Poitin, pronounced “put' cheen” and sometimes spelled poteen, is unaged, white whiskey that has been made in small Irish villages for decades. It’s essentially what Americans call “moonshine.” While Dublin distillers benefited from economies of scale, rural distillers operating in western Ireland’s isolated townlands relied more on a keen eye for the excise man and their neighbours’ generosity to pitch in and pay the fine if they were caught. One of our founders had a great-great uncle, a John Mullarkey, who spent a few months in the Sligo Gaol for the crime of illicit distillation.
Whereas John Mullarkey would have used a small, portable still up in the Ox Mountains, we use Connacht Distillery’s beautiful copper stills and a traditional malted barley base for the mash. Although poitin is oftentimes very high proof – as much as 120 proof, our poitin has a more restrained proof point of 90 (45% ABV). Straw Boys Irish Poitin was awarded a Double Gold and Best in Category by the American Distilling Institute. Only 9 brands out of 802 entered were given the Double Gold distinction. We were also awarded a Gold Medal at the 2017 Irish Whiskey Awards.
The name “Straw Boys Poitin” celebrates the theme of family, friends, and neighbours which is inherent in the story of Irish poitin. Crashing parties, particularly weddings, is a long-standing tradition, and in the West of Ireland wedding crashers were known as “straw boys.” Straw boys would obscure their faces with large conical hats made of straw, pop into the reception, dance with the bride and groom, have a quick drink, and then be on their way. The appearance of straw boys was a sign of good luck to the wedding couple.