An illegal spirit in Ireland from 1661 to 1997, Irish poitín has made a phenomenal comeback and is very much an accepted and hallowed drink at home in Ireland and beyond these shores. Made legal again in 1997, poitín can now be found in bars all across Ireland, instead of under the counter anymore.
The word poitín stems from the Irish word “pota” for pot referring to the small copper pots still used by poitín distillers today. Secretly made and hidden in bogs and fields around Ireland, and often set up on land boundaries so the issue of ownership could be disputed, the quality of poitín depended on the skill of the distiller and the quality of their equipment, and a bad batch could put a distiller out of business overnight.
It is often thought that potín was distilled from potatoes. In fact, this is the ‘modern’ way. Potatoes were only used in the last couple of hundred years. Originally – and today – poitin is made from grain. So it’s more of a white whiskey where traditional whiskey would continue its ageing journey in wood. Producers are now bringing it into the twenty first century with cold distillation processes.
As part of a national revival of poitín, it is being led by independent Irish producers and is seen as a real fusion of ancient and modern. What was once an illicit spirit of variable quality, is now a market favourite for this home grown quality spirit that comes with a dash of Irish mythology!
Straight from the heart of Dublin, Little & Green is an Irish drink that dares to bring poitín to the party. Inspired by local flavours tailored to an Irish palate, Little & Green’s sparkling canned cocktails are made with poitín and are created with the drink innovators at Ireland’s Bar of the Year 2022, BAR 1661 for bold moments, on the go, cold from the can.
Made with two of Ireland’s leading poitín brands, Mad March Hare and Bán, the range launches with a pair of big on flavour sparkling cocktails. Sneaky Orchard is a refreshing Collins, a harvest festival of ripe pear, crisp apple, and elderflower flavours. Shady Bramble is inspired by Ireland’s deep, dense hedgerows and is bursting with flavours of wild juicy blackberry, raspberry, and violet.
Both are made with all natural flavours, no artificial sweeteners, vegan and gluten free. They are available in 250ml cans, with an ABV of 5% from select retail and on trade outlets nationwide and online at littleandgreen.ie
Leading the revolution
Poitín has been leading people astray for centuries. Secretly made and hidden in bogs and fields around Ireland, it was both everywhere and nowhere. Made legal again in 1997, poitín can now be found on backbars all across Ireland, instead of under the counter. Today Mad March Hare is proud to be leading the revolution as the world’s number one Irish poitín brand.
Using only the finest, locally sourced malted barley and distilled three times in copper pot stills in the traditional style. In fact only three ingredients; water, malted barley and yeast are used during production at the distillery in West Cork. The mash bill is 100% malted barley and the spirit is triple distilled, filtered and bottled at 40% for a smooth finish. Quietly distilled in West Cork, Mad March Hare Irish Poitín is part of a national revival of Poitín as an emerging, modern, innovative and vibrant category, led by independent Irish producers.
Mad March Hare is distributed by Intrepid Spirits through Celtic Whiskey Shop, Classic Drinks and MCM Spirits and is available at Celtic Whiskey Shop and all leading independent retailers.
Family traditions run deep
Award winning Mourne Dew Distillery is a real fusion of ancient and modern. This family business takes traditional poitín mash bills and combines these recipes with ultra-modern distillation techniques to capture all the best flavours but none of the unpleasant elements often associated with what was once an illicit spirit of variable quality. Head distiller Donal Farrell says: “My grandfather was born way back in the 1850s and by all accounts he had more than a little interest in the spirit! We are taking a family tradition and bringing it into the twenty first century with cold distillation processes that remove all sorts of nasty by-products of fermentation which are not removed by conventional hot distillation processes. Our poitíns are named after the mischievous Irish fairy called the Pooka. Pookas often took the shape of a horse and when a reveller was returning home from having sampled the wares of the local poitín maker he might be grabbed by the Pooka, thrown onto its back and taken on a wild ride only to be left back where he started in a dishevelled and confused state. Nowadays we’d call that a hangover!”
The Pooka Blend No1 won the gold medal for best clear spirit made in Ireland in the Blas na hEireann awards whilst their Pooka Hazelnut Poitín Liqueur has become a big hit with cocktail bars around the country. Mourne Dew will be bringing out a 60% ABV white poitin this summer followed by a spicy cinnamon flavoured poitin liqueur in time for the winter market
Get it in the mix
StrawBoys Irish Poitín produced by The Connacht Distillery in Ballina is part of their award-winning range. They’ve seen increasing interest from bartenders in the product given that it is inherently mixable and works really well in cocktails. At their monthly ‘Cocktails & Vinyls’ night in the distillery, poitín based cocktails have proven be very popular, with their ‘Poitín Margarita’ being a particular hit amongst guests. Connacht is hoping that the mixability of poitín will drive further interest in export markets and high volume cocktail bars in Dublin. It’s bottled at an approachable 45%.