The Original Irish Spirit

Before there was whiskey, there was poitín. Poitín was the origin of the species, the original “water of life”. It’s Ireland’s gift to the world, one of the first spirits ever to be distilled.


Earliest records from 584AD show that Irish monastic settlements, like Glendalough, were the birthplace of distilling in Ireland. Poitín was first made with expertise and reverence by Irish monks, like St. Kevin.They were the master distillers of their time, and the only distillers of their time. The knowledge just didn’t exist outside of the monasteries.

Over fourteen centuries ago, Ireland was a wild and primitive place and distilling was alchemy. Kings from across Europe would write to Irish monks asking for a batch of the good stuff.

Eventually knowledge spread throughout the land about how to make this mysterious “uisce beatha”. Every area had their renowned makers and it thrived for a thousand years or so.

Traditionally made from malted barley, sugar beet and potatoes. Distilled with expertise, reverence and craft, distillers reputations were made or broken on the quality of their spirit, using various styles and methods.

In 1661 it was outlawed by King Charles. This forced poitín into the wilderness, where it enjoyed an illicit romanticism. Remote glens where the winds swept through, broke up the smoke from the peat fires, and kept prying eyes, and the law, away.

Over the next few hundred years it lived in whispered infamy between chancers, bowsies and divils. Amongst winks, nods and backhanders. Until now. Glendalough heralds a renaissance in poitín distilling and brings it back towards its rightful place as an expertly crafted spirit with a long shadow and a unique history.

Our Poitíns

How we make it

We craft Glendalough from an old poitín recipe using malted barley and the almost lost, Irish sugar beet. We ferment for over 72 hours which gives a higher alcohol percentage and a more robust flavour. Our higher cut point gives heads and tails that are more in line with a whiskey. This is partly what gives us a more complex taste.

After it is carefully batch distilled, it’s matured in Irish oak for up to six months. This allows the spirit to interact with the wood, mellow and smoothen, and to gain more flavour. The Sherry Cask Finish is aged further using pre-loved Spanish sherry casks, this was what they called “nectar” back in the day. Our style of production and the attention to flavour detail makes Glendalough Poitín one of the most complex white spirits in the world.
1. Barley
First it’s malted to form the basis of our mash.
2. Irish Sugar Beet
A traditional ‘break crop’ for tillage farmers and perfect for poitín.
3. The Still
Shown above is the more traditional poitín still, the small pot that gives the drink its name. Our’s is a little more complicated than this, but the same principle.
4. Virgin Irish Oak
This mellow and smoothens the liquid without imparting colour.


How they taste

The Nose

Slight in nature and might fool you. If you didn’t know better you might sense a faint Riesling fragrance, no less. Oak, berried fruit, gooseberries and blackcurrants are in there. Our Mountain Strength holds true with that extra headiness of the high alcohol. Where as a slight zest of orange and blueberry sweetness comes through in the Sherry Cask Finish.

The Taste

Creamy and mellow in the mouth and hangs on the tongue with a trace of lychees. There are hints of black, cracked pepper, especially so in the Mountain Strength. Some dried fruits show up in all three poitíns, with dried apricots featuring in the Sherry Cask Finish. Touches of vanilla and toasty oak throughout also. A very full flavoured poitín that goes down nicely.

The finish

A good length of finish, it’s lingering and warming and sweet, if slightly salty. Wait for a comforting, spicy tail, even spicier in the Mountain Strength, along with dried fruit and berry notes throughout the range, but even more so with the Sherry Cask Finish that also holds more vanilla from the extra time with the oak.

How to drink it

Glendalough is rich with history and taste. It’s a smooth but complex poitín, matured in virgin, Irish oak with tastes of malted barley. It’s grand with a mixer, cut it with soda water and a wedge of lime. Neat is best, if you’ve got the bottle. Also a traditional rub for aches and pains. Here are a few other suggestions.

Sip it

For us, we like it with just a bit of ice. Smooth from virgin oak aging and with a robust flavour profile, Glendalough is a good sipping poitín, which is a very rare thing. Pour it over ice, kick back and it’ll sure cure what ails you.

Shoot it

 Traditionally the “rare oul stuff” was drunk neat, out of any kind of jar. Normally amongst good friends who were up to no good. Great as a shot, with just the right kick.

Mix it

If you’ve a bit of a thirst on you, Glendalough goes well with most mixers – making the type of long drinks that’d put out a war, or cross a continent. We like it with soda, lemonade, cola {“pot&coke”} or ginger, all with a squeeze of a lime wedge – you need your vitamins.


Don’t be afraid to shake things up. Flavours like apple, ginger, cinnamon, even butterscotch really bring out the sweet, oaky tones. 


The oldest drink in the world is back in the mix

Download our latest cocktail menu here

Saint Kevin of Glendalough

St. Kevin’s story is where our brand is personified. He possessed the courage of his convictions that so attracted people to him. Being born into Irish nobility didn’t stop him fiercely following his own path. He stood out as a true leader, building a civilisation in an isolated valley that would soon become known far and wide as “the city of seven churches”.

For us, the story of Kevin and the blackbird, shown on our bottle, sums up the strength of character needed to turn your back on a privileged birth, break out on your own and still succeed on your own terms.
Glendalough Poitín dares to stand out. Not through blind stubbornness, or for that matter to be attention seeking, but purely to create its own path. To be the independent spirit that people naturally gravitate towards, with that same strength of character Kevin showed, that is unyielding against the frivolities of life.
The details of St. Kevin’s life have passed into myth and many legends, the most famous of which is shown on our bottle.

A gander at the goose

When Kevin discovered Glendalough, he spent seven happy years living his outdoor life, relying on his woodsmanship and his relationship with nature. Soon though, so many people had come to share the outdoor life with him, he had to build a settlement of some sort. The paradise valley of two lakes was owned by a pagan king called O’Toole. A harsh sort, who was none too happy with this wild man and his followers hanging around his glen. He had soft spot though. An old grey goose he’d grown fond of over the years, that was on its last legs and couldn’t even manage to fly. He called for Kevin, by now famous for his way with the animals, to take a gander at the poor old goose. The price Kevin asked for curing the goose would be whatever land it could fly over. Remembering his goose had one webbed foot in the grave, O’Toole agreed. When Kevin touched the bird, it grew young and flew over the whole valley of Glendalough and so the famous holy city was founded.

Red in tooth and claw

King Colman of Fælan had lost all his sons, but his youngest, to early death. It was said evil spirits had a grip on his house. So, to protect the last of his line, the king sent the baby to St. Kevin. However, it was the early days of Glendalough and the herd wasn’t what it would be. The lack of cows meant there was no milk for the youngster. Kevin, seeing a doe on the monastery grounds, commanded it to nurse the babe prince along with her fawn. Which of course, she did. But true to what happens in wild places like Glendalough, a bitch wolf killed the doe before the child was weaned. As a penitence for the slaughter of the doe, the wolf was commanded to provide milk for the baby and the fawn until both were weaned. Which of course, she did.

The light of the dark black night

The fair begotten Kevin was a keen and skilled outdoorsman. He would spend months and years on end out surviving off the wilderness. He was in tune with the wild and had an understanding with the animals of the glen. One day while out praying, arms outstretched, admiring the beautiful valley, a blackbird landed on his hand. She was so comfortable in his palm that she nested, laying three small, bluish-green eggs. There was nothing for it but for Kevin to stand stoic and unmoving for a fortnight, until the chicks hatched. He endured for another few weeks while they became fledglings and could make it on their own. This all happened by the lower lake, where an otter he knew brought him fish to keep his strength up. Nobody knows where Kevin was buried, after he died at the ripe old age of 120. But to this day, the blackbirds of Glendalough gather every evening in the same spot to sing out the sunset.


Glendalough, or the Glen of two Lakes, is one of the most beautiful valleys in Ireland.

They say Europe was brought out of the dark ages by Irish monks bringing learning from places like Glendalough.

The two ribbon lakes, created by the gouging of a glacier, gave the valley its name. When the valley was formed in the last ice age, great deposits of earth and stone were strewn across the valley in the area where the Round Tower now exists.

The mountain streams eventually formed a large lake. The Pollanass river spread alluvial deposits across the centre of the lake and created a divide to form the Upper and Lower Lakes. The Glenealo river flows in from the West into the Upper lake which is the larger and deepest of the two lakes. (there’s talk of a monster in the Upper Lake – banished from the lower one by Kevin)
Before the arrival of St. Kevin this valley (glen) would have been desolate and remote. It must have been ideal for Kevin his outdoor living ‘away from it all’, until his fame brought followers and with them the beginnings of Kevin’s legacy. Kevin died in 617 A.D. at the age of 120 years. His name and life’s work is forever entwine with the ruins and the Glendalough Valley.


Business Enquiries:
Barry Gallagher – +353 86 812 8606
Email Barry
Brand Manager:
Donal O’Gallachoir – +353 87 672 9544
Email Donal





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