At last weekend’s Whisky Live Paris, with my wife Jane and Marie-Claude Delahaye, I met many people as we tasted and chatted in St Germain, Paris.  I also met with Myriam Decoeur-Michel, the new Directeur Général of the  Fédération Française des Spiritueux (FFS) over a drink of La Fée Absinthe Parisienne.  We discussed the current fracas between distillers in Val-de-Travers and the rest of the absinthe producing world, with France prepared to protect her history and rights as the leading absinthe nation.

Myriam George & George Rowley
Myriam Decoeur-Michel, the new Directeur Général of the Fédération Française Spiritueux with George Rowley.
Paris, 10th September 2012

A group of key Swiss distillers initiated the running legal dispute, which was started in the Val-De-Travers region looking to gain regional protection for the name Absinthe:  the spotlight is now firmly on this region.  La Fée and Marie-Claude Delahaye flagged this problem with the French Federation of Spirits (FFS) back in 2010. Following this the FFS enabled the repeal of the French Absinthe Ban of 1915 in May 2011, reinforcing France’s right to continue distilling one of her national spirits.

George Rowley & Marie-Claude Delahaye
George Rowley & Marie-Claude Delahaye at last weekend’s Whisky Live Paris

The current Swiss action started in court in Bern has seen a flurry of activity over the last 30 days, with global objections piling into the Swiss court, reflecting the outrage at any attempt to claim exclusive use of the word absinthe.  Marie-Claude Delahaye’s knowledge of French & Swiss absinthe will undoubtedly prove important to the ongoing process.

We love Swiss absinthe; we distil Swiss absinthe; in fact our La Fée X•S Suisse has won three consecutive golden spoons at the Absinthiades – there is no doubt that some great absinthe is distilled in Switzerland.  Because absinthe is a plant, not a geographical region, it shouldn’t really qualify for protected status in this way.

We are currently working with the FFS, alongside other members, to review the definition of absinthe spirits for the European Union.

The more French absinthe sold: the more Swiss will be too the ideal outcome should be harmony between French and Swiss producers.

We love our Swiss along side our French the only winners in all of this are the lawyers!




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