A friend who worked for fisheries in the Falklands was given a bottle of "polish spirit" by the crew of a squid jigger when he sailed with them as an observer. We tried drinking it... oh yes we tried. We mixed all sorts of stuff with it to try to make it palatable. We failed and had the worst hangovers ever.
That made me recall my trip on the Stefan Batory, a polish ship, when emigrating to Canada in the late 60s. After having waved goodby to friends and relations at the dock at Tilberry (London) I was feeling a little low and joined a group of fellow travelers in the lounge. Eventually using mostly sign language these friendly Polish folks offered to share their bottle of "Polish Schnaps" ...... I woke up some several hours, or was that days - I have no recollections, out in the middle of the Atlantic and spent some considerable time thereafter out on deck never too far from the rail...... In later years I came to know other Polish nationals here in Canada and did quite a bit of electrical work for some families, a dangerous undertaking as they insisted upon you 'having a drink' before...... and after going to work! Having learned my lesson about homemade polish 'schnaps' I tried to decline but one simply could not escape without a sip or they were insulted. Call it what you wish, porch climber, paint thinner or whatever, either way its dangerous stuff!
I've been told that when in Ireland, NEVER, but never be tempted to try poteen.
The polite way to get around it is to say that you're teetotal. Your reason could be that you're a recovering chronic alcoholic or you have a genetic problem which means you can't metabolise alcohol.
I've tried proper Austrian schnaps and it was quite pleasant with a peach flavour. I can't handle vodka for some reason. I was once hellishly sick after a Halloween party where all the jellies were laced with the damn stuff.
Give me cognac, armagnac, or single malt whisky any day. Not all on the same day though.