- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

GENEVA (Agence France-Presse) — The rustic Swiss village of Kallnach is not the sort of place you would automatically associate with controversial American rocker Marilyn Manson — but its local speciality sparked an unlikely collaboration.

The singer’s interest was piqued by one of the village’s best known products, the fabled and highly potent liquor absinthe, which has been beloved of artists and writers since the days of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Arthur Rimbaud.

The family run distillery Matter-Luginbuehl is collaborating with Mr. Manson to produce thousands of bottles of his own brand of absinthe — “Mansinthe” — and is finding a worldwide audience.

“Production started in the beginning of August and we have made 6,000 bottles in one month,” distillery head Oliver Matter said yesterday.

Mr. Manson, whose real name is Brian Hugh Warner, created the artwork for the label, adorned with Gothic script and featuring a green-hued cadaverous-looking man poised to sip from his goblet.

Mr. Matter said the result is a “classic absinthe with a fresh taste,” made with various herbs and the all-important wormwood, but without any sugar or colorings.

The 38-year-old star has not yet visited the distillery in person, but was sent samples of different absinthes by export partner Markus Lion, who has been Mr. Manson’s supplier for many years, before deciding to which brand he will lend his name.

The collaboration first arose when Mr. Lion asked Mr. Manson if he would design a label for one of his absinthe bottles after a concert by the star in the Swiss city of Basel about two years ago.

One bottle of the 66.6 percent proof drink costs $41 at the distillery’s online shop, though Mr. Matter said that some 90 percent of production was for export, including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

Ironically, Mansinthe is not yet available in the United States because absinthe is still prohibited there, though Mr. Matter said he is hopeful this could change by the end of the year.

Absinthe has only been legally produced in Switzerland since 2004, ending a ban imposed in 1908 after fears that drinking too much could render a person mad or blind.

The drink’s “outlaw” status and suspected hallucinogenic properties have made it long sought after in artistic circles.

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