Powers Irish whiskey has recently had a bit of a re-launch, unveiling a new look and line-up that brings it in line against its rival super-premium brands. I’ve been lucky enough to receive some samples of the new additions, including the Powers Signature Release and their Gold Label, but before we come onto how they fare, lets take a look at what makes Powers one of the greats from Ireland.
In 1791, an innkeeper from Dublin named James Power established the John’s Lane Distillery at Thomas St. near the Western Gate of Dublin. Initially trading as James Power, at the turn of the 19th century (1809) James’ son John joined the business, and the company became known as John Power & Son. Under John Power’s management, the company prospered and by 1823, with the help of a 500 gallon still, the annual output had grown to 33,000 gallons. A decade later, this had increased tenfold to approximately 330,000 gallons per annum. As the distillery grew, so too did the stature of the family. John Power was knighted and later made High Sheriff of Dublin.
In 1866, John Power & Son began bottling their own whiskey, becoming one of the first distilleries in the world to do so. Until then, distilleries usually sold whiskey by the cask. A gold label adorned each bottle and it was from these that the whiskey got the name Powers Gold Label. 1871 saw the distillery rebuilt in the Victorian style, occupying 7 acres of land and employing around 300 people. Powers also became a one-of-a-kind, with ‘Baby Power’ launching in 1920 after receiving an act of Parliament to produce the 71 ml bottle – the first in the world.
The long line of the family came to an end when the last member of the board, Sir Thomas Talbot Power, died in 1936. Ownership remained in the family until 1966, when Powers joined with the only other remaining distillers in the Republic, the Cork Distillers Company and their Dublin rivals John Jameson & Son, to form the Irish Distillers Group.
The newly formed Irish Distillers Group decided, in a bold move, to close all of their existing distilleries and build a modern plant in Midleton, County Cork beside the existing Old Midleton Distillery. Effectively, the distillery workers finishing the day in the old distillery, and began work the next day in the new one.
In 1972, Irish Distillers acquired the Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland, bringing all distilleries on the island (at the time) under their control. In 1989, Pernod-Ricard successfully bid for ownership of the Irish Distillers.
So, how does the re-launch of Powers fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Powers Gold Label – 43.2%
The new-recipe has taken inspiration from the brand’s history and features a higher strength abv from the pot still creation, and is non chill filtered. An aromatic nose of spice and cinnamon, followed by a clean green fruit hit. Fresh, powerful fruit flavours on the palate, with a dry vanilla hit coming through. Crisp barley lingers before a warm spice finish.
Powers Signature Release – 46%
The second Single Pot Still whiskey to be added to the Powers family, following the release of the ultra-premium Powers John’s Lane Release in May 2011. Lots of oak, herbs and nut aromas on the nose. A smooth toasted corn flavour on the palate, with a rich blend of vanilla and oak balancing nicely. A short finish, but memorable.
And what about the one’s that are ready to enjoyed today?
Powers 12yr Single Pot Still John Lane’s Release – 46%
Sharp on the nose with a little spice and oak coming through. Powerful on the palate, with a robust, spicy flavour with vanilla blending as it mellows to a moorish finish.
The new releases are two very different, but incredibly drams. Unfortunately I can’t compare to the original Powers Gold, but I can only imagine it must have been a cracker if it has lasted this long, being part of a unique brand and worthy of being in the super-premium category.
Look out for these two very soon. Worthy of a Winter treat! The Powers 12yr can be purchased here.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.