Powers Gold Label – Secret Hideaway Cabins
The Whiskey: Powers Gold Label (42.3% abv)
Country Of Origin: Ireland (County Cork)
The Location: Secret
Today’s adventure is to explore a series of old huts built into a rocky cove. Our trail starts high above the water and we steeply descend on the rocky path, starting on a well defined tourist trail then eventually trading this for a rougher, slipperier track for the final stage of the approach.
Although this location is reasonably well known, I’m choosing to keep the location a secret (a little online searching should provide you with details if you want to explore these yourself). The cabins are a wonderful part of the local history and have been subject to vandalism in the past, so I think they should be visited only by those who can respect them.
Today I’m joined by J, an international traveler stuck in Australia due to the pandemic. J and I share an enthusiasm for exploration and she’s happily joined me for a scramble down to these cabins.
Built variously between the 1920s and 1960s the cabins have seen occupation as fishing huts, as dwellings for those fallen onto hard times during the depression and by those with nowhere else to go. With magnificent views and a short commute to go fishing the cabins have been a highly desirable oasis for many over the years. In the 1980s forced evictions occurred and the cabins now lie vacant, managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as a slice of harborside history.
The cabins are scattered around the top of a small cliffline and are either precariously perched on rock ledges above the cove, or tucked into the trees further up the hill. No two are of a similar style, each built using various materials with some built directly into, or against, the natural stone. Although ramshackle in appearance the cabins appear sturdy and watertight. A converging trail leads down to a rocky beach providing access to the water and I remember (years ago) that small rowboats were once stacked along the cliff above the beach.
The cabins are securely shut to prevent the curious from causing further damage.
Relics of the past are visible outside the cabins or through the cabin windows and the cabins are presumably in the same state as when the last tenants left, giving an idea of the basic, but cosy lifestyle the residents of this small coastal hamlet would have enjoyed.
A natural watercourse trickles past (almost through) the cabins and would have provided reliable water to the inhabitants. In places the banks of the stream have been reinforced with blocks of sandstone creating solids channels for the water to run through and collect. Wooden planks provide makeshift bridges for us to balance across as we move from cabin to cabin. The pathway is either on flat bedrock or along hand paved pathways, coated in moss, twisting around trees and boulders to link access to each of the cabins.
After finding all the cabins (we think!) we retraced our steps back to a position with a view of the cove, and a wall to lean against, to enjoy the view and a whiskey.
Produced at the Midleton Distillery Powers Gold Label is a blend of triple distilled pot still and grain whiskeys and is non-chill filtered. Now owned by Pernod Ricard (who also own Bushmills) Powers is one of the highest selling Irish whiskies in Ireland.
Powers Gold Label is beautifully floral, like many Irish whiskies, with honey and a little bit of spice. There’s vanilla and cereal notes and a little grain funkiness. the oak is fresh and in the background. It’s light and bright.
On the palate it’s honeyed with more vanilla and some lovely shortbread dusted lightly with cloves, nutmeg and icing sugar. A really light dusting though. There’s a little fruity apple turnover (with accompanying pastry and creaminess). A teency bit of sour cardboard is the only complaint I have about this. Although it’s a light to medium bodied whiskey it has great mouthfeel, body and flavor. The heat is delicious and warming with no sharp edges.
It finishes well, balanced and with good length and a sweet, vanilla cereal note carrying through. Right at the end it seems to get oily and makes me think of vanilla oil.
What does it remind me of?
Redbreast 12, although the nose on the Redbreast is sensational, but I think the Powers is more balanced whereas the Redbreast is so good on first sniff that it leaves me disappointed with the palate and finish (which are both very good, it must be said). The Powers is also around half the price of the Redbreast 12, and although it’s not as good I think it’s much better value. There are similarities with Bushmills 10 as well, although I think the Powers is better (more floral on the nose, more intensity of flavor on the palate) and between the two I think the Powers is the obvious choice.
What do I think?
Lovely. This is what Irish whisky is about – tasty, approachable and characterful with sufficient complexity of flavors to explore. It’s distinctly different to most single malts, with a lighter body and less oak influence different flavor profile (from both the grain and distilling) and is an excellent example not only of Irish Whiskey but also of grain whiskies in general.
Although I tend to prefer higher abvs (I think around 46% is right for most whiskies) the 43.2% seems perfect balancing flavor with heat (and getting both right).
I adore good grain whiskies (especially Scottish, Irish and Japanese) and this is one of the best entry level grain whiskies to get your hands on.