Quite some months after the fact, I reckoned that it was high time to bring to the ‘net my visit to the Prince Edward Distillery on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
Though the distillery was not on my official Canadian Tourism Commission itinerary – through whose good offices I had gotten to PEI in the first place – my ever genial and accommodating PEI guide, Grant, kindly acceded to my hopeful requests and – despite a lot of miles and a lack of time – got me to the distillery on the last day of my visit to the island, where I met the delightful Julie Shore, craft distiller and one half of the couple behind the production of Canada’s first potato vodka.
Well, do ya?
18lbs of potatoes in one bottle. Weighty stuff, this potato vodka.
Julie Shore was talking me through the process of making potato vodka at the small Prince Edward Distillery that she established in 2008 with her partner Arla Johnson in Hermanville, in the north east of the island. “Our distillery is about distilling the agriculture here on PEI,” said Julie, “and the number one crop is potatoes. That being said, potatoes are the hardest thing to distill – a potato is 80% water, so it takes a lot of potatoes to make a bottle of vodka. My colleagues look at me like I’m crazy to do it.”
Essence of island agriculture: PEI potato vodka
I have no idea how my sister came to know or suspect that B. could get the poitín for her. I have no idea, for that matter, where B. got the poitín from. The transaction was spoken of in veiled terms: the code name was ‘blue nun’, though the unholy liquid thus procured packed considerably more punch than your average Liebfraumilch. It was evidence, too, that the twin Irish traditions of illicit distillation and of keeping a drop of rare oul’ stuff stashed somewhere about the house, were alive and well.
Blue Nun you say? A likely story…
The people from Absolut vodka must really think I need a drink.
Not that they’re necessarily wrong about that you understand, but they must think I’m in a truly bad way if they’re sending me five bottles of vodka at a time. Five!
For all you know, these bottles could be quite large