CATALOGUE PERNOD FILS
Before describing the Pernod & Sons factory, recognized by experts as a model establishment, a few words about the fabrication processes employed there.
One starts by macerating, in spirits distilled from wine, grand wormwood, melissa with a delicate aroma, fennel of Gard, and anise of Tarn or Andalusia. After this maceration comes distillation, which is done in a double boiler heated by steam. This process is slower than distillation by direct steam, but quite preferable in that it avoids burning and does not allow the heavy oils to become entrained with the alcohol saturated with the aromatic principles of the plants.
Part of the product of distillation is then sent to special apparatus called colorators, with hyssop and petite wormwood, to obtain a concentrated product which is used to color the absinthe.
Let us study each raw material used in this process.
Wormwood - "the wormwood or bitter armoise", we read in the work of Dr. Lehameau entitled Plants, Remedies and Diseases, "grows in almost all countries; the dry, arid, rocky terrain, the higher elevations, mountainous and cold, are the places where it is normally found. A herbaceous and vigorous plant, wormwood has a rather strong stem, erect, hard, stiff, and grooved, of ashy gray, filled with white marrow, reaching 70 to 80 centimeters and even a meter in height. (In 1894 a grand wormwood plant harvested on the Pernod factory property measured 1.8 meters in height.) The alternate leaves, heavily indented, are rather large, gray-green and silvery on top, whiter and silkier underneath. The flowers are numerous, resembling small globes, yellow, and arranged in small bunches; the root is woody, vibrant, and twirling.
The smell of wormwood is very strong and is not lost in drying, especially when drying is done carefully; its flavor is excessively bitter and penetrating.
The tonic virtues, stimulative, vermifugal and diuretic, of wormwood have been known for a very long time and have rendered it of great use in medicine and the veterinary arts. It can perhaps be classified as one of our most valuable indigenous plants, capable in many cases of replacing quinine.
To supplement this information let us add that the grand and the petite wormwood are the varieties most usually cultivated. The grand wormwood is sown in spring; and transplanted in autumn; the petite wormwood is multiplied by cuttings, the seeds do not reach maturity in our climate. One plants these cuttings in autumn in well loosened and plowed ground; after which wormwood requires nothing more than some hoeing. One harvests the leaves and stems in July a little before full flowering; one cuts the stems to within a few centimeters of the ground.
The House of Pernod formerly used wormwood cultivated in the mountains of the Swiss Jura; today the use of the plant in the factory is such that cultivation of it has developed considerably in the immediate surroundings of Pontarlier where it constitutes a significant source of income for the farmers. The factory is thus assured, in spite of the enormous development of its output, of always being able to get absinthe herbs of first quality.
Melissa - We know the remarkable anti-nervous properties of this plant, which is used successfully against migraine, languors and debilities of the stomach, spasms and convulsions.
Fennel - the culture of fennel is very widespread in Italy and in the South of France; the fennel of Gard enjoys a great reputation; it is that which is employed in the Pernod factory. This seed is one of the four large hot seeds; it is very digestive and fights the putrid fevers; it also strengthens the stomach and contributes strongly to digestion.
Anise - the anise seed is in extensive use in distilling, perfumery, confectionery and pharmacology, it is in general endowed with the same qualities as fennel. The best sources of anise are the Tarn and Andalusia; it is those regions that supply the House of Pernod.
Hyssop - this plant grows naturally in the South of France where it is very common; it is cultivated successfully in the North; it also is extensively employed in medicine, especially as an expectorant in pulmonary conditions.
Translated by Artemis
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