Absinthes.com introduces the Sankta Annas Bränneri AB

Today, we would like to introduce the Sankta Annas Bränneri AB to you. A refreshingly young distillery, and the first legal absinthe distillery in Sweden.

Sankta Annas Bränneri AB

 

Absinthe Valkyria

 

Göran Bauerle and Henrik Larsson have worked together at Sankta Annas Bränneri – a small distillery located in an old church in Stråssa, Lindesberg, near Stockholm – to bring to life the very first Swedish distilled absinthe – Absinthe Valkyria! Valkyria was awarded the Master Medal in the category Verte Distilled at the Absinthe Masters 2013.

 

Midvinterblot

 

Midvinterblot 2012 is an “Ambre absinthe”, meaning it has an amber colour and a warmer taste than other kinds of absinthes. You will be able to taste wormwood, fennel, anise,  and a hint of cinnamon. It is a distilled absinthe, with typical Swedish herbs and spices. Works very well as a snaps or sippin’ drink as well as a louched absinthe. As you can see, this is not just a delicious new creation, but an extremely diverse drink! Furthermore, Midvinterblot was awarded the Master Medal in the category “Ambre” at the Absinthe Masters 2013.

 

 

Wolf Absinthe

 

Wolf Absinthe is a project by a heavy metal band called WOLF – the idea of having their own absinthe has interested this group for a while, after all artists have always had this special attraction to absinthe. In this absinthe, you will find floral notes and the taste of wormwood, anise and fennel (of course!), and a hint of coriander.

 

 

Sankta Annas Bränneri AB

 

As mentioned before, the Sankta Annas Bränneri is a young distillery. Founded only in 2011, the two masterminds behind Absinthe Valkyria not only managed to expand their range of products, but to have their absinthes awarded medals in international spirits contests. One can only imagine what the future has prepared for them!

 


Two guys sharing a passion for absinthe – the ideal recipe for a fun job and great products.

 

Göran and Henrik have this to say about the challenges faced to distill genuine absinthe in Sweden:

 

“Opening business in February 2011 and launching the first product in November 2011, makes Sankta Annas Branneri one of the fastest company in the history of Sweden to obtain all the correct certification and permits involved in food production containing alcohol.
Our absinthes are the only alcoholic products in Sweden made in a church (Saint Anns church of Strassa), Valkyria was also the first absinthe to be legally distilled in Sweden AND no other product produced in Sweden has a higher content of alcohol.
To do all this “at one time” in Sweden, one of the most regulated countries in the western world, the recipe for Valkyria required two secret ingredients: Swedish precision and fierce northern passion. Or, as we put it in Sweden “A continental trend with Swedish quality”.
Due to the large amount of herbs used, please add a little bit more water than you have in other absinthes – for a cooler taste that lasts longer.”

 

 

Interview with Göran Bauerle

 

Absinthes.com: When and how did you first discover the aperitif “absinthe”?

 

Göran: In a restaurant in small Swedish town called Borlange. It was a pre-party with the band Partypistolerna (eng. Party guns) at the restaurant Bolanche. The year was 1999 or 2000 and the stuff   called absinthe was served undiluted, straight from a bottle as a shot. I had 2 shots, each was 6cl … 60 vol% alcohol. You know the rest of the story… I remember it was a strange taste, not good not bad.

A few years later I tried Absinthe Nouvelle Orléans absinthe and also Pernod Absinthe and found both of them really good.

Absinthes.com: According to you, what is the right definition of a “good absinthe” and what are the 3 fundamental elements critical to producing a fine absinthe in a distillery like yours?

 

Göran: A good absinthe is not bitter, but full of spicy and flowery tastes and aromas. A good absinthe louche quickly, after all it is based on anise. The fundamental elements of producing fine absinthe is 1) Controlling the distilling apparatus, it is like dancing. I lead the way. 2) Choosing the plants and spirit base carefully. 3) Keep everything clean, like a bio-lab.

 

Absinthes.com: Do you think the Swedish – or even European – market should be locked to naturally distilled absinthes only, or on the contrary, macerated and essences-based absinthes have also the right to exist and to be called “absinthe”?

 

Göran:  The name protection question is a big concern for us. We have been asked by Swedish authorities about this and sent our opinion to EU. We think the name absinthe should be used to help customers understand what they drink. That is the priority here, the customers, not the producers. Science have shown that thujone has nothing to do with the experience of drinking absinthe, so thujone should not be a part of the information about absinthe. Absinthe and thujone has nothing in common, not more than Vermuth and thujone or Bitters and thujone. Using thujone as a marketing point is false marketing and should be a crime (I guess it already is, actually), it is a stupid way of fooling kids. Grow up, you thujone muppets! Absinthe is based on anise. So some regulation about a minimum amount of anethole is welcomed by us. The greatest advantage absinthe have above other spirits is that absinthe may contain tastes and aromas from any plant. So any plant should be allowed in absinthe, to keep this advantage. But the spices Wormwood, Fennel and Anise should be found in all absinthes – to have a basic frame for absinthe.Talking about Wormwood … it is the plant Artemisia Absinthium that is needed. Using other wormwood should be ok, but Artemisia Absinthium is also needed. Why? For the thujone? No, of course not, but for the taste and aroma. And to make sure the customers know what they drink. If they think they drink absinthe, it must be Artemisia Absinthium in it. Or, do you want to buy orange juice without oranges in it? Of course not. Get serious.
Back on track: To get the most wonderful tastes and aromas out of all the plants used to make absinthe, distillation of the plant is a demand. Without distillation you get flavored vodka or flavored brandy – that is not absinthe and already regulated in the EU regulations, but scammers don´t care and call their rubbish absinthe any way. It is up to marketers and importers to make sure that good absinthe are being sold as good absinthe, and that flavored spirits are being sold for what they are. It is the marketer that accept rubbish products that is spreading the rubbish. Producers produce on demand. Additives is a tricky question … adding water is ok, to regulate the alcohol %-ige. Adding pure alcohol is ok, to regulate the alcohol %-ige. But how big part pure alcohol can be added? I don´t know what to think about this, really. But I am sure that any E-number additive, such as stabilizer, color, clearing agent, taste, aroma and so on, is not helping the customer understand what is in the bottle. So keep it out of absinthe. Using E-number additives in any food or beverage is just saying “We can´t produce natural food, we don´t know our craft, we have no skills so we cheat”. Or in bigger productions “We are jack-asses and steal your money, selling horse and calling it cow” – it is the same problem, in my viewpoint.

 

Absinthes.com: How do you see the future and popularization of absinthe in Sweden and Europe in the next years or decades?

Göran: Whisky is popular in Sweden, because we have had a government ruled monopoly, nationwide marketing for Whisky since 1955. It is really sad. Absinthe will always be a small niche product in Sweden and 12-15 brands that already is here is more than needed, some of them will probably drop out of market soon. What will happen in Europe? I am sure that if we market serious absinthe brands, not talking about drug-effects, thujone and silly green fairies …absinthe will find customer groups that want to get drunk on alcohol (instead of getting high on drugs) and have a spicy aperitif because it is spicy and make your stomach crave for food. Maybe absinthe marketers can find serious people drinking serious absinthe if the marketers begin to market absinthe as something serious? That is our company´s approach… Today absinthe is laughed at by 95% of the population. Serious people choose vodka, whiskey and even rum and tequila to get drunk. That is also very sad. People that drink absinthe is wrongly considered not serious or stupid or nerds. Drinking Pastis is considered “high class” in Sweden … if you know anything about absinthe, you find that ironic.

Absinthes.com: Don’t you fear a new ban of absinthe if the European consumers, and especially the youngsters, get into the habit of drinking Absinthe like Vodka or Whiskey? The internet is full of videos showing young people drinking shots of Absinthe or setting it on fire even though it’s 60-70% alcohol.

Göran: Absinthe will be forbidden when it has to take the blame for killings at the same time as a new world war is breaking out. No, I don´t fear a ban. The fire-burning marketing rubbish is a natural cause of the thujone/green fairy rubbish. As long as absinthe marketers go with the old habits of marketing absinthe, the development of the absinthe marketing will come up with new stupid things. Drinking absinthe like vodka and whisky is what we want, but we need to teach youngsters that 1 cl of absinthe equals 2 cl of vodka (at 37,5 vol% alc.), and this education must be made by the sellers and the bartenders. How can we help them serve this education together with the drinks … that is our task. With “Our” I mean producers and marketers together. Serving absinthe in drinks, not only in ice-water, is one way. When making shots, mix it with fruit juices … see our drink list that we give to our restaurant and bars (I can share it with the world, for the absinthe cause, so to speak. Use it, try it.).

Absinthes.com: Last question. Green Fairy: myth or reality? Have you ever noticed effects other than those from alcohol – secondary effects – after absinthe consumption? Some talk about an enhanced view, dreams, mental clarity, or even intellectual improvement which it could be imagined might have somewhat helped artists and writers from the 19th century.

 

Göran: No. There is no such effects. I find the question offensive, coming from an absinthe marketer to me, a producer. The green fairy is a 150 year old marketing gimmick that is totally useless today, and most likely damaging to the future of absinthe. Read more here about thujone: http://www.thujone.info/science.html ;)Any effect from absinthe is an effect of the poison alcohol. Study that, instead of holding on to a dying myth.

 

A final comment: Maybe I sound like a bitter norse, grumpy from winter darkness and 3 feet of ice cold snow. But I am not. I really believe absinthe will be a good and fun business in the future, for me and many others. If we focus on how to broaden our customer stock, making whisky drinkers and tequila lovers understand great taste without volatile oils, we will all expand sales and production. We should do it together, all producers and marketers together, aiming at building a bigger customer stock. Instead of competing with other absinthe producers and marketers, we should compete with producers and marketers of other alcoholic beverages.

 

Goran Bauerle / co-owner and founder of Sankta Annas Branneri AB (Saint Anne´s Distillery Ltd.), first producer of absinthe in Sweden, ever.
For more information on the distillery, visit http://www.sankta-anna.com/.

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