15 March, 2019
The "mezcal of Ireland" makes waves
On March 6, 2019, the largest producers of Irish whiskey shipped their goods to the Consulate General of Ireland in New York. Among the organizers were the Distilled Spirits Council and the Irish Whiskey Association, as well as Jameson distillers at Tullamore D.E.W. offered a vertiginous range of Irish whiskey.
Among the artisanal spirits of new brands and inherited brands, there was another: Straw Boys Poitín, an Irish moonlight. Poitín, an old Irish spirit, is currently experiencing a renaissance in Ireland and the United Kingdom. He is also starting to make his way to the United States.
"This once-illicit spirit captivates the imagination of Irish and global bartenders," David Stapleton, general manager of Connacht Whiskey, producer of Straw Boys, told VinePair. From distilleries in Dublin to London pubs, to a bar in Houston, Texas, Poitín is making waves.
Poitín is pronounced puh-cheen, not to be confused with poutine, fries dipped in Canadian-Canadian cooking juice, or Pusheen, the cartoon cat. Like the American "white dog", it is a forerunner of harmless and highly resistant whiskey. It usually oscillates around 90 proofs (45% ABV) or more, the traditional chest reaching 180 proofs (90% ABV). According to the regulations, it must be at least 40% ABV.
The flavor of Poitín depends on its source of sugar. "The purée for this spirit was a function of the grains and grains available in each region," says Stapleton. These historically included barley, corn, potatoes and sugar beets. Straw Boy Poitín is made from malted barley from County Wexford, in southeastern Ireland, which, according to Stapleton, confers subtle floral and floral nose notes, "with a hint of spicy and earthy notes.
Fish can be sweet, herbal or dense. The range makes it a great addition to cocktails, replacing clear spirits like vodka or gin, or "whiskey-type cocktails [that] would include bitters, a citrus element and / or vermouth", explains Stapleton. It is also "a perfect substitute for whiskey in an Irish café!"
The regional importance of Poitin, combined with its versatility, earned it the nickname "mezcal of Ireland," says Stapleton.
Legendary, illicit, irreverent
The history of Poitín "is relatively unknown outside of Ireland," Stapleton tells VinePair. It was "a spirit of the earth", traditionally illegally distilled in small stills throughout Ireland. His name translates as "little pot".
Several sources attribute the invention of Poitín to Christian monks from 6th century Ireland, who learned the trade of the Middle East. Although alcohol consumption is banned in Islam, whiskey is one of many stories in its history. According to one theory, itinerant Irish monks would have brought the practice from Ireland back to Ireland around 600 AD. ibn Hayyan. And yet another says that the Vikings brought whiskey to Scotland in 400 AD, after learning the craft of Syrians. No theory is absolute.
In 1661, King Charles II banned Poitiers because Irish distillers avoided British taxes. Its ban was lifted only in 1997.
Of course, the poitín has not completely disappeared. Its illegality has only made the spirit even more essential to Irish culture. "It was a way for the Irish people to express their irreverence towards the British colonial empire," said Pádraic Ó Griallais, founder and director of Micil Distillery, at Wine Enthusiast the year last.
Rural distillers continue to make chest in secret, and as early as the 1800s, the spirit made its way to the United States. He gained notoriety in the "Irish cities" of New York and was even featured in the New York Times in 1894.
The awakening of modern moonshines
Since the lifting of its 300 year ban, the poitín has enjoyed a quiet rebirth in Ireland and abroad. In 2008, E.U. granted it geographical indication (GI) status. In 2015, the Irish Whiskey technical file of the Irish government established rules concerning the production methods of the poitín.
In 2012, Dave Mulligan founded Ban Poitín, a 48 percent poiton of ABV made from potatoes, malted barley and sugar beets, produced at the distillery of Canada. 39, Echlinville, Northern Ireland. It is stocked in upscale bars, including its own Speakeasy-style pub, Shebeen, in London.
Glendalough, Ireland's first artisanal distillery, launched its first Poitín in 2013. Today, Glendalough's Poitin range includes a Poitin Mountain Strength 55% ABV, made from malted and distilled barley. three times in a traditional copper still. It also produces Glendalough Sherry Cask Finish Poitín and Glendalough Premium Poitín.
In 2015, Teeling Irish Whiskey was the first distillery to be opened in Dublin in more than 125 years, according to the company. Its first launch is the Spirit of Dublin's Irish Poitín, a refined alcohol distilled at 52.5 percent obtained with malted and malted Irish barley.
Micil, Connacht and Mad March Hare all launched award-winning markets in 2016. Straw Boys Poitín has won two gold medals at the 2017 American Distilling Institute Awards and has been named Ireland's Best Poitín at the Irish Irish Whiskey Awards 2018 .
Now, the poitín is still in Texas. In May 2018, the Poitín bar and kitchen opened their doors in Houston with a focus on Irish cocktails and South American cuisine. His drinks menu includes several Poitin preparations.