After the NAS Black Barrel disaster here’s an older Jameson that will hopefully be better. In fact, this is the oldest Irish whiskey I’ve tried. Its makeup is not entirely clear. On the Jameson website there’s an unexplained reference to it being comprised of “3 beautifully matched whiskeys…matured for at least 18 years”. There seems to be some explanation in the TWE listing which refers to it as a “blend of two potstill whiskies and a single grain”. However, while the TWE listing also adds that this blend “is matured in Oloroso sherry casks and finished in bourbon wood for 6 months” the official website suggests a different maturation regime, saying the whiskeys are “matured for at least 18 years in hand selected American bourbon barrels and European oak casks, where they complete their rite of passage and are finished in first fill bourbon barrels”. So as per the website, it would seem that bourbon wood is involved in the primary maturation as well. But what does it taste like?
Jameson 18 (40%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Okay, this is much, much better than the Black Barrel. There’s a lot more fruit from the get-go: some citrus (orange peel) and a little apricot. After a minute the fruit brightens up–more lemon now but also a touch of ripe pineapple. Some honey too. The grain shows up a little bit later (a light grassy and faintly metallic note) but it is very much a supporting player. The apricot expands with time. And with a lot more time the wood comes out in front, but it’s not offensive (a little bourbony, in fact). Water brings the citrus back out to the front.
Palate: Thin mouthfeel here too but some nice polished wood and some nice fruit to go with it. There’s lime and papaya and a touch of mango–but then there’s that metallic note again. With time the wood gets more insistent and tannic more quickly. At first it provides a nice counterpoint to the fruit but then it begins to feel a little unbalanced. Let’s see if water pushes it back. Okay, it does but it also makes it too…wait for it, wait for it…watery. It does also maybe make it a little more peppery.
Finish: Medium. The fruit continues well into the finish but the wood gets a little louder here, and a touch more bitter. And it’s the wood that lingers well after everything else is gone. Water does dial the wood back on the finish.
Comments: Hooray for sherry casks! I tasted this right after the Black Barrel and I’m very glad I didn’t have to drink a third whisky to salvage the evening. This is quite nice. It could pass quite easily for a Scottish single malt (a second cousin of the Tomatin 18, for example). Apologies to aficionados of Irish whiskey who may not see that as a compliment. Still, the thin mouthfeel, the sudden woody charge on the palate, and that persistent metallic note (which I also got on the Black Barrel and which may be caused by the dread E-150) keep it in the low 80s. Good easy-drinking whisky. But it’s not priced like one.
Rating: 82 points.
Thanks to Alpha for the sample!