Traditional Drink of Irish Poitín

Irish Poitín

Poitín, Poteen, Mountain Dew, Mountain Tea, these are just some of the names given to this drink that was commonly distilled illegally. Brewed in the mountains or in very rural areas of Ireland it was distilled using just 1 pot.

Variations of this recipe have been handed down through generations of families and its still a closely guarded secret by those who continue to make Poitín.

Poitín has the kick of a mule and should be drunk with caution.

Ingredients for making Poteen

  • 2 lb potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 2 lb raisins, washed in hot water and chopped
  • 4 lb brown sugar
  • 1-pint fresh wheat, husks removed
  • 6 pints water
  • Wine yeast
  • Campden tablet

Sprinkle the yeast granules into a cup of boiled tepid water, cover with Clingfilm, and leave to stand for about half an hour. Grate the potatoes into a fermentation bin then stir in the raisins, sugar, and wheat.

Bring the water to the boil, pour over the ingredients, and stir well until all the sugar has dissolved. Cover and leave to cool.

When cool, add the activated yeast, cover loosely and keep in a cool place for 3 weeks, stirring at regular intervals. Strain the liquid into a demi-john topping up to 1 gallon with cold boiled water, if required. Fit an airlock and leave to ferment.

When fermentation has ceased, siphon the wine into a clean demi-john and add 1 crushed Campden tablet. Bung tight and store for at least 6 months.

Finally, siphon into sterilized bottles, seal tightly and then, don’t forget to check the potency of the brew before drinking!

Note: Sometimes, different things can be added to the Poitín to flavor the drink such as;

  • Plums
  • Mint sweets
  • Brandy flavored sweets such as Brandy Balls

Just about anything can be added, so you could experiment with your own flavorings and come up with your very own family recipe.

Is Irish Poitín illegal?

Without a license, yes, Poitín is very much illegal to make. This is Ireland’s own moonshine and would be illegally distilled all over the country. Those who made Poítín did so under secrecy using rural areas as their advantage but it didn’t stop law enforcement from finding distillery sites.

Today Poitín is still distilled all over Ireland illegal but there are a number of manufacturers who have a license to produce it.

Using Poitín for medical purposes

Poitín is well known for its strength and its not uncommon for people to treat their arthritis using it. The trick was to rub Poitín around the areas affected by arthritis such as the knees or hands which would relieve pain. This is common practice and many of the older generations today would still rub in Poitín to help with the relief of arthritis.

Last updated May 27, 2020.

About the Author

Róisín Anraí
Róisín is a cat lover who is also a freelance writer and regular contributor to our site.