Jameson Select Reserve, Black Barrel

Jameson Select ReserveI don’t know too much about Irish whiskey (as I have noted before). I believe this Black Barrel is a blend like the regular Jameson, though priced a rung above. Indeed, a quick glance at the official website confirms this. It also informs me that this is matured only in ex-bourbon barrels–whereas the regular Jameson seems to be from bourbon and sherry casks–and contains a larger proportion of pot still whiskey in the blend; and like all Jamesons this is triple-distilled. The barrels would seem to be charred more than usual a la the Ardbeg Alligator (hence the name, I suppose). Let’s have at it.

Jameson Select Reserve, Black Barrel (40%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Soft vanilla, toasted (dried) coconut and some grainy spice. The toasted coconut transitions quickly to lightly toasted wood. Very clean but not a whole lot happening. After a few minutes it gets quite neutral and borderline unexpressive–wait, there’s something that puts me in mind of talcum powder. Water doesn’t do anything for the nose.

Palate: Very thin mouthfeel. Sweet entry but then turns sharp and metallic and more than a little woody on the swallow. There’s really nothing more to say. I have a feeling water may make it nastier, but here goes. Well, that’s a relief: water doesn’t make it any nastier; doesn’t make it any better either, unfortunately. Oh well.

Finish: Longer than I’d like it to be. That sweet, metallic astringency from the palate continues.

Comments: I’m not sure at what stage in the bottle’s life this sample was poured but as is, while the nose is inoffensive, the palate and finish verge on the nasty. This can keep the Compass Box Hedonism company. The Hedonism will be pleased as this Jameson makes it look better. Probably best used in mixed drinks, but there too you can do as well with cheaper and better whiskies. Completely inessential.

Rating: 68 points.

Thanks to Florin for the sample (and for helping me guard against grade inflation)!


5 thoughts on “Jameson Select Reserve, Black Barrel

  1. Wow, looks like something to keep away from. I thought it would be a significant step up from the regular Jameson but seems by not a lot if at all. I’d like to see how it compares to the 18 year old Jameson.


    • That’s coming tomorrow.

      I know this does not need to be said, but I’ve never let something like that stop me: Please keep in mind that these are merely my preferences; there’s something about that young grainy profile that I really don’t like (at least I assume it comes from the grain as I mostly have found it in other young blends). If you’re not bothered by that you might well like this (and the Compass Box Hedonism) far more than I did.


  2. Mao, Nothing to thank me for, unless you were planning to buy a bottle. I opened the bottle on 3/17/2013 (yes, I know) and poured out the sample sometime in June or whereabouts. The bottle was more than half-way full, and meanwhile it found a better home. Since this is a relatively thin whisky, the few months it spent in the sample bottle, on my shelf and then on yours, could have affected it. I don’t remember the metallic notes, which are indeed suspect. Like you, I found the whisky rather thin, sweet, and altogether unremarkable. I noted “too much finish, hiding the character of the bottle”. But maybe there wasn’t that much character to start with. MIchael Kravitz who likes Irish whisky a lot more than I do was also not impressed. 2.5* in my book.

    This is one of those whiskies that got very positive reviews when it came out, from all quarters. One wonders how or why. I noticed at the time that everybody was comparing it (favorably) to the standard Jameson. Why not pitch it against the Jameson 12yo instead, since they are in the same price range? Did they set the bar low on purpose, since it couldn’t clear the higher bar? I haven’t had either the regular or the 12yo Jameson so I can’t compare them myself.


  3. I’ll also add that I like the Hedonism a lot more than you do! I see where you come from with your review, and it is not a whisky I come back to very often – indeed, my bottle is about 3/4 full one year after its opening. However, it’s a very elegant whisky, with a nose reminiscent of bourbon — the corn candy sweetness, but not the woody, cherry aromas. It is indeed a feminine whisky, as its label art suggests.


  4. Even as someone who is a geek about all things coming from Midleton Distillery, I have to say this is some terrible terrible whiskey. And it gets worse the further down the bottle one goes. Time, air, water, cold, heat — the elements can do nothing to fix it. To me, it’s down to a star and a half, maybe a 65 out 100.

    I think it was originally only sold in the Tri-State area. And when I bought it in NY (where my bottle mercifully stays) it was at twice the price of regular Jameson’s. I don’t know how they made it taste and smell younger and grainier with crummier oak than the starter Jameson’s but either it was a more expensive process or they’re taking the piss on everyone.


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