More than You Wanted To Know About Absinthe

“The following is a paid review:”

Hi, this is the Spouse chiming in here at The UnofficialCook. Mita and I have been enjoying working on this site for several years now. Recently I signed up with a company called ReviewMe which offers bloggers a chance to write reviews of products that advertisers want to showcase. We’ve been eagerly looking forward for the first appropriate assignment, and here it is. I’m sad to say it can’t be very positive, but hey, here at “The Cook” you’re always going to get the unadulterated truth. The product in question is a web site sales service known as:

Absinthe Alcohol Online. I strongly suggest you read the rest of this review before you run off to visit them, though. There are a few reservations .. well more than a few .. I have to share with you. I’m going to break them into two sections … Legalities and eCommerce concerns:

Legalities:

The very first thing that came to my mind is the question, is this legal? The answer is a little muddy on several levels. I’m going to address first the legality/illegality of Absinthe in the United States … because that’s where most of our readers are and that’s where the body of legal data is concerned with. If you live elsewhere then you need to check up on the local laws in your country because they likely vary widely from the US “take” on the issue.

Absinthe [AB-sinth] Reputed to be an aphrodisiac, absinthe is a potent, bitter liqueur distilled from wormwood and flavored with a variety of herbs. It has a distinct anise flavor and is 68 percent alcohol (136 proof). Absinthe is usually diluted with water, which changes the color of the liqueur from green to milky white. The US FDA banned the human consumption of absinthe under Food Inspection Decision 147 in 1912. The “culprit” mainly responsible for the banning is the chemical Thujone, a terpene-like ketone, which is a result of the distillation of the wormwood herb. In recent years there has been some effort to sell “Thujone-free” absinthe … but the products Buy Absinthe Alcohol.com sell all clearly contain Thujone. Indeed the product descriptions pages state the Thujone concentration for each product.  Personally I don’t believe in telling anyone what is or isn’t good for them … but in this case I feel the FDA has made the situation pretty clear. I would advice any US citizen within the US to exercise extreme caution in making any sort of Absinthe purchase. I’m indebted to the Ask Erowid site for this Absinthe legalities summary and suggest you go there to learn a lot more about the laws and rules on Absinthe. Most likely:

  1. It is illegal to sell thujone containing absinthe in the US for human consumption.
  2. It is illegal for someone outside the US to sell thujone containing absinthe to someone inside the US.
  3. It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing absinthe for personal use in the US.
  4. It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing absinthe for personal use from outside the United States
  5. Thujone containing absinthe can be seized by US customs (if it appears to be for human consumption).

eCommerce:

In general I am a big proponent of eCommerce. I live away from my native land and I find the ability of buying things online is a great benefit of the Internet. Even when I lived in the US I bought online whenever possible. But obviously one must exercise a basic level of caution. Online merchants owe their potential customers a certain level of legitimacy and in my view this company falls woefully short. Here’s what I found when I visited their site at midnight, GMT, 15 September 2007:

  • Coding Errors: There is a top line menu that doesn’t display. Within that menu are important items like contact information. I eventually found the “Contact Us’ info within the code of the site and was faced with no physical address and a phone number listed as 000-000-0000. I didn’t bother to try to place a call. Not good.
  • Policies on Privacy/Refunds/Shipping: Conspicuously absent. This is a basic requirement of eCommerce. Not Good.
  • Site Ownership: The domain name is registered through a Malaysian privacy service. certainly nothing wrong with doing business with Malaysia … my wife and I live right next door. But to give no physical address, phone number, owner’s name? A huge red flag to me … I won’t buy or recommend anyone buy from anonymous sources. Not good.
  • Site Location: Doing a “whois” on the domain shows that it is being served from Mexico. Very unusual since US servers are ‘better, faster, cheaper … heck most of the Asian firms I do business with have their servers in the US. Of course, nothing wrong with a Malaysian? firm running a web server in Mexico to sell to US customers, but it seems pretty obvious to me they didn’t read point number 2 in the legalities summary. At the least questionable.
  • eCommerce Provider: How good or how bad your online buying results are depends in large degree upon the actual merchant services form that accepts you credit card, pays the merchant and in general oversees the deal. The provider in this case is a subsidiary of Digital river, one of the largest and lost well-established of these firms. And, guess what? When you attempt to place an order … the merchant services provider has suspended the operation of Buy Absinthe Alcohol’s sales. frankly, I think a big name provider knows a lot more than I do. Very bad news.

In short, my personal opinion is best summed up by what one of my favorite Soprano characters said in reference to partnering with Tony … “we should avoid this in droves”!