What does "Poitín" / "Poteen" or Irish potato whisky taste like?

This wiki article doesn’t go into a lot of detail re the taste. It’s the first I’ve heard of a whisky made from potatoes. What does it taste like?

Re the article I never realized that the word “moonshine” was of Irish derivation.

You mean it doesn’t taste like french fries with gravy and cheese curds?

Powerful! That’s how it tastes :stuck_out_tongue:

Like a very strong vodka, but then I’m not really a connoisseur with spirits, we keep it for cleaning off old ink cartridges :wink:


A buddy of mine used to smuggle it from Donegal to England in Virgin Mary-shaped holy water bottles, and my wife’s aunt made me drink some made in the hills of Connemara. Bloody nasty.

Friend #1 drank it every night for a week, then he spent a night vomiting, and when he woke up the next morning, his face was bright red and swollen, and it didn’t go back to normal for a further week.

Dad just got it from some customers in the bank every christmas, nice gift, even if it was undrinkable.

It also came in handy for my sister’s boyfriend when he had a bad tooth as both pain killer and antiseptic :wink:

Isn’t vodka made from potatoes? Would there be much difference?

I’ve often wondered what makes a whisky different from a vodka. Either can be made from grain or potatoes. Whisky is traditionally aged in oak, unlike vodka, but there is unaged whisky and aged vodka.

AFAICT, there is no essential difference. In Poland and Russia, tastes apparently ran to a clean, mostly flavorless product, and as technology developed, that was what they aimed for. Irish, Scottish, and American tastes apparently ran towards more malty (or peaty) oak flavors, and those are what premium whisk(e)y-makers aimed for. But the difference seems to be one of style only, and I imagine the traditional homemade stuff was pretty much indistinguishable.

Weird… I’ve never heard of making poteen from spuds, nor did I see any reference to potatoes in the linked article. Perhaps drinking the stuff has messed up my vision. Poitin comes from “pot” not “potato” IIRC. It’s just grain alcohol distilled in a pot.

“Raw” is how I’d describe it. Been long enough that the subtle flavors are forgotten, but I don’t recall it tasting much like vodka. The stuff is available in the US.

I know I’ve heard of Irish potato whiskey. Google gives many results for “‘potato whiskey’.” These two wiki sources seem to indicate that at least some poteen is made from potatoes, although other dictionaries don’t mention potatoes:


My Connemara wife says she’s never heard of grain poitín - only ever potato.

Also, I was asking about “po-cheen” and she didn’t know what I was on about. Then we clarified we were talking about “putt-seen” (Connemara Irish pronuciation).

She also told me that, growing up, the local news regularly said “a man was found dead on the beach this weekend. Poitín was believed to be involved.” :frowning:

Do your other wives have anything to say on the subject? Or only the Connemara one?

I promise I’m not stalking you! It’s just that sometimes I can’t pass up a straight line. :wink:

Well I did once have a Carlow one, but she had no opinion on poitín, other than she’d like another glass of it… :wink:

Some vodkas are made from potatoes, but most are made from grain.

Hi, my name is Bobo and I’m an idiot. The stuff I’ve had is probably as authentic as Bunratty mead. We don’t export moonshine, and this is probably just grain alcohol with a fancy label. I withdraw my comments…

Like crap.

Well, it certainly isn’t poitín in the sense of illegally distilled whiskey. It appears to be a very strong, clear spirit, as “true” poitín presumably is. It’s no different than those bottles of corn whiskey you see sold as “moonshine” in the liquor store. It took some looking, but I did eventually see on the site that Knockeen Hills makes their poitín out of grain, not potatoes, though they alude to potato poitín repeatedly, in an attempt to garner some of the alure of the traditional product. The first review they link to not only confirms the grain source, but mention mysterious “added flavorings” that make it sound even less authentic. OTOH, it seems to have won some favor from critics. Definitely a fancy label, though.

There’s an Irish TV channel called TG4 that puts the bigger Irish channels to shame in terms of actual Irish output. They had a good documentary on the illegal distillation of poitcheen (sp? I’ve seen it spelled so many ways) with a recreation of the stills. Distillers used grain, I’ve never heard of potatoes outside of smart alec wise cracks.

Fascinating to see the process going on in the outdoors under cover, it reminds me of the story Mum told us of going on a poitcheen raid in the 60s. Her grandfather was a sergeant in the Guardai and took Mum along with him (remember, this is to look for some eejit distilling in a field, not a drug bust in Dublin!) to see what they did on a raid. They found a still in a haystack and a hat on the wall beside it, still warm. The Guards had an idea that the guy who did it was nearby and went knocking on a door but noone was forth coming.

As an aside, Dad put his foot in it by saying he was surprised they didn’t just boot the door in. Dad meant that he didn’t think search warrants were important in rural Ireland at that time, Mum took it to mean he thought her grandfather was some sort of brutal cop and a row insued :smiley:

It tastes like a kick in the balls. its lethal; no really, it’ll kill ya. Poitin is homemade, so theres no way of regulating what % it is. Ninety percent proof is not unheard of.

Poitin is good for several things; Curing sick Cattle (primarily why its made by muck savage farmers these days).

A hugely effective muscle rub (I’m deadly serious, poitin is a better muscle rub than deep Heat. This is why we always keep a bottle in the house, made by some lad down the road).


My first encounter with Poitin was in my teenage years, when I used to sneak liquor from the cabinet when going out with friends. the old our some gin into a bottle then refil to the mark with water? thats the one.

Anyway, its not like Poitin comes in a bottle marked “Poitin”, so the “Gin” I thought I was stealing from the gin bottle was in fact good ol’ homebrew. It damn near killed us all. Bad stuff. Stay clear.

I’ve tried it-is pretty horrible stuff. I suspect that it contains a lot of fusel oils, higher alcohols, etc., because it is distilled once and not charcoal filtered. In any case, because of the fusel oils, drinking it will give you a terrible hangover. :smack:

Brian’s animation does not appreciate you kiling it. :stuck_out_tongue: (Since every word is misspelled, it looks like it was done on purpose, though.)