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Issue 77 - Irish Powerhouse

Whisky Magazine Issue 77
January 2009


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Irish Powerhouse

Gavin D Smith investigates Jameson's old rival

When Irish whiskey was at the height of its popularity during the Victorian era,Dublin was the powerhouse of the Irish distilling industry. It was home to six distilleries, including John Jameson & Sons'operation in Bow Street and the John's Lane distillery of its great rival, James Power & Son.

Power's had its origins in a small-scale distilling operation at James Power's inn on Thomas Street in the Irish capital from around 1796, and at the turn of the century his son, John, joined the business, which subsequently became James Power & Son.

The scale of the distilling venture grew from its modest beginnings, and by 1822 the company was listed as trading from John's Lane, which branches off Thomas Street, with three stills in situ.

The distillery expanded significantly in the wake of the 1823 Excise Act, producing 300,000 gallons of whiskey in 1833 and 700,000 gallons after a rebuilding programme in 1871 which created classic Victorian-style premises.By the mid-1880s output had risen to 900,000 gallons and some 300 people were employed on the seven-acre site.

In 1866 Power's became one of the first companies to bottle its whiskey rather than sell it by the cask,and was also the earliest distiller to produce miniature bottles.

‘Baby Power's' as it was nicknamed proved very popular, and there is an apocryphal story that the ‘three swallows'emblem on the Power's neck label came about because a ‘Baby Power's'contained three swallows of whiskey!

When the indefatigable ...

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