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Food & Wine International

Ireland's No.1. Food, Drink & Travel Guide.

Editor. Mr E Whalley

Bouquet of the Month Award

March 2002. Page 70.

Mixed Case.

Here's an oxymoron for you: legal moonshine.

Mixed Case recently received some samples of Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen -' bottled in Co Waterford' proclaimed the label though it didn't say where the hooch was distilled (we'd hazard a guess at Co. Louth). That the manufacture of Poitin for sale in Ireland has been legal since 1997 and overseas consumption for a good ten years before that is not widely known.

The boys of Knockeen Hills aim to change all that with a product that combines high strength with high quality - triple-distilled from grain, with added flavourings - that gained the brand a Bronze at the Millennium International Wine & Spirits Award. It has also spun off some value-added products including excellent sausages and luxury ice cream.

The folklore - plus the availability of a 'high-octane' 90 per cent ABV version- will do Knockeen Hills no harm in the eyes of the clubbing & cocktail set.

But is there anything in Poitin for the dedicated spirit drinker, apart from the mother of all hangovers? Well the intrepid Mixed Case team can report that the medallist 70 per cent 'Gold' makes an amazing 'Martini'; the 60 per cent, drunk straight from the freezer like the Finns do Vodka, was by far the most appealing aromatic of the three, yielding wild thyme, lemon zest and slight balsamic notes to the nose and every drop as complex as a premium vodka, Geneva or Grappa.

The aggressive 90 per cent, sampled neat, yielded up an overbearing vanilla sugar nose - no big deal because it's conceived as the 'kicker' in fruit cocktails. Alas the assembled guinea pigs unanimously passed up the opportunity to road test a 'no wimps need apply' cocktail of 90 % Knockeen Hills, Aftershock and Red Bull. Anyhow, BOUQUET OF THE MONTH to Knockeen Hills for their ingenuity.