Sunday, 2 December 2007

Censorship is still alive in the Czech Republic

I don't like to give them a link, but I have to refer today to the Czech "absinth" blog.

Having written eight negative articles about Lucid absinthe in the last few months, the blog authors finally persuaded Ted Breaux, the distiller of Jade Absinthes and of Lucid, to join a debate on the blog.

Now frequent visitors to the Czech blog are well aware that posts disappear, which the blog admin blames on the system. I have had responses edited.

This time, the blog admin posted one of Ted Breaux's answers, and soon afterwards it disappeared. I had saved a copy of Ted's answer, so it was clear to me that this was blatant censorship. I had thought that censorship had died in the Czech Republic, but absintheur, our "host" at the Czech "absinth" blog, seems to be doing his best to keep it going!

Ted Breaux's deleted post follows below. The first part is shown on the screen grab: click on it to see the details.


I appreciate your professionalism and candor.

The comments I made 7+ years ago concerning thujone and vintage absinthe were based upon *assumptions*. Unfortuntately, I *assumed* those who published such figures did so from actual analysis. When the results of my first actual analyses proved to be in complete disagreement with what had been published up to that time, I contacted the researchers (Arnold, etc.) to discuss. Upon doing so, it became clear that their figures were dependent upon essential oil studies and not actual analyses of finished spirits, old or new. At that time, I realized that I was the first to analyze actual spirit samples, and I realized that everything I had assumed, AND everything they had published prior to that point was without actual proof. At first, I was hesitant to contradict myself without further investigation. When other researchers followed suit and demonstrated results similar to mine, I became more convinced that the old estimations did not consider many details that were not apparent from paper research. These details would eventually clarify themselves to me, but not until I actually had a hand on real-world distillation, from cultivation of herbs through a finished distilled product – something the prior research has never considered nor conducted.

Again, no 'shop' was ever mobilized in Thailand. An associate there offered a quick, low-cost, low risk solution toward getting production initiated in a country where there was no public perception of absinthe, good or bad. This remained a possibility during a time when it was unclear how absinthe would be received by regulators and the public in France.

I created Lucid for the purpose of introducing the U.S. to something that was handcrafted, made true to antique methods, using correct materials and original equipment, free of industrial adulterants, artificial dyes, etc. It had to be possible to produce it in sufficient quantity to secure nationwide distribution (a real challenge), and the price point requirements determined that it should be a mid-level offering. It remains an ongoing challenge, and the unfavorable exchange rate makes things even more difficult.

John Q. Epoch:

Like any genuine absinthe, Lucid contains a trace of thujone. Some absinthes contain a little more, some a little less. I can't give you an exact figure for Lucid, as it varies a little from batch to batch. It tests consistently <10 mg/l, which satisfies the 'thujone-free' requirement of the U.S. government. Nevertheless, we employ as much absinthium in its crafting as one finds in any of the best protocols in the old treatises. Lucid's construction involves NO alteration of the details of the traditional methods, and no reduction in the quantity of materials used.


Either I wasn't entirely clear in my previous account, or you misread it. Allow me to clarify.

I happened to have a telephone conversation with Dr. Arnold just before I was notified of the Time blurb. It became clear to both of us in our conversation that he had been under the impression that we were not using traditional absinthe distillation methods (e.g. Duplais, Brevans, Fritsch, etc.), primarily because a journalistic account of my distillation activities in an older article omitted certain details. Upon his expressing the nature of his impressions from that article, I corrected and clarified them. We discussed other points of misunderstanding as well, which I went to great lengths to correct and clarify. I sought nothing else from the conversation. It isn't the first conversation we've shared over the years, and it won't be the last.

Let's refer to the BMJ article reference by the TIME journalist. In that article, we find the following statement:

"The thujone content of old absinthe was about 0.26 g/l (260 ppm)8 and 350 ppm when the thujyl alcohol from the wormwoods is included.3"

8 – References Duplais – a 19th century treatise.
3 – Arnold references himself

If we apply simple logic:
This statement doesn't say, "our best estimates imply that . . . ", and it doesn't say, "we have reason to believe that . . . ", and it doesn't say, "barring any unforeseen details that may influence our estimations . . . " It says, "the thujone content of old absinthe WAS . . . "

This statement was made as an absolute, without any 'safety valve', and was not based upon actual testing of the very substance to which it referred (old absinthe). Clearly one can see the potential precariousness of this statement. We ALL assumed it to be correct (as did I for many years), but actual testing revealed something very different, and continues to do so.

As for Jad Adams, AFAIK, he is a journalist, not a scientific researcher. I know of no scientific research/analysis undertaken on his part. I don't recall seeing anything in his writings that reflect the revelations of new research, possibly because much of what he wrote (IIRC) was done *before* the latest research.

I cannot stress how important it is to realize that anyone who has pubished writings and theories that are heavily dependent upon thujone for sensationalism would have reason to NOT WANT to accept all the latest revelations, and some will undoubtedly refute that which contradicts their beliefs beyond a reasonable point. This is simply human nature. As for the rest of us, we had our beliefs, we tested our beliefs, we admitted our beliefs were wrong, we attempted to resolve the facts that make the truth what it is, we adapted our thinking to accommodate the truth and moved on.

And on that note, I can tell you there is more coming . . .


(1) I checked two original samples of B-65 for glycyrrhizinic residues some years ago, with interesting results The analytical data from my original samples concurs precisely with the written protocol (from an original distiller's notes) that came to me from Switzerland some time later.

(2) The wine spirits I use are indeed expensive and in short supply, but I wanted something distilled using the appropriate varietals and to my exacting standards in the interest of being as historically correct as possible. You can take comfort in the fact that the spirits I use exhibit a methanol content that is well within the contemporary health standards."

Why would this post be censored? Maybe because it shows the blog's eight attacks on Lucid were misfounded?

I doubt that the debate at the Czech blog will progress now, so for further information, read the coverage on the Wormwood Society.

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