'Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen'
by Kevin R. Kosar
At the time of writing (late August 2000), Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen was not yet available in the United States. Happily, though, the 140 proof Gold version will likely hit America's shores soon. This unusual spirit won a Bronze Award at the 2000 Millennium International Wine and Spirit Competition held in London, England. The first question you'll likely want answered is, what is it? Well, it's poteen, a word used in Ireland usually to refer to a homemade spirit, akin to the American term "moonshine", and possessing illegal connotations. Indeed, for some time, the Irish Revenue Commissioners, who oversee these matters, forbade companies to call their product poteen because, as one commissioner put it in correspondence with Knockeen Hills, "strong association in the public mind of the term 'poteen' with illicitly distilled spirits and the confusion that the use of such terms would give rise to as the duty status of such spirits."
They've relented, and now we have the handsomely packaged Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen, which is offered in three strengths: the green is 120 proof, the gold is 140 proof, and the black is a hefty 180 proof, right up there with such potent American spirits like Graves and Ever Clear.
We sampled the 140 proof version. On nosing the straight spirit, we were both surprised- our sinuses weren't scorched, and there was a pleasant aroma, much liked jarred green olives and a feint whiff of the same barley crispness one gets from a Highland single malt scotch.
Eschewing the bottle's urgings to drink it as a mixer, we took it straight then with ice. Either way, Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen coated our tongues and slid down our throats. This was interesting, as we had expected it, like other super-strength spirits, to parch our mouths. While it was quite warm, on ice it was easy to drink, as easy as most vodkas of lesser strength. The taste was a mix of the mineral and the metallic (though some have described this striking note an amalgam of melon and vanilla') followed by a green olive flush.
Clearly, there are some excellent possibilities for mixed drinks. Most obviously, wherever one uses vodka, one might just as well use Knockeen Poteen. Those who enjoy vodka martinis might well substitute Knockeen Poteen for their Absolut or Ketel One (and no need to add olives!) We also made a Mudslide with it (Kahlua, Irish Creme liqueur, creme) which came off grand, as the Poteen's flavor balanced nicely against the chocolatey-coffee notes that can otherwise be a bit overwhelming.
AlcoholReviews.com's Rating System:
* Horrid - Won't drink unless threatened with
** Tolerable - Will drink if it is free.
*** Good - Will drink and even pay for.
**** Very Good - Will seek out for purchase.
***** Superb - Will walk miles to acquire.
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