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Absinthe in the U.S. – Price vs Quality



For several years, I’ve been compiling data on absinthe prices around the world and converting it to cost per drink analyses in order to track what the category as a whole is doing. It’s been on the main site for about three years or so, but it’s rarely mentioned and not very easy to find, so I thought I’d make mention of it here, now that I’ve finished updating it for 2011. There are about 160 brands covered.

Now, before people start nitpicking on the prices, I didn’t scour the Internet looking for the cheapest price for each product. Instead, I used several of the most common retailers and just noted those prices. Where bottles were available on multiple sites, I simply used the price I ran across first. Costs do not include shipping.

Exchange rate conversions for the Pound Sterling and Euro were as of Thursday, March 3rd 2011.

Some of the interesting finds:

1) Quality absinthe continues to get cheaper for the most part. Many of the highest regarded brands tend to fall in the middle of the chart. I’ve marked many of them in red. It is my hope that this is due to decreasing production costs, and not increased competition. Or I at least hope that will be the case in the future. There has also been some decrease in prices simply due to the novelty factor wearing off for the average consumer.

2) Some questionable brands that tout thujone and rely on unscrupulous marketing actually seem to be getting more expensive. One can assume that this might be the case because they are trying to set themselves apart, using the old ‘We’re the only REAL absinthe’ argument that they’ve been using since 2007. Please see here and here for more information about that marketing and how it is completely false.

3) As has always been the case, the chart shows that many low quality brands still charge the same or more than their higher quality counterparts, preying on the unknowing consumer. Misinformation and sketchy marketing practices have always allowed knock offs in the absinthe world to command high prices. My hopes are that this effect will diminish as the absinthe consumer becomes more and more educated.

4) Comparable prices between US and European brands have tilted in favor of the US brands recently, with the devaluation of the dollar. If US brands had access to international markets, they would be quite attractive to international consumers right now.

Next week, we’ll lighten it up a bit with a few entries about classic and modern absinthe cocktails. See you then!


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