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Alan Moss

National Absinthe Day, according to Pernod: Spot the Mistakes!

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Indeed.

 

First prize should be a bottle of their absinthe, second prize, two bottles, and third prize, perhaps a case.

Edited by Absomphe

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Just for the sake of posterity.

 

PERNOD RICARD : Pernod Absinthe® Celebrates National Absinthe Day

 

03/05/2013| 12:05pm US/Eastern

 

Pernod Absinthe, the original1 and most authentic2 absinthe ever produced, will honor National Absinthe Day today with a dedicated event in New York City and celebratory cocktails at select bars and restaurants across the country. A classic spirit that was banned in 1912 - and lifted3 5 years ago4 this summer - absinthe has long been an inspiration for artists, writers, and bartenders alike. On National Absinthe Day, Pernod Absinthe invites cocktail lovers everywhere to enjoy this unique spirit, a drink that is known for driving the cocktail renaissance5 in the United States and abroad.

 

"National Absinthe Day is an opportunity to push the barriers of your comfort zone; this beverage brings a mysterious and bold aura that no other spirit can offer," said Pernod Absinthe Brand Ambassador Anne-Louis Marquis. "This occasion is the perfect opportunity to honor and celebrate this often misunderstood spirit. In addition to being a classic spirit, absinthe carries with it a cultural influence that has inspired some of the most well-renown creatives of the 19th century, including Ernest Hemingway6 and Edgar Degas."

 

Pernod Absinthe is a high proof spirit distilled from Grand Warmwood7, fennel, and anise. Its unique light green hue, herbaceous nose, and creamy sweet anise dominant taste characteristics come directly from these three plants8.

 

In celebration of National Absinthe Day, several well-known bars and restaurants will be serving custom absinthe cocktails to guests and patrons including Maison Premiere (New York City), Booker and Dax (New York City), Dead Rabbit (New York City), and Apotheke (New York City).*

  • Pernod wasn't the first absinthe or even the first commercial absinthe.
  • The modern Pernod absinthe is certainly not the most authentic absinthe produced, then or now.
  • No ban was lifted.
  • The date celebrated was actually spring, six years ago.
  • The cocktail renaissance got along perfectly well, barely aware that absinthe was returning, until Ted Breaux and myself started reaching out to bridge the two communities in 2005-2006 via Tales of the Cocktail.
  • Hemingway was a 20th century author.
  • Just a typo.
  • The "unique light green hue" comes from FD&C Blue #2 and FD&C Yellow #5.
No disrespect to the parties who inspired the idea of National Absinthe Day, but like many holidays, this one is based on yet another myth. Unfortunately it actually obfuscates the truth of the matter and reinforces the false notion that a ban has been lifted.

Nothing changed, not even a rule. It's just PR. There's nothing wrong with PR, but when it creates a false history, it bears being corrected.

 

Absinthe itself has been legal since at least the 1960s, when Artemisia species were added to the approved additives list. Probably earlier, since wormwood was already being used in vermouth and there wasn't any law prohibiting its use.

 

Absente got a label approved in 2001 bearing the word "Absinthe" with "refined" as a modifier. If Michel Roux had had the foresight to use the terms Supèrieure or Verte, and he knew that a formula containing absinthium could pass the test, we'd be celebrating him as the guy that brought absinthe back. Lucid simply used "Supèrieure" as the modifier instead.

 

Kübler submitted a sample and formula in 2003 that was approved, showing that the spirit itself was okay. Their label was rejected for using the term "absinthe" standing alone. If they'd thought to modify it with another word, such as "blanche", "suisse", etc., we'd be giving them credit, but TTB doesn't just give out handy advice to assist in label approval. They seldom give suggestions of what you can do, they only tell you what you can't do.

 

It's just the case that Viridian's lawyers understood how to navigate the already-existing requirements and get both the formula and the label approved.

 

We'll have real cause for celebrationand a real Absinthe Daywhen absinthe is added to the CFR as a designated Class of spirit, with an accurate and meaningful legal definition.

Edited by Gwydion Stone
fixed the correction list to include #6, Hemingway.

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Nice analysis, Gwydion. You got some I hadn't picked up on first sight!

 

Of course Hemingway could have been a 19th century creative: born in July 1899, he had a few months to do it.

 

"Well-renown?" As far as I can tell, Pernod have created a new word there.

 

There have been repeated rumours about Pernod going back to their original recipe, and I tasted what I was told was a new sample of it recently. Since I don't believe anyone here (except maybe Absomphe) has tasted a pre-ban Pernod Fils that is only a few weeks/months old, I can't vouch for whether it is indeed what was claimed ... but it was substantially better than the current product.

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No wonder they threw a party.

I second your blog commenter's skepticism. For a decade this corporate brand has been promoted with blatant falsehood, double-speak, and a frustrating ignorance of the legacy that it inherited from those who made Pernod a respectable name.

With such a significant change as the (apparent) switch to natural coloring, you'd think they'd mention how the color is now achieved. There are natural colors that could be used that have nothing to do with steeping herbs. Maybe they're avoiding making a claim they can't substantiate?

I notice that the label says that "The absinthe plants are still harvested locally in Pontarlier and then distilled in wine alcohol in the village of Thuir." However in checking their annual report for 2012, I see that the Thuir facility isn't listed as a distillery, but as a production and bottling plant for wine-based aperitifs. Their aniseed-based products are all produced in Bessan, Lormont, and Vendeville. Only the Bessan facility is noted as a distillery.

I applaud their step in the right direction, if that's indeed what it is, but they've earned my skepticism. I'd be elated to be proven wrong by a visit to their plant, but that's about what it would take.

I imagine most of what Hemingway "created" for the remainder of 1899 resembled what Pernod is creating today.

 

:like:

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I'm a little sceptical too. But perhaps less so, because I tasted what I was told was the new old Pernod a few weeks ago.

 

As I wrote in my blog, I think this could also make the other artificial coloured brands ditch those colours. Which makes it more of a level playing field. That should be good news for all the producers here. And of course it's good news for consumers.

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Thuir facility isn't listed as a distillery, but as a production and bottling plant for wine-based aperitifs. Their aniseed-based products are all produced in Bessan, Lormont, and Vendeville. Only the Bessan facility is noted as a distillery.

 

I applaud their step in the right direction, if that's indeed what it is, but they've earned my skepticism. I'd be elated to be proven wrong by a visit to their

:like:

 

The only thing I found in Thuir owned by PR is Les Caves Byrrh

Which does look like a really cool place to visit. This is not only the home of Byrrh, but also Dubonnet , and it seems Campari and other similars.

 

http://www.aspres-thuir.com/fr/pages/44_caves-byrrh.html

Flip through the virtual booklet at the very bottom. Text is French, but lots of interesting pics.

 

A blogger posted some good pics here. ( I like the second pic, a 'steampunk' looking control panel)

http://theblogdeclementine.blogspot.com/2011/02/caves-byrrh-thuir.html

 

They boast the worlds largest oak vat at 1 million litres, A depot designed by Eiffel, and other cool looking things.

 

Hmm, no pics of stills.

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It will be interesting to see what Pernod do with their new/old absinthe. Do they just switch from the current product to the new? With no change of price?

 

I guess the new/old absinthe costs more than the current one. The raw materials (plants and alcohol) and production cost must be ... somewhere between 25% and 50% more. My guesstimate, any other guesses?

 

So do they just absorb the cost difference, or do they charge what they might think the original PF is worth? Whatever that is ..

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Well first, the terms (quoting from the label) "the original recipe" and "distill absinthe the traditional way" may be open to interpretation.

 

As for ingredient costs, I am would bet that many of them are already being used in other spirits.

Starting with the wine base, I am sure they are using that in many, many different products already. What they use for absinthe is just a tiny trickle off a really big tank.

 

As for the herbs. What herbs are they using already in other aromatic beverages? Are any new herbs that they buying for the absinthe good for some other product? I bet they waste nothing. The 'spent' herbs could find a use. I think they have ways of making economies of scale work for them that other absinthe producers don't have, in that they have a whole fleet of beverages. (the old way of economies of scale with mega production of absinthe c. 1900 don't apply, but now -- they are doing it with a whole range of beverages)

They are making it at the Thuir plant for some cost effective reason.

 

I think they can find a way to sell at the same price point.

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Another issue would be whether they actually use plants for coloration, or will they simply use some form of chlorophyll extract.

 

One would more than likely be cheaper than the other, but both would be 'naturally colored'.

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That's what I was alluding to above:

With such a significant change as the (apparent) switch to natural coloring, you'd think they'd mention how the color is now achieved. There are natural colors that could be used that have nothing to do with steeping herbs. Maybe they're avoiding making a claim they can't substantiate?

 

However, the regs in the US require the label to disclose that coloring has been added, whether natural or artificial. They even wanted me to state that Marteau had "natural coloring added", until I explained that the finishing herbs weren't for color, but for flavor and aroma.

 

If they really are using pontica, melissa, and hyssop for finishing, I would sincerely celebrate.

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It will be interesting to see what Pernod do with their new/old absinthe. Do they just switch from the current product to the new? With no change of price?

 

P. R. sells an oil mix absinthe at 65-75 USD (Or more) for a decade.....hmmm what would they do? :dry:

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Still skeptical but the removal of added coloration is a positive note.

It's good for the unlouched masses but I think absintheurs will continue to pass on the product. Just a guess.

 

More thoughts on my blog for those interested.

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Most likely it'll be a mid level absinthe, that will get a huge media push.
P. R. probably could care less about absinthe forums, they'll make a big push though other cocktail sources, as this being the second coming.

Just watch...

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Hmmm. I received a free bottle of what I thought was the new Pernod a month ago.

It was still listed as being artificially colored but there were modest improvement throughout.

Definitely not great by any means but better that earlier attempts like Pernod aux extraits de plantes d'absinthe and Oxygene. I wonder if what they sent me was the new recipe? If so it tasted nothing like vintage Pernod.

 

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The one on the left looks like a bottle from Europe (or Canada); the one on the right seems to be the label approved in the US in 2011.

 

The colour of the one I tasted in the UK a few weeks ago looks a lot more like the one on the left: certainly not as green as your "new" one. Given its appearance (in comparison with what I had) and also the fact that yours was in the 2011 bottle, I doubt if it is the very latest product.

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The bottle on the left was from Japan, which I purchased in 2003. The one on the right was sent to me by Pernod as their new Absinthe Superior (long story).

 

This new label has started popping up in the US and was supposed to be new and improved. Definitely not a wine base and it also lists coloring as artificial.

 

Perhaps Pernod is planning on selling both at a different price point?

 

note.

 

( The louched glasses have been reversed. The light greener one is the new version of the two compared.)

Edited by Deluge

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