Welcome back to Tim’s Dusty Corner! The most important drinking occasion of the year for the Irish diaspora is upon us, so I’m drinking an old bottle of Powers Gold Label; but here in Italy we’re stuck under house arrest in the shadow of the dread Coronavirus, so it’ll be a somewhat solitary occasion.
Still, nil desperandum and all that! This Dusty Corner is all about celebrating my proud spud-eating heritage and sticking two fingers up in the face of adversity. As a freelance writer I’ve been self-isolating for several years already, so this is no biggie for me. Anyway, I’m from Belfast: police checkpoints, Pah! We were doing those forty years ago.
It’s true that having to fill in a self-certification form to justify leaving the house in case the cops want to know what you’re doing may seem to many like a dystopian outrage to civil liberties, but personally I’m much more disturbed by having my wife at home during the day. Working from home is weird when there’s two of you. It’s like being back in an office again, with the intolerable tyranny of societal obligations like wearing trousers and making tea for everyone when you want one yourself. But at least I don’t have to shave or sit on a train, and the Netflix watchlist has shrunk to pre-2017 levels. Swings and roundabouts.
A trip to the supermarket currently resembles a scene from Dawn of the Dead, with masked bouncers on the automatic doors and an eerie silence as you roam the aisles trying desperately not to clear your throat – but let’s keep some perspective, there might not be any bread but Tanqueray’s only €12! Life’s not so bad when you have a three litre batch of Negroni in the fridge.
There’s no loo-paper riots here either, most likely because every Italian home has a bidet (by law). We keep spare bogrolls in ours, and the Italians normally only use them to wash their feet, but at a push they could no doubt be employed for their intended purpose.
Anyway, enough meandering, we’ve got some whiskey to try! This Powers was dirt cheap in a second-hand market as the level was low. It was only after I got home that I realised this was because someone had already had a dram out of it, which is mildly disconcerting but the whiskey doesn’t seem to have suffered too much.
Powers Gold Label (Early 2000s)
Nose: Gentler than many Powers I’ve nosed, most likely due to the extra air in the bottle. Still has that lovely combination of sweet bourbony grain and dirty, metallic potstill character. Cooked apples, copper pennies and brown sugar.
Palate: Light-medium. Classic spice, fruit and muscovado sweetness. Noticeably gentler than today’s standard-issue Powers, but the flavours still ring true, with sweet popcorn, black pepper and potstill metallic tang.
Finish: Vanilla, peppery spice and the coppery metallic note that lingers longest.
Comment: As ever, a delight. This won’t last long – no bottle of Powers Gold Label has ever had time to lose alcohol in this household before, and it probably won’t again – but it’s the perfect accompaniment for this week’s telly binge and a welcome taste of home in these troubling times.