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Issue 9 - Poitin patrol

Whisky Magazine Issue 9
April 2000


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Poitin patrol

Michael Jackson joins the poitin patrol, in prepartation for St Patrick's Day on Friday 17 March.

There is a perfectly legal Irish whiskey called Paddy, and that is what the label before me announced. However, the contents of the bottle were the colour of water, smelled slightly of silage, and had a suspiciously hot finish. "This is a good one. You could drink this all
night and have no hangover in the morning," my host pronounced. The gospel according to Jackson is that all alcoholic beverages contain a hangover if you drink enough of them, but the good host was not to be deterred. He pulled another bottle from his desk drawer. "This one is better with a dash of Seven-Up," he suggested, with the air of a sommelier proposing that I let my first-growth claret breathe a little.

I was beginning to worry. "Didn't you say there was a minimum fine for handling this stuff?" He adopted his sommelier gravitas again. "To be sure, it's £1,000," he said, using the British currency for my benefit, "but usually they fine you less than a hundred". If the thousand was a minimum, how could it be reduced tenfold? "Oh, you know judges – they are a law unto themselves."

I was not entirely sure that the joke was intentional. My host was the senior officer, the sergeant, in a two-man police station, in what otherwise looked like a private house, in a village in Ireland. We were conducting our poitin-tasting in his office. "The man who made this poitin – how much was he fined?" I asked. "Nothing. He gave it to me as a Christmas present." The Sarge dismissed any thought that such a gift ...

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