The Emperor Norton Absinthe is named for Joshua Norton, a self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States. Joshua lived during the late 1800s in San Francisco and was more or less a vagabond wandering the city dressed in part Union, part Confederate uniform. He even made his own money which shop owners would accept. His most famous proclamation was a decree calling for a bridge crossing to be built over San Francisco Bay. Many decades after his death, the Bay Bridge was built, and his glorious spirit now rests on Treasure Island. Master Distiller Carter Raff hand-crafts this traditional absinthe in small batches with brandy made from 100% California grapes and distilled with only the finest herbs. With woody hints of wormwood and a gentle taste of anise followed by waves of floral and citrus undertones, this is perfect representation of the absinthe served all over Paris 100 years ago.
Raff distillerie was founded in early 2011 by master distiller Carter Raff. He has been distilling for 13 years and making wine for over 22. It all started early on; his love of spirits. What fascinated him were the multitudes of products out there; all tasting different with beautiful bottles and labels. It was as much about the art of the packaging as the taste. After years of experimentation with different wines and alcohols he was given the opportunity to join a distillery already established on San Francisco's Treasure Island. Treasure Island Distillery started in the old Navy Brig and was without a still. Carter having built dozens of stills, large and small, was already gathering the necessary materials for building a production still in hopes of starting his own distillery. When this opportunity presented itself it was a match made in heaven. He continued to fabricate the stills from scratch; machining every single part from a raw bar of metal. He built the main production still and the ¼ scale lab version for making test batches. Most of the complimentary equipment for the distillery was also fabricated from scratch. Equally out of saving money, but also to get exactly what's necessary for the job at hand. The still more specifically is a hybrid design by me, Carter Raff. It can be used for many different types of alcohol. Normally if one were to make vodka you would use a column still also referred to as a fractioning still. These stills use plates or packing to create more surface area for the alcohol/water molecule to cling to thereby allowing it to continually distill the same liquid over and over achieving a more refined, clean, product. If you wanted to make anything else that retained its flavor you would use a pot still or alembic; which is essentially a pot still. The still that I built is a hybrid that allows it to be used as either a fractioning column or a pot still. If you wanted some separation you would be able to use 1 to 3 plates or apply what's known as Vapor Management to apply lots of separation. Most of the time we are using it to create flavored spirits such as gin, absinthe and whiskey so we use it as a plain pot still.