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Friday, February 24, 2012

Former S.F. Bartender Tries to Introduce Poitin, Irish White Whiskey, to America

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

click to enlarge Ashlee Casserly
  • Ashlee Casserly
An aspiring distiller and former San Francisco bartender named Ashlee Casserly is trying, via Kickstarter, to introduce an Irish version of moonshine, which is trending high in local bars. Casserly is developing 1661 Poitin, an unaged Irish whiskey made from potatoes or barley, with 40 to 50 percent alcohol by volume (it's pronounced puh-CHEEN).

Casserly briefly lived in San Francisco on a student visa and returned after graduating in Ireland. She tended bars at the Liberties and the Lone Palm in the Mission and always knew she wanted to develop her own liquor brand.

"Poitin has a stigma attached to it in Ireland because people have made it illegally for the last 300 years. Some bad batches have been dangerous, but it is a big part of Irish heritage and a dying craft," Casserly said.

To get the good stuff in Ireland, she told SFoodie, you have to ask around a few pubs and wait a for a few weeks. Several poitin labels are already on the market, she says, but 1661 Poitin is a homemade recipe from Ireland and is distilled in a small Irish distillery. Her father, who still lives in Ireland, helped her track down a few recipes, and Casserly recreated the one she thought tasted best.

Poitin's unaged whiskey flavor, Casserly says, is good enough to drink straight, or mix with Irish coffee or even hot water -- tonic water, not so much. Unfortunately, you can't get your hands on a bottle yet. Casserly is pitching 1661 Poitin on Kickstarter and needs to raise $40,000 by Monday in order to make this dream a reality.

However, If she doesn't reach her goal by Monday, she said she won't give up. "I know it has the potential to work really well," said Casserly. "I would love for people across America to try the real poitin. It is a legitimate drink that could sell and do very well."

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Erika Maldonado


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