Powers Rye and John's Lane 12 Year Old Cask Strength

Today we have two of Midleton distillery's more recent releases from the Powers brand, the Powers Irish Rye and the Powers John's Lane 12 year old Cask Strength single pot still.

Rye has been much vaulted as a finishing cask with the likes of Prizefight & Foxes Bow, it's been used in mixed mashbills from the likes of Kilbeggan, Method & Madness & Shortcross but I believe the Powers Rye to be the first modern Irish whiskey to use rye exclusively in the mashbill. Quite exciting!

Thinking of rye whiskies you probably transport your minds eye to North America and the heavy use of rye in American and Canadian whiskey. These produce a veritable smorgasbord of mixed mashbill and straight rye whiskey. As such some here decried Powers for producing an 'American' whiskey. 'It's just a marketing ploy to tap into the American market' seemed to be the feeling.

Personally I think it's great that we can produce rye whiskey here and that Midleton took the chance to do so. Rye would have been used extensively in heritage mashbills here in Ireland so there is a sense that we are further exploring our roots and breaking free of the 'Irish whiskey is smooooootttthhhhh' label that has afflicted us for years. In a sense then it is ironic that it is Midleton that have produced this whiskey considering they essentially burdened us with the 'smooth' tag in the first place. However, we can and should look past such things.

I've found no info on roughly how old the Rye is but it's matured in American Oak casks and bottled at 43.2%abv. The bottle is available on the Midleton online shop for £38.

Next up we have the John's Lane 12 year old Cask Strength.

Now it's fair to say I love the regular John's Lane 12 year old which you can see here. In fact now that Redbreast 12 year old is essentially the same price it's the Irish pot still of choice for me and one I happily recommend to non-Irish whiskey drinkers due to its density, its earthy tobacco and leather notes and frankly delicious palate. It really is an Irish classic that is sadly overlooked especially in overseas markets.

In Ireland at least, bloggers and enthusiasts constantly dreamed of a cask strength edition. If Redbreast could get a cask strength 12 year old, why couldn't the John's Lane?

Cast your mind back to 2020. Yep.....the Covid apocalypse. Belfast Whiskey Week was cancelled in person as was life in general and a decision was made to take the festival online. As part of this online whiskey extravaganza was a 'World Wide Whiskey Exclusive' box that held 9 drams. Dram 6 was Powers John's Lane Cask Strength. Somehow festival director Paul O'Cahan had managed to persuade Billy Leighton to release something really special for the festival.....and boy did Billy deliver!

To say there was a clamour for this box was an understatement. This was the first time a cask strength edition of John's Lane had made it into whiskeysphere. Moving forward IDL released a John's Lane cask strength as part of their Midleton Barrel Club in around 2022 which I believe was limited to only 500 members (I'm happy to be corrected on this if I'm wrong). 

This release again increased the volume of the Midleton faithful to release this as a core release. That call was answered on the 2nd October 2023 when it was put on general sale across all of Ireland. I recently took a bottle to Florida to try to convert borebon drinkers and it went down a charm. 

On to the tasting notes!

Powers Rye 43.2%

Nose: It's a rye! Golden syrup, candied orange segments, garden mint, maraschino cherry, clove, Jamaican ginger cake. Rye, white pepper. A herbal note too of fresh dill.

Palate: A little thin mouthfeel wise. Then comes the rye spice attack! Rye bread, spry ginger, pepper, orange oil and clove plus a little anise. Stewed apples and banana bread. Vanilla custard. Golden syrup again and milk chocolate.

Finish: Shortish - lingering rye spice, cacoa and a dry woodiness.

Score: 6 out of 10

Powers John's Lane 12 year old Cask Strength 57.8% abv

Nose: I love this nose. Butterscotch, leather, nougat, sawn wood, candied orange peel. Walnuts, vanilla pods, cocoa and furniture polish. Fresh tobacco leaf and menthol.

Palate: Thick and oily - there's quite a bit of fruit here. Toffee apples, caramelised banana's, griddled peach. Some sherry sweetness too with raisins and marzipan. Then the pot still spices kick in with warming ginger and freshly ground black pepper. Dark chocolate and cracked walnuts with a leathery note towards the end.

Finish: Pretty long with some cask char, caramelised fruit and mocha notes.

Score: 8 out of 10


The Power's Rye is a success in the sense that it's definitely a gateway into rye whiskies for those poor suckers who as yet don't enjoy a rye whiskey. Sure it's no Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye or Peerless Straight Rye, it's definitely a little softer and so, dare I say it, 'Irish' in its feel but I think this could be the rye whiskey that opens the rye rabbit hole to lots of people. It'll also be pretty good in an Old Fashioned. I just wish their was a little more abv to help it body wise.

The John's Lane Cask Strength is just a superb whiskey that any Irish whiskey enthusiast needs to try, actually you need this in your whiskey collection. I love the regular release of John's Lane, so having it in a cask strength format is a great option to have. I'm not sure that I can say it's inherently better than the 46% abv release but I do know it's still a fantastically enjoyable dram that allows you to adjust the abv to your own tastes. Do yourself a favour and go buy it!

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