Food / December 13, 2023

Back to the Future: Powers Restore Old Stills at NCAD

Food / December 13, 2023

Back to the Future: Powers Restore Old Stills at NCAD

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Press

In a move that’s equal parts whiskey reverence and architectural rehab, Irish Distillers has given a facelift to three copper pot stills from the OG Powers John’s Lane Distillery, which is currently NCAD.

Located smack in the middle of the Thomas Street area—historically known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Dublin’s whiskey mecca—the stills are relics from the heyday when the Powers John’s Lane Distillery churned out a whopping 900,000 gallons of the good stuff annually.

Once under the spirited guidance of James Power, the distillery reached far and wide, sending its whiskey to places like Canada, the US, Australia, Uruguay, and even Egypt. Alfred Barnard, a whiskey wordsmith from 1886, waxed poetic about the gleaming pot stills being “as bright and clean as burnished gold.”

Fast forward to today, where the former distillery grounds house NCAD, a bastion of art and design education.

Eight months of tender loving care from EML Construction Ltd, involving everything from abrasive blast cleaning to hand-crafted copper lacquering, has given these pot stills a new lease on life. Even the valves, platforms, and ovens got in on the action, showcasing the intricate dance that is whiskey production.

Joao Rozario, the Global Marketing Director at Irish Distillers, chimed in on the restoration feat: “Powers John’s Lane Distillery was once a thriving distillery and played a significant role in the history of Irish whiskey. We are honoured to have been able to respectfully restore these iconic pot stills and preserve the heritage of John’s Lane Distillery.”

Carol Quinn, Head of Archives at Irish Distillers, added her two cents: “These pot stills are landmarks of Irish Whiskey, and it’s truly wonderful to have been able to honour their heritage, and that of the Powers family, through this restoration project.”

And in a nod to the golden triangle’s modern heirs, Professor Sarah Glennie, Director of the NCAD, shared her delight: “The refurbishment work that has been completed has truly transformed the college campus and will continue to serve as a beautiful reminder of our past to our students.”

So here’s to Irish whiskey, historic pot stills, and the spirited revival of Dublin’s boozy legacy! Cheers to the tipple that stands the test of time.

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