The Original Irish Spirit
Before there was whiskey, there was poitín. Poitín was the origin of the species, the original “water of life”. It’s Ireland’s gift to the world, one of the first spirits ever to be distilled.
Earliest records from 584AD show that Irish monastic settlements, like Glendalough, were the birthplace of distilling in Ireland. Poitín was first made with expertise and reverence by Irish monks, like St. Kevin.They were the master distillers of their time, and the only distillers of their time. The knowledge just didn’t exist outside of the monasteries.
Over fourteen centuries ago, Ireland was a wild and primitive place and distilling was alchemy. Kings from across Europe would write to Irish monks asking for a batch of the good stuff.
Eventually knowledge spread throughout the land about how to make this mysterious “uisce beatha”. Every area had their renowned makers and it thrived for a thousand years or so.
Traditionally made from malted barley, sugar beet and potatoes. Distilled with expertise, reverence and craft, distillers reputations were made or broken on the quality of their spirit, using various styles and methods.
In 1661 it was outlawed by King Charles. This forced poitín into the wilderness, where it enjoyed an illicit romanticism. Remote glens where the winds swept through, broke up the smoke from the peat fires, and kept prying eyes, and the law, away.
Over the next few hundred years it lived in whispered infamy between chancers, bowsies and divils. Amongst winks, nods and backhanders. Until now. Glendalough heralds a renaissance in poitín distilling and brings it back towards its rightful place as an expertly crafted spirit with a long shadow and a unique history.