Potcheen Irish Moonshine Review
Bunratty Export Potcheen
90 Proof Unaged Grain Whiskey
Typical Price: Less than $20 for a 750ml bottle - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits
Initial Thoughts: In Ireland, the word potcheen (AKA poteen or poitin) has a similar connotation to the words "white lightning" in the American South. That's right, potcheen is moonshine, a drink that has been banned since the 1600s and until fairly recently was only distilled in illegal pot stills in remote areas.
There are two reasons we decided to review Bunratty's today. The first is that the Irish version of Bunratty's has the greatest slogan we've ever seen on a liquor bottle (Now Legal!), which would make us buy pretty much anything. The other is that some people around the office had Ireland on the brain (Yes, Jake, we know you took your honeymoon in Ireland. Happy anniversary to you and Kathleen). But we digress.
Bunratty Export potcheen is distilled from barley, but it is unaged like other whiskeys so it has a very distinct, and possibly overpowering smell. One reviewer thought it smelled like mineral oil, and another compared it to children's chewable aspirin, but the overall consensus was that it had a fruit nose, and was much dryer than expected. Overall, we were impressed when we tried it straight and on the rocks, but that might be because we expected something that would sear our nose hairs.
Cocktail Recipes: We tried Bunratty with a variety of mixers, including soda water and cranberry, and it held up quite well. There are also suggestions on the label, including mixing it with lemonade and putting it in Irish coffee, which intrigued us but we haven't gotten around to trying.
We also found an online recipe called Assumpta's Kiss, which we found interesting:
1 part poteen
1 part Cointreau
1 part irish cream
pinch of mint sprigs
Shake well with plenty of ice, strain into a martini glass and serve ferociously cold in generous quantities, garnished with a sprig of mint.
Finishing Thoughts: Potcheen is definitely an interesting spirit based on the history alone, as well as its outlaw reputation. Even if you don't like the flavor it makes for a good conversation piece, and clocking in at 90 proof it's definitely on the strong side. Funny thing is, the bottle we were able to get our hands on was on the meeker side of the brands we researched...Knockeen Hills makes a variety of brands that go all the way up to 180 proof.
We liked the drink's strong flavor, but we realize it might not be for everyone. Keep an eye out in the next little while as we pit the drink against our Gray Kangaroo liquor filter.
Learn more about Bunratty Export Potcheen at their website, which actually looks like it may have been made back in the 1600s itself.
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at October 25, 2005 7:51 AM