The New York Times of 29th April carries a story about a new, apparently genuine absinthe soon to be available in the USA. The article is short on detail, making it difficult to comment too much at this stage.
Ted Breaux of Jade is behind this new product, Lucid Absinthe, and excerpts from the NYT follows:-
"Mr. Gurfein (of the US distribution company) asked Mr. Breaux whether he could produce an absinthe that would pass regulatory muster with American authorities — meaning that it would not contain thujone. Mr. Breaux said that would be fairly easy ...
Still, Mr. Breaux knew that removing thujone entirely might harm the taste. “I had to get a handle on the whole thujone issue without compromising the character and the flavor of the drink,” he said. To accomplish this, Mr. Breaux blended the grand wormwood with green anise and sweet fennel from Europe, instead of using more-affordable imports from East Asia. Using herbs from Europe, absinthe’s native continent, he said, gives the drink an earthier essence.
Mr. Breaux also had to keep the American palate in mind while developing Lucid. “In the U.S., anise is a sort of a strange flavor,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of exposure to it.” So Mr. Breaux made sure that Lucid had a slightly cleaner, crisper taste than its European peers."
The Lucid FAQ states: "Lucid contains a full measure of Grande Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)," while US Customs and Border Protection state: "The importation of Absinthe and any other liquors or liqueurs that contain Artemisia absinthium is prohibited." It will be interesting to see an explanation for this apparent contradiction! From the forum discussions, it seems to be that these are Customs "guidelines," based on their interpretation of FDA regulations. Hiram comments on this point on the Wormwood Society:-
"Customs doesn't make the laws, it only enforces those set by other agencies. Those customs guidelines were written with the (as it turns out, mistaken) assumption that anything with Aa in it would violate the FDA's no-thujone rule, as would anything with the word "Absinthe" on the label. The FDA specifically permits Artemisia species as long as there's no thujone detected by the method they prescribe; there is no statute specifically prohibiting Aa that I have found." (Aa = Artemisia absinthium).
Other companies have developed "absinthes without thujone" in the past, notably the brand Absente (available in USA without thujone and in other markets with thujone). Its thujone-free status comes from its use of a different wormwood source: Southern Wormwood. The absinthe community has been dismissive about Absente but will probably be more interested in Lucid.
Personally I am supportive of anything that helps get the right kind of absinthe into the USA and this seems at the very least a good step in the right direction.
Read what other real absinthe lovers have to say about this on Fée Verte
and the Wormwood Society.
Click here for the full story in the New York Times; click for the Lucid website.