Category Archives: Poitin

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!

Sláinte

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Dolmen Irish Poitín, 40%

The attractively simple & clean design of this Aldi supermarket release matches the clear & fresh taste of the poitín inside.

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Dolmen Irish Poitín c/othewhiskeynut

Dolmens – or portal tombs – are found throughout Ireland. They date from 2,000 to 3,000 years BC and provide an insight into former civilisations that existed in Ireland.

Poitín is also a product of earlier times.

Times when there were no rules or regulations governing alcohol manufacture or consumption and poitín making was a locally based farm activity.

Today it is a growing category in the re-emerging Irish Whiskey scene.

It can be made from any grain – in either pot or column stills – and usually has not been aged in wood for added colour or flavour.

Dolmen Irish Poitín is quite a distinctive style of poitín.

Rather than displaying the somewhat oily & slightly sour taste experience I expect within this genre of spirit – Dolmen portrays a clean & refreshingly sweet bouquet to the nose.

This follows through into the taste which starts off rather soft & mild – easily approachable even – before a slowly warming reassuring heat makes it’s presence felt.

A pleasantly appealing &  palatable poitín.

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Poitín poetry c/othewhiskeynut

There’s a suitable storyline on the back label which combines history, myth, folklore and fancy and – unusually for a supermarket release – the distillery of origin.

Blackwater Distillery.

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Waterford Poitín c/othewhiskeynut

I look forward to future releases from this distillery.

The 21st whiskey distillery in Ireland to recently open for business.

Sláinte

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Buffalo Trace, White Dog, Rye Mash, 62.5%

For International Poitin Day I’ve decided to go – well – International!

Now Poitin is an Irish term.

It denotes a raw, unaged distillate made using unspecified grains & conjures up all sorts of folklore and fancy tales.

Across the water in America it goes by a different name – Moonshine – or in this instance – White Dog.

There are similarities in style, manufacture and fairytale – as well as music.

What drew me to this example however was the Rye Mash label.

I do like a drop of hot spice!

At 62.5% – or 125 proof – this White Dog doesn’t disappoint.

The clean clear colourless liquid has an oily, softly sweet yet sour corn nose with a hint of peppery spice.

It’s surprisingly gentle – even smooth to begin with. The corn & barley mash pulls you in before a growing dry peppery spice takes over with a big hit of alcohol.

The dryness lasts through to the finish which is complemented by yet more spice & prickly heat from the high strength.

The rye, corn & barley mash brings a degree of complexity to this essentially simple style of distillate.

I find it fascinating tasting raw spirit like this before the maturation in wood adds more colour, flavour & depth to the mix.

It’s how our forebearers would have enjoyed their whiskey.

Enjoy your International Poitin Day!

Sláinte

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West Cork Distillers, Skibbereen.

Some whiskey distilleries are shrines to copper & glass for whiskey geeks to worship at.

Other distilleries are housed in statement buildings to wow the tourists.

And then there is West Cork Distillers.

They make whiskey.

Lots of it – over 2 million litres of pure alcohol last year.

Housed in a variety of sites spread throughout the pretty West Cork town of Skibbereen the distillery is rather nondescript – hiding – as it does –  in a small industrial estate.

There is no visitors centre. The distillery isn’t exactly pretty. But by prior arrangement I was lucky enough to be shown round the operation by an enthusiastic & energetic John O’Connell who along with fellow friends Denis McCarthy & Ger McCarthy, set the business up in 2003.

After a rocky start, the team at West Cork Distillers are getting into their stride.

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The ‘Rocket’ is on the left. c/othewhiskeynut

The combination of John’s research & development background with Denis & Ger being former fishermen means they are used to relying on their on ingenuity and skills to pull themselves through. It also shows in the rather unusual ‘Rocket’ still that they made themselves – along with a lot of other rather ingenious inventions that aid in the distilling process.

But what of the actual spirit?

Well a vast amount of it goes to third parties, supermarket own labels, pub bottlings & other non distillery producers. That’s not to say it isn’t good quality. Many awards have been won for these products & I’ve chosen a few of them on a blind tasting as my best in class.

They also release under the West Cork label with some innovative & fabulous expressions – but more of that later.

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West Cork label c/othewhiskeynut

A strong sense of ambition, drive, innovation & ingenuity is evident on being shown round the various sites.

Working 24 hours a day 6 days a week means a lot of barrels to fill & a lot of warehouses to store them in. The three I saw were packed to the rafters. Luckily West Cork Distillers are currently engaged in building more warehouses on the outskirts of the town – along with plans to erect a very large Coffey still which currently looks like a giant copper jigsaw set!  I’m confident however they will put it together & fabricate it to their own requirements.

Some of these requirements are a desire to use Irish sourced malt, grain and yeast.

The malt is relatively easily obtained.

The commonly used grain for distillation in Ireland however is corn. Ireland unfortunately doesn’t have the climate to grow distilling grade corn. The bulk of it is imported. West Cork Distillers have therefore bucked the trend and are using Irish grown wheat.

This has posed problems for the master distiller Patrick Harnedy. Wheat is a more ‘lively’ grain to work with which has resulted in an overflow of froth on a number of occasions. But they are soldiering on and honing their skills.

On the yeast front they were looking forward to developing a strain sourced from the wonderful West Cork countryside that would be unique to West Cork Distillers yet still allow them to produce award winning whiskey.

Any tour wouldn’t be complete without the all important tasting.

Many familiar brands & supermarket releases were on show. A lot of them I’d already enjoyed.  I was drawn to to those I hadn’t tried before or enjoyed only fleetingly.

The West Cork Distillers Glengarriff range was one that stood out.

They are single malts matured in casks that have been charred – by West Cork Distillers home made charring machine – with either Irish Peat or Irish Bog Oak.

I’m all for the return of peat to Irish Whiskey and what West Cork Distillers have produced here is rather unique.

It’s the first modern Irish Whiskey to use Irish Peat in it’s manufacture!

Most other peated Irish expressions have to use malted grain imported from Scotland as the process to dry out the barley with peat smoke has died out in Ireland.

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Glorious Glengarriff whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I was rather surprised by how much of a peat influence there was on the nose of this youthful & fresh malt just by the barrel being charred with Irish peat as the fuel source.

It followed through to the very enjoyable taste too. A mellow malt start with hints of vanilla from the charred cask evolved into the softly glowing embers of a peat fire.

Nothing in your face, just the warmth of an open hearth gently warming the palate. I should add it’s non chill filtered and natural colour too.

Fabulous stuff.

And it won’t break the bank to get your hands on one either. O’Briens are stocking it around the €40 mark.

A final mouth pleaser was in order.

Asked to sample a poitín I gladly took a sip. Yes it was strong, but possessed a clear fresh taste & satisfying appeal.

Only then did John laughingly reveal the bottle.

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Powerful Poitin c/othewhiskeynut

John O’Connell’s Poitín bottled at 72%!

It was one of the marketeers mad ideas.

Did I say West Cork Distillers don’t have a marketing department?

That is left to the many third parties that buy their spirit. Parties like Halewood International that are behind both The Pogues Irish Whiskey as well as Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey.

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Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Both of which I’ve  bought & enjoyed previously.

Knowing the source & meeting the team that made the spirit just makes it all the better.

West Cork Distillers are one of the most dynamic & innovative whiskey distilleries in Ireland.

I wish them continued future success.

Slàinte.

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I’d like to thank John for the generous amount of time & enthusiasm he displayed showing me around the distillery sites.

Many thanks too for the poitín – a fun drink indeed!

 

 

 

 

 

Teeling Spirit Of Dublin Poitin, 52.5%

Flying?

We all do it these days.

For a whiskey fan like myself – the journey begins even before you’ve boarded the plane.

The last time I flew out of Dublin I took full advantage of the promotional stalls and tasted over half a dozen Irish whiskey samples – most of which I’d never tried before.

The one that stood out for me happened to be Teeling’s Spirit Of Dublin Poitin.

Why?

2 reasons.

1) This is the first spirit to be released from a new Dublin whiskey distillery for over a century.

That in itself makes this recently released poitin worthy of a punt – which is exactly what I did. But on tasting the spirit – I got a lovely surprise.

2) Spirit Of Dublin is a single pot still Poitin.

Once I worked my way through that initial oily, slightly rotten fruit smell of new make whiskey – I experienced a very welcome single pot still signature spice warming up my palate and making me smile.

Made with a mix of malted barley and unmalted barley – this is a uniquely Irish style originating from an early tax avoidance scheme where unmalted barely attracted no duty.

The unexpected result is a fabulous soft spice together with a slightly richer mouthfeel on tasting – which Spirit Of Dublin clearly possesses.

If it taste this good straight from the stills – what will it be like straight from the barrel after it’s matured for long enough to be called a whiskey?

Perhaps I’ll have to book another flight a few years hence to find out!

Slàinte.

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Micil Poitin, 44%

Micil. A proper noun. (mick-ill)  A person’s name. Specifically one who hails from the gaeltacht area of Galway and was employed in illicit alcohol production.

Poitin. A noun. (po-cheen)  A formerly illegal distilled spirit. Usually clear in appearance. In this instance made by the above person – but now turned into a legal enterprise by his great, great, great grandson.

I encountered Micil Poitin whilst waiting for the start of my Dublin Whiskey Tour in the welcoming Dingle Whiskey Bar.

Surprisingly smooth on the palate with the familiar oiliness & hints of rotten fruit associated with what is essentially unaged raw whiskey.

The added locally foraged bogbean gave a few other soft notes contributing to a degree of terroir.

Micil Poitin is the taste of tradition.

A worthy addition to the growing Irish Poitin market.

Slàinte.

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