Absinthe producers rejoice after Swiss GI u-turn

14th August, 2014 by Becky Paskin

A controversial decision to give absinthe produced in Switzerland a protected geographical indication (GI) has been overturned.

Pernod Absinthe Fountain

The decision to strip Val-de-Travers absinthe of its GI has been met with widespread support from global absinthe producers

The Swiss federal administrative court in Saint Gallen overruled a decision made in 2010 to give absinthe produced in the Val-de-Travers region a GI as the green spirit is a generic product that can be made anywhere in the world.

It also ruled that the terms “fée verte” and “la bleue” – which refer to either a green or clear (blanche) absinthe – were not restricted to absinthes made in Val-de-Travers, but were also generic.

The decision has been welcomed by European and American absinthe producers who, up until now, were prevented from selling their products within Switzerland.

Oscar Dodd, business development manager for La Fée Absinthe, whos range is predominantly produced in France, said: “This is excellent news for everyone involved in French absinthe, from producers to drinkers alike.

“This respects both French and Swiss historical distillers and will protect absinthe’s future around the world by allowing all producers of the ‘Green Fairy’ to continue calling their spirits absinthe: It’s a plant – not a place.”

An appeal launched in 2012 following the approval of the Swiss GI gained backing from 11 absinthe producers in France, Germany and Switzerland, including Pernod Ricard, which makes Pernod Absinthe, and the Morand distillery in Martigny which was exempt from carrying the GI.

According to Arcinfo.ch, the Val-de-Travers absinthe association will now consider whether to appeal the court’s decision.

As Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, the GI was only applicable to sales made within Swiss borders. Absinthe producers across the world are currently negotiating a blanket definition for absinthe, to register the spirit as a recognised product within the EU.

An attempt made in 2013 was thrown out by EU Parliament over queries about minimum and maximum thujone levels allowed in absinthe.

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