Marteau is SIP Northwest’s Magazine’s Pick For Best of the Northwest

Marteau-MR-SIP-shotI’m proud to announce that SIP Northwest magazine has chosen Marteau Master’s Reserve absinthe as the best absinthe produced in the Pacific Northwest.  According to their press release:

“The selection process, an arduous one at that, involved 31 professional palates tasting blind through more than 1,000 wine, beer, spirit and cider submissions. 

Sip Northwest magazine’s editor, Erin Thomas said the experience and results were full of excitement and discoveries. “Through vigorous and intensive tasting, our panelists decided on the most outstanding winners — some of which might be more expected for their categories and others that were huge surprises from smaller, lesser known producers,” Thomas said. “It’s exciting to learn what is out there and introduce new beverages to professionals that work with them daily. Putting it on the page and introducing the winners to our readers is the next step, we hope that we spread the enlightenment and people are able to use the champions on their shopping list!” 

Best-of-SIP Cover-2013



Congratulations to all the other winners and runners up!  I encourage you to pick up the latest issue of Sip Northwest Magazine or download the digital version on their website to read about all the winners.

~ Gwydion

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Great News From Marteau Absinthe!

Visit the Gnostalgic Spirits web site.

Volume III                          Seattle, Washington  – April 15, 2013                  No. 1

Greetings!   Great news about Marteau Absinthe: a new lineup!

New Marteau LineupFor some time I’ve wanted to introduce an absinthe that would remain true to Marteau’s original formula, but which would be more economical for the average consumer, so I’ve made a few changes that have created room for another, more affordable, Marteau absinthe.

This week I’m releasing a new super-premium product—Marteau Master’s Reserve—a gold-labeled elixir that will sell at the same price as the current product.  The first batch will be shipped this week and will be available at our online retailers,, Catskill Cellars, and, and local Washington State retailers, within two weeks.

Marteau Master's Reserve LabelThen, there’s a new version of Marteau Belle Époque (the familiar blue and white label) made with grain spirits and which should retail at around 40% less than the price of the current product.  This will replace the current product and go into production in May.  If you’re a big fan of the current Belle Époque, you may want to stock up now, because my stock is entirely depleted and there won’t be any further production.

For those interested in the finer details of this transition:

When I created Marteau, I was determined to make no compromises in making a product that was 100% faithful to the style and content of the very best absinthes made in the pre-ban era, as based on distillers’ documents from the 1800s and other research, like tasting actual pre-ban absinthe and letting my palate be my guide.  As it turned out, it cost a lot more to make than I had anticipated when I embraced that ideal.  Still, I don’t want to abandon an accurate and high-quality absinthe simply for the sake of affordability.


Artemisia absinthium

The things that makes Marteau so costly are a contract-grown, proprietary strain of absinthium wormwood which has an amazing flavor and aroma, and the grape spirits base, which is essentially a very high-proof eau de vie.  These each cost around 4 to 5 times more than the materials other brands use.

The recipe itself will remain unchanged for both of the new labels; only the commodity sources will change. These are the actual differences between the products:

• The currently-sold product has a grape spirits base and a blend of the proprietary and wildcrafted absinthium wormwoods.

• The new Master’s Reserve has a grape spirits base, and only the proprietary wormwood.  I’ll be growing other botanicals myself this year as well, such as the petite wormwood and the lemon balm.

• The new Belle Époque will have a grain spirits base, which is the industry standard for liqueurs.  It will also use botanicals sourced from both the USA and Europe, but not the costly proprietary wormwood.

In addition, by late summer or before, both labels will be available in 357ml half-size bottles.

Look for Marteau at PROOF Washington Distillers Festival this June where we’ll be sampling both new absinthes!

Gwydion Stone

Owner, Distiller
Gnostalgic Spirits Distillery
Seattle, WA

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The Lure of The Purple Fairy – A Parable

This is a piece I wrote a long time ago, shortly after starting The Wormwood Society. For those not familiar with the early history of the absinthe revival (c. 2001), this is a humorous, but disturbingly accurate, analog to 19th century anti-absinthe propaganda, and the subsequent phenomena of “faux-absinthe” that arose in the early 2000s.  Enjoy.

Imagine a world where wine was illegal; it had been banned for centuries. No one knew where to get it or how to make it. Wine has become the stuff of legend.

Alcoholic beverages made from grapes were considered poisonous; they made you mad. Habitual over-indulgence in wine caused tremors, memory-loss, vomiting, and liver failure. Habitual over-indulgence in other alcoholic drinks does too, but wine was different somehow. Look at all the historical references to it. It obviously had a very different effect than other drinks did.  It was somehow more romantic than vodka. It must be the grapes. Or the tannin in the grape skins, more likely.

We know a little bit about wine – it was definitely made from grapes. You had to use grapes – that’s what made it wine; and grapes have tannin in them. That’s what makes it bitter. Ever taste pure tannin? Wow, is it bitter! Wine had lots of alcohol in it – that’s the active ingredient besides tannin; some were grape-colored and some were clear. There were different styles – French, Italian, Greek, Australian.  Real vintage wine was very, very bitter because it had all that tannin in it.

All the poetry and intrigue inspired by wine for a thousand years tantalized the imagination in the post-ban era. Imagine the antique flyers, magazine ads, newspaper and medical journal articles, warning about wine and grape poisoning! There was even a special word for victims of wine addiction: winos.

Then someone discovered that, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, there are clandestine winemakers hidden in the villages of Europe, where people have been drinking wine all along and not going mad or hallucinating! There are actually countries where wine was never outlawed because almost no one ever drank it or made it there anyway.

Then some clever marketers in those countries decided that they were going to make wine and sell it in those legal markets. They’ve never made wine before—they know very little about wine, and nothing about how it was made—but they know it has grapes and alcohol in it, and lots of bitter tannin. Simple enough! Add some grape flavoring and tannin to pure alcohol, water it down a little, and voilà! Wine! They know it’s purple because grapes are purple, so they artificially color it that way: bright purple.


They can make up stories about how their father used to make it before the ban on wine. Because their “wine” is hugely inferior, they can also make up special “traditional” rituals for how to serve it: it is slowly poured down the arm from the wrist to the elbow, which is suspended just over the special wine-glass, into which the thin stream of wine gently drizzles. That will make it more interesting and the young 20-somethings will be so caught up in the forbidden mystique and hoping to contract grape-poisoning, that they’ll never question its validity – or even know where to look to confirm it. So long as it has grapes and lots of tannin, they’ll pay.

Recipes for steeping grapes in vodka and adding tannin will proliferate for years on the Internet.

Now, fast forward to when some antique books on wine making have been discovered and there are more and more real winemakers around, trying to educate the masses what wine was really all about, and that they had discovered the truth: that wine was no more dangerous than any other alcoholic beverage and the effects of tannin had been blown all out of proportion and were in fact meaningless in terms of the “effects” of wine.

Imagine how the fools will exclaim:

“Hey, I don’t care about flavor. I drink wine for the effects! You guys are just wine snobs.”

“MD 20/20 is the best, strongest wine around!”

“I hear Thunderbird is made just like the wine that Shakespeare got drunk on.”

“This one has real grape skins right in the bottle! The maker says it has the most tannin in it.”

“Their web site says their wine is made in the traditional way, with 500mg of tannin, for more grape effect!”

“Hey, I found some tannin on the top shelf of the pantry when I moved into my apartment, can someone give me a good wine recipe?”

The end.


For more fun, copy the above story into your favorite word processing app.  Exchange all instances of:

Wine for absinthe
Grape and grapes for wormwood
Tannin for thujone
Wino for absinthiste
Purple for green

You now have an accurate portrayal of the absinthe revival (with some grammatical errors owing to plurals, tenses, etc.)

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Gwydion’s Pouring at Maximilien Tonight, 5-7

Sunset view from MaximilenHey folks, just a quick note to let you all know that I’ll be serving Marteau tonight again for Maximilien’s Art Walk Happy Hour, from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Stop by and say hello, have some delicious Happy Hour noms, and be entertained by the beautiful voice of Janet Rayor of Rouge, as the sun sets over Puget Sound.


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Seattle Peeps! Meet me @bastil…

Seattle Peeps! Meet me @bastilleseattle, 4:30 and 7:00 tonight! $8 Marteau absinthe drips and $8 Marteau cocktails!

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