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Spirit of St. Patrick: Legal Moonshine

St. Patrick's Day has never been a sedate holiday, and Bunratty Winery's Potcheen--Gaelic moonshine--promises to make it more raucous than ever. Potcheen went underground in Ireland hundreds of years ago after it became heavily taxed by the British, who (frustrated by their inability to collect revenue) finally banned it in 1661. The spirit still can't be sold in Ireland but can now be produced legally for export from the County Clare town of Bunratty. Potcheen, which dates back to medieval times, was developed by Irish farmers who concocted it using a mixture of malt, barley, yeast, water and sugar, refining the recipe over centuries. Our editors, who graciously volunteered to taste this 90-proof spirit, found it smooth, light and surprisingly fruity. Sip it neat or in coffee on St. Patrick's Day and throughout the last raw days of winter ($24; 800-638-7720).
--M.F.F.

Published March 2002
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