The Friend at Hand continues to keep rich Belfast whiskey heritage alive

Joe Magowan, Irish Whiskey Ambassador for Dillon Bass makes Powers Old Fashioned Cocktails for guests at an exclusive event to launch the new Friend at Hand Powers Single Cask Release at The Friend at Hand, Hill Street, Belfast. Picture by Elaine Hill.

Along the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, The Friend at Hand - the first Whiskey shop of its kind - bestows a warm Belfast welcome, paying homage to the city’s whiskey history with an unrivalled collection of rare Irish whiskies.

Now, an exciting new partnership with Powers Irish Whiskey adds another rare whiskey to The Friend at Hand’s impressive collection.

Paul O'Hare, Joe Magowan and Willie Jack at the launch of The Friend at Hand Powers Single Cask Release. Picture by Elaine Hill.

Bearing a 14-year-old age statement, the special Powers Single Cask Release was hand selected by Midleton Distillery’s Master Blender in collaboration with The Friend at Hand and bears all the hallmark spicy flavours of Powers, complemented by the velvety mouthfeel, which characterises great pot still whiskey.

Aged for a minimum of 14 years, the extra time in the wood gives this Powers Single Cask Release an added maturity, subtlety and softness.

The Friend at Hand Powers Single Cask Release retains the depth of flavour that is characteristically Powers, while revealing complex and layered, individual tasting notes of spicy, cracked black pepper and nutmeg, accompanied by herbal notes and liquorice with a distinct oak background of vanilla and toasted wood.

A light, crisp apple note adds to the subtle fruit undertones in the background.

Presented in a beautiful bespoke wooden box, etched with the distinctive façade of The Friend at Hand, the inscription on the back of the box reads:

“Complex. Curious. Brave. Much like Belfast itself, this special Powers single cask release is a meeting of minds and strong characters. One of a kind. Never to be recreated. A true Friend at Hand.”

The Friend at Hand is the brainchild of Willie Jack, the man behind legendary Belfast bars including The Duke of York and The Harp Bar. Since it opened in January 2017, the quaint whiskey shop has established itself as a leading emporium of rare Irish whiskeys.

Commenting on the release, Willie Jack of The Friend at Hand said, “This is an exceptional 14-year-old Powers. The packaging and presentation, the story of Belfast and the liquid inside combine to make this a very special whiskey indeed. With the quality of the whiskey, the presentation and the venue that we will be selling it from, I am confident this will be sold out within a few months.”

The Friend at Hand was named in homage to Willie’s late business partner and friend, Bruce Kirk and is a living museum to Irish whiskey, as Willie explains: “Bruce and I worked together for a long time; we knew each other for almost 40 years. The shop was named in honour of him as he was always a friend at hand. He was always there for everyone. I think that we all have a friend at hand – someone that is always there and will never pull the ladder up behind you.”

Building on the reputation of The Duke of York, which boasts one of the largest selections of Irish whiskey in Ireland, The Friend at Hand is a true treasure trove for whiskey enthusiasts.

“We are a great industrial city with great heritage,” says Willie Jack. “At one point this was home to the largest factories in the world with rope making, ship building, linen, distilling and tobacco, believe it or not. At the turn of the century, in 1900, Belfast had five of the largest factories in the world. For various reasons, like outsourcing, a lot of these industries have diminished but whiskey has lasted. Whiskey has stayed here for all these years and is almost a link to the past.”

A limited-edition expression drawn from just one cask yielding 240 bottles, this Powers Single Cask Release has been selected and bottled exclusively for The Friend at Hand. Retailing at £175 per bottle, it is available exclusively at The Friend at Hand on Hill Street in Belfast.

“This release – and all of our whiskeys - are available only to those that purchase from our whiskey shop on Hill Street,” says Willie Jack.

“I am trying to bring people in to Belfast. We get phone calls all the time – often from whiskey collectors in Germany and elsewhere - asking us to ship bottles to them but our message is, ‘we want Belfast to thrive.’

“I want people to come to Belfast, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, drink in our bars, use our black taxis and to buy their whiskey here. It would be very easy to sell these special bottles online but I am trying to drive Belfast this way.”

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