Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Update on US approvals: March 2010

One of the most frequently viewed pages on my blog (and the one that is the most frequently updated) is the list of absinthes approved for US launch.

The list keeps growing and now lists 68 approved, and 77 either approved or in process! Shown above, the latest approved brand (number 68 on the linked list) is another from Crillon Importers (following Absente, Grande Absente and Ordinaire) and the latest to be added to those in process is Tenneyson, bottled apparently by Emile Pernot (at no. 72).

Although 68 are approved, only about 40 can be found in the USA (and only about 20 are in more than a few States). Many others have still to be launched, including Canada's Taboo and the Czech Republic's St. Antoine. It's unfortunate that the glut of absinthes in the US market currently is keeping some good absinthes out.

That's not to say that the latest approvals are not good: here are two other recent approvals from Colorado and from Switzerland.

Americans can continue to enjoy one of the world's biggest selection of absinthes, but some good brands are currently locked out as a result. What do my readers think? Is the fact that the US market for absinthe has moved from famine to feast in 3 years completely positive?


Ron said...

Is the current list of approved absinthes in the US really the problem for producers trying to get new products into that market? Or is it just the general delay of this process? I would think it's the latter. I'm sure they'll all be approved in due time. I would LOVE to see the worthless shit gone though.

Alan said...

It's not the "general delay." Back in 2008, you could count on a 4 month time lag between approval and US launch (including shipping from Europe).

Now some are taking well over 12 months. Taboo and St. Antoine were approved in October 2008: where are they? Upsynth in December 2008 (OK, maybe that's less of a loss). Francois Guy was approved in February 2009. etc etc

Unknown said...

Well what is it that's keeping those absinthes from being released? Is it the distribution companies? Perhaps because absinthes they are carrying are not selling well. Is it the cost:profit ratio? The bad absinthes are cheaper to make therefore cheaper to buy and sell as opposed to high quality artisinal absinthes. Add to that the fact that most people unfamiliar with absinthe tend to buy bad absinthe (marketing?).
I don't know but it is a good point you've raised. Until there is a legal definition of absinthe there will be a stampede of various drinks called absinthe trying to hit the market. If there are large conglomerate corporations trying to join that stampede with their own take on absinthe , they won't leave much time for the real horses to dig.

Alan said...

All of that, Rory. Until absinthe gets to be a lot more popular, then there are probably too many absinthes chasing a small market. Maybe that will help bring prices down, but it may also drive some of the real "artists" out of the business.

It's a slightly different situation, but you may have read this week about the creator of L'Italienne pulling out of making absinthe. Ditto Helfrich a few months back.

Bottom line? If the economy slows down any further, we may actually look back on 2010 as a golden time for absinthe with a lot of absinthes available via US on-line retailers etc. If the global economy picks up, most of those absinthes should become more widely available.

At least Western markets aren't like Russia: absinth, absinth everywhere, and none you'd choose to drink!

Unknown said...

You're scaring me Alan!

Anyway I am perfectly content with having just a couple real good absinthes available.

But what's actually scary is the possibility of all good absinthe going extinct again, leaving only a couple cheaply made large corp. absinthes. And this whole revival thing being just another (small) peak in absinthes history. In 2100 there will be another revival but the absinthe then will be like... not even liquid, like astronaut ice cream, not sure if you've had that but it exists and its not bad. Nothing like real ice cream though.

Alan said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you! On a more positive point, the US trade seems to be getting better at spotting losing new "absinthe" propositions with the result that some of them are launched and then get nowhere (not mentioning names here ..).

Maybe the 2010's will be a glorious decade for absinthe IF the development of the lower quality "absinthes" can be slowed.

Astronaut ice cream? A few years ago, Remy launched an Espace Cognac (I think that was its name). A blend you could drink in space. Haven't seen it around recently!