninformed or would rather remain uninformed, or that has a proclivity for the "sexy" story, rather than the truth.

 

...George seemed to be under the impression that I, as an independent blogger, have been deliberately fed untruths by his competitors in the hope that I would unwittingly become their mouthpiece.

 

Welcome to the club, in reverse. We see articles where exactly the opposite happens (in my opinion). I'm sure that George, by now, has come to believe what he says, and considers it to be the truth.

 

Besides, my point is that this is how George views it—I'm obviously not saying that I agree with him.

 

I believe you. But I can understand how others may not, since most of the information to support the piece was George's input.

 

The conclusion of this current article is that

 

1. La Fée Parisienne is mediocre,

2. the XS products are good but George doesn't seem much interested in bringing them to the world, preferring to focus on

3. Bohemian and NV, which are cynical non-absinthes created to sell to people who don't like absinthe, while allowing them to believe they are drinking it.

 

I think that that message is so buried amongst justification, mainly from George, that it is hard to see, at first.

 

George must be delighted.

 

Sarcasm?

 

... "quite bugged by the fact that he doesn't receive more credit for pioneering so much of the reintroduction of absinthe to Europe"

 

Boo hoo. I would never be so crass as to use the "W" word that starts with an "H" sound, but the "H" word (huckster) is probably appropriate.

 

We are left scratching our heads when a producer--someone capable of directing impacting the absinthe market--apparently chooses to pursue a path of financial gain by purposefully producing "mediocre" absinthe.

 

I might not, personally, have a problem with that, if the product was positioned in the market where it belongs (monetarily). Over and over, in your piece it is trumpeted that there is a need for a "mass market" absinthe. Well then, price it like a mass market absinthe. Here, in the States, it is priced right along with the high quality available offerings. The problem is that it is a cut-rate product that is fishing in the same retail "sweet spot" as the high quality offerings, marketed by dubious information contrived to support its profitability. Hey, there are bottom feeders in every area of commerce (most certainly in the beverage business). All I ever expect, is for a producer to own up to what they are, and what they are offering.

 

And I haven't even started in on the Bohemian and NV.

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George seemed to be under the impression that I, as an independent blogger, have been deliberately fed untruths by his competitors in the hope that I would unwittingly become their mouthpiece.

 

Seems ironic now, doesn't it? In an effort to dispel that ridiculous notion, you've sorta gone the opposite way, and now appear as a mouthpiece for George instead - rather than for consumers around the world, informed or otherwise. But what the hell, it's your piece to write. We've had to deal with a lot worse in our mission as a consumer advocacy and education organization. George should be happy with your rewrite, though.

 

Adieu.

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Besides, my point is that this is how George views it—I'm obviously not saying that I agree with him.

You're also not saying the opposite either, and unfortunately you could have chosen to omit things he said that were irrelevant and you did not. Thus you are complicit with him at the very least.

 

The conclusion of this current article is that

 

1. La Fée Parisienne is mediocre,

2. the XS products are good but George doesn't seem much interested in bringing them to the world, preferring to focus on

3. Bohemian and NV, which are cynical non-absinthes created to sell to people who don't like absinthe, while allowing them to believe they are drinking it.

 

And yet you accuse me of writing a "promotional" piece. I confess I'm stumped.

All of that is buried under George's article that you wrote for him. He is the only person interviewed for the piece and your original independent remarks were changed at his request. How is that NOT a promo piece?

 

George must be delighted. It turns out he is an avid reader of this forum, even though he never posts. Hi, George!

Hi George! Your products turn people away from absinthe. If it worked the way you think it does then the market would be much larger by now. It's not, you've failed in this area and are too proud to realize it.

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Over and over, in your piece it is trumpeted that there is a need for a "mass market" absinthe.

 

I'm certainly not suggesting there is a "need" for a mass-market absinthe. But I think it's revealing that George seems to feel there is, or at least makes all his justifications based the desire to produce one. When you talk to him you get the impression that he considers the achievements of "boutique" absinthes (his word) as irrelevant—if you can't mass-produce it, why bother?

 

I think part of the problem here is that where I've actually quoted George it is intended to be with a spirit of detachment—which has clearly not come across. Yes, the La Fée PR engine tries to stuff all ears with the cotton wool of meaningless verbiage—as I discovered when I sent them a email asking to confirm that Marie-Claude was a shareholder. In return I got a reply beginning "In answer to your question…" followed by a torrent of spin that spectacularly failed to answer the simple question. But when you actually talk to them you get a more revealing picture, probably more revealing than they intend. I hoped that came across, but clearly it didn't.

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Frankly, I remember the original article talking about how he was targeting a demographic of younger drinkers.

 

Actually I don't think I addressed this in the old version, but I do in the new one. It hadn't originally occurred to me that NV was specifically aimed at younger drinkers, but George explained that it was aimed at 18-21 year olds, principally in terms of price, but I'm sure the flavour profile is engineered towards—how shall we say it?—more childlike palates. I suspect it's perfectly normal within the industry, but personally I found the idea of creating a cheap, sugary spirit specifically targeted at people only just old enough to drink legally—while encouraging them to believe they are drinking absinthe—was cynical at best. I had hoped that the cynicism of his talk of "broadening the market" with "entry level products" would come across, but clearly everyone just thinks I'm endorsing it.

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Hi Clayton...up early, getting to work here... I don't think you intentionally are endorsing anything, and I still believe you intended well here, for the record. Thanks for clarifying where the reference to younger drinkers is, I knew it was there somewhere, but did not have the time to re-read it before my post.

 

Hopefully you see that the folks here care a great deal, and that we are constantly having to do damage-control and educate folks about absinthe. A great deal of this is due to the manufacturing and promotional ethic of the producers of crud, who are simply in it for the buck, riding the wave. This is the reason it is so perplexing for me, to see a guy who claims to be making real absinthe continue to sell

low-end stuff that hypes the notorious Bohemian ritual . ANYONE in the business of genuine absinthe is damaged by this hype, so George is inviting the axe of judgment to fall. He HAS to know it isn't about competition, but rather caring.

 

George, if you are here reading this forum, I will not apologize for my zeal, but I WILL, for my impulsive choice of a word. I stand by my reasons, however. (To many, the shoe does fit BTW, true or not, and that is something no amount of spin will modify) It's never too late to alter one's course, and I DO understand that once a machine is in place that is producing results, it can be challenging to stop or modify it, on many levels. I also understand there may be partners and investors, and that perhaps your hands may even be tied in some way due to this. However, this is where integrity is defined. Many before you, in other industries found themselves in similar places and made the right choices. If you are as passionate about genuine absinthe as you claim to be, please share this with your investors and partners, and consider it. Perhaps this is where the term "artisinal" comes into play.

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George seemed to be under the impression that I, as an independent blogger, have been deliberately fed untruths by his competitors in the hope that I would unwittingly become their mouthpiece.

 

Seems ironic now, doesn't it? In an effort to dispel that ridiculous notion, you've sorta gone the opposite way, and now appear as a mouthpiece for George instead - rather than for consumers around the world, informed or otherwise.

 

Thanx, Ron. You got much closer to the message I was trying for in my previous response. And that message is that I think it is very telling that George would feel this way. It is well known in psych circles that, in matters of trust, most people will treat or view others with the kind of trust of which they themselves know they are deserving. It's driven by the mistaken presumption, conscious or unconscious, that the other person is motivated by the same things that we are, and so they must be functioning the same.

 

And Clayton, writers are "fed untruths" all the time by certain elements in the absinthe business (George, of all people, should know that). Just another reason why some WS personalities get a little prickly from time to time. An article on these dynamics might be a real interesting one to tackle.

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Clayton, I'm no writer, but a simple addendum with George's views stated as such would have been more appropiate then a re-write.

 

FPB, that has been my experience in life, specially with people of less than stellar ethics. Like cheaters, always suspecting others of cheating them. Regretfully, absinthe has attracted some dubious characters like my bug zapper attracts mosquitoes. That is why there was a gap of 1.5 years between my first researching absinthe, and actually trying some. Had my dad not pushed the issue, I might have not taken the plunge at all. Had the WS, not warned me, I might have bought a crapsinthe, and forsaken the whole thing.

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If you can't get the person who owns that site to stop selling crap absinth(e)s (at their worse), do you think other, much less historic absinthe-educated souls ever will, just because a few enthusiasts want them to?

 

Oh dear me. Get out on the wrong side of bed did you, pierreverte?

 

This has been previously covered in some detail at Fee Verte, but for those interested:

 

RueVerte was set up from inception to be a one-stop absinthe supermarket, selling the full range of modern products, of all types and qualities.

 

During the Belle Epoque there were high-end fully distilled absinthes, and absinthes made from essences. There were absinthes made in the classic areas of France and Switzerland, and absinthes made in many other countries, in most cases of inferior quality but serving the particular tastes of their local market. There were absinthes in non-traditional colours, like red or pink. There were sweetened absinthes, and there were sparkling absinthes. There were even absinthes made without wormwood. The same is true today, and RueVerte sells a broad range of these products, just as a supermarket might for instance offer everything from grade A organic grain-fed prime fillet to budget frozen burger patties. Consumers seem to get their head around the concept that these two extremes still fall under the broad category of "meat", and I'm confident that customers of RueVerte are similarly able to understand that the category of "absinthe" might encompass a diverse range of products, some wildly dissimilar.

 

The key point is that these products are accurately described, in a way that will inform, but not mislead the consumer. We strive to do this at RueVerte. FAQ information is accurate. Essence based absinthes are described as such. Flowery and gushing quality descriptions are not used for non-distilled absinthes. Absinthes actively recommended by us are always distilled. RueVerte sells hundred of different absinthes, has thousands of lines of description, and is available, or will shortly be available in 4 different languages. With this sort of volume it's perfectly possible that errors will creep in, or that information from the manufacturer's promotional material will be used in an uncritical way. We're continually aiming to weed out examples of this, and where they are brought to our attention by customers, or by the good people of forums such as this one, we act immediately. Andrew White, known I think to many of you here, joined us recently specifically tasked to improve the quality and refine the accuracy of our descriptions. As I said, we don't always get it right, but when we find errors we correct them, and I'd invite the members here to compare our description of a typical Czech oil mix:

http://www.rueverte.com/product_info.php?products_id=366

 

with, to take an example entirely at random from another well known supplier's site:

http://www.absintheonline.com/acatalog/Nem...inthe.html#a555

 

Of course, the question you may be asking, is why do this? Why sell such a broad range of absinthes, from so many countries, in so many styles? Why not sell only the very best of the best? The answer is that there are two reasons, one based on altruistic considerations, the other based on hard commercial reality. I've been open and upfront about both reasons before, here they are again:

 

The altruistic motivation:

You can't convert online purchasers of Czech oil mixes to higher quality and more traditional products unless they visit your site in the first place. So the choice is ignoring them entirely and leaving them to buy at sites that are riddled with misinformation and deliberate untruths, or providing them with the products they are looking for in an environment where they're given accurate information, and hopefully over time encouraged to try something more authentic. The page previously referred to in this thread is a good example:

http://www.rueverte.com/absinthes.php?pays=czech_republic

 

A customer might reach this page because he was looking for Zelena Musa. He'll notice however that Martin Zufanek's La Grenouille is our top recommendation in this category. Hopefully, he'll eventually try it, or Martin's St Antoine, or the Oliva on the same page, all of which will set him firmly on the path towards traditionally distilled absinthes.

 

So our target market for non-traditonal Czech-style absinthes is those customers who are already buying them (the vast majority of the market in Germany, and in many other European countries, is for Czech-style absinthes). I see nothing at RueVerte that would lead a newcomer to these absinthes, and a tremendous amount that would steer them away from products like them, and encourage them to buy something properly distilled.

 

It'll come no doubt as a shock to those of you who know me only as a mild and saintly, Dalai Lama type person, dispensing folksy absinthe-related apercus and distributing alms to the poor, but there is also a hard commercial reason behind our selection of products at RueVerte, or, as one might put it:

 

The non-altruistic motivation:

You can't survive in the long term in the absinthe distribution business without volume. The online side of the business in particular is littered with the bleached bones of former sites (is that the skeleton of eAbsinthe I see by the waterhole? Is that the ruins of the Absinthe Museum of America I see peeking through the shifting sand dunes?). Volume enables you to provide low prices, cheap shipping, and effective pre and post sale service, the four things customers quite rightly demand. It's the reason supermarkets sell frozen burger patties alongside the grain fed fillet, and it's the reason RueVerte sells the widest possible range of absinthes, to the widest range of customers. It's the reason LDF developed Nemesinthe, and it's the reason, to take another example entirely at random, why Tempus Fugit, distributors of superb products like Vieux Pontarlier, also sell Mansinthe.

 

So there you have it. I make no apologies for the wide range of products RueVerte sells, we'll continue to do so, and we'll continue to endeavour to describe them accurately, price them fairly, and ship them efficiently. If there are errors in our descriptions, bring them to our attention, and we'll correct them.

 

And lastly, for those of you who like pierreverte prefer to buy from a site selling only the very finest naturally distilled, traditionally formulated absinthes from the historic absinthe homelands of France and Switzerland, may I suggest RueVerte's sister site, shipping out of our same offices in Freiburg (and benefiting from all the economies of scale I mentioned above):

http://www.absintheclassics.com/

Edited by Oxygenee

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I think another key point is the lower quality absinthes at rueverte are also sold significantly cheaper than the high quality stuff. It isn't "crapsinthe" being sold under the guise of being better and at a premium price.

I personally enjoy drinking some of the lesser quality stuff when the price is right. :cheers:

Edited by m.a.mccullough

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Not that it's needed, but I'll throw in my .02, just for fun.

 

I haven't tried the other La Fee products, but that NV is pure shite. (No offense, George.) I can understand creating a somewhat milder formula as an introduction to the flavors of true absinthe, but "dumbing it down" in this way seems to be nothing more than an effort to latch on to a trend. I can't see how anyone tasting NV would be inclined to try another absinthe without some arm-twisting. I'd rather drink Agwa if it came down to it.

 

As far as the price point being an indicator of how well a product is made, check out the prices for some of the Czech garbage on the market...Apparently maximum thujone ain't cheap.

Edited by sardonix

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Now we can not be quick to judge based on what we like. Yes I agree that most Czech absinthe isnt anywhere near as good as the Absinthes i like to drink, but then again neither is Tequila but there are some pretty pricey tequilas out there. Are we going to condemn a shop that sells Patron' or Don jullio? Production costs are not always as cheap as we expect them to be so we can't be quick to say something is over priced. It may be over priced to our liking but maybe not to everyone's. More in Ruevertes defense, look at their prices of the Czech absinthes that eveyone likes to trash talk and call over priced swill and you will notice price points are set much lower for the essence added bottles vs the distilled bottles, so it would appear they are being fair about their prices based on quality of production. They are also not in anyway attempting to lead people towards paying more for cheaper absinthes under the false hopes of "tripping balls" etc etc, they are an honest shop simply offering all the goods available on the market.

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Something to be noted: Price point is never an indicator of quality, it is more an indicator of production costs and profit margins. Nothing more. Production methods, ingredients, and reviews are the only indicator of quality and even then its based on personal preference and usually bias opinions. The reason I like the review here at the WS is because they are mostly based on how close absinthe is to the authentic original absinthes rather than a "I liked how this taste so I give it 10/10 and this one isnt as much to my liking so its a 5/10"

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It's the reason LDF developed Nemesinthe, and it's the reason, to take another example entirely at random, why Tempus Fugit, distributors of superb products like Vieux Pontarlier, also sell Mansinthe.

 

*wince* Even I have to admit that Mansinthe isn't THAT bad. :laugh:

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It's the reason LDF developed Nemesinthe, and it's the reason, to take another example entirely at random, why Tempus Fugit, distributors of superb products like Vieux Pontarlier, also sell Mansinthe.

 

*wince* Even I have to admit that Mansinthe isn't THAT bad. :laugh:

 

I don't think Mansinthe is bad, at all. Compared to V.P., it's just a simpler herb bill and a less seriously structured offering. There's always a place for that. Even the T.F. bigshots see it this way. There is room for a range of absinthes. I think we all agree that the biggest problem is when a producer bills their product as something it's not, marketed by "facts" that have no basis in fact, or at prices that are hard to justify, based on its ingredients and method of production.

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The key point is that these products are accurately described, in a way that will inform, but not mislead the consumer. We strive to do this at RueVerte. FAQ information is accurate. Essence based absinthes are described as such. Flowery and gushing quality descriptions are not used for non-distilled absinthes. Absinthes actively recommended by us are always distilled.

And this is the difference between you and George. Where you still offer lower quality absinthe for layers of reasons, you at least accurately describe them and attempt to educate the consumer. George confuses the consumers and tries to play king of something he has only been a jester to. That's why I have a problem with him and none with you.

 

I think we all agree that the biggest problem is when a producer bills their product as something it's not, marketed by "facts" that have no basis in fact, or at prices that are hard to justify, based on its ingredients and method of production.

BINGO. Here is the central issue with La Fee.

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It'll come no doubt as a shock to those of you who know me only as a mild and saintly, Dalai Lama type person, dispensing folksy absinthe-related apercus and distributing alms to the poor ...

I think you just wanted me to post a link to

For the record, I think you probably know your pizza better than he does.

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