Poitin

Also see the recipes on the Fruit based washes page

Jack writes ...
    This is an 1842 recipe for poitin (pronounced Pah-cheen) - I have modified it for modern "ease-of-use"
    • boil 5 gallons of water and pour it over a mix of ten pounds of rolled oats (unflavored oatmeal) that has had a pound of 6 row barley (ground) and mixed in to it.
    • Allow this to sit until it is cool enough to add yeast, then add a dry ale yeast and 15 drops of liquid beano (or three of the pills). When you add the yeast/Beano enzyme to the cooled mash the stuff may be thick - like stiff oatmeal- don't worry. The yeast breaks it down with the beano as it is fermenting. Within a day it will be a liquid with grain floating in it.
    • ferment until dry
    • double distill in a potstill.
    • Don't age drink it white.
    From what I have read, oat whiskey is the ONLY spirit to have totally died off.. The last commercial distillery was in Ireland- and it shut down in 1975. Oats are a relatively expensive grain, as well as being very sticky, so distillers don't like it very much. If it is filtered well, and run on a water-bath still (or an ice water/wok still) there should be no problem

Akvavit

Teemu writes about Akvavit ...
    Here is a recipe for the most popular flavoured vodka in Scandinavia.

    Akvavit -The Scandinavian flavored vodka.

    The most famous flavored vodka from Scandinavia is probably Akvavit (or Aquavit if you ask from any Dane.) Akvavit is not actually vodka, it is just specially made grain based spirit flavoured with caraway seeds and sometimes aged with oak. Most fanciest type of Aquavit, the Norwegian "Linie Aquavit" even travels in oak barrels on a ship from Australia and back, just for getting the special flavor... Other well-known brands are the Danish "Aalborg" and the "Aalborgs Jubilæums Aquavit".

    Akvavit has quite long roots, the oldest recipe that I found is dated back to year 1642, this is a Finnish recipe is from year 1802, and this is how it goes (converted for home distilling purposes):
    • 1 kg of barley flour
    • 1 kg of oat flour
    • 2 kg of rye flour
    • 5 kg of cooked and smashed potatoes
    • 5 kg of gristed rye malt
    • about 30 L of water
    • 15L of sour mash (from previous batch) or 20g of citric acid and 10l of water
    • couple of juniper branches
    • ½ L of beer sediment

    • Clean linen cloth and some rope
    • 50 - 70L bucket

    • 100 g of coarsely chopped caraway seeds
    • 500 g of powdered charcoal (made from birch if available)
    • 20 g of coriander seeds
    • 10 g of dill
    • Couple handfuls of washed sand
    • Cotton bag, big enough to hold all these

    • Copper or silver coin

    • Large bottle (and optionally some oak (and sandalwood) chips)
    Put the grains and potatoes in the bucket and soak in the sour mash for couple of hours. Boil the juniper branches in 30litres of water; remove the branches and pour the boiling water on the grains and potatoes and stir well. Leave there over night, and in the morning check the temperature (must be 20 - 27 degrees Celsius) and add beer sediment (or about 50g of ale/porter yeast). Stir. Cover the bucket with the linen cloth and secure tight with rope. (You'll see why in a day or two). Let ferment until there is about 10cm (4") deep layer of clear liquid on the top (this should take about two weeks or so). Distill in a water/steam bath pot still (with the tails from previous batch) three times (just like you were making Irish-type whiskey).

    Fill the still with the middle run from third distillation and put the coin in the still. Fill the cotton bag in the following order: first put sand in the bag, enough to cover the bottom of the bag. Then put the spices (caraway seeds, coriander and dill) in the bag. Mix the charcoal and the remaining sand and put in the top of the bag. Hang the bag below the stills outlet tube, so that the distillate can drop through the bag to the receiving container. Distill slowly; the heat input to the still is correct when the coin rattles about once in a second (col... col... col...). Collect until the tails show up. Cut the distillate down to 50vol.% with spring water (use bottled water if you can't obtain fresh spring water) and age in the glass bottle at least for two months. (Add couple of oak (and sandalwood) chips if available).

    Simplified recipe (of my own invention)
    • 4 L of 40 vol.% vodka (or well made Moonshine...)
    • 30 g of caraway seeds
    • 5 g of coriander seeds
    • 5 g of dryed dill
    • Some oak chips
    • Splash of Irish whiskey
    Combine all in a large jar and macerate for a week. Filter trough a coffee filter and ad a teaspoonful of glucose (dextrose), age for a month or so.

    Akvavit is mainly used for aperitif, and it is commonly served ice cold from 4cl shot glass. Traditionally there is some salted Baltic herring or smoked salmon served as "sakuski" with it. Another traditional way of serving any type of vodka is that you put a silver coin in bottom of a large cup and pour coffee on it until you can't see it anymore, then pour enough vodka in the cup so that you can see the coin again; drink the whole cupful with one swig...(Warms well in the winter). And, of cause, the real smorgasbord is never complete without an ice-cold bottle of Aquavit...
Wal writes about Poitin...
    Quite possibly poitin distillers in the west of Ireland do not have computers so cannot post their recipes to us! Based on background information, together with parallel developments with U.S. moonshine (by Scotch-Irish immigrants) and Russian samogon, here are some possible recipes for Irish poitin.

    1) Single Malt Poitin
    (This would be the original raw 'uisce beatha' before cognac aging techniques were adapted. Prior to this cognac method, dried fruits were used to provide flavor)
    • 20 litres water (5 U.S. gal)
    • 5 kg (10 lb) crushed malted barley grain
    • Yeast (preferably beer yeast)
    Barley is malted by soaking and spreading out in a 25 mm (1 in) layer to sprout. Wait until sprouts ('acrospires') are 5 mm long. You can then use this 'green malt' immediately by crushin lightly and adding to water at 65C (149F) for a 90 minute conversion rest. Leave to cool to fermentation temperature of 24C. Add yeast. (It is possible to harvest yeast from the sediment in bottle conditioned Australian or Belgian beer.)

    2) Grain Poitin
    You only need about 10% malted barley grain to provide the enzymes to convert starch to fermentable sugars. According to the literature rye, oats and wheat were used. About 1-1.5 kg (2-3 lb)/4 l (5 US gal) is used.

    a) Single Grain
    • 20 l water (5 US gal)
    • 4 kg (9 lb) crushed and cooked grain (barley, rye, oats, wheat)
    • 500 g (1 lb) crushed malted barley grain
    • Yeast

    b) Mixed Grain
    • 20 l water (5 US gal)
    • 2 kg (4 and 1/2 lb) crushed malted barley grain
    • 1.5 kg (3 lb)crushed barley grain (cooked)
    • 250 g (1/2 lb) crushed oats (cooked)
    • 250 g (1/2 lb) crushed rye grain (cooked)
    • 250 g (1/2 lb) crushed wheat grain (cooked)
    • Yeast


    3) Sugar and Treacle
    This recipe came from County Fermanagh and is from 'In Praise of Poteen'
    • 20 l water (5 US gal)
    • 3 kg (61/2 lb) brown sugar
    • 250 g (1/2 lb) treacle (molasses)
    • 65 g (2 oz) hops
    • 450 g (1 lb) bakers yeast
    Steep ingredients in 2 l (1 qt) of lukewarm water. Add additional cold water and yeast.

    4) Grain and Sugar
    • 20 l water (5 US gal)
    • 4 kg (9 lb) crushed barley (cooked)
    • 500 g (1lb) crushed malted barley grain
    • 2 kg (4 and 1/2 lb) sugar
    • Yeast
    1 kg of grain is equivalent to about 600 g of sugar. Beer yeast would ferment out about a maximum of 5 kg(10 lb) sugar/20 l (5 US gal) of water, so you can juggle the proportions to suit.

    P.S. Do not forget to throw out the first 50 ml to "the fairies"

    I have formed the opinion that early poitin was raw single (barley) malt whiskey. Peat was the heat source. Later to cut costs (possibly in line with Scottish practice) malted barley and other grains (wheat, oats, rye)were used. The use of treacle (molasses) is mentioned, as is raw (brown) sugar, (one source says sugar was used after 1880). Currently barley and sugar, or even sugarbeet pulp is mentioned. I would imagine if potatoes were not suitable for eating, that they would be used too. Potatoes, were once an essential staple in the Irish diet (in 1845, consumption was 5 kg/day), and even now 140 kg/head/year are consumed. 1 acre could feed a family for a year. Larger farms grew grain that was used as a cash crop. It is all a matter of convenience and economics. I doubt whether potatoes were used before the 1900's the time they became the principal source for vodka in Estonia. A similar story is seen with U.S. moonshine and Russian samogon. The Irish pot still and the Scottish pot still are similar and have basically simplified the geometry of the alchemist's alembic still. A similar shape is often seen in the U.S.probably brought over by Celtic immigrants.

    Found one sugar based recipe for Poteen -'Poteen from Ireland' http://www.harvestfestivals.net/poteen.htmScaled down to 20 litres or 5 US gal -

    Poteen
    • 20 l water
    • 450 g bakers yeast
    • 3 kg brown sugar
    • 250 g treacle (molasses)
    • 65 g hops Steep ingredients in 2 litres of lukewarm water. Add additional cold water and then add the yeast and ferment for several weeks. Transfer to still.

      See also: 'Poteen - making on Tory' http://www.tirchonaill.local.ie/content/44773.shtml ".....ingredients, including barley, oats and rye...."

      'Illicit stills....Poteen....' ~http://indigo.ie/~kfinlay/lefanu70/lefanuXVIII.htm "It is a curious fact that in parts of Donegal they grow a crop of oats and barley mixed; they call it 'pracas' (which is the Irish for a mixture), and use it for no other purpose but illicit distilling."

      'History of Potcheen' 'Bunratty Potcheen' (a legal poitin) http://homepage.tinet.ie/~bunrattywinery/historypotcheen.htm

      It is often said that the 'exise free' Irish poitin (poteen) is made from potatoes. Home distillation is still a word-of-mouth tradition in Ireland and I have not been able to find actual recipes for poitin, but I picked up some interesting clues.

      Potatoes were actually introduced by Sir Walter Raleigh onto his plantation in Cork in 1589, and quickly became a staple in the Irish diet. But was it fermented and distilled? In Poland, until the 18th century, vodka was produced chiefly from rye, wheat, barley and oats. Johann Joachim Becher developed a method of producing spirits from potatoes in 1669, but it was not until 1798 that the first instructions for "a practical way of distilling vodka from potatoes" was published. Distillers did not begin to use potatoes on a large scale until 1820. The potato is a relatively expensive source for alcohol. Potatoes contain 15-18% fermentable material while grains contain 50-67%. 10 kg of potatoes produce 1 litre of alcohol while 10 kg of grain produces 4 litres. Because of the 1845-1849 Famine in Ireland, some 1 million people died and some 1 million people emigrated. The immigrants to the U.S.A. brought their distilling knowledge with them but they did not use the potato, preferring the native maize. This suggest that a poitin made from potatoes is a late innovation and it is more than likely this began after 1900.

      Here are some quotes from 'Google groups' on the subject of poitin:
      • 'Beercommie' "Poteen is Irish moonshine, it is pronounced 'pocheen', and is usually made from grain, barley, wheat, or rye. I'm not ruling out potato, but its safe to say that potato is not the fermentable of choice."
      • 'Fintan Swanton' "Poitin (literally 'little pot', meaning the still in which the drink is made) is an illicit spirit made from just about anything which comes to hand - grain, potatoes, or probably commonest these days, just yeast and sugar."
      • 'Ross McKay' "I recently saw a documentary on Poteen, and IIRC, you start off by brewing an ale from barley and oats (maybe about 20:1 ratio?),then double distilling it."
      An interesting article on poitin appeared in the Malt Advocate: 'The Poteen Game' by Cormac MacConnell "The beer is created by fermenting barley, yeast and sugar for about three weeks in wooden barrels. though sometimes in Connemara, the moonshiners use sugar beet pulp purchased from Irish sugar plants in the South." "....about 100 gallons of 'baor' produce 12 gallons of poteen,...."


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