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Never accept clear spirits from strange gentleman at the side of an Irish road.


For many centuries the production of Poteen (or Poitin) was an underground industry, and it was only made legal for export in 1989. Its progression from illicit industry was complete when the EU granted Irish Poteen a Geographical Indication Status in 2008, giving legitimacy to a once unseemly spirit.


In the popular imagination Poteen is associated with potatoes, but in reality the mashbill is just as likely to be made up of corn, sugar beet, unmalted and malted barley. In the past the production of poteen - from the Irish word for a small pot still - was a way of earning money from crops, often in the infertile west of the island. Indeed, its persistant survival as a shadowy illegal industry was dependent on some local landlords and magistrates recognizing that it was an essential part of a fragile agricultural economy.


With the recent boom in construction of Irish distilleries, these new businesses have a historically and culturally relevant stream of income while their whiskey matures. Even if the past, dubious form of the spirit has harmed the health of many Poteen forms a romantic part of Irish literary culture, particularly in the poetry of the nineteenth century and folk songs such as the wonderful 'Rare Old Mountain Dew'. The first film made entirely in Irish was called 'Poitin', in 1979.

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