30 Before 30 Part 3: Try Poitín

At around midday on my birthday I published what I thought was a fairly ambitious list of thirty things I’d like to achieve in the next year. By ten that evening I’d already ticked off the first one, to try toxic and largely illegal Irish potato-based spirit poitín:

3. Try poitín. Ireland’s (as far as I can work out) totally illegal (apart from the sanitized version, which I won’t be counting) home brew that I’m yet to stumble upon. I’ve heard it’s horrible stuff, but this is a big unfulfilled Irish thing since I arrived here, so it’d be really nice to track it down. Don’t worry, that’s the last alcohol related one…

I was lucky enough to get a pretty enthusiastic reaction to my list, including a few very kind offers to help out with various items. None, though, matched the reaction on this particular item, which I think is a fantastic bit of pop psychology on Ireland.  So the light suggestions of a messy evening started to gain weight, and I chose not to listen, spending the early evening indulging in Ireland’s other alcoholic monstrosity, Buckfast (one bottle of). I won’t be drinking in any major way until the Edinburgh Marathon in late May, so I might as well have had a big one, and I did.

So to the poitín: I had snuck backstage at The Button Factory to have a slightly intoxicated chat with We Cut Corners (great, great band), and my photographer friend Kieran whipped a little bottle from his bag. No more than 50 mls, but 90% alcohol, and really, really hard to drink (to the point that we passed it around a little and it came back almost as full as how it started out). Probably the worst thing about it was the after taste: like the edge vodka leaves on the throat, with that warm tinge, but it lasted a whole lot longer. Even pizza couldn’t wash away the assault; I sat through the Gaelic football that I’d somehow managed to drag myself to the next morning feeling like I was inhaling the stuff.

But it’s gone now. One done, twenty nine to go. I’ll probably never drink the stuff again…

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