By Richard Thomas
Behind the surging popularity of Irish whiskey is Jamesons, but behind that is New Midleton distillery staking its claim to fame as the house that preserved single pot still whiskey for future generations. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that Midleton has not only single pot still whiskey lines, such as the Spots, but also pot still whiskey expressions within their more general brand lines. Take Powers, for instance.
Powers is the most popular whiskey brand in Ireland itself, and this particular expression is named for the place where it all started, the John’s Lane Distillery back in 1791. In the 1960s the fabled brand merged with Cork Distilleries and Jameson to become Irish Distillers, a merger that was followed in 1975 by the move of the entire company to a single distillery in Midleton.
The modern version of Powers Gold Label is a blend of 70% pot still and 30% grain whiskeys, whereas the original Powers was always a pure pot still whiskey. So, this John’s Lane version is truer to the roots of the brand.
Bottled at 46% abv, Powers John’s Lane is drawn from a mix of first- and second-fill bourbon and sherry casks, and bears a 12 year age statement. Reportedly the whiskey is mostly within the 12 to 14 year range.
This is a robust, full-bodied whiskey, and that is apparent straight away from its bronze-meets-gold coloring. The scent places whiffs of leathery oak and orange zest wrapped around a core of maltiness.
The palate, on the other hand, is something more like an artisanal candy. The flavor sits in a place where zesty marmalade, earthy cocoa and dried apricots and currants all come together, with a pinch of candy spice added for good measure. Although not a big and bold whiskey, it certainly doesn’t lack in the heft deparment and brims with flavor. The finish flows out with vanilla and spices, leaving behind a moderate afterglow.
In Ireland, expect to pay about €52, whereas in the UK about £45 is the norm. In the United States, prices are higher and vary in the $65 to $75 range.