Irish whiskey is experiencing a bit of a renaissance these days, spurred on by the global increase in demand for whiskey of all sorts. Though the category has often been overlooked by connoisseurs and critics alike, there's no better time to be an Irish whiskey supporter (see Dietsch's guide if you need a primer).
This past year saw a bevy of new high quality releases, with the Irish Distillers' Group in particular leading the charge. Until now, the excellent Red Breast 12 Cask Strength was the leader in the US, in my opinion. But this March, Powers John's Lane is coming stateside, and giving Red Breast a run for its money.
Crafted at the New Midleton Distillery, the PJL is a single pot still whiskey, aged at least 12 years. Named after the original Powers Distillery on John's Lane in Dublin, it's a throwback to the roots of the brand. Aged predominately in first fill ex-bourbon casks, with a small amount of the spirit aged in Oloroso sherry butts, it's reminiscent of an unpeated, muscular Highland Scotch.
The aroma is snappy, with classic honey and spice notes competing with oily leather and charred wood, plus dark chocolate in the background. The whiskey is huge and chewy, and while it starts out quite spicy, vanilla and apricot round things out, and then sweet cereal grains bring balance, with loads of apples and fresh green fruit. It finishes long and warm, with charred wood and honey.
Bottled at 46% ABV and listing around $70 a bottle, this is an absolute cracker of a dram. Highly recommended. Round up a group of your best Éire-loving mates, leave the macro-brewed stuff behind, and indulge in a bottle of gold I'd be happy finding at the end of the rainbow. Sláinte!
Have you tried any new Irish whiskeys lately? Which are your favorites?
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.
A sample was provided for review consideration.