Powers John’s Lane Scoresheet & Review

Powers feels awkwardly positioned as a brand in today’s ever-growing whiskey market. The short version is that it pays homage to James Power, a key figure in Irish whiskey’s glory days during the 19th century. How glorious, you might ask? Try an annual productive capacity of over one million gallons across five pot stills on a six-acre distillery. For context, Glenlivet (then the largest Scottish distillery) could only produce a fraction of what Powers put out, and it weren’t even the largest Dublin distillery. Yet as with most (if not all) distilleries across the globe, the 60s proved to be a challenging time for the producer, which ended up merging with John Jameson & Son and the Cork Distilleries Company, ultimately resulting in Powers being produced at Midleton.

A core lineup of three bottles (soon to be joined by a fourth) have become the face of the brand, with one being a blend and the other two being single pot still offerings. The more upscale one, John’s Lane, is named after the since-defunct distillery located behind James Power’s public house in Dublin. As with most Irish whiskey, the current John’s Lane expression is produced at New Midleton. So what makes a bottle like Powers John’s Lane worth considering over the single pot still poster child that is Redbreast? A couple things. On top of being bottled at higher ABV than Redbreast 12-Year (46% versus 40%), John’s Lane is also non-chill filtered, meaning the flavor and consistency should be noticeable. It shares the 12-year age statement, matured in a combination of mostly first-fill ex-bourbon and “a small contribution” in ex-Oloroso sherry butts.

Nose: Super sweet and fruity. Watermelon with a combination of peach rings and green apple candy, along with buttercream frosting. Whispers of peanut dust and florals buried beneath the fruity exterior. Licorice pops up as well. Despite being twelve years old, there’s still an undeniable presence of sweet yeast, but it’s more complementary than not.

Palate: Medium mouthfeel with respectable depth. Honey and warm apple pie upfront followed by pineapple dessert with a bit of light brown sugar. Nice punch of vanilla before a warm peach flavor comes swinging with an accent of that lovely, buttery pot still essence.

Finish: Mild shortbread note and peach linger with billowing honey and butter. Initially gentle grazing of pepper and tannins build and serve a nice contrast to the sweet experience. The final, drying sensation leaves me yearning to take another sip.

The more whiskey I try, the more often I find myself simply contented. Not impressed, not disappointed, just satisfied enough. Two reasons: One, I’m an easy guy to satiate. Two, there’s a lot of acceptable (if not good) whiskey out there. Some expressions prove to be a cut above the rest, while the more common pours are often good in their own right. Powers John’s Lane fits in the latter camp for me. What stands out the most about this particular Midleton bottling is how it combines a strong, borderline candy-like fruit profile with an oddly tangible yeast presence. Given the 12-Year age statement, I’d expect far less of that aspect to stand out. But I don’t mind. The profile comes together in a way that feels cohesive, right to the final drying sensation that all but compels me to sip again.

I enjoy this whiskey. I wouldn’t, however, give it a glowing endorsement. For as balanced and fun as John’s Lane can be, it ultimately fails to enthrall me when I was hoping it’d stand a bit taller. I’d place it on the higher end of the mid-spectrum of Irish whiskey, meaning it falls shy of being a must-have (or even must-try), but delivers a sound experience all the same.


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