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  1. #1
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    Pernod "gets back"

    Today at the Ontario Liquor Board I saw a new version of Pernod, the anise-based aperitif. It is Pernod Absinthe, employing extracts of absinthe herbs and spices according to the label. The ABV is a daunting 68%. Pernod originally was an absinthe but after the banning of absinthe in France it converted to a non-thujone-based version. So in a sense the line extension is a return to the roots of the company, but at the said proof, and fetching about $80 (CAN), I imagine it will not sell in large quantities.

    I haven't picked this up yet but plan to since occasionally I make Sazerac cocktails, in which a dash of absinthe is traditional.

    The other absinthe currently available in Ontario is Hill's, a Czech brand.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 02-11-2006 at 15:05.

  2. #2
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    The Fée Verte site has quite a lot of information about absinthe. From what I can gather, the Hill's version is Not Recommended.

    Absinthe is still banned in the US, but it's due to an FDA regulation, not BATF nor DEA. People apparently bring it in anyway, but one still risks having it confiscated. Importing it for resale is out of the question.
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  3. #3
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    La Fee used to be your best bet as far as traditional style absinthe was concerned, they even gained the approval of Madame Delahaye who is the curator of the absinthe museum in Paris, it is in fact her left eye painted on the front of the parisian style bottle, the bohemian doesn't have her right eye but rather a mirror image of the left again(and look for the fairy in the highlight).
    The differance between the two styles is clear (sic) the bohemian (or czech) style doesn't have aniseed in it(or an 'e' after it which is why it doesn't go cloudy when mixed with water.
    Personally I prefer the Parisian as its not so bitter.
    Once La Fee found a way around the ban in France other companies sprung up to take advantage, Pernod on the other hand already have a long heritage with absinthe only having produced an anise when they were prohibited from producing absinthe. Therefore making this the original version of Pernod.
    I haven't yet tried the Pernod version and don't know whether its made to the traditional recipe or not but I see an excuse for a tasting, albiet carefully.

  4. #4
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    I recently came across a pastis that I hadn't seen before, Pontarlier-Anis, from the Armand Guy Distillery in France. While I haven't yet tried using it in a Sazerac, I have had it a few times with a bit of sugar syrup and ice-cold water.

    IMO, it is definitely better than Herbsaint, but Herbsaint is no slouch. While it isn't absinthe, it still has an outstanding louche effect when the water is added. Out of the bottle, it's a very pale green (unlike Herbsaint, Pontarlier-Anis doesn't have any Yellow #40 dye in it). Once the water is added, it becomes an almost opaque milky-white.

    Over at Fée Verte, I found a review of it that also gave it a thumbs-up. Oddly, it only came in a liter bottle, so you had better like pastis in the first place, or be willing to make lots of Sazeracs (not a bad idea, actually).
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    Today at the Ontario Liquor Board I saw a new version of Pernod, the anise-based aperitif. It is Pernod Absinthe, employing extracts of absinthe herbs and spices according to the label. The ABV is a daunting 68%. Pernod originally was an absinthe but after the banning of absinthe in France it converted to a non-thujone-based version. So in a sense the line extension is a return to the roots of the company, but at the said proof, and fetching about $80 (CAN), I imagine it will not sell in large quantities.

    I haven't picked this up yet but plan to since occasionally I make Sazerac cocktails, in which a dash of absinthe is traditional.

    The other absinthe currently available in Ontario is Hill's, a Czech brand.

    Gary
    Gary,

    This is not the original! It is much lower in thujone. It is sold in Sweden as well but the import company is honest and tells it is a low thujone version. My and a friend bought the real stuff from a German store last summer. It had 330mg thujone per kg and that is well up to the real thing that all the artists and most other people as well drunk before it was banned in the late 1800 and early 1900. It was a “bootleg” version that came in a bottle with no label and I guess it wasn’t a legal drink at all. Must say nether of as did notice any of the thujone-effect. It was only the normal effect of the alcohol as far as we could notice. The taste however was much better than we expected. It was very flowery neat or with slight delusion. When the proof did get low enough for the drink to get cloudy it tasted more of bitterness and anis I have not tasted the Pernod version but 4-5 other low thujone versions and non of them have been nearly as tasty as the bootleg.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  6. #6
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    Thanks Leif. I was aware that the legally produced brands have dropped the thujone content from its levels 100 years ago. I meant that the original product of what is now the Pernod-Ricard company was absinthe, not pastis, and that by re-introducing an absinthe, they were getting back to their roots in that sense. Since there is controversy whether thujone is dangerous or not at different concentrations (or maybe there isn't controversy, I'm not sure), I won't mind a legally mandated maximum quantity. Somehow though whatever is in there that makes it absinthe seems to make a difference in those Sazeracs, not to the effect (like any other cocktail) but the taste. I've made them with regular pastis and arak (which to my mind is the same as pastis, or virtually) and I prefer the absinthe ones, something "extra" (a perfumed quality, maybe) seems to float in the background. I am not expert on absinthe, I've only had two or three kinds. There is something about it (I guess its legend of being semi-psychedelic, a poet's drink, etc.) that scares me a bit.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    I've read where samples of some of the finer pre-ban absinthes were analyzed with modern gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques, and most were found to be within the modern EU thujone limit of 10 ppm. There's actually a higher limit (35 ppm?) allowed today if the product is labeled as "bitters." In a distilled absinthe (where the herbal/alcohol mix is redistilled), little thujone will survive the distillation.

    Keep in mind that good absinthes contain many other herbs besides wormwood, and these would certainly have their own effects on taste, and perhaps on the mind as well.

    I think the most unfortunate thing about absinthe is the amount of misinformation that is floating around. Fly-by-night operators back in the golden age of absinthe undoubtedly helped ruin its reputation by substituting toxic chemicals for the herbs, and products like Hill's haven't helped in the modern era. Web sites like Fée Verte help dispel a lot of the myths, but the sheer volume of misinformation (and disinformation) in the mass media can drown out the voice of reason. There certainly doesn't seem to be any sign of the ban being lifted in the USA (thujone limit: 0 ppm), so I would have to risk confiscation to get my hands on some.

    I would not buy absinthe based on its thujone content... especially if it were touted as "high-thujone."
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  8. #8
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    I think there might be something to the absinthe mythology after all, I can certainly claim that it affected my decision making ability. I attended an Absinthe tasting on the La Fee absinthe bus, which tours the uk teaching about absinth(e) the only trouble is they serve it in very large measures. After 3 1/2 pints of mixed drink we retired to the bar where, in my compromised state, I decided it would be a good idea to buy a bottle of makers mark. Now normally this would be a popular decision but everyone else seemed to think that beer was safer by that stage of the evening and I was left to contend with most of the bottle alone. On the bright side I did make it home. Though I lament the loss of an unappreciated bottle of makers.

 

 

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