Well, it seems that the genie is now out of the bottle. Following the announcement of the launch of Lucid Absinthe at the end of April, there has been some fevered speculation on the main absinthe forums as to the significance of this move. Posts have been made and quickly edited/removed, an online poll was launched to guess the thujone content of Lucid, and now Oxygénée (aka David Nathan-Maister) has announced on his Fée Verte forum the following:
"1. Absinthes with less than 10mg/l thujone are now potentially legal in the US.
2. Two others (apart from Lucid) have already been approved, and dozens will follow in due course.
3. There's no reason at all to assume that Lucid has signifcantly less than 10mg/l, and neither Ted nor the manufacturers have made any claims to this effect.
4. Effectively, the US regulations are being brought in line with the EU standards. This has been done by administrative fiat (based - to simplify - on an expanded definition of "margin of error" when it comes to thujone testing), not legislation, but the effect will be the same.
5. I'd expect something similar to happen with the 35mg/l "bitters" category at some stage in the future.
Veridian (sic) have spent a very large amount of money opening a gate through which anyone can now enter. Whether this was a shrewd business strategy, only time will tell."
Note the date - June 3, 2007 (or 6/3/07) when this significant announcement was made!
So what are the implications and who is next? Well this blog is described as "an inside view of the absinthe world in the 21st century," so I should maybe make some predictions:
1. The business models of most of those selling absinthe to the USA via the internet may need to be revised.
2. Those absinthe brands queuing up to get into the USA will need big pockets, plenty of connections and a lot of resource to succeed. The opening up of the USA market is no guarantee of future sales success, or anything other than the need to invest heavily.
3. Who can/will do this? Pernod, maybe. Doubs, from South Africa, which has relatively big company backing. Versinthe and Absente, which I would expect to see re-launched. I imagine one or two Swiss companies may be interested!
4. And Canadians, who still seem to be restricted to the small choice available via their local liquor boards, may start moving south!
I'll add more predictions as the picture becomes clearer ...
Meanwhile head over to Fée Verte and the Wormwood Society to read the debate.
Update July 2007:
Following confirmation of the US legalisation of absinthe, I have received the following advertisement:
"Blue Swiss lady, 72, non-smoker, WASP, GSOH, seeks rich US partner for fun, travel to all States (except transcendent). Picture attached."
If you are interested, please leave a comment below.