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Elemental Mixology thinks all US Absinthe is fake.


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#1 Evan Camomile

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:09 PM

Here's a silly article made by someone who just can't give up the myth. Apparently all Absinthe available in the U.S. is fake. Geez I wish someone told me that. :rolleyes:

My comment is awaiting moderation. :devil:

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#2 Evan Camomile

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:21 PM

Dang, it only took ten minutes for the author to remove the article. You all could've seen him pimp Jade Eddy and Blanchette as real Absinthe that we will never have in the U.S.

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#3 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:34 PM

That 'splains the empty page.
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#4 Evan Camomile

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:48 PM

Aye, maybe I kept some misinformation from spreading or maybe something else.

I feel as a fellow blogger that I owe him a drink... of a damn good US made absinthe.

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#5 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:41 PM

I feel as a fellow blogger that I owe him a drink... of a damn good US made absinthe.


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#6 Joe Legate

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:23 AM

'Way to Keep the Faith, Evan!

#7 Braggi

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:42 PM

That is one absinthe truth we'll have to tell over and over and over again.

 

Keep spreading the good word Evan.



#8 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:23 AM

One. Bartender.  At a time.  :cheers:


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#9 awillett5465

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 04:45 AM

Greetings.  As soon as I saw the response to the original post back in January, I knew that I needed to clarify my thoughts.  Being a new father and at the beginning of the process of buying a house and moving my family and my business, it has taken some time - more than I intended.  Let me state here that I never said that American-market absinthe is "fake."  I do think it is different.  At any rate, for anyone interested in what I (Elemental Mixology) really think of absinthe in the U.S.A., here is the new post.  Cheers.



#10 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:31 AM

Bump

Here is a new blogpost:

http://elementalmixo....wordpress.com/



#11 Cajun Magic

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:27 AM

Harumph! :euro:
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L' Huere Verte! C'est le bon temps!
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#12 Brian Robinson

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:27 AM

Already replied. :)  He's also joined the forums, so hopefully we can have a productive conversation.


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#13 Cajun Magic

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 11:31 AM

Sounds good Brian. I can't wait to clear the air.

Edited by Cajun Magic, 23 September 2013 - 11:34 AM.

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#14 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:56 PM

He's still missing the point, and his description of the situation has too many errors to bother with here, but for starters ...

 

was that the ban on thujone (found in wormwood) would be interpreted to allow a product to be labelled as absinthe and sold in the U.S.A. as long as it was officially “thujone-free,” and that the threshold at which the product would be considered to contain thujone would be 10 ml. (per liter).  Therefore, American market absinthe must contain fewer than 10 ml. (per liter) of thujone.  The European Union allows more than three-times that amount – up to 35 ml. (per liter).

 

The measurement in question is not "10ml (per liter)", it's 10 parts per million (ppm), or 10 milligrams per liter.  A milliliter is 1000th of a liter, but a milligram is 1000th of a gram. There are ~1,000,000 milligrams per liter.

 

The difference between 10ppm and 35ppm (or even 100ppm, for that matter) is insignificant at the scale under consideration.  The difference between these concentrations has literally no detectible effect on the quality or flavor of the product.

 

Think of it as taking $10 or $35 out of $1,000,000 (one million dollars).  Does the $25 difference really matter?

 

There was no "ban on thujone", there was a ban on absinthe (in name and substance) and on the use of absinthium wormwood in foods and beverages.  That restriction dissolved many decades ago through the repeated re-codification of the rules of the USDA and FDA, and all artemisia species were approved for food use in the 1960s.  This fact was simply pointed out to the uninformed TTB who, like everyone else up to that point, believed that absinthe was still "banned".  

 

This is a case of careless and haphazard skimming of a few online resources without really learning the facts in the matter.

 

Bottom line: thujone is irrelevant.


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#15 Braggi

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 03:05 PM

One think I miss here is a Like button. Thanks for keeping up the good work Brian and Gwydion.



#16 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 03:11 PM

:like:


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#17 Georges Meliès

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 03:35 PM

Think of it as taking $10 or $35 out of $1,000,000 (one million dollars).  Does the $25 difference really matter?

 
Now there is a brilliant, crystal-clear analogy. icon_up.gif



#18 Alan Moss

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:09 AM

"I have spent a lot of time talking about the European Union’s thujone limits, but it should be pointed out that Switzerland and France, specifically, have no such limits at all."


Not true. France is obliged to adhere to the EU limits, and Switzerland uses exactly the same limits.


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#19 Evan Camomile

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:55 PM

This is a case of careless and haphazard skimming of a few online resources without really learning the facts in the matter.

Or learning just enough to continue to reinforce a myth and not have to retract what you said because it hurts to be wrong.

 

I do think the window of 0-10ppm is restrictive but that's because the effect of terroir on herbs. A window of 20-30ppm, or 100-110ppm would be just as restrictive.

 

Sure brands differ, but they do so overseas as much as they do here in the states. He can hate on American brands all he wants, but to continue the sillyness of "thujone is somehow important" is a denial of scientifically proven facts. Some of which he links to in the follow up post.

 

I know he's a new member here but I'd invite him to go eat Sage.

 

Let me state here that I never said that American-market absinthe is "fake."  I do think it is different.

Every brand is different. Are you going to say that all EU only brands never go below 10ppm thujone?


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#20 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 01:09 PM

A window of 20-30ppm, or 100-110ppm would be just as restrictive.

 

Anyone who gets upwards of 50ppm is doing it wrong.  As for claims of 200ppm and 300ppm, I'd have to see the analysis report before I believed it.  Even then, it'd taste like merde.  Not because of the thujone, but because of how much wormwood you'd have to use, or how long you'd have to cook it.


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#21 Evan Camomile

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 04:29 PM

Agreed, I was just illustrating the issue I have with the size of the window for variance, not the total amount.

 

How many HGers made/make wonderful, historically correct absinthe without ever testing for the chemical. Or how many pre-ban producers for that matter. I'd say about all of them.

 

TTB legalities aside it's as irrelevant to modern commercial brands as it is/was to them.


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#22 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 08:23 AM

... I knew that I needed to clarify my thoughts...  At any rate, for anyone interested in what I (Elemental Mixology) really think of absinthe in the U.S.A., here is the new post.

 

From the post:

 

To sum up, I would say, yes, we have absinthe in the U.S.A. – just not the same absinthe that one can buy in Europe.  Until you find a good amount of the absinthe bottlings being sold here also being legally sold in the U.S.A., it shall be proof that the governmental ban continues to have at some qualitative effect on what Americans can buy and sell as absinthe – if in no other way than keeping all of those bottlings out of our market.

 

First, let me point out that about a dozen of the absinthes available at the link you provide are being sold here in the USA, and in what I understand is the same version as is being sold in the EU. That's about 27% of the absinthes offered on that site (all these numbers are a quick count for the sake of illustration).

 

Second, to assume that the remaining approximately 73% of them being unavailable here in the USA is "proof" of anything other than them not being sold here (which is self-evident) is completely mistaken and fallacious. Let's just turn this around and say that the reason most US made absinthes are not available in the EU is because they don't meet EU requirements (which we all know is not true). So maybe there's another reason why most of those are unavailable here (and the US absinthes there)... like maybe because nobody who is in the business has yet to be able to make any business sense of the project. I don't have the time to do the counting on this one but take a look through this list and consider how many of these are in any substantial distribution here in the US. I don't have all the numbers, but I'd bet that once past the sales of the 3 to 5 top selling absinthes (legally available) here in the US, that all others put together don't equal that number. When you consider that the whole domestic absinthe market is a niche within a niche within a niche, it's amazing that anyone at all is willing to take a chance on importing anything in this category.

 

Again, from the post:

 

Breaux’s highly reputed European-market absinthes are being made available in the U.S.A., at least in versions that contain fewer that 10 ml. (per liter) of thujone... That brings me to the description of European-market Kübler absinthe being described at this link as being the “full-strength EU version.”

 

I've seen this idea tossed around from time to time but I've never seen anything I consider to be authoritative that convinces me that the bottlings imported here in the US are any different than the ones sold in the EU. If anyone close to this can attest otherwise I would love to know, but please be prepared to present credible evidence. If you can I'm all eyes and ears. If you're going to make this assertion, it should be up to you to site your source. It shouldn't be up to others to prove you wrong.

 

And it is my opinion that the quote from that site about Kübler is unfortunate. I have to say that every time I've read it there it makes me cringe, since they otherwise do such an exemplary job of not inflaming any of the common absinthe marketing falsehoods.

 

And finally:

 

But, the result of Kübler’s negotiations (and others), was that the ban on thujone (found in wormwood) would be interpreted to allow a product to be labelled as absinthe and sold in the U.S.A. as long as it was officially “thujone-free,” and that the threshold at which the product would be considered to contain thujone would be 10 ml. (per liter).

 

The error in the limit ("10 ml. (per liter)") notwithstanding as explained above, with regard to the imposed thujone limit, one thing I think everyone in this conversation is overlooking is that the limit is not one placed specifically on absinthe, but on all finished food and beverage products. It is a FDA regulation, and I would presume that the TTB can not override the FDA's regulation with a different limit for a specific product. It would be nice if some day the limit for absinthe could be relaxed some but, again I'm betting that in matters governmental, when the cart starts pushing the horse you're in for a protracted and tedious battle. A better way of stating the "result of Kübler's negotiations" would be to say that the agreement was if the absinthe product presented for a COLA is in compliance with the FDA regulation at 21 CFR 172.510 (which requires less than 10 parts per million of thujone and was previously in place), it will be deemed to have passed TTB thujone scrutiny.

 

 

Think of it as taking $10 or $35 out of $1,000,000 (one million dollars).  Does the $25 difference really matter?

 

It does if the supermodel you're trying to bag requires a net worth of at least $999,990.00 to give you the time of day! :twitchsmile:


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#23 Alan Moss

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:13 AM

A very good post.

 

Interesting to note that a few of the European produced brands have two entries in the review section here (one for the US version, one for the European version), and that includes Kübler. But most of the European-produced brands only have one entry. Is this entirely logical?


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#24 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:16 AM

No, it's not, and I thought about that while making the post. My opinion is unless it can be supported, it should be changed.


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#25 TheLoucheyMonster!

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:37 AM

I've wondered about that.  In the case of Duplais I assume the more artistic (Europe)  label did not meet US requirements. 

But I can see why someone might think they are different products. 



#26 Brian Robinson

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:12 PM

Most of those entries were published when no one really knew whether they were the same product.  Since then, I've heard from multiple distillers who have stated that they are the same product, including Kubler.

 

The problem is, I don't think the review pages can be merged.  Gwydion?

 

If they cannot be merged, maybe a disclaimer can be added in the description, and the title changed to say 'U.S. label' instead of U.S. version?


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#27 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:25 PM

How about having an admin copy and paste the reviews to the one review page and include both label pics if they are different. Then kill the empty page.


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#28 Brian Robinson

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:54 PM

Can't copy and past and keep the user info intact as far as I know.


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#29 Ambear

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 05:18 PM

I was thinking about this the other day and consolidating the reviews on products that are the same with multiple product pages. Nothing a little database hacking couldn't fix.  :twitchsmile:


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#30 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 07:16 AM

Well, it's been a while since Mr. Willett's post here and some responses by a number of members, including myself. I had hoped to have him continue to be active in the conversation, however in his absence since that post I have taken several looks at his post at Elemental Mixology (EM) and his responses to comments. I've always said to people that you can't get an adequate education on absinthe and all the issues surrounding it overnight, and the information presented there as being authoritative or an informed opinion is just so rife with errors and faulty reasoning I am compelled to address those I did not in my post #22.

 

As for Mr. Willett, believe me, this is in no way a personal agenda on my part. Part of the mission here is to dispel myths and misinformation. You actually seem sincere and genuine in tone, however underinformed. And it's true... a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So I genuinely hope you consider the information presented in this thread and in the comments on your site and perhaps the next post you make about absinthe will be better informed. Many valued members here started with no more education on the issues surrounding absinthe than you currently seem to have.

 

From the EM post:

 

I suppose the fact that the ban still stands in some capacity in the U.S.A., but that the interpretation of the ban has been loosened, is the reason that there has been some amount of confusion and argument. The distillers of American-market absinthe, and many drinkers, have engaged in plenty of excited boosterism that never dwells on restrictions still in place.

 

As I stated in the earlier post, the complications of removing one product to a different FDA standard have got to be daunting. Like it or not, one must remember that thujone is perfectly within the province of the FDA to regulate since at some level it is a neurotoxin. Just because as a matter of practicality it is impossible to ingest enough thujone to have any adverse effects by consuming absinthe only, doesn't mean it may not be possible by the ingestion of some other food or beverage product. To interpret this reasonable regulation as “the fact that the ban still stands in some capacity in the U.S.A.” is not only factually inaccurate, but as an abstract is a bit of a stretch.

 

Absinthe isn't the only product made for human consumption on which the government imposes restrictions. Many products have to work within government mandated limits. I suppose the distillers and the drinkers could all collectively lay down on the floor, pound their fists and feet, and have a general tantrum until the FDA caves in, but it seems to me that would take away from quality absinthe distilling and drinking time. The reason those in the know don't dwell on the restrictions in place is because they have been found to be successfully workable, and they also have the knowledge that thujone is irrelevant to absinthe quality.

 

From the EM comments:

 

As I understand it, a much greater amount of thujone would have to be ingested than is really effectively possible for it to have any adverse health impacts.

 

This is correct if the thujone source is absinthe. It may not be correct if the thujone source is in some other form.

 

Again, from the comments:

 

I did not say that thujone in absinthe affects the flavor.

 

It is, however, strongly implied within the context of the piece with a statement such as this,

 

... but all of the truly great bottlings also come from there [Europe], in my opinion... Some American-market absinthe is good, but always seems to be missing something in the flavor, in my opinion.

 

especially considering that the primary premise and focus of the piece is the difference in the upper end of thujone allowance between the US and the EU.

 

Again, from the comments:

 

My main point is that the T.T.B.’s over-cautious restriction (in my opinion) continues the U.S.A. ban – in a reduced manner – since ma[n]y modern European bottlings would not be approved.

 

Let's just say the FDA matched the EU limits at 35 ppm of thujone. Then, in your opinion, would the “ban” be over? What about the absinthes that couldn't be approved in either system because they clocked in at over 35 ppm? Are they not still “banned”? This logic is akin to saying there is a "ban in some capacity" on automobiles because we have speed limits. And the assertion that "many modern European bottlings would not be approved" is merely conjecture. In reference to the first point I addressed in post #22, neither you nor I know for sure how many of that 73% of their stock (which is approximately 32 individual bottlings) that is not imported here would pass FDA scrutiny, however reasonable logic tells me it is probably a significant number.

 

I agree that the limit of 10 ppm of thujone, if it were applied only to absinthe, would be “over-cautious”. However, as applied by the FDA, it is certainly arguable as reasonable, it is the fact of the matter, and it is the restriction currently in place if we want to have absinthe at all. Perhaps some of the reason for the “confusion and argument” isn't the “interpretation of the ban” but rather the inability of some to recognize and deal with the realities, and give up the inflammatory language, flawed reasoning, and agenda driven ideologies not founded on facts.


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