Bitter, Bitter Artemesia Absinthium

The world of absinthe is an interesting one indeed.

As some of you may know, I’ve recently posted on an absinthe that is about to be released (see here). I was lucky enough to be handed a sample bottle of Marteau Verte Classique as a tease to a product that is soon to be made commercially available, and was so excited by a product that was created by a fellow Pacific Northwester, that I hastily posted my experience with it. This was a product that was being created for someone like me in mind, an absinthe for cocktails, and I was damn excited!

Now, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am a bartender. I make drinks, and try to know as much about the products that I’m using as I am able. Period. I am not an expert on absinthe (perhaps one day, in the far off future), nor am I a marketing or PR person. I make drinks, pour spirits, and occasionally write about my related experiences.

In my blog about Marteau, I’d posted about my personal experience with the product and gave what information I had, via a short conversation with the person who gave me the bottle, and the information on the label. In my entry, many details were sketchy, and the post was a little boring, so I used some poetic license when filling in the blanks. Not lies, but also not facts. Filler, if you may.

I’ve since discovered that many of the people in the world of absinthe love the web, and love to hate. I had realized that wormwood was bitter, but what I didn’t realize was that many who enjoy it are also bitter. Perhaps this is the true effect of thujone? (For those who don’t get the humor, and there appear to be many out there, I do realize that this is not an effect of thujone. It’s so sad that I had to say that.)

I’ve received and read so many negative comments regarding myself and the creator of Marteau that I’m starting to realize why absinthe distillers are so secretive. And they are secretive, which was the feel that I was trying to give when I wrote my last entry on Absinthe Marteau. One just has to go to a seminar held by Ted Breaux, an established commercial creator of absinthe, to see this secrecy at hand. Ingredients, techniques all carefully guarded secrets. And who can blame them? Absinthe has been vilified from the 19th century to this very day, and like your grandmother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies, you don’t want anyone outside of your family getting a hold of it.

To hopefully put this matter to rest, I’ve copied a good portion of what Marteau’s creator has to say about his beautiful product. If you want to read the whole thing, go to the Wormwood Society.

One last note before we read what Hiram has to say. Although you’ve made life very interesting in the last week, I have to thank all of you absinthe lovers (and haters) out there for giving me record hits the last couple of days. You guys sure know how to spread the word!

From Hiram:

Here’s the straight scoop:


I developed the recipe for Marteau over the last several years and then commissioned a distillery to make it, strictly according to my recipe and protocols.

My intent is to eventually establish my own distillery and take over production personally. To that end, I’m forming a company, Gnostalgic Spirits, which will specialize in designing 19th century style spirits and cocktail ingredients such as bitters and liqueurs. I’m working with an American distillery to begin production myself, stateside. No idea yet on time-frame, but I’ll probably start production on some products by the end of the year.

Marteau Verte Suisse will be distilled in Switzerland at the Matter-Luginbühl Distillery by Oliver Matter who, as most of you know, is the award-winning distiller of Markus’ Duplais line of absinthes as well as Marilyn Mason’s Mansinthe, Giger’s Brevans and the Brut d’alambic. While I’m very proud of my creation, I don’t feel a particular need to say that I personally distilled it, as long as the person running the still is committed to following my instructions, and is qualified and skilled; and Oliver is definitely that. As we well know, Pernod Fils got on fairly well without Henri-Louis at the controls of each alembic.

The Marteau absinthes are soundly based on the usual traditional recipes from the 19th century: Duplais, De Brevans, Fritsch etc. By “based on” I mean traditional ingredients and their relative amounts as well as strict adherence to the Duplais Suisse Protocol.

This is the first authentic absinthe-since the 1912 ban-that was developed specifically for use in classic cocktails.

It’s very good as a drink on its own, but I chose the particular botanicals and used them in proportions that lend a more savory and aromatic component than other traditional absinthes, which can often be too candy-like. Rather than cut back on the anise, I’ve worked with the other botanicals and brought them forward to compliment it rather than push it into the background.

The sample which Jamie, Shabba, Nymph and all the WSers at TOC, as well as the 150 people at the Forgotten Ingredients panel discussion, were from prototypes, since the end commercial product has not yet been released.

As we all know, artisanal products, particularly new ones, are subject to change. I don’t expect Marteau will be any different. Different apparatus, different regional herb sources, different water, these are the variables we have to work with. The first release of Marteau Verte Classique will possibly be slightly different in character than the samples, but every effort is being made to bring it as close as possible given the conditions. Future batches will be adjusted if necessary to achieve the desired profile.

For now, starting probably in early October, it will be available exclusively from Markus at; it might be picked up by the other vendors later.

We’ll start out with small batches, so grab it fast. We’ll increase production according to demand.

It should fit into roughly the same price range as the other Matter absinthes, but the final estimate is not in yet. The process is a little more complicated and there are a number more botanicals in it than a lot of other absinthes, so the cost rises proportionally.

No samples or labels have been submitted to the TTB yet, although this is in the works for the future. Again, no time frame yet.

Picture taken by:
Jamie Boudreau



~ by Jamie Boudreau on July 24, 2007.

2 Responses to “Bitter, Bitter Artemesia Absinthium”

  1. Hey Jamie,
    Screw ’em. You’re doing God’s work.

  2. Yes, some absinthe lovers can be haters. And most of them admit it, too. But that’s a small, vocal minority. The rest of us are cool, really. I liked the first post, and your follow-up. We all should be so enthusiastic that so many new, quality absinthes are being produced in the wake of Lucid.

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