International Poitín Day occurs every year on November 18th to celebrate the resurgence of Ireland’s most notorious spirit, Irish poitín. Poitín is Ireland’s original spirit—in fact it is thought to be the oldest potable spirit in the world—dating back to the 6th century when records show it was distilled by monks on the island. Long before Irish whiskey came into existence, poitín was being made in nearly every town and village across the country until 1661 when the British Crown outlawed poitín in an effort to control, and therefore tax, all distilled alcohol production in Ireland. For 300 years, fervent drinkers continued to produce their own poitíns, keeping them under the counter and out of sight. Though a beloved part of Irish culture, it wasn’t until 1997 that the Irish government re-legalized the production and sale of poitín.
International Poitín Day is now in its sixth year, celebrating the history, the tradition and the resurrection of the formerly illicit spirit. In the past ten years, poitín has been experiencing a renaissance, with several premium producers making their own unique recipe.