Beara Distillery – Building a Legacy

John and his sister Eileen Power were born and raised not far from the distillery he and his family have created. A fisherman by trade, John grew to love distilling as much as he loved the Beara peninsula. It’s hard work to create spirits with a unique panache that will sell in a competitive market but also taste delicious. The Power family, it seems, are indeed artisans.  Beara is run by John, his wife Valerie, sister Eileen Brennan and Denise Power. Truly a family enterprise.

Beara distillery motto photo Marisa Lanning

Their lines of gin evoke the taste of the Beara peninsula with fuchsia blossom, salt water, sugar kelp, lemon, lime, pink grapefruit as well as juniper, coriander, angelica and orris root. The Pink gin includes rose water, cranberries and carmine for a succulent sweet tart flavour. Both gins are well balanced and easy to drink with no one flavour dominating the other. Their gins define a sense of place, reminiscent of seaside holidays, ocean swims and verdant hedges heavy with blooms. Raised by the ocean myself, there is a fair bit of nostalgia in those bottles.

Beara Distillery has branched out into Whiskey and like their gin, the family has taste and a sense of place.

Whiskey for distribution photo Rhys McPhail

Like most distilleries, Beara is raising capital by purchasing whiskey from a bonder, aging it in personally selected casks for additional flavour and selling it under the Beara label. Beara has partnered with the Teeling family and master mixer Brian Watts, to source a variety of whiskies to be blended and stored in different finishing Casks. The result is stunning and is the reason we travelled across the country to visit John in his distillery.

Beara working distillery and John Power photo Rhys McPhail

Their Beara Deep Char Cask is a wonder. A big bold burst of flavour from months spent in Alligator charred casks that really bring out a taste of luscious vanilla, caramel, sultanas, Christmas cake, orange peel, crème brulee  …with a finish that lingers on. It’s a flavour bomb that is rich and complex.

Their Single malt is lighter but brimming with smooth butterscotch, vanilla, marzipan and orange that is refreshing with a light long finish.

Their grain whiskey is column distilled but remarkably smooth. The nose is almost non-existent but the taste is an explosion of orange blossom, almond, peach and vanilla. It’s an excellent summer drink by itself. Highly recommend as a sipping whiskey. One could mix this as an amazing Old Fashion.  

Each whiskey makes a statement, I was impressed that their whiskey was without that funky, feinty flavour so popular today. They were reminiscent of the Tullamore 18 and very old school Jameson (from the 1950’s).

The Power family is in the process of building a larger distillery facility.  However Covid along with the war in Ukraine has pushed the date out several years. John is not deterred. This distillery is, in his words, for future generations. A legacy for his kids and for the Beara peninsula. Even with plans on hold, there is no doubt that the build will go ahead. In the meantime, the Power family continues to raise funds with their excellent gins, whiskey, and the addition of a Vodka to be released soon.

I do find it a pity that their Single Malt and Grain Whiskies are only available to Germany and Italy. They have a unique flavour profile that is not currently available in the Irish Market. The Grain Whiskey reminds me of the Japanese brands – refreshing and smooth with a long light finish, but not a light weight or single note spirit. There is a surprising depth to each. Hopefully Beara will consider opening up the market to Ireland and other countries.

Once their distillery is up and runny, we hope to revisit the Power family for another review.

Copper still Princess photo Rhys McPhail

Published by whiskycailleach

I have been enjoying wine and spirits for more years than I care to admit. My parents were of the old school that teething pain should be cured with liberal applications of spirits. In the basement of our old house in Santa Barbara California was a hidden room locked by an old bank vault door put in by my grandparents sometime in the 1920s. When my folks engaged a locksmith to open it in the late 1970’s the hidden room contained my grandad's old spirit collection. Some corks were mouldy and past their prime, while others were some of the best whiskies, brandies and liqueurs we had ever tasted. It has been a pleasant quest to explore as many different whiskies as possible from Scotland, to Ireland, from small distilleries in the US to Japan's Suntory. Along the way I have had the good fortune to meet amazing folks in the whiskey world from Keith Barnes at Bainbridge Organic Distillers to Lora Hemy at Roe & Co. My personal goal is to visit as many distilleries and taste as many whiskies as humanly possible. I feel lucky to now be living in Ireland, enjoying the whiskey renaissance currently taking place. I look forward to sharing my tasting notes, articles and musings as well as reading about others experiences in the wonderful world of whiskey. Slainte!

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