Saturday, February 28, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 4

We finally escape the first letter of the alphabet, as Malcolm's pre-prepared recital continues ...

Baby Power

The time-honoured way of ensuring a man's warm walk home from the bar on a cold night.

James Power was a Dublin publican who set up his own distillery at John's Lane in 1791. When his son, John, joined the business it eventually took his name and became the hallowed "John Power and Son". Only after 1866 did the firm bottle its own whiskey, with a distinctive label: hence "Power's Gold Label". The Baby Power was a marketing innovation (which required a change in legislation): Powers reckoned on getting into the female market by selling their husbands miniature bottles to take home. In these liberated latter days, a Baby Power still fits the average handbag.

Not all the Baby Powers made the whole long journey: so the wise husband always bought two before leaving the bar.

Baby Power should not be confused with...

Black Bush

Some time back the Guardian did a major interview with Seamus Heaney as he travelled north on the train. The only way the interviewer noted the passage of tbhe border was when Heaney switched form Jameson to Bushills.

About the time this posting hits cyberspace, Malcolm will be as close to Bushmills as possible. There is what is claimed to be the world's oldest whiskey distillery. Every Bushmills label proudly announces "Founded 1608"; and Malcolm reckons he saw that long before Diageo took over. According to the authorised version, that date was when Sir Thomas Phillips received his licence from King James VI and I. If so, Phillips was Deputy for the Plantation of Ulster; and he was carrying on a tradition that would go back long before 1608. The recent anniversary release amplified the claim:
On 20th April 1608, a licence was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips to "make, draw and distil" uisce beatha within the territory called the Rowte in County Antrim.
That's an editing of the original licence:
for the next seaven yeres, within the countie of Colrane, otherwise called the Rowte, in Co. Antrim, by himselfe or his servauntes, to make, drawe, and distil such and soe great quantities of aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; and the same to sell, vent, and dispose of to any persons, yeeldinge yerelie the somme 13s 4d.
Others dismiss the claim, and suggest that the distillery cannot be traced back further than 1784, which was the date on the labels when, in 1891, the firm started bottling and selling Old Glynn Bush.

Whatever, Malcolm reckons that the Bushmills range is one of his greatest temptations. While he would not look askance at the main product, he looks forwaard to opening a bottle of Green Bush (from the distinctive label), the single malt product, and for the seductive aroma to waft through the house. Apparently available mainly in Northern Ireland, Bushmills produce a basic product, which is marketed under the Coleraine name: that's not the greatest, but not bad, either.

However, back to Black Bush. Back in 1999 Irish Distillers ordered its associate British company to desist from a campaign:
A spokesman for Irish distillers said the promotion drew an unacceptable connection between the whiskey's brand name and pubic hair.

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