Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Online Absinthe Survey

I see that the Absinthe Review Network has announced an important online survey of the absinthes drunk in the USA. The announcement has now also been made on MySpace, here, the Wormwood Society, and on Facebook.

The survey itself seems quite simple to do, and I suspect that the results could be very interesting. Click here to go to the survey.

Some may think me a bit biased so I won't be doing the survey myself. From discussion on the Wormwood Society, it sounds like someone else has already been trying to cheat!

Ben from the Absinthe Review Network tells me that the survey will probably be the biggest public survey of absinthes ever completed (unless they did something bigger in the 19th century, of course). He is looking for hundreds of responses. I will be in touch with the Absinthe Review Network to see if I can get some key findings from the survey when it is complete.

Check back later ... but in the meantime, try the survey yourself.

18 comments:

The Absinthe Review Network said...

I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

>Some may think me a bit biased so I
>won't be doing the survey myself.

Well played, Sir. It's the sign of a true gentleman (someone who would stand when being addressed by HRH The Prince of Wales for example)

>From discussion on the Wormwood >Society, it sounds like someone else >has already been trying to cheat!

Scoundrels! Who was it?

>Ben from the Absinthe Review Network >tells me that the survey will probably >be the biggest public survey of >absinthes ever completed

Good Lord! I can hardly contain my excitement.

Alan said...

"Trying to cheat ....Who was it?" I've no idea.

Did you do the survey, Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Who stands accused of cheating on the Wormwood Society discussion board? There is absolutely no such accusation being made. Have you been drinking?

My favourite is Absinto Camargo and it is missing >:-(

Alan said...

"Who stands accused of cheating on the Wormwood Society discussion board? There is absolutely no such accusation being made."

I've still no idea. See:-

http://tinyurl.com/blqm7l

I've never had Camargo. I can't recall ever seeing it. Do they drink it in Brazil or is it a "for export only" speciality?

Anonymous said...

We need an adjudicator to watch this survey. Someone whose known written statements on the subject prove that they are not biased or motivated by malicious intent. Someone who perhaps holds a franchise from a known public company.

Hypothetical Question: If you heard that someone was organising fee paying events for the general public and then offering them your product as an example of something "bad", what would you do?

Alandia used to have Camargo. Absinth24 have it at $56.00 if you want to try. Sante!

Alan said...

"We need an adjudicator to watch this survey. Someone whose known written statements on the subject prove that they are not biased or motivated by malicious intent. Someone who perhaps holds a franchise from a known public company."

That's rich since you prefer to stay completely anonymous yourself. It seems you are disqualifying yourself ..

"Hypothetical Question: If you heard that someone was organising fee paying events for the general public and then offering them your product as an example of something "bad", what would you do?"

Since I don't have an involvement with a product that is considered bad, it isn't something I have ever had to think about. Are you referring to a specific event?

Shabba said...

I thought I'd weigh in and nip this crap in the bud right now.

"Hypothetical Question: If you heard that someone was organising fee paying events for the general public and then offering them your product as an example of something "bad", what would you do?"

This thinly veiled hypothetical is obviously a jab at my recent absinthe tasting event. Let me educate you on what REALLY happened before you get your panties in a bunch, Tom:

1) I did not organize the event. Charlie Adler, the president of TasteDC did.
2) I was not paid one red cent for my participation. I hold tastings all the time, for multiple liquors, not just absinthe. I don't get paid anything for any of them. I do it because I like to educate, not because it's a money maker.
3) I had recommended brands for him to procure for the event. He didn't procure any of what I recommended, and instead relied only on what the bar offered, which was Pernod, Kubler, LTV, and Lucid.
4) I had sent out a blanket email to about 10 distillers asking if they would like to contribute a product. 4 responded. 2 sent their absinthes in time: Marteau and Doubs Mystique.
5) Charlie Adler brought a bottle of Hill's that he had been given at the Czech Embassy, which he did not make me aware of until he showed up at the club to set up.
6) The differences between Bohemian brands and Franco Suisse brands were discussed. As was the use of artificial coloring and tests which were done on thujone levels of different brands.
7) Before the formal brand tasting, Charlie himself poured out samples of Hill's for the crowd to taste. Charlie actually talked highly of it, since it had been given to him as a gift.
8) Not one person in the entire room liked it.
9) During the brand tasting, it was made available to the clientele as well as Kubler, Lucid, Marteau and Doubs. All were well received EXCEPT Hill's. Very little of it was consumed.

Conclusion: I didn't do anything wrong. I offered education and facts. The tasters decided for themselves.

Tom, if you hold out your brand as true absinthe, you've got to expect that people will compare it to other brands. It's no one's fault but yours if the product fails miserably due to its quality and taste.

I hope this has been enlightening.

Toodles.

Brian Robinson
Review Editor
The Wormwood Society

Anonymous said...

"this crap" "panties in a bunch" ? You do not take your responsibilities very seriously do you? Like a game to you, is it? Do you ever consider what damage you inflict?

A hypothetical question is just that and was not a reference to any particular brand or any particular event. I was not aware of the event you mentioned until you mentioned it, but out of interest I will write to Mr. Adler and ask him for further clarification. I am most interested to know what you are saying at these advertised gatherings, it is quite different to publishing of course.

It is interesting that you sign with the title "Review Editor, The Wormwood Society" Do you recognize any of the following statements:

"these companies are already in the business of defrauding their customers"

"La Fee, while well known,is a line of mediocre at best absinthes. They posioned the UK market for everyone else wanting to distribute there. Since then,they've moved away from the fire ritual for the most part. But their products are overpriced. Sebor has been shoveling shite for years. Their absinth is terrible"

"a huge marketing hoax...so they could sell fake, bright turquoise "absinth" to gullible tourists"

The first two are recorded remarks made by you and the third was made by the owner of the Wormwood Society. For your part would you be kind enough to explain which companies exactly *defraud* their customers, exactly how La Fee "poisoned the UK market"? and also why you think that the other UK brand, Sebor, are "shoveling shite"

As I said the remarks are recorded.

Thank you.

Shabba said...

Why would I expect otherwise? Is that a threat? I'm sure you have plenty of 'plants' in your pocket. Feel free to send me a copy of those recordings. I'll know exactly who they came from. But, not surprisingly, those weren't published comments. At least until now. So you can't claim damages for something that only you have published.

The damage inflicted is done by your own hand, Tom, not by mine; by putting out an inferior product. Do you really expect to have a lot of repeat customers when you sell people artificially colored, acrid liquor that you pass off as a historic recipe?

It's funny that you blame someone else for inflicting damage by having a tasting to compare your product with others. You'd like your product to stand on its advertizing, not on its quality.

We've seen the type of 'truth' you like to eschew in the other blogs.

Feel free to contact Mr. Adler. I'm sure he'll tell you exactly the same thing I did. Like I said, the proof is in the results. Not one person in the crowd went back for seconds of the Hills. Several actually had bad experiences with it in the past when they had travelled to Prague. Hmmm... a tourist who had a bad experience with a terrible tasting absinthe? Where have I heard that before.

Do you know what's funny? How a brand similar yours expects to get good press, or good reviews, yet implores insiders to NOT procure the product to do a review. Do you want a positive review based on blind faith???

There are at least three types of fraud going on:
1) false claims of thujone content: exemplified by actual thujone analysis. also by the recent change in advertizing, where many Bohemian brands who used to claim levels from 25 up through 50 or more mg/l are now miraculously measuring less than the US limits. Hmmm....I wonder why and how that happened???
2) false claims of the effects of their absinthe. I have screenshots of brand websites that claim their brand induces hallucinations, and that their recipes are hundreds of years old. Again, many of these claims have been mysteriously erased from the sites of those brands seeking to enter the US market. Coincidence? I think not.
3) false claims of tradition - brands are trying to create a history of their type of absinthe solely to build a reputation and substantiate their existence. When pressed for proof, none can produce any evidence that goes back further than the 1990s.

Regarding La Fee, the comment about them poisoning the market was actually someone in the industry had told me. And that comment wasn't the entire discussion. Here's the gist: The discussion was about opportunity for other brands in the UK. La Fee has had a foothold there for years, pushing fire rituals and their lower quality offerings that don't taste very good. The UK market has been 'poisoned' because many now believe that absinthe should taste like La Fee, and they aren't inclinded to buy more.

I do applaud La Fee for coming out with higher quality offerings recently, as well as deciding not to market the fire ritual anymore, or at least a lot less than they did before.

Lastly, I sign my name in my posts because I'm proud of the fact that I educate consumers. I'm proud and very happy to help anyone who needs it, either as a consumer, or as a producer.

I sign my name because I have nothing to hide. I don't get paid to educate. I don't have any biases towards any certain product. I disseminate truth, not opinion, and let people decide for themselves, like at this past tasting. It's fine with me if someone decided they liked Hill's. But that didn't happen.

As review editor of the Wormwood Society, it's not my responsibility to edit the actual opinion of the person submitting the review, only to make sure it's cohesive and not overly vicious. You should see some of the reviews that I've 'unpublished'. There are a lot of people out there who are displeased with products like yours and really intend to bash it. Badly. In those cases, I unpublish them and ask the person to submit a more professional review.

In closing, I'll offer you this:

I am in the process of setting up two separate formal blind tasting events that will occur this year. Results of these tastings will be published in the media. Would you like to submit your brand?

I'm sure your response will be something along the lines of: 'I have no reason to submit a bottle, because you'll find some nefarious way of poisoning the result.' I assure you, it will be conducted with the highest amount of professionalism and anonymity of the brands featured. I don't care about who comes out on top in the results.

So, Tom, in your next response, will you publish your name, and your allegiences? If not, there's absolutely no point in speaking with you further. You speak of me not taking my responsibilities seriously. I should say the same about a person who hides under a cloak of anonymity while trying to defend their own brand. Aren't you proud of your product???

Shabba said...

One last thing, Tom:

Don't misconstrue my posts as me having some sort of vendetta against you, or other 'Bohemian' brands. I don't.

In fact, if you or your financial backers decided to invest some more money and put out a high quality, good tasting absinthe, I'd probably be one of the first people to go out and publicly congratulate you and tout your new and improved product.

I actually hope that happens.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Something about your role in this "debate" reminds me of Hiroo Onoda.

You crop up here and there, sniping away at some imaginary target. Here you criticize Alan, The Absinthe Review Network and Brian. Before you criticized Kamal at Drink Up New York, and Gwydion Stone. Who's next? Ari? Oxy?

But, in fact, hostilities have finished and the war was over long ago.

So how about laying down your arms and moving on?

Anonymous said...

>those weren't published comments

They are all published comments actually. The comments by you (aka Shabba) are all published by an entity known as "The Wormwood Society" which is, by default, a partnership. By the term recorded I mean that they are recorded, along with other statements, in a document. The remarks all have the same theme: they accuse others of criminal acts using terms like "defrauding" "scam", "fake' and so on. Why do you think that you can do this?

I do not care who you "applaud" and as far as I am concerned you are a disgrace. You have a flippant and deeply arrogant disregard for the damage you do to others property i.e brands.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I just noticed that you allege fraud above in one specific manner:

"There are at least three types of fraud going on:

3) false claims of tradition - brands are trying to create a history of their type of absinthe solely to build a reputation and substantiate their existence. When pressed for proof, none can produce any evidence that goes back further than the 1990s"

May I ask which brand you mean exactly? Further, what obligation does this company have to an unrecognised and non-governmental entity that demands such proof? When they do not produce such proof to your satisfaction do you believe that you are justified in making allegations of criminality? In the event that such proof was produced how would you suggest that you remedy the damaging allegation of fraud?

Given your own published statements about La Fee poisoning the UK market (see above) what is your opinion of the reveiew that you have published on La Fee Bohemian Absinth? I undertsand that this absinth has won an industry award.

Shabba said...

This will be the last time I reply unless you come out of hiding and actually SIGN your posts, so I know who I'm talking to. I'll indulge your delusions of persecution one more time.

"May I ask which brand you mean exactly?"

There are many. I don't need to single them out because you know them too. These discussion have taken place all over the internet.


"Further, what obligation does this company have to an unrecognised and non-governmental entity that demands such proof?"

Absolutely none. But if they can take the time to state their claims, then they can expect someone to question the truth of those statements. If they can't then show the proof, then they risk hurting their reputation.

"When they do not produce such proof to your satisfaction do you believe that you are justified in making allegations of criminality?"
The allegations have substance. Substance taken from their own websites. You seem to single me out, but these allegations have been being made for years before I even joined the WS.

"In the event that such proof was produced how would you suggest that you remedy the damaging allegation of fraud?"
Is there really calculable damage? Feel free to show me how you can calculate one person's perceived damages and are able to separate them from thousands of others' comments to the same effect.

But, if you were to submit that proof, I'd very happily eat my hat. I'd publicly recant in every forum I've posted those comments.

In either case, let's explain your snippet from my comment about Sebor 'shoveling shite'. Here's the FULL comment, which explains why I said that:
Sebor has been shoveling shite for years. Their absinth is terrible. They've also been at the forefront of perpetuating the myths of wormwood and thujone as well as the fire ritual. Practically everything they say on their site about thujone has been proven false years ago, including the 'factoids' that thujone acts the same as THC.

What is interesting (yet not at all unexpected) is that Sebor absinth is now proclaiming that they have the highest levels of thujone of anything else on the market. They say they now top out at 9mg/l. Which is dramatically lower than their previous assertions. Hmmm... I wonder why?


"what is your opinion of the reveiew that you have published on La Fee Bohemian Absinth? I undertsand that this absinth has won an industry award."

My opinion is that everyone is entitled to an opinion. There are plenty of beverages that have won industry awards that I don't care for.

Before I could give any merit to an award, I'd have to examine the tasting parameters as well as the experience of the person doing the rating.

In either case, the review seems quite lengthy and explains everything about why the person is giving the scores he did.

I've personally tasted the brand, and can't say I disagree with much of what he said.

As I've stated multiple times before, I hope you redo things, and come out with an honest, well made, enjoyable absinthe. When you do, I'll be the first to sing its praises. But until then, if you (or anyone else) use misleading marketing tactics, and put out brands that people don't enjoy drinking, there will always be someone to take you to task for it.

In conclusion, I'm calling you out. Say who you are. If you don't, there's no point in continuing this farce. Given your lack of contact (you know how to contact me privately), I seriously doubt you really consider me or the WS a threat. I think you are just trying to stir the pot. I seriously have doubts as to whether you're even the real guy as opposed to someone who just wants to keep the debate going.

Anonymous said...

WWS tends to lobby for their personal agenda. If you are looking unbiased opinions, it is best to look else where.

Brian Robinson said...

You're right. The 'agenda' of providing truthful and accurate information about absinthe and calling out those who try to prey on uneducated consumers by propugating myths.

Sounds like a terrible agenda to have.

Alan said...

Thanks, Anonymous.

Since your reply follows the last post after some 3 months, I'll assume you are referring to the subject of this article. In which case, note the survey findings (I'll report more fully on them soon):

"When respondents were asked to list up to 5 favourites from absinthe brands currently available for purchase in the USA, these were the top selections:

#1: Kübler
#2: La Clandestine
#3: Lucid and Duplais (tie)

La Clandestine and Kübler were only a single vote apart. Marteau and Vieux Pontarlier followed, although it should be noted that Marteau fared much better among members of the Wormwood Society than among other drinkers.

La Clandestine has cross-appeal, being popular with both Wormwood Society members and others. Generally, however, members of the Wormwood Society did tend to have different preferences, liking La Clandestine, Marteau, Leopold and Vieux Pontarlier, while non-members enjoyed Kübler, Lucid and La Clandestine.

MySpace drinkers liked these last 3 absinthes, as well as Mansinthe.

Wormwood Society members were very dismissive of absinthes with artificial coloring and/or added sugar. Only 1 of 55 members listed either La Fée Parisienne or Pernod Absinthe as a favourite; not a single member listed Grande Absente or Le Tourment Vert as a favourite brand. Even MySpace drinkers, who are largely more “casual” drinkers often less aware of the quality standard, were only marginally tolerant towards these brands. Le Tourment Vert, Grande Absente, Pernod and La Fée absinthe are the offenders, and it shows. There are more respondents that stated they do not intend to purchase these brands than any other."

So according to the Absinthe Review Network, it is not just WWS members who feel strongly: the absinthe drinkers from MySpace seem to have similar opinions.

So maybe WWS members, Absinthe Review Network and MySpace drinkers are all biased. Let's look elsewhere then ...

How about this poll?

http://tinyurl.com/qejc45

It seems the whole world is biased.

Or maybe Anonymous is just paranoid!