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Mad March Hare and the Revival of Irish Poitín

Mad March Hare Poitin Bottle

Distilled in West Cork, Mad March Hare Irish Poitín is part of a national revival of Poitín as an emerging, modern, innovative and vibrant category, led by independent Irish producers.

Dating back to the 6th century, poitín is one of the oldest spirits in the world and was traditionally the spirit of choice in Ireland. In contrast, Irish whiskey was the spirit of choice for the elite, with the majority exported overseas, and was known as ‘Parliament Whiskey’ because of the taxes levied on it and its popularity in Great Britain.

Poitín was made illegal in Ireland from 1661 to 1997 after the British Crown tried unsuccessfully to tax it to extinction. Despite the best efforts of the law, Ireland’s fondness for poitín never ceased and it was secretly distilled for over 300 years. The distillers of poitín shifted production to remote parts of Ireland to avoid the law, and most townlands had their own producers and smugglers.

Mad March Hare Irish Poitín was inspired by a bootlegger and poitín maker named Mooney. Mooney, known locally to be ‘mad as a March hare’, was a fruit and vegetable market trader – a front for his more lucrative poitín business. Mad March Hare Poitín is distilled in the spirit of Mooney’s famous recipe, recipe no. 27.

Mad March Hare is triple distilled in copper pots using locally sourced, malted barley from farmers within a couple of miles of the stills. The mash bill is 95% malted barley, 5% whey and the spirit is bottled at 40%. Since its release in 2014, Mad March Hare has been a key player in the emerging poitín category and has picked up a number of awards.

The 700ml bottle is distributed throughout Europe and the USA through independent Irish company Intrepid Spirits.

Poitín is a versatile spirit, and works well in a simple mule made with 2oz Mad March Hare, 1oz ginger beer, fresh lime and bitters, which is a house drink at Bar 1661, the world’s first poitín focused cocktail bar. Poitín also makes for an alternative to whiskey in an Irish coffee.

Since being legalised in 1997, Poitín has grown as a category, with 13 distilleries now operating on the island of Ireland, all with different regional styles and mash bills. In 2008, Irish Poitín gained the protection of Geographical Indicator (GI) status under EU rules.

Speaking about Mad March Hare Poitín, John Ralph, founder and CEO of Intrepid Spirits, commented: “As a nation with a long history, and a longer memory, poitín was traditionally drank at home and amongst friends in shared in a gesture of trust that bound many friendships and partnerships together.

“The ‘Mad March Hare’ Mooney wouldn’t have gotten very far if his customers told the taxman about him! Poitín has evolved into a unique spirit of craftsmanship, high quality, and versatility to be celebrated as part of our modern Irish culture. At Mad March Hare, we are proud to be playing our part in the revival of Ireland’s most original spirit and see poitín taking its rightful place as an icon of world spirits.”

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