Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

[Event] Bán Poitín Launches in Ireland

When I was growing up, there was always a newspaper wrapped bottle lurking under the kitchen sink. Even in my maternal grandparents' house, a house of Pioneers, there was a twin to our newspaper wrapped bottle. It lurked in its secretive spot, only being pulled out to serve a small drop when old men visited or when it was time to bake the Christmas cake or puddings, and a good strong dose of alcohol was required. 

My aunt whispered to me that this was "poitín" (pronounced put-cheen) or illegal Irish hooch. As I grew older, I learned that one of my neighbours was a distiller of this clear, potent liquid and who was often to be seen ferrying around barrels loaded onto the rear of his battered Toyota jeep. Distilling poitín had been illegal in Ireland since 1661 and I was amazed at his boldness. Only later did I understand that poitín distilling was a somewhat tolerated local industry. 

Things have now changed and distilling of poitín is once again legal in Ireland. In fact, poitín has even been granted Geographical Indicative Status by the EU Council and European parliament in 2008. A new addition to the growing group of poitíns comes from a collaboration between Bán Poitín and West Cork Distillers (It does seem that us West Corkonians know the most about poitín!).
At the launch of Bán poitín
I recently got to meet the founders of Bán Poitín, Dave Mulligan and Cara Humphreys, at a recent launch event in a distressingly distressed and cool studio above Damson Diner. These two people are passionate about poitín, having helped establish the world's first poitín bar, Shebeen in London. And for the event, they had enlisted the services of mixologist Louis Lebaillif from Shebeen.
Louis mixing Bán cocktails
With a whole list of creatively-named cocktails including the Michael Collins, the Poitini and the Bán Ultimatum, we got the opportunity to sample poitín in a variety of cocktail styles. And it stood up to the test. This traditional-style overproof spirit, fermented using malted barley and sugar beet, delivered a slight sweetness that married well in the cocktails.

In our household, poitín was responsible for transforming the Chistmas cake into a fire hazard that shouldn't be left near the net curtains. However, I think it's now safe to say that poitín is ready to assume a place front and centre of bar counters, rather than lurking underneath the kitchen sink. 


Aodhnait said...

How interesting.....however, I don't like the taste of poitin!

Aline Conus said...

Interesting, a little piece of history coming back to life. I haven't tasted it but it mpight be an interesting experience.

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