Category Archives: Poitin

Poitín Now, Bar 1661, Dublin

Where do I begin with Poitín Now?

A band of dedicated, passionate & committed folks coming together to promote & build Ireland’s own unique spirit category – Poitín.

There were a plethora of brands on display.

One off limited releases from Killowen, 2 Stacks & Blackwater to more mainstream offerings from Mad March Hare, Smuggling Nun & also Killowen too!

There’s a poitín for everyone!

So what pleased my palate?

Mad March Hare, 40%

As the crowds initially descended on the more esoteric brands I had free reign to be entertained by the core release from Intrepid Spirits – Mad March Hare.

Offering – to me at least – a classic 100% barley poitín drinking experience. Along with a spicy flourish on the finish Mad March Hare frolicked my senses – just like the live hares do in spring!

Smuggling Nun, 45%

It was a delight to encounter this fabulously branded Irish Poitín from an American based company.

Smuggling Nun is distilled in Ireland to an old mixed mash recipe from the Glens Of Antrim – named after an actual Nun who smuggled in the spirit as Holy Water for the parched prohibition era drinkers.

A sweet easy & oily mouthfeel developed a pleasing warmth with a slight tingling spice on the rear.

Very drinkable!

Blackwater a Dó, 48%

Moving up the price range produced a slightly more challenging drinking experience.

This wonderful cross border collaboration between Blackwater & Killowen started off with a soft nose, gorgeously oily palate with an appreciatively spicy bite on the rear!

I also partook of Blackwater’s own yet to be released DirtGrain Poitín, 43%

Clean & fresh with loads of tingling on the finish.

A different beast of a Poitín!

There were a couple of highly informative talks on poitín – which calmed my pace on the drinking – & informed me further on this burgeoning Irish spirit category – before it was back on the tastings!

One of the reasons in attending these kind of events is the opportunity to sample spirits either beyond my price range, limited releases, hard to find – or all 3.

Baoilleach Cratur, 60.4%

Now anything with a peat influence automatically appeals to my palate & this exploratory peated release Cratur delivered that it bucket loads!

Despite the high ABV – which accounts for my blurred photo – the earthy flavours came through delightfully on a richly oily palate.

Why drink whiskey when you can enjoy this fantastic tasting poitín?

Killowen Bulcán Dead & Buried, 67.9%

Killowen’s peated poitín also delighted my senses.

Gorgeous stuff – but beyond my price limit!

Killowen Pangur, 47%

A hopefully more affordable & bit more accessible core release trio by the name of Pangur caught me eye.

Very attractively labelled with a ‘white cat’ – translation of pangur – the range includes a couple of rested in wood poitins & the unrested one I sampled.

A delightful & easily accessible introduction into the poitín category that doesn’t skimp on the fabulous flavours within.

Poitín does need an affordable brand to appeal to & engage with a wider audience for it to grow. I certainly welcome Killowen’s foray to attain this.

2 Stacks Past & Future

I rounded off the event with an extremely limited release poitín produced specially for Poitín Now.

Past & Future is another peated expression that pleased my palate!

Thus ended my outing to the inaugural Poitín Now event in the very accommodating Bar 1661 in Dublin.

Here’s hoping the enthusiasm of the organisers, exhibitors & attendees translates into a world class spirit category.

The quality, diversity & enjoyability of the spirits on show certainly deserve it!

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Header image courtesy Poitín Now

Bar 1661 website here.

All other images authors own.

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A Posse of Poitín, Hackler, 40%, Straw Boys, 46% & The Big Field, 47%

Poitín Now is happening on 20th November 2022.

Image courtesy Poitín Now

I thought a ‘warm up’ tasting of this posse of poitín before the inaugural Dublin based event would ease me in.

Hackler, 40%

I knew nothing about Hackler before purchasing this sample from Tiny Tipple. Turns out it was a late 1990’s launch by Diageo – distilled by Cooley – to build the Poitín market. On failing to meet ‘targets’ it was unceremonially dropped.

A rather shy nose, sweet & sour. Easy on the palate. A sweet warming spice on the finish.

A very pleasant easily quaffable poitín – if a tad too artificially sweet for my liking. Smacks as a bit of a crowd pleaser – not sure why it didn’t catch on?

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Straw Boys, 46%

Connacht Distillery’s venture into Poitín is presented in a very attractive bottle.

Richly pungent, offering that sour new make nose I associate with poitín. Gently oily palate. Noticeable bite on the finish, leaves with a strong tingling sensation.

A classic poitín drinking experience.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

The Big Field, 46%

Distilled using barley grown on Tipperary Distillery’s own ‘big field’ using a 50/50 mix of malted/unmalted barley it’s taken me a little while to sample this one.

A softly muted nose. Wonderfully oily palate. The finish bites with a healthy dose of spiciness.

Highly entertaining!

Thoughts

An extremely varied tasting experience from this trio!

Can’t help thinking Hackler is a toned down poitín to appeal to the masses. Certainly makes for a very easy drinker. Pity it never caught on. Perhaps Diageo were ahead of the curve?

Both Straw Boys & Big Field are a bit more challenging yet offer- to me at least – a grounded authenticity.

With the former you have malted barley alone – while the later has that malted/unmalted mix giving added spice & an enhanced appeal.

It’s hard to pick one out from this diverse & very well delivered variety of poitín styles – but for me Straw Boys does it!

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Poitín Now event site here.

Diageo drops Hackler news report here.

Connacht Distillery website here.

Tipperary Boutique Distillery here.

Quinn’s Barrel Rested Poitin, 45% & Seagram’s VO, 40%

Continuing my miniature series are a pair of releases from across the pond with links to Ireland.

Great Wagon Road Distilling in North Carolina play homage to their Irish roots with Quinn’s Barrel Rested Poitin while Canadian company Seagram’s at one time used to own Bushmills Distillery.

So how did I find them?

Image courtesy Drams Delivered

Quinn’s Barrel Rested Poitin, 45%

Golden brown in colour, slightly darker than Seagram’s. A pleasant sweet fruity nose, suggestive of sherry influence. Smooth, oily mouthfeel with good depth of flavour. Luscious mouth watering finish, reminiscent of fruit pastilles.

A tad sweet for my palate – but a very entertaining tipple!

Turns out this poitin is made with organic barley & wheat – which perhaps gives the sweetness? – & is rested in new oak barrels.

Really enjoyed this one!

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Seagram’s VO, 40%

Pale straw. Grainy sweet caramel. Quite light. Mild & mellow palate. Hints of tingling spice on the finish.

An easy drinker livening up on the rear.

Seagram’s are now part of the Sazerac group who only recently announced their purchase of the Lough Gill Distillery in County Sligo.

A classic Canadian blend.

Preferences

For my palate Quinn’s provided a richer & more entertaining tipple.

Which one would you choose?

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My samples were purchased from Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder here.

Great Wagon Road Distillery website here.

Seagram’s VO webpage here.

Sazerac invest in County Sligo here.

Ballykeefe Irish Poitín, 40%

Ballykeefe Distillery in County Kilkenny promote themselves as a grain to glass operation.

The barley for this poitín – same as their out-of-my-reach whiskey – is grown on the farm.

They’re into ‘traditionality, environmentalism’ & ‘family values’.

Quite how that translates into flavour will have to wait for my first sip!

The nose is quite soft & new makey. Nothing unusual for a barley based poitín.

Very smooth on the palate. No harshness here!

On the finish I’m embraced by a warming hug of heat!

Delightfully engaging & a very friendly introduction to the poitín category.

Picked this one up at a local SuperValu in the metropolis of Moate.

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All images authors own.

Mourne DEW Miniature Pack, 40% to 43%.

When a particular distillery’s output wins 2 blind tasting sessions – you take notice.

Both Mourne DEW’s Blend and Single Malt stood out for me,

Tasty trio c/othewhiskeynut

So I purchased their miniature set to try them out side by side.

The Kilbroney Gin went down well with my better half,

Kilbroney c/othewhiskeynut

Allowing me to concentrate on the others!

Pooka Poitín, 43%

Pooka c/othewhiskeynut

The colour immediately intrigued me. A pale straw hue – similar to the whiskeys – obviously a bit of barrel ageing going on – 10 weeks is allowed.

An entertaining floral note greeted me – with a hint of woody smoke. Oily smooth mouthfeel with enticing flavours. A touch of nuttiness on the finish topped off with a pleasing drying prickleness.

A rather unique poitín offering – very happy with this one!

Mourne DEW Blend, 40%

Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Like encountering an old friend!

A clean & fresh nose, smooth honeyed palate drying out towards the finish leaving with a tingling spiciness.

A characterful little number!

Mourne DEW Single Malt, 43%

Single Malt c/othewhiskeyut

Just a word on the colour – of the 3 – it appears the palest!

Clearly no caramel here & a relatively young malt – which works well for a peater – as the nose brings me back to sitting by an open turf fire!

What can I say about this one?

A delightfully young & vibrant peater – loved it!

Thoughts

For a small distillery nestled on the pretty banks of Carlingford Lough in Warrenpoint – Mourne DEW are releasing a flavourful range of spirits to charm & entertain.

Happy drinking! c/othewhiskeynut

The Essence Of Mourne – works wonders for me!

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Mulroy Bay, Irish Poitín, 47%

Distilled in a renovated cottage using direct fired copper pot stills is Baoilleach Distillery‘s Mulroy Bay Poitín.

Poitín in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

The hills of Donegal have long been associated with Poitín making & this bijou distillery is – legally – bringing that tradition alive.

Baoilleach Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

When COVID restrictions allowed I made a trip up to Donegal & bagged myself some of this fine spirit.

Using a mixed mash bill of malted barley & potatoes, Mulroy Bay Poitín has unique characteristics – as well as a potent strength of 47%.

Poitín 1 c/othewhiskeynut

There’s an earthy new make kind of nose. A bit of depth, a hint of umami & an added dash of sweetness.

Very smooth & oily on the palate – to begin with – as a prickly heat slowly builds & dries out the mouth,

The finish ebbs away with a gently fading tingling sensation.

Poitín 2 c/othewhiskeynut

‘Hand Crafted In Small Batches’ implies there could be slight variations between each mash – but I’d be very happy to sample every one as it came off the still!

The taste of Donegal.

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Killowen Poitín, 48%

What could be more fresh & pure than a double distilled direct flame fired Irish Poitín?

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Killowen Poitin c/othewhiskeynut

Especially one made at the boutique Killowen Distillery set in the foothills of the mighty Mourne Mountains, Co. Down.

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The Distiller, the turf & the smokehouse. c/othewhiskeynut

Using a mixed mash bill of malted & unmalted barley, oats and wheat – as well as some local turf dried grains in a home made smokehouse – Killowen Poitín is a joy on the palate.

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Back for more? c/othewhiskeynut

Aromas of gentle turf smoke mingle with the new make spirit.

It’s creamy, luscious & wholesome in the mouth.

Slowly drying out as the turf makes it’s presence felt in a gorgeous warm glow on the long finish.

My kinda poitín!

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Micil Irish Poitín, Heritage Edition, 46%

Every now and then there’s a release that just blows away the old myths.

One of the hackneyed stereotypical tropes used is that Irish Whiskey isn’t peated – or as I’m in Ireland – turfed.

Any cursory study of past recipes clearly shows it was – as the collective who collaborated to produce this Heritage Poitín found – and thankfully it now is.

Micil Instagram
Micil distillery Instagram Post

Micil Heritage Poitín is the first spirit to use Irish turf to smoke Irish Barley  & Irish Oats in a long time.

This is a game changer.

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Drinking Poitín at the Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The other myth is that to be a good whiskey it must be aged – preferably for a long time.

Well – after tasting this fabulous poitín – age is only a number.

This is the original uisce beatha – the water of life – that started the whole whiskey craze.

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Micil’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

It’s pure, it’s clear and it’s a delight to drink.

The final myth is that barley is the be all and end all of whiskey.

Again – no relevance to the actual recipes of the past that traditionally used a mixed mash bill of barley – both malted & unmalted – wheat, rye and oats.

The oats in Micil Heritage Poitín give it a gorgeous creaminess with a depth of body & generous legs.

The turf smoke is like the warm hug of a winters fire sharing the craic with friends & family.

Micil Heritage Poitín is stepping back in time to go forward.

I raise a glass to all involved.

To the return of Irish turf!

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Bunratty Irish Poteen, 40%

I was going to do a one word blog;

Corny

But that wouldn’t do this poitin justice.

It’s corny in 2 ways.

Firstly from the rather ‘bigging up the blarney’ touristy offering,

And then the softly sweet new make smell of it’s main ingredient – I’d suggest anyway – corn.

It’s not a flavour profile I’m particularly fond of.

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Bunratty miniature c/othewhiskeynut

But Bunratty Poteen was one of the 1st commercial poitins – the more usual spelling – out on the market post the 1997 legalisation.

And for that it’s worthy of praise. For opening up the category to other entrants – which suit my palate better.

So I doff my cap to Bunratty Poteen for being a trend setter.

Even if I find it corny!

Sláinte

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Fitzpatrick’s Homemade Ketchup, 1.5%

The choice of which dressing to adorn your meal with to spice it up a little wouldn’t normally feature in a whiskey blog.

But then this is no ordinary ketchup.

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Fitzpatrick’s Ketchup c/othewhiskeynut

Fitzpatrick’s Homemade Ketchup is the first – at least to my knowledge – to be infused with ‘just a splash of Irish Poitín’ in it’s ingredients.

I just had to try it out!

It’s available locally near it’s Cavan based homeland – and at Fallon & Byrne in Dublin – where I picked up a bottle before attending the wonderful Whiskey Live Dublin 2018 show.

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100% natural c/othewhiskeynut

I added a generous serving to my fish ‘n’ chips recently – well – it was a Friday – and it certainly made a welcome step up from my normal everyday condiment.

It’s more of a relish than a red sauce.

There are small chunks of tomatoes, onions & sultanas in the mix – which adds texture –  together with a gentle sweetness – and a spicy tanginess – giving a welcome zest & flavour to my meal.

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Just a slash c/othewhiskeynut

Quite what the ‘splash of Irish Poitín’ added to the well balanced mix I’m not sure – but there was a wholesome earthiness to the experience – and at only 1.5% content – it’s hardly going to intoxicate you.

A lovely tasty addition to the condiment canon!

I’ve certainly enjoyed splashing it all over my meals in recent weeks!

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