A court has overturned a decision to give Swiss absinthe producers a protected designation of origin, calling the spirit a “generic” product and not explicitly tied to any one geographical location.
Naturally-coloured absinthe (verte) with an absinthe spoon.
In 2010 the Swiss Federal Department of Agriculture granted an IGP (Indication géographiques protegées) to absinthe made in the Val-de-Travers region – a district in the canton of Neuchâtel, as reported by The Local.
However in a ruling made public on Tuesday, a Swiss federal administrative agreed with appeals put forward by 11 absinthe producers in Switzerland, France and Germany who had opposed the decision.
The federal court, based in Saint Gallen, said absinthe was a “generic” product and was not tied to a specific location, adding that its associated names, “Fée verte” and “La Bleue”, were also generic and could not be restricted to beverages made only in Val-de-Travers.
The association of absinthe producers in Val-de-Travers maintain that the spirit first originated in the valley in the late 18th century and had hoped the spirit would join Emmentale and Gruyere cheese as a protected Swiss product.
Val-de-Travers producers could appeal the decision if they see fit, taking the case to Switzerland’s Supreme Court.
Absinthe, which is bottled at 45 to 74%, is known for its traditional green colour prompting it to receive the nickname of “fée verte” (green fairy), while a colourless variety is known as “la Bleue”.
It became particularly popular in the late 19th century among writers, including Oscar Wilde, for its apparent psychedelic qualities, which prompted the US and European countries to ban the drink by 1915 over concerns it caused hallucinations.
This ban was only removed in Switzerland in 2005, after which the Federal Office for Agriculture afforded the Val-de-Travers region’s absinthe protected status prompting complaints from producers in Germany, France and elsewhere in Switzerland.
Traditionally, absinthe is prepared by placing a sugar cube on top of a slotted spoon, and placing the spoon on a glass filled with a measure of absinthe.
Iced water is then poured or dripped over the sugar cube to evenly distribute the water into the absinthe.