Tasting events are great and I’ve blogged about them before Here. They really give you a great opportunity to try so many expressions that you may not ordinarily get the chance to try for various reasons, like cost or rarity. So, when I was contacted by Joe Magowan, Brand Ambassador for Powers Northern Ireland, and asked to take part in a Powers tasting for World Whiskey Day, I of course said yes. But this tasting had a twist…It was going to be done via Twitter!
I had heard of Twitter tastings and had seen them being done online but I had never taken part in one before. How does it work? Who else is doing it? How do I get the samples? It all started on April 19th, when Joe reached out to me looking for an address to send on samples in order to take part in the tasting. I was delighted to be contacted and suspected a mutual friend may have had a hand in my selection and this theory was proved correct…. Tip of the hat to you, Sir! You know who you are.
With the information passed on to Joe, I waited patiently for the samples to arrive. In the meantime, I did some research as to what would be expected of me when the time came, by reading over some previous tastings that I’d seen online.
The date was set for 16th of May, as part of the celebrations around World Whiskey Day on the 19th. I began to get a little nervous around 11th, when I noticed that others were tweeting images of their sample packs but there was no sign of mine. I was hoping nothing had gone wrong with the delivery as I was really looking forward to being involved in such a high-profile event and with such a fabulous brand in Powers. On the Monday afternoon I arrived home to a ‘We missed you’ receipt from An Post, so off to the local sorting office I went, fairly confident that this was my sample kit. With the package in hand I was ready for the 16th!
At this point I have to compliment whoever did the packing, as I’ve never seen anything so well packed in my life. Each of the five bottles were wrapped in layer after layer of bubble wrap and it was quite the effort to get them open! Accompanying the samples was a fabulous Tuath glass, a wonderful Powers lapel pin and a covering letter outlining the details of the event.
I had been expecting four samples in the pack so when I opened it to find five I was wondering what surprise was awaiting me and I was not disappointed!
– Powers Gold Label
– Powers Three Swallows
– Powers Signature
– Powers John’s Lane
– Powers 14 Year ‘Friend at Hand’ Single Cask
The Powers Whiskey Twitter tasting pack
I noted that the time for the event to kick off was 19:00 and thought to myself that may be difficult as that’s usually the time my wife and I sit down for dinner, having already fed and watered the troops. As it turned out, on the day in question with the kids fed and my wife just in the door from work, I only sat down to eat my dinner at 18:50, giving me a whole ten minutes to spare before the tasting started. I managed to polish off my meatballs and spaghetti in record time and sat down with the phone and samples ready to go at 18:58.
Armed with the instructions to follow #WWDPowers, at 19:00 I began refreshing my feed…….
Up popped the first tweet, welcoming everyone to the event. We got a brief outline of the history of Powers and a tweet in relation to the unique process of distilling Powers ‘whereby more of the heads and tails are removed to retain the best part: the heart’. This was followed by asking us to start the evening by sampling the Powers Gold Label sample we had. Our host for the evening gave their opinion on the nose, moved on to tasting and all others involved then started to give their opinions. My notification count started to climb at an alarming rate and I did my best to keep on top of all the replies and try to take note of the differing opinions. Was I getting the same nose as the others? What taste were they getting? If I didn’t get these tastes first time round did I pick them up on the second sip?
The order of the night was Powers Gold Label, Powers Three Swallows, next in line was Powers Signature, followed by Powers John’s Lane and we finished the evening with a 14-Year-Old Powers single cask that was bottled for the ‘Friend at Hand’ Irish Whiskey shop in Belfast.
As we moved from sample to sample the tweets just kept coming and, to be honest, I was finding it difficult to keep on top of it all and got a little lost at one point. Are we still on the nose of the Three Swallows? Have we moved on to the taste? God, maybe we’re on Signature? For me it was all moving very fast, maybe a bit too fast, but I did my best to keep up. I noted as the evening went on that others seemed to be going through the tasting of each, taking notes and putting out one tweet with their opinions on the various aspects of the whiskey. This is one lesson I learned and will take with me to the next Tweet tasting…if I’m asked to do another, that is!!
With all said and done, I had sent out 34 tweets so I think I did my bit in contributing in a meaningful way. My sense of smell and palate are still developing, but I think I’m getting a grasp of it and hopefully will develop further as time goes by.
Having tasted all five samples I rated them in the order in which we tasted them, which I suppose was the whole idea. It was my first time to try Gold Label and I was impressed, considering its supposed to be the ‘entry’ level. This was followed by the Signature and Three Swallow Releases. John’s Lane was very impressive and it’s one I’ll be adding to my drinking collection.
The winner on the night for me was absolutely the 14-Year-Old Friend at Hand Single Cask. I thought it was stunning. I said, on the night, that it was as if it ‘slid down the Tuath glass slower’ on the way to my mouth. Maybe it’s supposed to! My wife tried it and commented that she was keeping the rest for herself! Unfortunately for her she was too slow and my Dad is now in possession of the remainder of the sample and I’m awaiting his feedback, which I’m sure will be similar to mine.
All in all, I really enjoyed my first tweet tasting and, as I said, I hope that it’s the first of many.
I’d like to sincerely thank Joe Magowan of Powers Northern Ireland for inviting me to take part in this tasting.
Thanks, as always, for reading.