On Monday I had a review of a malt whisky from a relatively unknown Taiwanese distillery. Here now is a review of a whiskey from the most famous brand name in Ireland: Jameson, made at the Midleton distillery. What do they have in common? Nothing other than the fact that neither is Scottish.
I know very little about Irish whiskey and have reviewed very few Irish whiskies. And I’ve not had very good luck with the few Jamesons I’ve reviewed. Those were all contemporary releases, however, whereas this one was bottled sometime in the early-mid 1980s. I assume it was still made in the same way then, as a blend of grain and pot still whiskey. You are doubtless sick of hearing Scotch whisky geeks go on about how much better single malts and blends were in the 1970s and 1980s. Was the same true of Irish whiskey? Let’s see what this one indicates. Continue reading
Well, I didn’t enjoy the last jumped up Jameson I tried, the Black Barrel. And I didn’t enjoy the last whiskey I drank from the Midleton distillery either (yesterday’s Green Spot). Will Gold be better than Black and Green? Will I ever meet an Irish whiskey that gets me very excited? Let’s dive right in and see.
Jameson Gold Reserve (40%; from a sample received in a swap)
As per Michael K., from whom I got this sample, this is a vatting of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and virgin oak matured spirit.
Nose: Some vanilla, some orange peel, some milk chocolate. Some malty notes too after a bit and some lime. Not bad at all. The lime expands with time and there’s a mild pepperiness too. With more time there’s some caramel and toffee–the sherry component comes through loud and clear. Gets a little dusty with water but there’s no other major change. Continue reading
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? Continue reading
I 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. Continue reading