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alanmoss
I'm posting a longer, more detailed blog about absinthe here:

http://realabsinthe.blogspot.com/

Hope to see you there!
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It's a good day here! I just got my first order for La Clandestine going into London. So absinthe lovers will soon be able to find La Clandestine in top bars and a few top stores in London.

We'll probably post updates on where to get La Clandestine on www.absinthe-suisse.com

To celebrate the order, our cat just bought in a live rabbit, looked at me as if to say "Here's something for Live Journal," and left me to it. I'm taking votes for casserole or liberty.

Current Location: Near London
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: I'm working. No music. Or so the boss thinks!

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Switzerland was the birthplace of absinthe at the end of the 18th century, and, over the years, the Val-de-Travers region was famous for producing some of the best absinthes. Some French absinthes even used the designation "suisse" to denote the highest quality absinthe.

The area of the Val-de-Travers and around the nearby French town of Pontarlier is reputed to have the best conditions for growing wormwood and some of the other plants used to distill absinthe: the combination of topography, soil and climate are ideal, in much the same way as the areas around Cognac and Champagne in France are ideal for the grapes used in those drinks.

The popularity of absinthe in late nineteenth century France and other countries took substantial sales from the French wine companies whose business had already been badly affected by the phylloxera outbreak. Absinthe was so popular that the temperance movement and wine makers characterized absinthe as dangerous and addictive. In fact, the most famous brands of absinthe were produced to exacting quality control standards and were certainly not dangerous!

After the 1910 ban of absinthe in Switzerland (that subsequently spread to many other countries), the distillation of absinthe moved underground. Distillers produced clear absinthes, allegedly in part to fool the Customs officers that they were really vodka: these absinthes turned a milky white when water was added, and the clear blue Swiss skies were apparently reflected in the absinthe. This led to the nicknames of "blanches" or "bleues" to describe fine Swiss absinthes, while the term "Clandestine" absinthe was also used.

One of the more famous distillers, Claude-Alain Bugnon, began distillation at home in 2000, fighting for space in the laundry and kitchen with his wife! As legalisation of absinthe spread throughout Europe, he became one of the first Swiss distillers to be granted a licence to distill legally on March 1st 2005. Every batch remains hand-crafted, and every bottle is still hand-filled. His most famous absinthe label depicts a lady in blue whispering "Charlotte," the name of his friend's aunt. Charlotte was, apparently, the inventor of the absinthe's 1935 recipe.

Claude-Alain's La Clandestine absinthe is one of a carefully selected range of fine Swiss absinthes (and an even smaller range of French absinthes) now available through his new internet boutique

www.absinthe-suisse.com

His Recette Marianne, launched primarily for the French market, has twice won the Golden Spoon at the Pontarlier Absinthiades which are, according to some, absinthe's Oscars.




Personally Claude-Alain prefers to drink his absinthe without adding sugar, but he also offers a range of spoons as well as fountains.

La Clandestine has long been a favourite of many absinthe lovers, so the opportunity to buy direct from his distillery will be an attractive option for many. And those looking for their first real absinthe will be delighted to sample a fine drink from the birthplace of absinthe with a heritage and history that is unique in today's absinthe world.
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In part because absinthe is still banned in the USA, there's a lot of information posted on the net about it. The allure of absinthe has led to the development of a variety of forums, discussion groups, tribes, etc. There are forums based in:-

1. USA: see the Wormwood Society below. Also various Tribes, MySpace and Yahoo Groups, etc.
2. UK: Fee Verte. A forum and buyers guide.
3. France: L'Heure Verte. Lots of information and smaller forum.
4. Germany: Absinth-Guide. Lots of information and forum.
5. Netherlands: Groene Fee. Information and a smaller forum.
6. Italy: Sifattack. Less absinthe focused forum.
7. Russia: AbsintheClub. Seems good, but I can't comment since I don't understand it!
8. Belgium: Muse Verte. Ditto.
9. Japan: allegedly!


and those are just the ones I know about. Many of these have hundreds of members, and a few have thousands of members. However, let's not confuse quantity with quality, or ease of getting information for those just starting on their absinthe journey.



For me, one of the best resources is the Wormwood Society and its forum. It's not the biggest absinthe forum in member numbers, but it's very active, the discussion is good, the members are fervent in their desire to help people, and they are a great group of people. Most importantly, they seem to have a passion to do the right things to get absinthe legalised in due course in the USA.

Some other forums may not provide such a warm welcome for new members!

And let's not forget Wikipedia: the main editors of the Wikipedia absinthe article have done a great job compiling an article that was Featured Article of the Day on June 20th 2006, and remains at the time of writing the only alcoholic beverage article so honoured.

Some other resources are partly or largely gateways to vendors promoting Czech absinth. Buyer beware!
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Rant of the day - real absinthe is NOT for burning!

I've been reading more absinthe horror stories on the web. It seems that many of these bad experiences of absinthe are because of drinking the wrong sort, i.e. drinking Czech absinth. Originally absinthe was from Switzerland and then from France. The area around the Swiss/French border has the best growing conditions for some of the main plants, including wormwood.

In the 1990's, Czech products called absinth, but with very little similarity, first appeared. Most play on the fact that it should be flamed and burnt, showing how little respect the Czech distillers have for their own creations, and building a negative image for the whole category.

Now real absinthe has returned, much of it from its original birthplace in the Val-de-Travers region of Switzerland. There is an ever-expanding group of absinthe lovers all over the world, drinking absinthe for its taste and not for its effects. And this is how to prepare real absinthe: no burning, please.



There is also the option, as favoured in Switzerland, to add just cold, fresh water. No sugar at all.

Now real absinthe is legal to buy in every non-Muslim country in the world except for the USA. And as people discover the pleasures of drinking real absinthe in the right way, it will probably get even more popular. Santé!

More information about real absinthe can be found here:

http://realabsinthe.blogspot.com/index.html

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I am Alan, and I help out on La Clandestine absinthe: see www.absinthe-suisse.com
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