Back on January 21st in my first post Here I outlined how I had decided to purchase my first bottle of Irish Whiskey for the purposes of collecting, and how after browsing through the fine collection at the Celtic Whiskey Store on Dawson Street, Dublin 2, I decided to purchase a bottle of 16 Year Old Powers which was a Single Cask release, Cask number 284, bottled exclusively for the store.
From this moment on I had been bitten by the collecting bug……..
I started to do some research into the Powers Single Cask series and learned that I was playing catch up, as at that time there had been eight bottles released and more were due out in the coming months. I learned very quickly that some would be harder to find than others due to the period of time that they’d been on the market, but what took me by surprise was the difficulty I had in tracking down two of the most recent releases.
Namely……. Powers 15 Year Old Cask No. 69915 and Powers 15 Year Old Cask No. 69934
Casks 69915 and 69934 were both bottled exclusively for the Irish Supermarket chain, SuperValu, as part of their push to stock more premium Irish whiskeys, which is great to see and both of these bottles fit that bill perfectly.
I spoke with a friend who works for the SuperValu group and she explained to me that not every store was going to stock these items, as they would have had to request them at a trade fair the year before. It dawned on me that tracking down these bottles may not be the easiest task. The fact that there are only ever roughly 200 bottles filled from each cask and that there are currently 223 SuperValu stores throughout Ireland, meant there wasn’t even enough for one bottle per store, but as I suspected, and was proven right, some stores would get multiple bottles while others would get none.
The expected release dates came and went and there was no sign of these bottles. I began to wonder if I’d missed them altogether, but I then got word that there had been a delay and they were both due out in the following two weeks.
I’d been told by other collectors that this was going to be a big deal for SuperValu. That there was going to be a lot of PR around the releases. But this really wasn’t the case. I didn’t see any advertising in relation to them online, in their leaflets that came through the door, or in any of the stores I visited. I was really surprised by this, given the premium level of the liquid. Maybe I just missed it all, but I think not!
Armed with the knowledge that the bottles were going to be landing in the next two weeks, I began my search. I rang all the local SuperValu stores and looked for information on the new release dates and their expected stock levels, but it quickly became apparent that some of the stores I was on to had no idea what I was talking about. ‘Powers Whiskey?’ they’d say, ‘Ah yeah, we have that’. I’d outline that it was two very specific bottles I was looking for and I was met with silence.
I decided I needed to meet and greet the people responsible for stocking alcohol in the various stores, so began calling around to a few of the local ones to see what they knew. I left name and number with them and awaited the return call. Weeks went by and no calls came. I began to get quite frustrated about the whole experience and to be honest I’d say they were sick of hearing my voice on the phone, as I rang constantly…then one day the phone rang, and it was the store in Blanchardstown. Cask No. 69915 had arrived!! They’d only received two, but my name was on one, so I breathed a sigh of relief and made my way down to the store to pick it up.
Having completed part one of my quest my attention now turned to Cask No. 69934……This proved a lot more difficult!
Having secured 69915, which resulted in me developing a few relationships with staff in various SuperValu stores, I was full sure that acquiring 69934 would be a walk in the park. One would think that if a store received the first bottle then surely, they’d have ordered the second bottle as well. For some reason this wasn’t the case and it became apparent fairly quickly that I was going to struggle to find one. My Dublin store contacts all said there was no sign of the second bottle arriving anytime soon, but I knew it was on the shelves in stores outside of County Dublin, so I just couldn’t understand this.
A few weeks went by and to be honest I think the guys in SuperValu, Blanchardstown were considering a restraining order to prevent me from entering the shop! While on the phone to my sister one day, she mentioned that she was in the Blanchardstown Store, I asked her to check the shelves and maybe ask if there was any news? She rang back…. ‘How many times have you been in here David? I said I’d leave your number with them rather than mine and when I started to call it out he cut me off, called out your number, and said that’s Dave O Connell’s number’. My poor sister didn’t know what to say but we had a good laugh about it!
Realising that getting my hands-on bottle 69934 through the Dublin stores was going to an issue, it was time to call on some friends. There really are the most amazing Irish Whiskey fans out there, it really is one big family and everyone is always more then willing to give each other a dig out to find whatever it is we’re looking for. I logged on to the various social media outlets where we all hang out and put it out there, that I was need of 69934, asking if anyone could help. Within five minutes I had a message from a fellow collector, who said he knew that there was stock in Super Valu, Mullingar and that he knew the alcohol salesperson there who would set aside a bottle for me.
A few days later I set off to Mullingar, with the entire O’Connell clan in tow, in order to pick up the bottle. I’d like to be able to say that this was a life changing experience and one I’ll never forget but what actually happened was I drove to Mullingar, parked up, my wife and kids stayed in the car, I picked up the bottle and we drove home! I don’t think it’s one we’ll talk about for years to come!
My mission was now complete. I had added Powers 15 Year Old Single Cask number 69915 and 69934 to my family of Powers Single Casks and I was able to breathe again.
‘Hey Dave…. Did you hear that Finnegans in Dalkey have bottled a Powers Single Cask?’
And here we go again…………
Until next time.