The bottle: Mad March Hare poitín, $24.99
The back story: We all may be familiar with Irish whiskey, which has become the “it” spirit of late. But what about poitín (pronounced put-cheen), sometimes referred to as Irish moonshine?
It is just starting to make its way to the United States, with upstart brand Mad March Hare having been introduced three years ago. But poitín, an un-aged spirit made from cereals or other ingredients, has a rich and colorful history in Ireland that goes all the way back to the 6th Century. Essentially a homemade product, it was long considered illegal. But Irish law was changed in 1997 and poitín came to new light.
The Mad March team makes the point that poitín was — and is — an artisan product. Even in its underground days, it was always produced by a “skilled craftsman in the town or as a collective effort by all of the townspeople,” a brand spokesperson says.
As a commercial brand, Mad March, which is made from barley sourced from West Cork, is a spirit obviously produced on a larger scale. The brand won’t reveal sales figures, but says it is growing and has plans to expand its presence in the U.S.
What we think about it: This is moonshine, plain and simple. In other words, it doesn’t have the complex woody notes that come with aging a spirit for years in a cask. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its appeal. There’s a creaminess and slight unctuousness that tells you this clear spirit is quite different than, say, vodka.
How to enjoy it: You can certainly have this neat. But the brand says its poitín is made to be used in cocktails: On its website, it suggests everything from a Scarlett O’Hare (made with the Italian aperitif Aperol) to a Bloody Mooney (a Bloody Mary variation).
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