The Powers Irish Rye was. born from trials at Irish Distillers' Midleton Distillery in Co Cork, following research by the company's archivist Carol Quinn into historical mashbills used by Powers distillers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Due to the lack of commercial rye farming in Ireland today, Powers commissioned the planting of rye crops exclusively for the production of this whiskey at Cooney Furlong Farm in Co Wexford. The farm, located near the Powers family's ancestral home, supplied 100 per cent of the rye used in the first Powers Irish Rye release and will guarantee an ongoing supply of the crop for this expression.
The whiskey was matured in American oak casks, with a mixture of virgin oak, first-fill and refill casks used. The Irish Distillers team says the American oak has added complementary sweeter flavours to the characteristic earthy, peppery profile of rye.
Eric Ryan, Powers' distiller, said: “We attribute the success of this whiskey firstly to the extended team at Midleton Distillery, yet also to the generations of Powers distillers who considered rye grain to be a unique component of their craft. From our commitment to farming a difficult crop, to reduced brewhouse throughput, to longer fermentation times, and considering the exceptional cask profile – if it was only about efficiency, we would never have used rye! But it proved a worthy endeavour.”
Of her research for Powers Irish Rye, Quinn explained: “Throughout the history of the famous Powers John’s Lane Distillery there was a willingness to challenge the old ways of doing things and experiment with new ideas, from urban farming on the distillery roof in the 1940s, to bottling in-house and the introduction of the world’s first miniature Irish whiskey, the ‘baby Power’. This has fed very much into the DNA of Powers Irish Rye today, both in the use of rye and in the method of distillation.”
Bottled at 43.2% ABV, Powers Irish Rye will be released on 20 February in the US, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, at Dublin Airport, and online at powerswhiskey.com. It will also be available via The Whisky Exchange in the UK in the coming months (RRP US$32/€40/£32).
Although traditionally associated with North America, rye has gained an increasing foothold in craft European whisky production in the past couple of decades, particularly finding favour with distillers in Northern Europe (for example, Stauning in Denmark and Kyrö in Finland). In 2020, Scottish distiller Arbikie released the country's first rye whisky in 100 years with its limited-edition Highland Rye.