The Tale of Owen Salty

(Note: the following story may be partially/entirely untrue, do not believe a word of it.)

My great-great-great-stepcousin Eoin MacSalainn, known in English as Owen Salty, was a man with a singular love of liquor. Born in Níáitfíor, County Tipperary, in the late 1700s, his family was so poor that he, his twelve siblings, their parents, and their cow Bessandra all lived on a single rowboat floating in the middle of Lough Derg. To make ends meet Owen’s father would secretly sell poitín, Irish moonshine. Legend says that Papa MacSalainn made his spirits with a small copper pot still he had won playing dice with a strange, tiny man on a moonless night.

             The small man told Papa MacSalainn that the still could make the finest drink ever known, but only if a pint of everything it distilled was left beneath a hawthorn tree along the banks of the Lough as a gift for the fae folk. If the distiller ever failed to give the faeries their share, a great tragedy would befall them. The little fellow was as good as his word, the liquor that Papa MacSalainn distilled was a magical concoction that could heal all manner of maladies and gladden the heart of even the coldest curmudgeon.


Owen grew up helping his father at his still, learning the ways of the moonshiner unregistered spirits craftsman, mashing grains, heating the still, and keeping an eye out for the deplorable taxmen who prowled the countryside looking to shut down honest, hard-working purveyors of poitín. All was well, until one fateful night, when Owen had one sip too many off the still and forgot to leave behind a pint of spirits beneath the tree.

             The very next night Owen and his father were sitting by their still, patiently waiting for the first foreshots. Just as the liquor began to spill from their wormtub condenser they heard a shout behind them. The taxman and a coterie of constables had found them! Papa MacSlainn bravely threw himself at the interlopers to give his son time to flee. Or maybe he just tripped and fell while running, the tale isn’t quite clear on that. What is clear though is that Owen managed to escape into the night. Hunted by the law and with his father’s pot still confiscated, he boarded a trade ship bound for the United States. It was while a deckhand onboard that he was given the moniker “The Salty Dog”.

Now, as the Distiller-Type-Guy at Salty Dog Distillery, I do my best to honor the memory of my dear great-great-great-stepcousin by creating the best spirits I possibly can. And rest assured that I always leave a pint behind for the faerie folk.