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Gwydion Stone

Kallnacher Absinth

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Pierreverte, no one is against people making money. I bet more than one person here would LOVE to open an absinthe distillery and pump out high quality absinthe for a reasonable price, and make some money doing it.

 

I believe the question you are addressing was more about what was said to make the money than just making money itself.

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And I'm sorry to hear that. I think that if someone is putting out a fine absinthe, they should be able to make money at it. Just don't tell me that it's anything like $100.65 a bottle to make or market.

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Oh I'm sure that [insert name of favourite distiller to hate this month] will make some money on the production.

 

Only, even though I don't take this entire issue all that serious as it may seem, I think it's ridiculous to comment on the price when not knowing the entire cost of production. All said about that are pure speculations and "thinking" that one knows what costs the distiller has or have had.

 

That's what bugs me.

 

 

However, concerning HG and CO comparison I think Hiram has that covered, and I agree at most points. Far from all HGs are good and even fewer are excellent. The same thing goes for CO, only - they are available to the general public.

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But we shouldn't compare them because....?

 

It's all Absinthe to me. I don't care where it comes from.

 

What's swiss LB now? HG or CO?

 

The only legitimate reason I can think of to not compare the two is in terms of serious reviews, since most people have no access to HG. That's fair. When it comes to craftsmanship, however, if Pernod Fils was capable of making of something so good, then why should one separate HGs and CO using some arbitrary craftsmanship criteria which assumes there's more care and detail in a small batch absinthe?

 

Ted's Jade "lab samples" prove that. They were nothing more than a legally distilled HG, expertly crafted, and for the most part very similar to vintage absinthe that was produced on a large scale. For years everybody has been making excited comparisons between Ted's HG and vintage CO Absinthe, but now that Ted has gone commercial, it's not "fair" to mention HG and CO in the same breath?

 

I suppose another valid reason to not compare HGs and CO would be to respect the wishes of private distillers who don't want their work discussed in public. However, avoiding mention of the name of the HG can avoid that problem.

 

Aside from that though, if one can compare a well crafted Pontarlier recipe HG to vintage Pernod Fils, then why not compare it to Jade? I don't have an axe to grind with Ted or anything. He's never done anything to me. I just think HG and CO can and should be held to the same high standards, and it should be OK to contrast and compare them.

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I think I can sort of agree with both sides of this. Comparing and contrasting is fine, but when it comes to "serious reviewing," it doesn't make sense to include HG. Reviews are meant to act as a guide for consumers, and if a consumer can't get something, what point is there in mentioning it? When I was still very new, I often felt very off-put when mentions of HG came up, and its probably similar with some other "Joe Consumer" types. Its sort of like having a discussion about decent wines that are accessible to everyone and someone pipes up about their magnum of 1899 d'Yquem. Its interesting and some people will be envious, but its not particularly relevant to what most people are discussing/drinking.

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No one goes into a business without the intent of turning profit: rubbing elbows with the big dogs is good for the ego, helping the little guy is a treat for the heart, but breaking even is just stupid.

 

Think what you want, harts. Defend whomever you'd like... I'll never forget that quiet night we shared on the beaches of Boracay.

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Grim... I'll forever treasure that memory also.

 

I'm not defending anyone. I'm merely speaking my mind, as is everyone else.

 

Jack, ok no "issue". What I'm saying is that everyone keeps talking about the "high" prices and that people are making a load of money due to that. Maybe not here but it's been mentioned on other forums, you know that.

 

Gatsby, why isn't it fair? Well, as you say yourself, it's only for a few to indulge in HG absinthes. That's one. Then, as mentioned before, and I think most agree, CO scale production isn't exactly like HG production times 100. There's more to it than that. As WK puts it, the comparison on taste between "us" here might be great, but it is of no value for the average Joe. Swiss LB's are COs if they're legally produced and sold. They are HGs if they're not.

 

In order to actually go CO with their Swiss LBs I take it they do NOT use a stove top potstill making 2-5 liters at a time.

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But we shouldn't compare them because....?

I agree with practically everything you said. I'd like to point out also that my particular gripe centers around the way other, non-Jade commercials are dismissed. As we know, the Jades are generally held in fairly high regard, even by accomplished HG'ers.

 

Please don't think that I'm putting a hush on HG talk - I'm definitely, most emphatically not. Otherwise I wouldn't have brought it up. However, I'd like to see some more productive commentary where CO's in general are concerned.

 

If you think a particular CO is inferior to others, tell us why. Unbalanced? Bad fennel? Weak louche? Funky smell? To simply dismiss it with a series of epithets isn't helpful and doesn't do credit to many of the more refined palates we have around here.

 

My point about HG/CO is this: We all already know that some HG is better than any CO. This much has been established and anyone whose opinion most of us consider worthwhile agrees. The rest probably agree but won't admit it, or haven't tasted the better HG's.

 

What role does the comparison of HG to CO play? What end does it serve? This is a publicly accessible forum where we talk about and review the absinthes available to the buying public. We try to educate newcomers as to the facts about absinthe and help them make buying decisions. HG isn't for sale, so it can't have a meaningful place on the scale, except as a standard to which to aspire.

 

Let's imagine for a moment a forum devoted to commercial micro-brews where a group of people continued to post about how they could make better beer at home for cheaper. The response would be: "Yeah, so? What's your point?" Everyone already knows that. So let's talk about how the CO producers can improve their products.*

 

Unless there is a mutual desire for a meaningful and sincere dialog between home-distillers and commercial distillers, this isn't helping anyone. Unfortunately, most producers - private and commercial - hoard their knowledge like it was the formula for the Philosopher's Stone. This doesn't happen in brewing arenas. It doesn't even happen in distilling discussion groups, where all the fellows are more than happy to help each other out.

 

Perhaps some of this is due to the scarcity of good sources of ingredients - not a problem with distilling more common liquors. At least some of it is Graduate-Studentitis: protectively storing key information for one's own use and benefit. HG'ers have nothing to lose from the success of commercial absinthe. To the contrary: the greater market need for good ingredients will drive higher production of them and lower the cost. Commercial producers could certainly learn from a lot of the home-distillers around in terms of technique - although I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to admit it.

 

I posted my comments and initial opinion of Kallnacher; I don't expect everyone to share my taste. I reserve the right to revise my opinion after I've had a few more glasses - I did with the Jades.

 

*Props to GreyBoy for planting the seed for this comparison.

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I agree with everything you said. I'm not exactly sure why I'm making a big deal about this issue anyway, since talking a lot about HG probably isn't a great idea...

I guess I just deduced that it was taboo to hold commercial absinthes to HG standards.

 

As far as Kallnacher goes, I've revised my opinion a few times already. I don't think it's "bad", though the more I taste it the more I'm noticing a lot of room for improvement and I suspect this bottle will be emptied very slowly. Just shows to go ya, finding an old recipe for Absinthe don't mean shit if you don't have the skills (technical skills AND research skills). And on top of that, even if this absinthe were made right, I don't think I'd love the recipe. My favourite things about top notch blanches are usually strong Fennel & Roman Chamomile presence, and Kallnacher doesn't have either.

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I guess I just deduced that it was taboo to hold commercial absinthes to HG standards.

It's not taboo; I personally just think it's unrealistic, for all the reasons I've cited above.

 

Then there's the issue of what constitutes the "HG Standards" and who gets to set them.

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In order to actually go CO with their Swiss LBs I take it they do NOT use a stove top potstill making 2-5 liters at a time.

 

I had the chance to talk to Claude-Alain Bugnon, maker of La Clandestine, last saturday, before he got too drunk and passed out. He emphasized that he didn't intend to make a living out of distilling absinthe; in order to do that, he would have to make a large-scale production and compromise on quality. It's still a hobby for him, although a hobby that might earn him a bit of pocket money.

 

Didn't see his still; according to these pictures it has a larger capacity than 2-5 litres, but it would still fit on a stove top ...

 

So, is he CO or is he just a HGer with a product easier available than most? The question seems somehow pointless; the important thing is that his product can be purchased by anyone, which makes it relevant to review it and compare it to others on a forum like this.

 

On the other hand, I actually do find it relevant also to be aware of the fact that some dedicated amateurs can make a product that's better than even the Jades. It spurs my interest for what can be achieved.

 

What is not relevant is calling anything that's not the best for crap. I wouldn't call even the average spanish oil mix crap, and if someone served me a glass of Lasala, I would enjoy it wholeheartedly.

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I agree with with Hiram's post about comparing HG to Co, and the comparisons to brewing forums.

The brewing forums and mailing lists I've been involved in are great for the exchanging of information and helpfulness that they provide. I was just at a Real Ale festival and at one point I found myself at a table with some CO and homebrewers talking about Lambics for 30 minutes, I learned a lot and the CO brewers picked up some new ideas from the homebrewers. Another brewer I'm friendly with buys extra Heather to his orders for me since I showed him a place to buy fresh Bog Myrtle. Though I know there are reasons for keeping HG talk to a near hush I think the debates, could and should, be more productive.

 

Comparing HG and CO is fine I think for the people that are lucky enough to be able to taste HG, but they're a minority in the larger scene and automatically saying it's the best and CO can't reach it is unproductive for new people that want to learn about absinthe.

On that note, I broke out a UE68 that's been sitting for about a year and was quite surprised with the quality taste of the Wormwood, granted it was still too light and not very complex, but it was better than the harsh, medicinal HG I followed it with.

I switched to beer after that.

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Geez!

 

A raw nerve struck here! I count myself among the neophytes and thought I'd throw in my coppers. Ruling out comparisons between the CO and HG seems too restrictive to me. Just as restrictive as not comparing the "vertes and the blanches". Even with my limited experience, I know they are different. However, what I am looking for in a review is not a simple "this is crap and I dumped it down the commode" (even if it deserved it). I yearn for "whole" reviews. Those that strive to capture the entire qualities of the product, or lack thereof. I still cannot figure out all the flavors (especially by source, e.g. hyssop versus veronica), but am beginning to note the "overall" differences between the products I do have access to.

 

In my own uncultured way I have begun to rank the absinthes I've tried, but make no pretense that I could convincingly tell you what distinguishes one as better than another.

 

This is where a good review can serve someone like me. The more complete the description (and comparison/reference to other absinthes), the better I can judge my own experience. I have no quarrel with personal preference, but it is more useful to me to read "why" the reviewer has come to his/her conclusions that to just see the "bottom line"...

 

The debate has been fascinating, and it is quite clear that most of you have the hides of rhinoceroses.

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As I said above, it's not so much about comparing one to the other; it's about including HG on the grading scale. You can't dismiss decent CO's because they're not as good as the best HG's, which are produced in very small quantities and under conditions very few CO's could ever hope to duplicate. Is blended bourbon "undrinkable crap" just because it's not as good as hand-picked single barrel? No. It is what it is and it has its place; it should be judged alongside its peers.

 

Ted's Jade "lab samples" prove that.  They were nothing more than a legally distilled HG, expertly crafted, and for the most part very similar to vintage absinthe that was produced on a large scale

Will someone please explain to me how one legally distills and distributes absinthe in the US?

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As long as you're a science teacher, student or a chemist, you can get a license to operate a still and you can make just about anything "for experimentation purposes". My friend in College legally made cocaine for an experiment where he gave coke to cockroaches and observed their behaviour. In 11th grade I legally distilled ethanol for an experiment in chemistry class.

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So, what are the laws governing a U.S. citizen going to a foreign country to produce something that is illegal in his home country? How does that look on his taxes?

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Yeah, I doubt there'za blurb in TurboTax for "produced and imported (illegally) a unique beverage illegal for the past 100 years in the United States."

Hopefully there's a comment section:

"But business is bad, and I'm really pretty poor."

:no2:

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No, not even make it legally. It is illegal to make absinthe in the U.S. period.

I've done some serious diving and I can't come up with anything that expressly prohibits making (or selling) absinthe by name - only that (any) finished products must be thujone free, as determined by the FDA's prescribed methods of detection. This only makes "absinthe" illegal because it is assumed that it refers to a product that contains thujone.

 

It's probably not actually illegal to produce a product called "absinthe" because Absente has openly branded their product "Absinthe Refined" on the label. If you know anything about the complications of labeling laws, particularly for liquor, you know that's pretty much the same as coming out and calling it absinthe.

 

As far as making the product we know as absinthe, apparently if one isn't conducting unlicensed distilling and the product is never sold or offered to the market, no laws are being broken that I can find.

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A "I drank the whole glass" or "I dumped it down the sink" is about the most detailed review you'll get out of me these days. I pretty much just drink the stuff now and only care about the taste. It's a nice change to be able to enjoy a drink without having to get all geek over it.

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The glass of Kallnacher I had the other night tasted like it was using Napoli Fennel, Bulgarian Anise, alcohol made from muscat grapes, probably macerated at 80% alcohol at a temperature of around 50 degrees, diluted with low quality tap water, distilled at a collection rate of about 100ml per 5 minutes in a steam heated copper alambic with too much reflux and not enough tails collected after distillation, and then bottled shortly after distillation with no aging and diluted with more tap water to 50%.

 

Or not. Obviously one can't taste or guess any of that shit.

 

I see what you mean and it's a good point that all the absinthe propellor hats and pocket protectors sometimes can make one forget to sit back and enjoy the beverage.

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... it's a good point that all the absinthe propellor hats and pocket protectors sometimes can make one forget to sit back and enjoy the beverage.
So good in fact, that I think I'll swap the illuminati triangle for a beanie.

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Ah, well. I'd agree that over-analyzing will ruin most anything. Absinthe included. Of course, I wasn't soliciting encyclopedic reviews. Nor garrulous rants. A terse, but cogent review is probably ideal.

 

To me, the most curious comments are the "change of hearts" testaments. I know, I know, maturation is the likely culprit. Hellfire! I ain't about to give up my right to change my opinion and I would't fault anyone else for the same. I would like to know how often it is a change in taste (human) versus a change in the absinthe itself. If the latter, is there reason to expect certain absinthes to "age" better than others?

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