So it’s St. Patricks Day today, to be sure! And what better way to celebrate than to try a brace of Irish Whiskeys? Jameson Irish Whiskey to be precise!
First, let’s kick off with a wee bit of background on John Jameson & Son (blatantly copied and pasted from Master of Malt, sorry guys).
In 1780, the Scottish businessman John Jameson purchased the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. It was not long before his chief brand, Jameson Irish Whiskey, would become internationally popular. The Bow Street distillery was previously producing around 30,000 gallons annually but by the turn of the nineteenth century the distillery was producing over a million gallons. John Jameson was keen to produce the best product possible, sourcing the finest ingredients. Furthermore, John triple distilled his product when most others were double distilled; he believed this produced a smoother product. During the early nineteenth century, John Jameson’s son, John II, expanded the facilities which were, by this time, among the largest in Ireland. John II’s son John III further expanded the brand and when his son John IV came to power at the helm of the Jameson brand, he found himself in charge of a global brand. Today, Jameson is the best selling Irish whiskey in the world.
Right, on to the whiskeys themselves…
Jameson Original (40%)
Nose: Fruity but not overly so, kind of slightly new makey, the triple distillation reminding me of Auchentoshan. Someone described this as “flinty”, I get what they meant! Acetone notes.
Palate: Gentle, balanced. Sweet, but not stupidly so, it’s a balanced sweetness that plays nicely with your palate. Just slightly thin. Held for long enough on your tongue there’s some nice oak notes.
Finish: Quite long, warming, easy and slightly spiced. Fresh and tasty, great finish!
Thoughts: Apparently the Whisky Bible 2013 gives this 95 Points, and going by some of the Twitter Tasting comments people like this! However, it’s not totally for me, I don’t really get on with the nose, although the palate is better and the finish better still! It’s a perfectly good blended whisky at a good price point. I could imagine it working well with ice, and as a mixer.
Available: The Whisky Exchange £19.45
Jameson Gold Reserve (40%)
A blend of 3 aged whiskies, one of which is matured in virgin oak barrels.
Nose: A much more balanced and recognisable nose, very pleasant. Sweet, tropical fruits, no more flint or new make found in the Original, more grown up and complex, a good step up in quality.
Palate: Fab, a palate that’s much more in line with my preference, older, more complex… some zingyness but also sweet and buttery with fresh oaky notes there.
Finish: Quite long, fresh grass, menthol and a lingering sweetness.
Thoughts: Whisky Bible 2008 gives this 94 points. Slightly more score than I’d give it, but closer to what’s in my mind, more worthy of the score that’s for sure. A nice blend that would benefit even more from more ABV and less filtration.
Available: The Whisky Exchange £50.55
Jameson Select Reserve (40%)
Nose: An interesting nose, compared to the two whiskies above it’s kind of in the middle of the two… less rich and robust than Gold, more aged than Original. Overall however it’s got touches of youngness to it along with balanced subtle sweetness, hints of smoke and a touch of tobacco, fairly classy!
Palate: Smooth, buttery, vanilla fudge, newish oak. A thicker feel than you’d maybe expect for 40% abv.
Finish: Hints of smoke, spices and oaky fun, sweet, fruity and fun! Leaves a slight peppery tickle on your palate which is really pleasing.
Thoughts: Ok, I started off thinking the worse and have ended up being really impressed… for the money this is good value tasty stuff, nicely done. If the Whisky bible was scoring similar to above then it’s back into the 95 range easily enough.
Available: The Whisky Exchange £34.45
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve (46%)
Nose: The sort of stylish quality nose you’d expect from the best Scotch Whisky, so it’s great to find it here in this corker of an Irish Whiskey. Full of tropical citrus fruit notes from great bourbon casks. Aged hints of barley and general awesomeness followed by fruity treats from the port maturation that gives is sugary sweetness with figs and hints of autumn fruits.
Palate: Thick and a bit spicy, hugely pepped up by the increase in ABV and the assumed non chill-filteration, boom, that’s what we need, it works a treat and shows off this whiskey at really top form. Your palate is covered in sweet, gentle fruits just tempting you to swallow, just like a good bag of sweets makes you go back for more.
Finish: Long, lovely and long, warming with sweet summery fruits which tail off into the more autumnal fruits.
Thoughts: Whisky Bible Awards 2012: Irish Blend of the Year. Yep, I can see why, I think I’d agree, it’s awesome stuff, just a shame it’s very expensive and possibly not entirely comparable to other whiskies of the same price.
Available: Jameson Whiskey Shop €402.00 – I’m sure you can find it for less if you look around.
Thanks to Jameson for including me in their invite only Twitter Tasting!