Mead Lover's Digest #0909 Sun 3 March 2002


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



Absinthe Summary ("Berggren, Stefan")
absinthe and thujone legality in the U.S. (
Re: Red Raspberry mead ("Lane Gray, Czar Castic")
olive oil mead (Mathieu Bouville)
Plums in Mead and Sack Mead ("David Craft")
Dutch Gold Honey (
bulk honey needed (Todd Parent)
Another absynthe question ("Norm Allen")


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Subject: Absinthe Summary
From: "Berggren, Stefan" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 12:17:21 -0600

Three Washington State doctors have recently issued a warning about
medical products available over the Internet. This is a result of a
poisoning from the purchase of wormwood oil from a home computer.
The victim was able to obtain, via the Internet, a recipe for making the
banned liquorabsinthe. The victim was unaware that the consumption of
absinthe may cause hallucinations, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis
over the long term.

The question that arises is what is responsible for the toxicity of
the drink. The answer to the question is absinthe contains the compound
(+)-thujone. Thujone is a widely occurring natural product found in the
essential oils of two Artemisia species, Artemisia absinthium and
pontica. Wormwood oil, the oil obtained from Artemisia absinthium, is used
as a counterirritant in Absorbine Jr. and Vicks Vaporub. The French liquor
absinthe was once prepared from wormwood leaves as well as several other
herbs. Absinthe, however, was banned early in this century due to its
toxicity. Thujone, one of the ingredients in the liquor, has been shown to
cause of brain damage, and it is believed to be the compound responsible


the 1915 ban of the once highly popular drink in France. Thujone is a
monoterpene, or a class of natural products containing ten carbons, found


many different plants and flowers. Monoterpenes are derived from the
coupling of two isoprenoid units, which are made from
isopentylpyrophosphate, a precursor in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.
These compounds are usually fragrance oils or low melting solids and are
used commerically as aroma or flavoring agents. Thujone is structurally
related to menthol which is an old natural remedy for various ailments.

Menthol contains a cyclohexane, or 6-membered, ring in its structure
as well as an exocyclic isopropyl group. (+)-Thujone also contains a
cyclohexane ring as well as the exocyclic isopropyl group. The essential
difference is the presence of an additional 3-membered ring in
This new ring results from an additional carbon-carbon bond between two of
the members of the cyclohexane ring. The biosynthesis of these compounds


thought to derive from the same intermediate. The distinctive
peppermint odor of menthol is found in Noxema medicated cream, Solarcaine
and Ben-Gay, as well as many other over the counter products.
The more notable use of (+)-thujone was in absinthe, a green liquor once
very popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the beginning
of this century. The psychological effects of absinthe were believed to
be different than other alcoholic beverages. The liquor was believed to
the activity of the brain, develop new ideas, expand imagination, and act
as an
aphrodisiac. As a result, the drink became very popular, especially with
and writers such as de Maupassant, Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Gaugin,
Manet, and Oscar Wilde. Perhaps the most notable drinker was the troubled

painter Vincent Van Gogh. During the last two years of his life, Van Gogh
experienced fits of hallucinations and convulsions before his eventual
His condition appears to have been worsened by his addiction to absinthe.
Absinthe drinkers were reported to have experienced a double action
intoxication. This intoxication combined the separate effects of
alcohol and thujone.

The alcohol produced a sedative effect in absinthe drinkers while the
thujone is reported to have caused hallucinations
(both visual and auditory) as well as excitation. The only proven effect
of thujone, however, is its toxicity to the brain. The toxicity of thujone

in the brain is believed to result from its structural similarity to
tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC (3), the active compound in marijuana.
Cannabis has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and has
great therapeutic potential. Thujone and THC havesimilar shapes, and
it is believed that they interact with the same biologicalreceptor to
their similar psychological effects.

The similarities between the molecules include gem dimethyl groups
and a similar carbon framework. It is also believed that the hydroxyl
group of THC and the carbonyl of thujone may interact at the same site.
Tremendous progress has been made recently in characterizing
cannabinoid receptors, both centrally and peripherally. It would be
interesting to reevaluate (+)-thujone at these new receptor populations.
(+)-Thujone is a potential cannabinoid ligand and might lead to the
development of a new drug.

Article taken from :Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Medical College of Virginia Campus,
Virginia Commonwealth University
Date posted: 12/3/97=20



Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say
something clever.

  • -Aristophanes, Greek dramatist, in 424 B.C.


Subject: absinthe and thujone legality in the U.S.
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 13:27:36 -0500 (EST)

> Subject: Absynthe
> From: Bob and Winnie <>

> Having warned about the dangers, I would like to say that the pursuit of
> knowledge about the active ingredients in any plant is an individual
> decision and for some people can be highly rewarding. Thujone is a
> controlled substance and is illegal to posess or consume in most
> countries.

Is the U.S. one of them? I ask because thujone isn't in the 1997
schedule of controlled substances, and I haven't heard the news of its
being scheduled since then. Chemical-supply companies offer it
without comment.

The FDA restricts it as a food additive. According to an NIH report,
"wormwood […] may be used in food under the condition that the
finished food is thujone-free." There is a limit of 0.5 ppm on
thujone content in "final products ready for consumption".

On the other hand, sage is freely available, though oil of sage (from
/Salvia officinalis/) is about 50 percent thujone. I guess more than
a few parts of sage per million parts chicken makes illegal sage

Thujone aside, usual BATF considerations apply to home distillers.

> [anti-absinthe propaganda]
> None of these factors has anything to do with thujone, the
> active ingredient in absynthe.

I agree that absinthe got slandered, but people should also read
e.g. the NIH document above for some modern cautions on thujone.

Eli Brandt | |


Subject: Re: Red Raspberry mead
From: "Lane Gray, Czar Castic" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 13:48:13 -0600


> Would it be a good thing to let just the honey, water and yeast
> ferment for about a month, rack that off, then add the fruit? I would
> imagine it would start another fementing frenzy, but would possibly
> lend the brew a bit more of the fruit flavor.


> Any suggestions and comments would be very welcome!


That is exactly how I do it when I make my blueberry mel. The only drawback
seems to be a layer of unfermented blueberry pulp sitting just above the lees.
It finishes with quite a bit of blueberry on completion. I see no reason why
it wouldn't do the same with raspberries.

Lane Gray, dobroist(, mead
maker, steel picker, Dagorhirim, husband, soon-to-be-ex-procrastinator.
I want my jetpack! see
"Bother", said the Borg. "We've assimilated Pooh."

Subject: olive oil mead
From: Mathieu Bouville <>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 17:23:15 -0500 (EST)

Two of my batches turned into olive oil while I was out of the country for
christmas. When I came back, after 2 weeks, they were green. They were
not viscuous but their color was the same as olive oil. They did not smell
or taste funny. I added Sparkolloid and racked and they are not green
anymore. I have not tasted them again but there is no obvious problem of
flavor. Does somebody have a clue?

In mulsa veritas

Subject: Plums in Mead and Sack Mead
From: "David Craft" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 17:46:10 -0500


I made a Plum Orange Dry Mead back in December that has been clear for over a
month. I can attest to Plums being a good Mead fruit. It fermented and cleared
well, with a little pectin helping. It has a wonderful taste too. Plums
provide the tannin and Orange Marmelade provides the acid. All in all a great
Mead so far. I'll be bottling in a week or so.

Can anyone enlighten me to a good Sack Mead recipe. I assume something in the
4 lb per gallon and a strong yeast (sherry) would work with a little tannin and
acid. I have some good old southern Tulip Poplar honey to use……….Any
hints or suggestions are welcome.


David Craft
Greensboro, NC

Subject: Dutch Gold Honey
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 23:06:35 EST

I looked at the Dutch Gold honey web site that was recently mentioned on the
digest and asked them a question. I thought their response was quite
interesting. Perhaps it explains why "non boilers" of honey can brew without
infections. If other honey packers and suppliers use similar techniques, it
appears that the honey would be quite free of wild things since it has been
pasteurized at 185 degrees F. to liquidfy it for packaging and a stable shelf
life. This is their response. I hope they don't mind me submitting to the


Dear Mr. Grossman,
Thank you for visiting our website.
Our unprocessed honey starts with raw clover honey. It is gradually heated
to 130=B0F over a three-day period to return it to a liquid. It is then
strained to remove large foreign particles, such as bee parts. Immediately
after straining it is packaged.
Our processed honey also starts with raw honey and is gradually heated to
130=B0F. However, once it is returned to a liquid, it is dumped into our
processing system, which flash heats the honey to 185=B0F and forces the honey
through a paper filtration system to remove virtually all foreign matter,
such as pollen and dirt. Once filtered, it is flash-cooled to 130=B0F and
I would estimate that 90% of our mead making customers are purchasing the
processed honey.
If there is anything else that I can do for you, please feel free to contact
me at <A href=3D"">broberts@dutchgoldhoney=


Thank you.
Beth Ann Roberts
Dutch Gold Honey, Inc.Customer Service Administrator

Subject: bulk honey needed
From: Todd Parent <>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 11:51:14 -0500

Where is a good place to buy honey in bulk? My local supplier has gone out
of business and I'm looking for a new supplier of honey.



Subject: Another absynthe question
From: "Norm Allen" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 23:15:38 -0500

"redrocklover".. Thank you for the link!

Has anyone on the list actually TRIED a commercial absynthe? If so, what
brand/where at/how was it?? It's something I've been mildly interested in
for quite a few years now but because of the inherent dangers, haven't
really pursued too hotly.. Any/all relatively responsible/intelligent
information is greatly appreciated!

End of Mead Lover's Digest #909