I guess sooner or later every blogger makes a post that falls into the love it or hate it category. My last post, Absinthe Politics = Business As Usual was one of those.
I have e-mails and private messages full of both support and of course people calling me a liar and telling me that I got it all wrong. In all of this mess I definitely angered a person inside the industry whom I respect a great deal.
But I’m not here to say I’m sorry. The last post got me started down a path of sorting through what I could get my hands on, as far as actually getting to the gritty bottom of these geographical protection/defining absinthe in the EU attempts. What I found surprised even me.
One of the loudest criticisms of my last post was that the writer of the Spirits Business article that I linked to, was incorrect in stating that there was any geographical protection being sought. This is only half true. There is indeed geographical protection (indexing) regarding absinthe being mentioned. It’s just that none of it is from the French attempt at absinthe definition, yet. I stuck my nose in politics and got it bloodied a bit. No big harm though.
This information was gathered by looking through the minutes of the EU Spirits Committee. As meeting minutes, they are woefully lacking in specific information. Also of note, is that the terms ‘absinth’ and ‘absinthe’ seem to be interchangeable. What follows is what I could obtain from analyzing the available minutes back to Meeting 99 in 03/03/2010.
Meeting 100: Page 2 addresses geographical indexing for ‘absinth’ being sought by Switzerland. This is back in 2010 so it is possible that this is the Swiss IGP that people often refer to.
Meeting 101: Czechs attempt to counter-punch on Page 2 with their own geographical indexing move. The punch is dismissed as the term is in use in other countries, specifically Switzerland. A silver lining to the Swiss IGP?
Meeting 104: Page 3 declares that France has a definition for absinth that they will present at the next meeting.
Meeting 106: One meeting late and the discussion begins on Page 2. The end result is disagreement over minimum requirements of thuyone (thujone) and anethole.
Meeting 107: Page 2, more thujone disagreement.
Meeting 110: Page 2 again, committee will analyze data on thujone since this issue has reached a stalemate.
Meeting 111: Page 2 states that the minimum anethole level is dropped to 5ppm or may be completely deleted, talks are still in session.
As you can see the battle is pretty much still going on over there. It looks like there are people who mean well and people attempting to game the system both working on what this definition should mean.
Word of mouth sources inside the industry, both in America and Europe, tell me that the intention of the new definition is to take fake absinthe off the market. While all and good, they must make sure that big interests do not pervert this effort and ensure crapsinthe or fauxsinthe survival, or use it to harm true absinthe produced worldwide. The intention is good, now the execution must be honest to the intention. These sources also claim that no geographical indexing is currently being sought, at least not on any official level.
In more direct news I have been working on an “Absinthe Crash Course” that I was originally going to post a few days ago before being side-tracked by this issue. Look for the first of four parts in a few days.