Coming soon….

Hello everyone. 

So, several months ago, I went in with several of my online absinthe friends  in purchasing a century-old bottle of Junod. Vinnie and I shot a video review for it. Sadly, the quality of the video was somewhat sub-standard, as I later discovered. Pity, since that was not only my first taste of a pre-ban absinthe, but a taste of something very old and very special.

Well, I have a second chance. The same bunch of guys went in on a bottle of Pernod Fils, again 100+ years old. I got my sample a few weeks ago, but then promptly got sick and didn’t have it in me to try it. Well, I’m feeling better now, so Vinnie and I are going to try it again this weekend. Oh yeah, and Vinnie will be talking now.

I also have received a ton of other samples from a friend of mine in Europe which will need reviewing, to say nothing of a few bottles I acquired from absinthes.com. All in all lots of material to work with.

So, stay tuned, friends! Some fun stuff coming up.

Of Sacred Relics and Holy Wormwood – Absinthe Antiques by S.B. MacDonald

Absinthe AntiquesHistory, like art, is something that the uninitiated will more often than not have merely an appreciation, or even a passing empathy for. Those who explore the subject to any degree of depth, ideally because the subject speaks to some part of them, will be able to find bits and pieces of wisdom and beauty in the details. In the case of history, this applies to the written account of a certain period, the art of a certain age, the body count of a certain war or from the subsequent artifacts which survive throughout the years.

Absinthe, as even those who have had an indirect interaction with it would attest, has borne its unjust stigma with a certain amount of austere (and sometimes cynical) pride. The people who truly love absinthe love it reverently and the ones who are passionate about it treat it, its history and its sinister scars with a great deal of respect.

Scott MacDonald, whom I have the privilege of referring to as one of my favourite online acquaintances, is one of these people and his remarkable book, Absinthe Antiques – A Collection from la Belle Epoque, is testament to that respect for the subject. Thoroughly researched over a period of several years, the book draws its reader on a profound and almost Divine Comedy-esque journey through the world of absinthe’s glorious heyday. Not through historical accounts, so much, the journey comes through a systematic study of objects, implements and advertising which the author has collected from all across the world, allowing him to paint for us a unique portrait of the days when the absinthe trade was in its full glory.

Lavishly and lovingly photographed by Scott, the book doesn’t just serve as a catalogue of the artifacts. As you wander its pages, it evolves for the reader into a veritable art gallery. Each chapter is bedecked with beautiful images, giving us an intimate look at the technique and design of all manner of glassware, spoons, topettes (something my collection is sorely lacking) and so on. Some of the detail Scott has captured in his photographs are so rich and evocative that you could almost feel the tooling on a la fuilles #3 spoon or the roughness of an etched dose line on an egg-style glass.

This is one of the most remarkable things about this book – that sense of evocation. The detail, the knowledge and the intimacy of the experience is so immersive that we are, ourselves, transported back in time. When we see the images of the advertizing posters of the day, the saucers with the price-per-glass painted thereon and the exquisite and almost luminescent greenish glow of a well-lit glass of absinthe, you can almost hear a chanson being sung in a bar by revellers, steeped in their own experience of the elixir that is one of Scott’s most revered passions.

If you are an absinthe drinker, and one who takes the drink seriously, you owe it to yourself to look into the history of absinthe in detail. That said, you will be sorely hard-pressed to find a more lucid, enjoyable and evocative window into that history than this book. I would actually go so far as to say that it is probably one of the most essential books on the subject. Vinnie personally keeps my copy safe at my absinthe table.

Vinnie approves of this book

To order a copy, go here.

Brevans HR Giger – The Roller-Coaster

After several months of being too bloody busy to do much, we’re back with another video. This time, Vinnie come just a little more our of his shell.

Enjoy!

 

Kallnacher – Flowers in the Glass

The long-overdue review of Kallnacher, another lovely Swiss absinthe from the folks at Oliver Matter.

I think I’m getting better at this whole video thing. Not sure.

 

Happy National Absinthe Day!

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It’s March the 5th again and I am sadly working late tonight to the point that I won’t even have the chance for a glass of “medicinal green” to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of absinthe. Still I have to take the opportunity to say a few quick words.

As most students of absinthe history know, the ban itself came about both through the efforts of the French wine trade and the Temperance Movement to counter the threat of the growing rise of absinthe and from the fallout of supply and demand making absinthe so cheap it cost less than a loaf of bread. Treachery and greed know no limits and have no rules. That’s why they’re treachery and greed.

Never forget to question the accusations of those who condemn, children. It’s what separates the humans from the herd.

Even though I only have coffee on hand at the office, here’s a toast to clarity of vision and to liberty. Sante!

VIDEO REVIEW: La Clandestine – a Pearl of Great Value

And with this, do I now announce that video reviews will be forthcoming.

This is my first one, so be gentle. The new ones will be better, I promise!

A Thinking Man’s Absinthe – Duplais Verte

Absinthe Duplais Verte

Country of origin: Switzerland
Distillery: Matter Luginbühl
LCBO price: Not available through LCBO.
Neat colour: A pale emerald. This is the perfect theatrical colour for asinthe which, while beautiful to the eye, does make me wonder how it got that way.
Neat aroma: Sadly, I stuck my nose in the glass at just the wrong angle and got a waft of alcohol which set my right nostril on fire, figuratively speaking. After that settled down, I noticed a sweet, herbal smell. Strong anise, but not overpowering. Beautifully balanced.
Neat taste: Instantly warm. Strong anise with the intake of breath, with the attendant wormwood bitterness. Tastes a little sweet. I may regret using a sugar cube.
Louched colour: The first few drops of water brought a pair of trails. The louche itself is a prominent pale olive with the usual opalescence. Not quite glowing, but beautiful.
Louched aroma: No alcohol smell, and the herbs are all still present. The mere scent of this makes my mouth water.
Louched taste: Divine and floral, like taking a sip from a stream in Elysium, yet distinctly earthy. The bitterness is present, but not opressive. Instead, it works in harmony with the herbal flavours. Exquisite!

Vinnie approves. Profusely.

In my idle moments, when I am not working on art or something blog-related, I browse for two things: Victorian-era clothing and absinthe. The name Duplais has come up repeatedly in my searches for new absinthes to try and I was recently gifted by a friend with a small bottle of their verte absinthe, along with a few other morsels.

So this is what good absinthe tastes like in the rest of the world, eh? It’s utterly refreshing and, even though its flavour is potent, I would say it stops well-short of being robust, which is a good thing in this case. It’s also not surprising when coming from the same distillery that makes Mansinthe. Instead it presents a delicious yet not-so-delicate jewel in the glass. It’s a down-to-earth work of art.

The buzz from it sits beautifully at the base of the skull. It almost feels as though it’s cradling my cerebellum in a way. This is one of those absinthes that you drink when you make art or engage in philosophical discourse, provided you don’t drink so much of it that your hands become useless and your tongue becomes clumsy. In fact, I think once this review is done, I’m going to throw on some Naked City and work on one of my digital paintings.

Vinnie doesn’t just approve. Vinnie wants to have the distiller’s babies.

“I’m still here, miss.”*

Hello, children.

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I’m still here.

Currently, I am scrambling to complete a rather complicated piece of art for an upcoming art show I am having in Waterloo, Ontario. That being said, I do have 2 interviews ready to be turned into articles. The first will be with my friend, the rather brilliant artist Vincent Marcone (AKA My Pet Skeleton) on his film work, his visual history and his musical projects. The other one…well, we’ll just keep everyone in suspense for that one. What’s more, there are going to be a handful of new absinthe reviews coming up as well (imagine that, an absinthe blog that actually writes about absinthe!), so stay tuned, folks.!

* For those who don’t know, the title is one of Humphrey Bogart’s lines from “The African Queen”. I always loved Bogie’s wit.

The Author as Artist

In case anyone’s interested…

I have been publishing artwork under the name Propraetor for many years now. While I am always the last to say I have any skill, I am continually told that I do and this gives me pride. I would like to take the opportunity to share a few pieces of note with you and if you are so inclined, please direct your attention to my website: propraetor.net.

In the meantime, here are some of my works for your enjoyment while we wait for things to come together for the next few posts…

A Quick “Thank You”

Hello there, children! Just wanted to say that the House of Wormwood has been getting a lot of attention and support recently and I greatly appreciate it. I’m averaging about 50 hits a day (some days a lot more, some days a little less) and things will only keep getting better.

Everyone keep your eyes on either the blog’s Twitter or Facebook pages, or just subscribe. There are going to be some interesting reviews and interviews coming up. I know I have a backlog of promised articles and I will deliver.

In personal news, I am gearing up for a few art shows this year, but I am getting into aoposition now where I will be able to juggle my artistic and journalistic endeavours more easily. For news on that, I suggest heading over to my art site.

All the best, kids.

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