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WALTON _ A Walton woman will be brewing up a once-forbidden herbal liquor when she begins distilling absinthe in her still at the Delaware Phoenix Distillery.

Cheryl Lins received a loan from the Catskill Watershed Corporation to help launch her business enterprise in the former location of The Daily Grind on Delaware Street in Walton.

"This is a very interesting venture and we are pleased to be a part of it," Diane Galusha, CWC spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

Lins said the loan was the "much-needed assistance needed to move the concept forward."

Lins said she has secured a location for her absinthe distillery and has been able to use the funds to purchase the copper still from Portugal. Next is securing the federal and state permits to begin producing the 140-proof liquor.

She became interested in absinthe in early 2006 after reading a New York Times article about a man who was making absinthe in France.

"Absinthe had been legalized in 2000 by the European Union," Lins said. "Before that, it had been banned in many countries since World War I."

During her research, she discovered websites selling absinthe.

"I was able to obtain a bottle, but it was terribly expensive," Lins said. "It was about $100 for the bottle and another $50 for shipping.

"The first time I tried it I wasn't sure I liked it, but I tried it again a week or so later and I decided I did like it," she said.

Lins said she studied the history of the much-maligned liquor, which was thought to have hallucinogenic qualities, but she found that much of it was written in French, a language she neither speaks nor reads.

In 2007, Lins discovered that a few companies were able to get approval to produce absinthe in the United States.

"I thought _ you know _ maybe I should make this," Lins said.

"I was fascinated by the whole subject of distillation." Lins said the basics of making the herbal liquor involve starting with a very high-proof, undiluted form of alcohol that is basically vodka before water is added.

Two types of wormwood and other herbs including anise, fennel, hyssop and lemon balm are added to the alcohol, resulting in a green-colored liquor, known as verte, Lins said. She added that it could also be produced in a clear version.

Lins said she is using a hand-bottling process and a manual labeler to bottle the spirit. If all goes well, she hopes to be producing absinthe by late July or early August, which will allow it time to age before she begins distributing it in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

State law limits the distribution to outlets within New York. Lins said she plans to contact area liquor stores and licensed distributors along the Hudson River and in New York City.

Lins, who has worked in the past as a computer programmer, engineer and abstract watercolor artist, is designing her label. The product will be called Catskill Spirits Absinthe.

The Catskill Watershed Corporation Board of Directors approved Lins' business loan at its meeting Feb. 28.

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Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhi@stny.rr.com.

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