Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Some people are sad to read that Van Gogh did not cut off his ear because of his so-called "absinthe habit." In fact, it seems much more likely that Van Gogh's mental state was affected because he was constantly ingesting the noxious fumes from his paint palette.
Fortunately paints are not as noxious as they were in the 19th century. Unfortunately there are some absinthes moving in the other direction by adding artificial colours to their recipes, where previously there were none. Several examples of this are listed in a previous article here. This is such an important issue, however, that I make no apology in including it again in this series.
THERE IS NO NEED TO PRODUCE ABSINTHE WITH ARTIFICIAL COLOURING. ABSINTHES WITH ARTIFICIAL COLOURING IN LATE 19TH CENTURY FRANCE WERE RECOGNISED AS THE LOWEST QUALITY PRODUCTS, COLOURED GREEN TO SAVE MONEY AND TIME IN THE PRODUCTION PROCESS. CALLING “ARTIFICIALLY COLOURED ABSINTHES” GREEN ABSINTHES IS LIKE SAYING IT’S OK TO ADD RED COLOURING TO WHITE WINE AND THEN CALLING THAT RED WINE!
Sadly one famous absinthe that was sold throughout most of the 19th century now contains artificial colours, where previously it did not. Other absinthes that are widely available in the USA and elsewhere boast about using 19th century recipes, while their back labels list the inclusion of very modern additives such as FD&C Yellow #5 and Blue #1. My earlier post details the issues with using such additives, so rather than repeating that here I will merely state that such additives are primarily used to cheapen the product cost, cutting out one step of the manufacturing process and producing a much less complex absinthe. Which may cost the consumer just as much as a properly made, naturally coloured absinthe. Would you pay gourmet steak prices for a fast food burger?
Since I am in involved in the promotion of absinthe, it is not appropriate for me to list the competitor brands that rely on artificial colourings here. So instead I am going to work on a list of absinthes that do not include artificial colourings as a future blog article. A quick list follows; please add in the comments any absinthes I have left out that should also be included.
A LIST OF UNCOLOURED OR NATURALLY COLOURED ABSINTHES: WORK IN PROGRESS (Add any missing in the comments below)
La Clandestine, Angélique, Butterfly and all others produced by Artemisia, Switzerland.
Kubler and all other absinthes produced in the Val-de-Travers, Switzerland.
Mansinthe, Duplais, and all other absinthes produced by Matter, Switzerland.
All other Swiss absinthes.
Vieux Pontarlier, Maison Fontaine, Tenneyson and all other absinthes produced at Emile Pernot, France.
Lucid, Jade and Blanchette, Combier, France.
Perroquet, Désirée and all other absinthes produced for Vert d'Absinthe, Paris.
St. George, Sirene, Vieux Carré, Marteau, Pacifique, Meadow of Love, Walton Waters, Ridge, Germain Robin, Leopold, Sorciere, Edward 111, and most other absinthes made in the USA.
Taboo from Canada
St. Antoine and other absinthes produced by Zufanek, Czech Republic.
Obsello from Spain.
The XS absinthes produced for La Fée.
And others to be added in the comments below. Apologies for any omissions that will be added above and to the future article as soon as I can do so.
For Part 6 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (How Absinthe boomed, died and was re-born, helped by a series of accidents), click here.
For Part 7 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (How even the French called their best absinthes "Absinthe Suisse" during the 19th century), click here.
For Part 8 of 10 things you don't know about absinthe (What happened when absinthe was banned, and how the Swiss bypassed that ban), click here.
For Part 9 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (The accident that led to full European re-legalisation of absinthe), click here.
For Part 10 of 10 things you didn't know about absinthe (The truth about the so-called Burning Ritual), click here.