Swiss bid to monopolise 'green fairy' absinthe riles French

French distillers are to fight a Swiss bid to monopolise the use of the term "absinthe" for the drink favoured by 19th century romantics and banned in both countries for decades.

Marie Benech, head of the French spirits producers' federation (FFS) said that the grouping would make a formal challenge to the Swiss move on Friday, ahead of the June 30 deadline set by Bern.

Swiss makers of absinthe in the Val de Travers region, where the drink originated, have asked the Swiss agricultural authorities to declare the name exclusive to their area.

This would bar any other drink calling itself absinthe, or any familiar nickname such as "the green fairy", from Switzerland and eventually from distribution in Europe.

Daniel-Henri Dubied began distilling absinthe at Couvet in Switzerland from a local folk recipe at the end of the 18th century, and his son-in-law Henri-Louis Pernod, founder of the international drinks giant, followed suit in France not long afterwards.

Absinthe reached the height of its popularity in France in the late 19th and early 20th century, acquiring a reputation both for its hallucinogenic properties - and for sending people either blind or mad.

It was nevertheless beloved of artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso, as well as the writer Ernest Hemingway.

Fears of its effects led to it being banned in France and Switzerland at the beginning of the 20th century. The bans were later lifted but in France the term "absinthe" to designate the drink is still forbidden.

Instead the "green fairy" can only be called a "spirit based on absinthe plants" on the label.

French producers such as Pernod can export it as absinthe, however, and it sells well in markets such as Britain and the United States. It is also distilled in other countries, notably Spain and the Czech Republic.

Benech, who called the Swiss move "provocative", said her federation also wanted to open talks with French authorities to be allowed to label the drink "absinthe" in France once more.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor