It’s time for a long-overdue return to Tim’s Dusty Corner – Welcome back! What with our exciting Big Debate over the last month or two it’s been a while since we visited the dusties, and we missed St. Patrick’s Day too. Time to right those wrongs with one of my favourite everyday-drinking Irish whiskeys: Powers Gold Label Special Reserve 12yo!
I’ve spoken before at great length here and elsewhere about my love for Irish whiskey, the products of New Midleton distillery in general and the Powers range in particular, but sadly the Special Reserve was barged unceremoniously into the shadows by the launch of Powers John’s Lane 12yo in 2011 and quietly dropped a year or two later.
Now, I bow to no-one in my love for John’s Lane, but it’s a single potstill whiskey bottled at 46%, whereas the Gold Label Special Reserve (GLSR) 12yo was a blend with around 70% potstill and 30% grain, and was bottled at 40%. One would have thought that that was different enough to the John’s Lane to retain both, but what do I know. It’s certainly true that the John’s Lane was significantly more expensive than the old GLSR, so perhaps they decided that there was no point using 12yo potstill stock on GLSR that could be sold for more money as John’s Lane. This theory gains further weight from the rumour that some of the whiskey used in this blend was up to 21 years old.
Anyhoo, the good news is that this bottle is still available under €50 at some Irish retailers and when it comes up at auction it rarely goes above £40ish. There’s a ‘Millennium’ version too (as there is of every whisky in the world that existed in 1999) which comes in a square tin box, but that goes for around £100 these days which seems like a lot of money for something to keep your spaghetti in.
Powers Gold Label Special Reserve 12 Year Old, 40%
Nose: Honeyed and spicy, as all good potstill whiskey should be. Faint whiffs of heather, acacia, soft icing sugar and a woodgluey note from the grain. Develops a little Highland Toffee aroma with time in the glass.
Palate: Mediumweight. Porridge with milk and honey, cranachan, a hint of millionaire’s shortbread. Richer, softer and deeper than the standard Powers Gold Label, of course, but retains plenty of that whiskey’s edgy, metallic character that marks it as very obviously part of the same family. Impressive depth for a whiskey of this strength.
Finish: Medium-length, with a sweet, nutty, spicy fade and that coppery note I love. A generous grind of black pepper at the very end.
Comment: Water not required. An absurdly moreish whiskey that will be much missed when stocks are finally exhausted. I was ecstatic to find three bottles at a very reasonable price during a trip to Bologna at the end of last year, but one bottle’s practically gone already, so I’ll have to hain the other two for now. If you see it under £50, don’t hesitate.
That’s it for the Dusty Corner, folks! Come back soon, y’hear?