Lucid “Pre Ban” Absinthe


Thujone Molecule – In Lucid Absinthe or not?


These are interesting comments on Lucid absinthe, the new American absinthe:

Absinthe is back. Sort of.

There is probably no beverage with more mythology attached to it. Called la fée verte, or the Green Fairy, it is an anise-flavored liquor that was once the hootch of choice for the demi-monde of bohemian Paris. Poetry has been written about it. Paintings have been made, music composed.

“Absinthe has a wonderful color – green,” wrote Oscar Wilde, known to have downed a dram or two. “A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?”

Purported to have near-hallucinogenic properties, it was banned in France in 1915 and has been illegal in the United States since 1912. Now, a distributor is going to aim a new brand of the liquor to the upscale American market. Called Lucid, it will sell for about $60 a bottle. Unlike the many absinthe substitutes that have been on the shelves for years, Lucid claims to be made according to original, pre-ban recipes.

In Europe, though, there has been a resurgence of absinthe manufacturing. Done properly, it is completely legal in most countries there. The makers of Lucid have contracted one of them to create their new American version of the liquor, adapted to American tastes, with less of the anise flavor that the French adore and Americans have always been suspicious of.They are betting that they can market the new, cleaned-up absinthe based on its not-so-clean outlaw reputation.

Cleaned up! Seems that we are still in the dark about the thujone content of this “cleaned-up” pre ban recipe ❓ When the writer says done properly, he forgets to mention that many European absinthes have up to 35mg/ l of thujone. La Clandestine absinthe from Switzerland for example – according to one retailer – has 30mg/l.

Note: Annex II of Directive 88/388/EEC (EEC, 1988) allows in excess of 25mg/l thujone when the product is labeled as a bitter. Why can’t America follow the sensible European Union lead, and allow American consumers the chance to try real European absinthe that hasn’t been modified?

9 responses to “Lucid “Pre Ban” Absinthe

  1. I assume that retailer provides a source for his numbers?
    “hasn’t been tampered with?”
    While I agree the US should match the EU (only hopefully they will do it better) Do you have evidence lucid has been “tampered with”? I’ve heard a number of people claim this, yet no one can provide any support.

    Mod: Ari, I changed the word to modified. As in modified to comply with those dumb FDA regs 🙂

  2. No sauce that I can see 🙂

    Seriously, Andy is not the only retailer quoting those numbers – take a look around in the “high thujone” categories of a few of the other guys.

    No thujone means it has been extracted, or the naturally occuring levels of thujone in Grande Wormwood have somewhow been reduced, using a modified herbal species to accomodate the eccentricities of the FDA. If not why wouldn’t he just sell a nice bottle of Jade Edouard ( 1/4 bottle left 🙂

  3. “Seriously, Andy is not the only retailer quoting those numbers”
    And I’m sure I can find multiple places claiming absinthe was originally made with opium and contains THC. That multiple places quote the number doesn’t make it right without a valid source.
    Most thujone numbers are not trustable due to a number of factors. Knowing how/when/where the level was taken should be a base requirement to be trusted.

    “No thujone means it has been extracted”
    “using a modified herbal species”

    I’ve seen lots of speculation thrown around as if it was based on some evidence, but no evidence to be found.
    I had/have a worry that the process would be modified in such a way to affect flavor (which doesn’t appear to be true) but that’s a long step away from outright claiming it’s been tampered with.
    It’s interesting that some people can’t grasp the concept that perhaps a completely valid and historic method could give no thujone (I’ve even given one and it’s often ignored).

    ” If not why wouldn’t he just sell a nice bottle of Jade Edouard”
    Because, among other reasons, expense. You don’t just say ‘look, it’s thujone free’ and then put it on store shelves.

  4. Is it possible then for the distiller to produce an absinthe with a 0.5mg/l thujone level through craft using normal Grande Wormwood? How would the distiller regulate the thujone in the finsihed product, Ari?

  5. I wonder if it would be easier in a non distilled oil mix?

    Some of those artisnal distillers (not Combier) are basically little more than kitchen table operations, so heaven knows how they manage to know what the thujone level is in any given batch.

  6. “Is it possible then for the distiller to produce an absinthe with a 0.5mg/l thujone level through craft using normal Grande Wormwood?”
    Yep, I’ve given one way, normal grande wormwood was used which apparently contained no thujone (the plant used wasn’t modified to not contain thujone and appeared exactly the same, the lack was discovered after the fact).
    Careful distillation could reduce thujone. Harvesting at a different time of year. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways as well, since in some cases we are talking about only a few mg per liter between thujone and thujone-free absinthe.

    Drabsinthe said, “I wonder if it would be easier in a non distilled oil mix?”
    Most certainly. There is already a product out on the market, “Four” an alcoholic energy drink that adds a small amount of FDA approved wormwood oil.

  7. 🙂 you are a mine of information! It depends on the harvest time…I am attracted to that idea. Perhaps the younger the plant, or do you think it might be the other way around? For once we seem to be moving away from the usual wrestling 🙂

  8. absintheloverusa

    Interesting debate. I have met Ted Breaux, and read all about him. According to him, many pre-ban absinthes had low enough levels of thujone to pass modern US testing standards. It seems the only thing he likely did with Lucid was apply those same pre-ban distillation techniques in a more consistent way to ensure the stuff would always test low enough for the US. Doesn’t sound modified to me . . . but that’s just my opinion.

    By the way he also has written extensively that Thujone has been proven to be irrelevant to the experience of absinthe. It’s apparently been tested scientifically. According to Ted, the buzz is from all of the herbs working together, combined with high alcohol. Thujone was just the scapegoat nominated by the French wine industry and the temperance movement to try to shut down popular Absinthe.

  9. Welcome!

    >Doesn’t sound modified to me

    It must be modified to suit the FDA regs, and this would surely have to uppermost in the mind of the distiller. Thujone is a naturally occuring terpene in Artemisia absinthium.

    >pre-ban distillation techniques in a more consistent way to ensure the stuff would always test low enough for the US.

    Do you mean to suggest that modern absinthe is high thujone, and pre ban low? Thus, Lucid absinthe is more authentic than say the new Clandestine La Bleue from Switzerland, which appears to have a 30mg/l rate?

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