Press Releases

Irish Distillers supports restoration of iconic former Powers John’s Lane Distillery pot stills on the National College of Art and Design campus

December 13, 2023

  • Irish Distillers has supported the restoration of three iconic pot stills which once played an important role in the history of Irish whiskey
  • The pot stills can be found on the grounds of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), the former location of the Powers John’s Lane Distillery
  • The restoration project, which included the removal of vegetation and graffiti from the stills and restoration of the brickwork and ironwork, will ensure the distilling history of Powers and the wider Liberties area is preserved for years to come
  • The Thomas Street area historically was part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of distilling in Dublin, with the Powers John’s Lane Distillery forming one apex

Irish Distillers, producer of some of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys has supported the refurbishment and preservation of three antique pot stills from the former Powers John’s Lane Distillery. The pot stills, which once produced Powers Irish Whiskey, are now owned by the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and are located in the heart of the NCAD campus on Thomas Street.

The three unique copper pot stills are the only remaining pot stills still in-situ on the former site of Powers John’s Lane Distillery in the Liberties area of Dublin.



Founded in 1791 by James Power, in its prime, the Powers John’s Lane Distillery had a production of almost 900,000 gallons of Irish whiskey a year, exporting all over the world to distant markets such as Canada, the US, Australia, Uruguay and Egypt from the centre of Dublin city.

Central to the success and prestige of the whiskey was the technological achievements of the distillery. The massive pot stills which were described in 1886 by the writer Alfred Barnard as being “as bright and clean as burnished gold” were designed in house by the distilling team along with the ‘Spirit Safe’ to a unique design. He described the whiskey produced from these stills as “finer than anything we had hitherto tasted”.

old stills, from the archive

The distillery ceased distilling whiskey in 1976 and the former grounds are now home to the National College of Art and Design.

In recognition of the contribution of the distillery and the stills to the history of Irish Whiskey, and in partnership with NCAD, Irish Distillers invested to refurbish and preserve the remaining stills, restoring Dublin’s whiskey production heritage.

The project required specialist contractors from EML Construction Ltd to carry out the work, which took eight months to complete and included abrasive blast cleaning, painting, copper cleaning and lacquering the copper stills, all of which was done by hand. The steps, valves, platforms, and the ovens used to heat the stills were also restored to showcase the workings and intricacies of the production process, all integral to the heritage of the stills. The surrounding areas were also rejuvenated with repairs and cleaning to the surround brickwork, railings and landscaping in accordance with consultations and agreements with the Dublin City Council Conservation Architects department.

Commenting on the announcement, Joao Rozario, Global Marketing Director at Irish Distillers said:

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“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 said:

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“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. We hope the staff and students of NCAD will be able to enjoy the magnificent view of the newly restored pot stills for many years to come.”

Professor Sarah Glennie, Director, the NCAD commented:

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“The National College of Art and Design campus occupies a unique position in Art and Design Education in Ireland, and for over 200 years it was the location of Powers John’s Lane Distillery. The heritage of the building is evident throughout and forms part of the fabric of the college, but none more so than the iconic pot stills in the heart of the campus. We are incredibly grateful to Irish Distillers for their continued support in the maintenance of the iconic landmarks. The refurbishment work that has been competed has truly transformed the college campus and will continue to serve as a beautiful reminder of our past to our students.”

Charles O’Reilly, descendant of the Powers family, said:

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“Powers John’s Lane Distillery formed part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of distilling on the Thomas Street area of Dublin during the 1800s. At its height the distillery set the standard for modernity and progressive work practices. And the iconic pot stills that now sit on the campus of the NCAD were the jewel in the crown of the distillery, so my family and I are delighted to join the team from Irish Distillers and NCAD to celebrate the preservation of a piece of history from an iconic distilling dynasty.”