Monday, 23 November 2009
Can you identify the absinthes in this photo? Answers at the bottom of the article ...
Having worked in the liquor business for more than 20 years, I think I know a few of the more important things needed to create successful brands and categories. Availability, PR, visibility, etc.
As the absinthe market develops, however, both in Europe and elsewhere, one of the major tools that should be used is sampling. Either in-bar promotions or the wider availability of sample size bottles in the off-trade. Not many people are going to spend more than €30 on something that they have never tried before, let alone €50 or even €76 plus (the UK delivered price of Jade Nouvelle-Orleans ex-Liqueurs de France). At least this absinthe is also available in Europe in a 20 cl flask but to the normal shopper in Europe (or indeed the USA), most absinthes still have to be purchased by the bottle.
So I was very interested to see the new offering from the RueVerte online shop that operates out of Europe: Absinthexplore.
A collection of 23 different absinthes, from Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria that are available in 5 cl tubes and can be ordered individually, from €6.50 upwards, or in some of the sets put together by RueVerte.
The range available includes absinthes that are well-known (e.g. La Clandestine, Mansinthe, and Duplais), alongside comparative rarities (e.g. the wine-based La Clandestine, the two new Coeur d'Absinthe lines, and the Czech absinthe, St. Antoine). There are a number of pre-selected boxes: the 'Les Bleues' selection includes
6 different samples and 2 absinthe spoons, all delivered to the UK for €74.50, while the Artemisia-Bugnon selection
includes La Clandestine, Angélique and Opaline plus 1 spoon, all delivered to the UK for €48.00.
A collaboration with WIT, France, the tubes come with a screw-cap to guarantee a hermetical seal and thus ensures no oxygen penetration.
The sets are well-packaged boxes of 3 or 6 tubes that will undoubtedly become a popular Christmas present among absinthe lovers: they are easy and cheap to ship, they stand up well to the roughest of courier deliveries, and look great, by themselves ... or even on a book-shelf!
I contacted Antoine Générau, the man behind RueVerte and the new Absinthexplore concept to get the inside track.
What is your biggest market, Antoine?
"France. I mean it's the way it is now. It might change with the new concept."
What products would you like to add to the Absinthexplore portfolio?
"I should be able to add new products in February. That's what I planned. I can't say exactly which products I'm going to include to the ABSINTHEXPLORE concept. The Jades would be a great thing, but I have to see if I can get the permission from Ted Breaux (Ed: Blanchette will be added to the collection in the next week or so). That's exactly the same with the others absinthes available (Ed: and produced) in the US. I will have to see with the distillers what we can work together."
What do you say to those one or two people who have queried the possible quality issues: "How do we know that we are getting the real product? They don't have the distillers' seal etc etc."
"This is a good question. The best answer is to explain that :
- I have the permission from every distiller.
- All the information are on the samples (name of the product, name of the distillery, country of origin, alcohol content, quantity, bottled by)
- Every sample have a transparent label on the bottom of the tube with the number of the bottle it comes from. ex : "Lot n° 25.07.2008 D". So that if there is a problem, we can trace every sample. In fact, this is exactly the same with a big bottle. If you have a problem with it, you look at the number for the traceability."
Now launched officially, the Absinthexplore concept seems excellent, and it looks even better. Although I won't be buying a set for my wife this Christmas (she tells me she doesn't want absinthe this year!), I can heartily recommend it for absinthe lovers and their friends. Long-term absinthe buyers may regret that this wasn't available when they were ordering online 5 or more years ago, but they and newer drinkers will love this. It's a definite contender for my absinthe launch of the year.
And those mysterious absinthes in the first photo? Here they are ... Santé, Antoine!