Thursday, October 15, 2009

In the whisky cupboard ... Powers Gold Label

powers gold labelPowers Gold Label is one of Ireland's best selling whiskies. It sells approximately 2.5 million bottles per year and the brand has a rich heritage in Irish distilling history. The original distillery was founded in 1791 by James Power and was located in Dublin. James' son John later joined as distillery manager and in 1809 the name was changed to John Power & Son. Powers were one of the industry's pioneers by being one of the first distilleries to follow the traditional Irish practice of triple distillation. They were also one of the first in the world to begin selling their whiskey in single bottles to customers, rather than by the cask. This began in 1866 and the current gold label used on the bottle is a replica of the original label. The distillery remained in the Power family until 1966.

Nowadays, Powers whiskey is made at the Midleton distillery, which is located in the southern part of Ireland in County Cork. Midleton was founded in 1975 following the joining of the Cork Distillers Company, John Jameson & Son and John Power & Son in the late 1960s. This group was called the Irish Distillers Group. They built the new distillery, which is now the largest in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe with an annual capacity of 19 million litres. Some of the most famous names in the Irish whiskey industry are made at Midleton, all to their original traditional recipes. These include Jameson, Midleton Rare, Paddy, Powers, Redbreast and Tullamore Dew.

The colour is golden yellow with a lovely nose that is delicate and light. It is sweet with a combination of aromas including cereal grains, vanilla and caramel. There is also a slightly floral note that is reminiscent of honeysuckle. On the palate, this feels light bodied yet soft and creamy. There is a distinct and slightly bitter grainy character to begin with and this is joined by some sweeter elements such as vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and nuts (especially hazelnuts and almonds). Finally, something herbal appears (imagine dried grasses or hay) and this gives a good balance. The finish is short but smooth, sweet and warming with the grassiness, vanilla and cereal grain notes particularly prominent. The whiskey is not the most complex but is extremely well balanced, enjoyable and very easy drinking!

This Powers Gold Label is a lovely example of an Irish whiskey and it is easy to see why it is so popular and well regarded. Sadly, it is now exported from Ireland a lot less than it has previously been and can be hard to find, even in the UK. We were lucky and found our bottle in a local food convenience store and it is places such as this that will be holding some old stock and not realise what they have! A bottle should cost £15-20, which offers great value for such a decent whiskey.


Eddie Marshall said...

I love Powers! It's a great whiskey. I have a bottle of the 12 year old Special Reserve that I picked up in Ireland and that is very good. It is shame you can't get in the UK very often. Redbreast is another nice Irish Whiskey that is hard to get in Ireland never mind elsewhere!

Unknown said...

I discovered Powers when visiting Ireland 10 years ago, on a tour of the Middleton distillery. It's been my favorite whiskey ever since. I've tried every Irish I can get my hands on, but Powers is still tops (Red Breast a close second.) I do drink my bourbon with a little ice, but Powers is always as it falls!