Blog: Absinthe - Return of the Green Fairy
Chris Mercer | 20 April 2011
It may have had a part in severing Vincent Van Gogh's ear and almost certainly fuelled the urges (creative and otherwise) of French bohemians. Now, absinthe can once again take its place on the back-bars of France.
The country's Senate has approved a new law that will allow producers to call their products 'absinthe' for the first time since 1915, when the drink was outlawed. It marks a significant juncture for a drink that has long been labelled the bad boy of spirits.
Those who drank it in the 19th and early 20th Centuries were said to be 'dancing with the green fairy' - a reference to absinthe's colour and hallucinogenic properties, as well as its strength of around 70% abv.
Pernod Ricard is one company that owes something of a debt to 'la fée verte'. Its anise-flavoured, namesake spirits - Pernod and Ricard - were partially aided in the market by a ban on the stronger, more troublesome absinthe.
Traditional absinthe is based on the herb grand wormwood, also known as Artemisia absinthium, but different recipes include a range of other herbs.
Much of the furore around absinthe's hallucinogenic properties centred on the chemical thujone. In these days of red tape and regulations, the European Union has set a limit of 10mg per litre of thujone in absinthe, but levels are believed to have been much higher than this in the heady times of 19th Century France.
Not everyone followed France's lead by banning absinthe. In the UK, the drink never really took off in the same way, meaning it was less of a concern for the authorities.
In 1999, producers exploited a loophole in French law and began selling "spirit infused with absinthe plants".
Perhaps because it's a Friday and I'm a bit hungry, but Pernod Ricard's idea to launch a 'London Steak Awards' backed by its Argentinian wine brand Graffigna seems like clever marketing. ...
Spotted in Havana this week – a healthy stock of Pernod Ricard's Havanista rum. ...
Alcohol always has a big presence at the Oscars, albeit mostly in a supporting role....
Business is booming at copper pot still makers Chalvignac - you can tell from the loud noise coming from its factory floor in the French town of Jarnac-Champagne. ...
- Interview - Beam Suntory's EMEA president
- Beckham, Diageo and the Allure of the VIP Pop-Up
- Interview - William Grant & Sons
- Interview - Beam Suntory's EMEA head - part II
- What do A-B InBev results mean for SABMiller deal?
- Diageo, Beckham launch VIP pop-up for Haig Club
- Diageo reveals US$400m Tequila investment
- Pinnacle Vodka, Skinnygirl roll out on ice
- Coca-Cola Co apologises over Fanta ad
- Diageo completes Don Julio, Bushmills swap deal
- Global non-Scotch whiskies insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends research
- Wine, 2014 and the future
- Beam Suntory Inc. - Strategy and SWOT Report
- Global RTD/RTS insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends research
- Spirits and RTDs, 2014 and the future