Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beverage Review: IRISH POTCHEEN (2006, Ireland)


Stars: 4 of 5.
Maker: Bunratty.
Home Country: Ireland.
Where procured: Obtained by a traveling friend in Ireland.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I've decided to unleash a few of the long-awaited beverage reviews, starting with the most potent- Irish Moonshine. Known in Ireland as Poitin (from the Irish word for 'pot'). [In fact, the first feature film to be made entirely in Gaelic was called Poitín (1979).] My Potcheen came in a rugged porcelain cask and proclaims to be "Now Legal," having been banned from 1661 to an unspecified date presumably in the not-too-distant past (supposedly 1997). The bottle is further adorned with six shamrocks and a lithograph of Bunratty Castle at night (in County Clare, between Limerick and Ennis); formidable imagery for a formidable drink. The back of the bottle whimsically entertains with the following poem about the Potcheen itself which I hold in my hands:

"Now learned men who use the pen have wrote your praises high
That sweet Poteen from Ireland green, distilled from wheat and rye:
Throw away your pills, it will cure all ills of Pagan, Christian, or Jew
Take off your coat and grease your throat with the real old mountain dew
."

Now anything that firmly proclaims "Now Legal" has to give one pause. And by the time you get to that first sip, you've probably invented some sort of sprawling, Lovecraftian monstrosity in your mind that is far more rank or cutting than the "Now Legal" beverage can ever hope to live up to. And so, it was with some degree of surprise that the first sip of Potcheen could only be described as "smooth." What the devil?! And what's this?! it evolves into a kind of fruity aftertaste, basically approximating watermelon?! I don't know about you, but I didn't jump on the "Now Legal" bandwagon to be taken for a "froo-froo fruity" ride. From the poem on the back claiming to cure all Pagan, Christian, and Jew ills, I expected Snake Oil mixed with BALTIKA EXTRA 9. And now you're telling me I might as well have ordered a sixer of Zima? Well, don't fret just yet, my dear boy. There's more. The first sip may appear as a lovely shamrock, fluttering in the brisk March air as birds sing, but once you get a few sips in, that shamrock reshapes itself into a great green FIST, thrashing your temples like the most brutal of highwaymen. Perhaps I overexaggerate. But there's something about the wide-mouthed ceramic bottle with an unpolished bottom held tight by a cork that recalls an earlier era. And for that I give it four stars. If you're gonna take issue with that, I say just take a look at this for a minute. Just take a look, and think about it.


-Sean Gill

1 comment:

meekay said...

There was a lad named Sean
Who liked to get his drink on
He swigged some Potcheen
Straight from the canteen
And now his liver is gone