Long banned, Irish Poitín is making a strong comeback in Irish pubs. The drink, which is undoubtedly one of the oldest spirits in the world, has now been granted a Protected Geographical Indication. Let’s take a closer look at this spirit with a unique history!
An Unaged Hooch
Irish Poitín is a white spirit that is unaged (unlike whisky). It’s traditionally made in Irish homes with malted barley or potatoes. Nowadays it’s distilled from barley, potatoes, beetroot or molasses in a pot still, giving it a complex and robust profile.
It offers a varied aromatic palette with toasty, creamy and spicy notes. It can be drunk neat or, if it’s a little strong for you, with fresh water. It’s also perfect for making original cocktails.
The Secret History of Poitín
The ancestor of Irish whiskey, Poitín (pronounced potcheen) is to Ireland what absinthe is to France. The history of the drink’s distillation in Ireland begins around the year 584. It was banned in 1661 because of its extremely high alcohol content and bad reputation at the time. The Irish believed that the product blinded consumers. But the product continued to be made for centuries in secrecy, in the heart of the home, where the spirit was traditionally distilled in a small still, called a pot still, placed directly on the fire like a pot, hence the name.
Reauthorised in 1997, the notorious spirit has been making a comeback for a few years now, boosted in particular by European regulations in 2008 granting Irish poitín a protected designation of origin, but also by the booming Irish bar scene.
One example is Bar 1661, opened in Dublin in 2019 by Dave Mulligan, and voted “Best Bar in Ireland” in 2020. Specialising in 100% Irish products, it offers poitín in particular, with more than 25 references on the menu, including its very own BÁN POITÍN. Order it today at Drinks&Co to try it for yourself.
This article was translated by Chelsea Cummings from Isabelle Escande’s original French article.