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The Official US Word
Posted by Jonathan
on 12/19/07

Here's the official absinthe "Industry Circular" from the United States Department of the Treasury, Alcohol an Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, usually shortened to "TTB". Dated October 16, 2007, it is probably as good a date as any to celebrate as the beginning of real absinthe's return to the table as a licit, not illicit, drink.

This circular is just chock a block full of bureaucratese like "pursuant" (does anyone use this word in normal conversation?), "revoked by operation of regulation" (huh?) and "certificates of label approval" (with its helpful acronym, COLA). They seem to be more concerned with the artwork on the label than the contents of the bottle, because you certainly wouldn't want an image "of hallucinogenic, psychotropic, or mind-altering effects", which hearkens back to Lance Winters' quote about "You get all that from a monkey?". Still seems a little vague to us, but hey, if keeping psychotropic images off the label means easier access to some good absinthe here in the US, we're all for it here at inAbsinthia.

Absinthe Circular from the TTB

Be sure to also check out the TTB's process for thujone screening. Maybe you could do this at home! Perhaps we'll try it out in inAbsinthia's deep cellar laboratory.

Screening of Distilled Spirits for Thujone by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

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These regulations seem to only apply to labeling on 'thujone-free' domestic products. The circular notes near the end:

[quote]Although TTB may approve the use of the term "absinthe" on the label under the standards outlined above, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for administering the laws and regulations regarding the admissibility of merchandise into the United States. COLA approval by TTB does not constitute approval for admission into the United States. We have advised CBP of our position.[/quote]

This seems to mean that the old rules still apply for importing absinthe that is not "thujone-free" for resale/distribution.

~ by Michael on 12/19/07 11:10:36

Except 'thujone free' is defined to be less than 10 ppm, which is the standard in Europe as well. Between 10 & 30 ppm, you can sell it in Europe, but it needs to be labeled a 'bitter', not just absinthe. So one would hope the CBP would follow the same guideline. Although not "officially" yet, I guess.

~ by Jonathan on 12/19/07 23:16:22

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