C. Mariller briefly on Absinthe

A fascinating snippet. I never knew the absinthe ban briefly extended to all anise spirits. Keep in mind, the birectifier is a great way to explore and prototype Absinthe.

C. Mariller. Distillerie Agricole et Industrielle. 1951 pages 45-47

Anise. — Before the war 1914-18, the absinthes represented major consumption and in addition to the alcohol essences were added essences causing phenomena of an exceptional gravity: epileptic seizures in particular.

The ban on absinthe was therefore decided. Severe regulations were introduced resulting in the sale of “anise”. As it had been recognized that ketone species were practically only dangerous, they were banned and rigorous control measures were instituted. Thanks to this regulation only harmless anise was sold, of a well regulated composition.

The last war provoked an anti-alcoholic campaign and with it the prohibition in turn of anise. The law of August 24, 1942 prohibits, except for the export, the manufacture, the sale, the offer even free of charge aperitifs at 16° at most or containing more than 0.50 g of essence per liter.

Many foreign countries that gladly bought our anise, because of the great reputation of our brands, refuse the purchase on the pretext that if we find the products dangerous for us, they are also dangerous for their residents. The result is that we lose a market and foreign firms take over our fabrications.

It must be said that the suppression of anise has provoked, as formerly that of alcohol in the U. S. A., the same frauds, the drinker of anise not giving up his favorite drink gets it by all means.

As a result, considerable clandestine manufacture is born which makes use of the most defective alcohols, on the occasion methanol, in any case, very impure, and therefore very toxic, spirits, essences, and the most diverse plants delivered by pharmacists and herbalists. Finally “anise” and “pastis” contraband do much more harm than the reduced consumption of well-made anise, with well controlled quality products.

It is to be hoped that the legislation will be revised in this way. The alcoholic degree could be reduced without inconvenience because the consumer is looking more for the special taste of the aperitif than the alcoholic degree.

An abundant literature shows that at the usual doses, anise and anethol are not toxic, unlike claims without prior experience of various hygienists.

Troost, Vice President of the Academy of Sciences, said in 1904: “Anethole seems to refuse to be toxic.” In the same year, Professor Derat, following scientific work, states: “the anethole species, is non-toxic, as our work clearly demonstrates”.

For more than 30 scholars confirm these conclusions. Among them, Dr. Magnon, of the Sainte-Anne asylum , in 1925, which after a 15 year study, can conclude that “the anise and even the star anise are harmless even in considerable doses”.

The medical commission appointed in 1938 to study the question of anise (professors Tiffeneau, Claude, Tanon, etc.), after examining previous works and experiments on various aniseed aperitifs, while declaring themselves in principle opposed to the use of alcohols, in agreement with the Academy of Medicine, stated that to ward off the danger of fraudulent aniseed products, often made with high-grade bad spirits and toxic products, it endorses manufacturing involving compulsory obligations:

a) Alcohol at a maximum of 45° at the rate of 0.25 cl of impurities per liter (the Liquor Service currently requires 0.09).

(b) Not more than 2 g of aniseed essence per liter.

The report adds (31): “The anise contains no poisonous bodies nor thujone which are convulsive, but only anethol which is a phenol body, non convulsive.”

(31) Tanon. — Rapports de la Commission sur les similaires d’absinthe, 1948

Sweetening at the rate of 150 g of sugar per liter, being optional, is rather not recommended, since the addition of sugar, by softening the taste and making it pleasant, would promote taking this pure drink.

“These conclusions lead to the need to use only pure alcohols. They are arrived at from a medical and toxicological point of view. One may wonder if they will not have the effect of promoting alcoholism. The commission does not think so, because the strength of 45° implies the use of high quality alcohol, that is to say, natural and not adulterated.”

After these findings of the commission, the cause seems heard.

We must also mention the conclusion of Dr. Roussel: the anéthol is not toxic (32). This body:

(32) Roussel, Varenne, et Godefroy. — C. R., Ac. Sc. 1903, 137, 1294.

can be antiseptic by its aromatic and analgesic by its oxymethyl group. In various medical forms it can be therapeutic.

The absorption of anise or anethole did not show any significant influence on the general condition of experimental animals, their growth, gestation, birthing and lactation.

We conclude: the anise and its essence are non toxic, it is undeniable that the infusion and anise distillates give excellent results against certain gastrointestinal disorders.

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