Social media, as we all know, has grown vastly in the last decade or so, both for good and for bad. One of the good aspects has been the proliferation of groups, especially since the pandemic, to encourage socialising virtually, supporting and motivating members and maintaining a sense of virtual company. One such group, the Friends of Midleton (FOM) Facebook group, has recently delved into the world of single casks, much to the adulation of all its members… well, those who get a bottle anyway.
Ian Garratt (who goes by the pseudonym John McDougall) and Eddie D’Arcy may strike you as two ordinary admins who run a Facebook group, but actually, they’re much more that. Without overindulging in praise, it’s no exaggeration to say they’re increasing awareness of and indeed are a part of the surge of Irish whiskey. Over the course of the last few years, the page, due to Ian, Eddie, and the generosity of many whiskey brands, has raised over €70K, with the money all going to charity. One such charity, the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless, provides basic amenities for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.
Aside from the fantastic charity work, the group are gaining a reputation for producing single casks with some of the most desirable brands. Redbreast (review incoming) and soon-to-be Killowen are whiskey heavyweights that will excite many single-cask fans, but the whiskey I will review is their inaugural endeavour, the Powers. Now, Powers single casks aren’t anything new; if anything, they’re popular because of their availability. If you dip your toes into the single cask pool, it’s probably a good shout to start with Powers. After previously introducing our readers to Powers Single Casks before with the Friend at Hand edition, it’s fair to say they’re critically acclaimed. There’s a real buzz that comes with these releases; Ian and Eddie pursue excellence at all times; some bottles came with paintings and glasses, which is even more impressive given the single cask that came about during the height of COVID-19. What makes this release special is that this is first time Powers have released a cask strength single cask, therefore Ian and Eddie needed to get it right.
The whiskey itself is quintessentially pot still. It’s a 1st fill bourbon barrell finished whiskey bonded on 25 Oct 2007 and uncorked 12 years later. The cask ungraciously yielded a measly 204 bottles, much to the sadness of the FOM group. After Ian and Eddie’s dream was sewn in 2019, the release finally came a year later.
Price: Originally €200. But a rarity at auction given the risk of potential ostracism.
Nose: Straight away, there’s a hint of tangerine zest and herbally-type note; it’s almost quite salty. The fruity notes continue throughout with a slice of grapefruit, unripened plums and orange cordial. A lot of sweetness initially; refreshers, sherbet and fruit salads give it a reminiscence of sweetshop visits.
Palate: A very gradual heat which surpasses expectations; it’s generated by beautiful spicy notes from pink peppercorns, cinnamon, aniseed and some slight peppermint. There’s also some flat diet coke which then gives way to a slightly nutty and oaky note; there’s evident cask influence. The sweetshop visit continues, this time through to caramel, finishing with an undertone of vanilla goodness.
Finish: Lots of heat generated, not overpowered but recedes at the right time—lots of spicy with some sweetness; a nice balance. The notes finish with fizzy cola bottles and polo mints.
This is really delightful; having missed out on a whole bottle, I am genuinely unhappy. However, having been grateful enough to receive two samples from Phil Crawford (aka Causeway Coast Whiskey Reviews), I feel a part of the initial merriment. Anyway, this whiskey is delicious. The critical thing with this is the balance; I enjoy the sweet notes characteristic of the bourbon finish, but the balance with the spice from the pot still gives this a decent edge, more depth and character.
As part of the ‘work’ to select this single cask, both Ian and Eddie were given several samples to work their way through and decide on the ‘one’, and I’m delighted to say that their endeavours have been amiably received. From the presentation box, the printed Powers glass and the coins that came with the bottle, this is a super piece and one that needs to be drunk and not saved. But on a serious note, these bottles aren’t easy to procure; a lot of work is required to bring them to fruition; Eddie and Ian have done very well.
I only joined the group shortly after the release of the Powers; it’s fair to say I will be a member awaiting the Spot single cask next…
*Pictures courtesy of Ian Hayes, Ian Garrett and Eddie D’Arcy.