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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

John Power & Son

Johns Lane, Distillery Dublin 1791-1974

Powers Irish Whiskey.

John Power & Son,  Distillery history


James Power was a coaching innkeeper of 109 Thomas Street Dublin; in 1791 he built a small distillery behind his hostelry.


At the turn of the century his son John joined James in the business. Initially called James Powers & Son by 1809 they had become a limited company under the name of John Power and Son with the father remaining in charge.


The business continued to grow successfully with relocation at some point before 1822 to John’s lane


After the 1823 Excise act Powers’s quickly expanded output; 300,000 gallons a year in 1833. 700,000 gallons after the extensive distillery refurbishment and expansion of 1871 achieving 900,000 gallons a year during the mid 1880s. The distillery at the time covered almost 7 acres north of Thomas Street to Usher’s Quay on the banks of the Liffey. The 1871 rebuilding in the classic Victorian style was one of Dublin's most impressive sights employing approximately 300 people


The success the company enjoyed had it benefits for a family that within a generation had risen from innkeepers to members of Dublin's high society. John Power was knighted and became High Sheriff of Dublin. Such was his standing that it was he who laid the foundation stone for the O'Connell Monument.


Powers was the first Whiskey Company to sell their whiskey in miniature bottles called Baby Power's an innovation that required an act of Parliament before it could be introduced.


The last member of the Board with the Power name was Sir Thomas Talbot Power who died in 1932, although ownership remained in the family through his sisters and their children.


Powers remained a leading player in the Irish whiskey industry until 1966 when they merged with the only two remaining distillers in the Irish republic, Cork Distillers Company and their long time rivals John Jameson & Son. Together these three distilleries formed the Irish Distillers Group.


The John Powers distillery closed in 1974 when the IDG moved all whisky distilling in the republic to the newly built distillery at Midleton in southern Ireland.


The complex had already started to be reduced before the Midleton move out lying property north of Oliver Bond Street had been demolished to make way for council housing. The distillery itself is the site of Ireland’s National Collage of Art and Design. However the counting house complete with its central pediment and belvedere is still standing, looking as striking as when it was built in 1871. There is another reminder of distilling in the area; three of the large copper stills are left as pieces of sculpture in John’s lane.


In 1988/9 Irish Distillers was the subject of a hard fought take-over battle between the British giant Grand Metropolitan and French rival Pernod Ricard, which the latter won. On Pernod Ricards success the last four members of the old distilling families of Dublin and Cork resigned.


Powers Irish Whiskey John's Lane 12 year old 46%

Jim Murrays Irish Whiskey of the year.

Powers' John's Lane Irish Whiskey.

Matured in bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks.


Nose: An abundance of earthy aromas, leather, tobacco with layers of charred wood, dark chocolate and treacle toffee.


Taste: Full bodied spice front followed by vanilla, honey and dried apricot.


Finish: Lingering honey sweetness on toasted oak.

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