The Irish Whiskey Academy

Irish Whiskey Academy

I hold my hands up when ever I conduct or host a tasting, masterclass or seminar and exclaim with the sentence “I confess, I don’t know everything about today’s subject”. Whether that is to be the history of a cocktail, the production of tequila or marketing of a beer, I always have to do my homework, and even then I may still have to refer to my notes to be able to deliver a confident speech or presentation. In my line of work, every day involves some kind of pitch. Even when I was bartending, you have to be confident in selling your products no matter what they are, and that’s exactly what I try to aim towards today. Whether my audience is to be a group of bartenders experiencing pisco for the first time, or thirty wine experts learning about the marketing a product in the modern-day, you have to be prepared for any outcome.

I attend many tastings and masterclasses to learn and experience a wide variety, which hopefully comes across within each article you read on this site. Inevitably I only know and therefore present to you what I take in, with official facts and stories entwined, but the chance to truly understand a category or indeed a specific brand can be rare. I’ve been very lucky since Drinks Enthusiast’s inception in that I have been able to appreciate first hand a variety of brands including Benedictine, Sloane’s, Sibling Distillery, Warner EdwardsAuchentoshan and most recently Grey Goose. All these trips have been an opportunity presented to me and in some cases would be hard for a regular customer to access. One experience is far from this statement, and to the UK, is presented right on the doorstep.

David McCabe of the Irish Whiskey Academy
David McCabe of the Irish Whiskey Academy

Last week, Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard invited me to explore their relatively new concept within the Old Midleton Distillery, just outside of Cork. Since February 2013, The Irish Whiskey Academy has been offering an insight into the process of grain to bottle, and explain everything in between through modern and traditional techniques. The academy is taught through a classroom of sorts, within the renovated mill manager’s house at the boundary between the old and new Midleton distilleries. Here begins your journey into one of four packages that the academy offer, all presented by the incredibly knowledgeable David McCabe. For myself and the rest of the whiskey enthusiasts who had joined me from across the UK, Ireland and Netherlands, we experienced the ‘Enthusiast’ package (appropriately named I know!) which meant a two day look at everything the academy can offer.

The arrival at the Old Midleton Distillery offers an enticing view that easily transports you back to the 1800’s and sets the tone for the styles of buildings you will explore. In no particular order of itinerary, a tour of the old buildings dives into the workings of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with the impressive Warehouse A1, one of the first warehouses that matured Cork Distillery whiskey, a must see. Interactive scenes gives you the best insight into the life of a distillery worker with even the likes of the customs office and waterwheel available to explore.

Malted Barley
Malted Barley

The main part of the academy though brings you to a comfortable lecture hall styled room. With movable blackboards offering clear diagrams, David McCabe explains everything from the raw materials used within the distillery, how each material is cultivated, brewed and fermented including the upgrade to modern techniques over the decades and the two main distillation methods used; pot and continuous distillation. Hands on approaches are also used, with the ability to see, smell and taste malted and unmalted barley straight from the fields, to the experiment of distilling water and alcohol within the classroom itself. An explanation into the differences between the variety of expressions created at the new distillery is also offered, so that you are fully aware of how each is created and ultimately shows a different flavour profile.

Staves are also handed out for a better understanding of the maturation techniques that the Irish Distillers use, as well as a look into their use of American and sherry oak barrels and how they came to be an integral part of the brands they create. This becomes even clearer with a demonstration within the cooperage itself, hosted by Master Cooper Ger Buckley. Here, Ger explains his role within the company and the art of creating a barrel through the tools used by previous generations. The insight into the woods used and the methods to repair casks that will ultimately hold whiskey for a number of years really gives an indication of how important the role of a Master Cooper can be.

Warehouse 42
Warehouse 42

This knowledge will also impart your beliefs and flavours into the blending exercise where you are able to blend your very own whiskey for you to take home. Not many places who can give you that kind of opportunity.

Of course, no academy course would be complete without a lesson in the art of truly appreciating the finished product. Held in the lounge area of the academy, itself adorned with old advertising posters, vintage photos and a wall of bottling’s from the Irish Distillers over the years, you can taste the likes of the Jameson range, Paddy’s, Powers, Midleton, Redbreast and both Green and Yellow Spot. To compliment, lunch at the Malt House, Jameson’s own restaurant within the Old Distillery, is a must.

Tasting the range within the Irish Whiskey Academy
Tasting the range within the Irish Whiskey Academy

Although I could write about everything I have learnt from my own two day trip, I feel that It would be more effective to explain within each of the features I have written, so please take a look at my articles of the Irish Distillers portfolio over the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at how each expression is created. In summarising this feature though,
I can’t stress enough that although the academy offers quite literally everything you need to know regarding not just Irish Distillers, but Irish whiskey in general, it’s not just for bartenders or expert whiskey lovers. I can safely say that all grades of knowledge will come away with an idea of what whiskey is all about. The four packages have been created to cater, and whichever you ultimately go for, you will go away with so much more than when you entered.

Get yourself signed up, enjoy yourself and try some fantastic whiskies. The Irish Whiskey Academy should be a high priority for anyone who has even a slight interest in Irish whiskey.

For more information on The Irish Whiskey Academy, please visit their website.

For more photos from my trip, please visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Locke’s

Locke's

I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve no idea how I came across this Irish whiskey and for it to end up in my possession, I simply can not remember. That doesn’t mean it should be excluded, as after doing some research on the expression, it turns out its from a rather well-known distillery.

Locke’s Irish whiskey gets its name from John Locke, who was one of the previous owners of the Old Kilbeggan Distillery located onthe banks of the river Brusna. The Locke’s Kilbeggan Distillery was first licensed in 1757 by Mathew MacManus, making it the oldest licensed distillery in the world. The ownership was passed on to Patrick Brett in 1833, then John Locke acquired the distillery in 1843. A topsy turvy century went by before the Irish government raised the spirit duty from £6.85 to £8.80 a proof gallon in April 1952. This resulted in a huge cut in demand. By November 1953, Locke’s could not afford the duty to release the whisky from bond for the Christmas period and distilling ceased.

The distillery survived until November 1958 when a debenture issued to the bank in 1953 became due. Locke’s could not raise payment so the bank called in the receiver and ended 201 years of distilling history. In 1987 the Cooley Distillery acquired Locke’s Kilbeggan Distillery from its then owner Lee Mallaghan for an exchange of Cooley shares and a place on the Cooley board. Cooley restored the warehousing and used it to mature its output from its distillery at Riverstown, Dundalk.

So it’s now Cooley Distillery who run the name Locke’s Single Malt, a part of its growing portfolio with names such as Greenore, Conemmera and Tyrconnell alongside.

The brand itself says that they distil within traditional pot stills and use malt barley as their base cereal as well as Irish spring water, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting note –

Locke’s 8yr – 40%

Soft, creamy vanilla and toffee notes on the nose, with a rather light, thin texture on the palate with a little sweetness. Lots of aromatic malt with a little spice to finish.

Not a bad dram at all! A hidden gem some could say, and perhaps something just that little bit different from the mainstays of your drinks cabinet. Although not littered with big, bold points in their history like some brands, and an extensive production method like others, if you think about it, its the liquid that does the talking. Try something new from Ireland.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

IWSC Spirit Tasting 2014

Bushmills

The 23rd July saw me travelling down to London to a rather prestigious event where some of the elite spirits would be showcased. A rather bold concept, but when you have the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2014 winners, who incidentally were announced that very morning for, in one room, it’s an honour to have been offered the invite. Organised by both the IWSC and The Worshipful Company of Distillers, the event was to the 7th annual and held within the Vintner’s Hall.

All gold winners were on display here, with a smattering of ‘Outstanding’ silver winners (197 overall), alongside brand representatives and Master Distillers, so to me it was the perfect opportunity to not only try some of the names I hear so much about, but to also experience, and ultimately compare, the liquid of a winning brand to other similar flavour profiles and categories.

As I tasted a fair few, for ease, below you will find my tasting notes covering a variety of categories –

GIN

Bourbon Barreled Big Gin – 47%

Aged 6 months in a once used Kentucky bourbon barrel. Slight wood aromas on the nose with a smooth vanilla scent following. The vanilla dominates the palate, offering a smooth yet dry finish.

Bedrock – 40%

Fresh and fruity on the nose with red berry and liquorice styles dominating. Sharp on the palate with a rather harsh kick of cinnamon creating a very long and very dry finish.

See-Gin Bodensee – 48%

A rather high kick of alcohol, with plenty of aromas including liquorice on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate, but develops with a good kick of liquorice allsorts. A little raw because of this, but produces a lingering finish.

Hernö Juniper Cask – 47%

Lively with heavy juniper on the nose, rounded off with sweet notes. A smooth start on the palate, developing a sharp citrus that creates a lingering finish.

 

Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo

TEQUILA

El Tesoro Añejo – 40%

Light caramel on the nose with hints of banana coming through. Smooth, subtle flavours of dry, sun-kissed toffee creating a lingering finish.

El Tesoro Platinum – 40%

Smooth with notes of caramel and kicks of fresh wood on the nose. Very smooth with a banana flavour dominating. A long, fresh finish that’s slightly dry.

Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo – 40%

Light on the nose with fragrant scents of wood and honey coming through. Again light on the palate, with hits of banana and smooth, fresh agave. A slightly sharp finish that lingers.

Milargro Special Reserve Añejo – 40%

Fresh agave on the nose creates a rather aromatic experience. A rich blend of agave and wood on the palate that’s lively, yet lingers to a dry finish.

AGRICOLE

Vieux Niesson – 45%

Light with high, aromatic notes of cocoa and spices. A slow burner on the palate, with again light, aromatic flavours of wood, spice and almonds. Long finish.

Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish – 43%

Rich apple and orange notes, with vanilla and dried fruits kicking the end. Very smooth on the palate, with the rich aromatic fruit flavours dominating, followed by delicate sweetness that produces a long finish.

RUM

Angostura 1824 – 40%

Soft notes of wood and sugar on the nose with hints of vanilla following. Very smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of fresh kicks of wood, honey and spice on the lingering finish.

CALVADOS

Pays d’Auge 8yr – 41%

Rich apple aromas on the nose, yet becomes lighter once onto the palate. More aromatic styling, with a smooth, rather thin finish that’s surprisingly short.

PISCO

4 Fundos – 42%

Very aromatic on the nose with fresh, light fruit flavours coming through. Sharp and very dry on the palate, with cereal flavours creating a long finish.

Russell's Reserve Small Batch
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch

AMERICAN WHISKEY

Blanton’s Gold Edition – 51.5%

Light wood on the nose with rich wheat and sweet honey combining soon after. A sharp spice start on the palate, that soon mellows into a sweet, long fudge finish.

Russell’s Reserve Small Batch – 45%

Light and aromatic on the nose with plenty of wood notes before dark caramel aromas step in. Light and thin on the palate, creating a mouth-watering flavour of caramel and wood before hitting a sharp finish.

Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – 66.6%

A bold hit of fruit and sweetness combined on the nose. Incredibly rich on the palate with deep kicks of caramel that creates a long finish.

 

New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1
New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1

AUSTRALIAN WHISKY

New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1 – 56.5%

Fresh notes of light wood on the nose combined with sweet spice. Very rich on the palate, with an incredible sooth offering of toffee, banana, dry fruits and chocolate to create a lingering finish.

SOUTH AFRICAN WHISKY

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5yr – 43%

Smooth with a slight whisp of smoke on the nose. Light and thin on the palate, with a slight kick of vanilla and coconut before the short finish.

CANADIAN WHISKY

Gibsons Finest Rare Blended 18yr

Smooth caramelised vanilla blended with fruits appear on the nose. A rich, sharp fruity start on the palate, mellowing down to a sweet vanilla and spice combination.

ENGLISH WHISKY

English Whiskey Company Peated – 43%

Delicate peat  nose with hints of green fruit coming through. Short, light peat and some kicks of fruit on the palate.

SWISS WHISKY

Säntis Malt Edition Snow White 2 – 48%

Light, fresh, soft fruit on the nose, turning over onto the palate too. Aromatic herbs and spices combine with white fruits to create a lingering finish.

SWEDISH WHISKY

Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant – 48%

Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.

IRISH WHISKEY

Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12yr – 40%

Smooth, soft notes of citrus and almond on the nose. Slightly sweet on the palate, with citrus, honey and spice combining well for a short finish.

Bushmills 10yr – 40%

Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.

Bushmills 16yr – 40%

Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.

Bushmills 21yr – 40%

Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.

Teeling Vintage Reserve 30yr – 46%

Fine, light caramel notes on the nose, with rich almonds following. Sharp start on the palate, but mellows into a light malt, honey and spice blend that creates a lingering finish.

Redbreast 15yr – 46%

Aromatic ripe fruit on the nose, with a soft malt finish. Plenty of barley and vanilla on the palate creating a rich and slightly sweet finish.

SCOTTISH WHISKY

Grant’s Voyager – 40%

Rich on the nose with smooth cereal notes and ripe fruit. A combination of honey, fruit and chocolate dominates the palate, creating a rich, sweet lingering finish.

Ballantine’s Limited Deluxe Blend – 43%

Ripe berry and barley blend on the nose, with hints of citrus cutting through. A sharp start on the palate with vanilla countering the citrus for a long finish.

Grant’s Deluxe 18yr – 40%

A lively cereal nose with a good blend of toffee and honey. A light offering on the palate with toffee and ginger, mixing with hints of spice on the short finish.

Glenmorangie Signet
Glenmorangie Signet

Glenmorangie Signet – 48%

Light notes of toffee, fudge, chocolate and cinnamon blending together on the nose. A developing sharpness to a ripe malt kick, which mellows towards the short, rich finish of stoned fruit.

Glenmorangie 18yr – 43%

Light on the nose with citrus and fresh white fruit dominating. A developing kick of spice on the palate, followed by a dry, fruity finish.

Glenglassaugh 30yr – 44.8%

Smooth, dried fruits on the nose, followed by a light offering of raisin on the palate. A good kick of malt and spice on the finish with hints of tobacco.

Glenglassaugh 40yr
Glenglassaugh 40yr

Glenglassaugh 40yr – 42.5%

Rich chocolate and toffee notes on the nose. Burnt wood blends with nutmeg to create a long, rich, deep offering.

The Dalmore 25yr – 42%

Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of dried fruits and citrus. Soft, smooth oak that warms flavours of chocolate and toffee into rich offerings.

Glenmorangie 25yr – 43%

Light cereal notes combined with coffee and dried fruits on the nose. A slight citrus kick on the palate with honey, subtle spice and oak flavours creating a long finish.

Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition

Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%

Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.

Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside – 43%

Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.

Some absolute crackers available, despite missing out on the likes of vodka, cognac and brandy, fruit spirits, shochu and armagnac as well as the names I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing (Elmer T. Lee, Southwestern Distillers, The King’s Ginger, Mozart Gold and Col E. H. Taylor Jr the stand out missing expressions from the above list).

One expression that has truly surprised me was the New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1, coming in at a hefty 56.5% and hailing from Australia. This whisky has dominated my conversations of the event to anyone who will listen to me! One that I will be sourcing as soon as possible so I can enjoy a country that granted, you wouldn’t expect to get a good spirit from, especially compared to their wines, but have raised their output considerably and most importantly, winning a gold medal that highlights their work and effort.

Congratulations to them, and to the rest of the winners!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Manchester Whisky Club Review – May

Jameson

A little over-due, but back at the end of May, the fifth instalment of the Manchester Whisky Club had a little Irish added to the occasion. Held at the Lass O’Gowrie, the fifth meeting had a special guest in the form of Jameson Brand Ambassador Stephen Carberry, bringing with him 5 expressions from their range.

After talking a little bit about the history of Jameson, Irish whisky in general and how it all differs from the rest, we cracked on with trying some usual but also unexpected names.

So without further a do, lets see how they all fared –

Jameson – 40%

Matured for at least seven years. Soft hints of vanilla on the nose with a light, smooth aroma boding well for the long offering on the palate. Smoother offering of grain and honey with a slight dryness near the end.

Stephen Carberry
Stephen Carberry

Jameson Select Reserve – 43%

Produced using a small batch of grain collected once a week per year from a field that is never touched thereafter. Around 10 years matured. Slightly sharp nose at the beginning but softens out with a wisp of smoke. Sweet offering on the palate with very smooth texture of toffee and lingering smoke.

Jameson Gold Reserve – 40%

Matured in original fresh oak barrels, then ex bourbon barrels and finished in ex sherry casks. Rich malt on the nose with almond aromas dancing nicely. Very smooth when it hits the palate with flavours of honey and oak mixing well. A long finish of malt.

Green Spot 40%

A nose of damp raisin and hints of marzipan, with an ending of dry wood. A rich sharpness on the palate with a full bodied flavour of thick green fruit that produced a fresh, long finish.

Redbreast 12yr – 40%

Sharp on the nose with a rich aroma of red fruit. Hints of spice on the palate with a rich yet short offering of citrus and nuts.

A great collection showcased, with the Green Spot and Gold Reserve my personal highlights.
June had an evening across the pond in the USA, so a great chance to see how the lighter whiskies from Ireland would compare to the bourbons and rye whiskies of America.

Join Manchester Whisky Club here or follow them on Twitter at @MCRWhiskyClub and Facebook.

Check out the rest of the photos of the first meet via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bushmills

Bushmills

If you talk of Irish whiskey, most would say Jameson. Nothing wrong with that at all and it’s a great dram, but one brand that should get more of a shout out is Bushmills.

Bushmills is a name that can date itself way back to 1608 when King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips, who was the landowner and Governor of Co. Antrim Ireland,  a license to distil. In 1784, a gentleman named Hugh Anderson registered the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Pot Still became its registered trade mark, a mark that adorns every bottle today. Huge hardship in the 1850-90 years, including powering through with the use of malted barley despite the introduction of the malt tax, and a disastrous fire that destroyed The Old Bushmills Distillery. After being rebuilt and back in full production, the early 1900’s saw Old Bushmills’ as the most ‘celebrated malt whisky’, winning numerous prizes in international spirits competitions, including the ‘only gold medal for whiskey’ at the Paris 1889 Expo. 1933 saw Belfast merchant Samuel Wilson purchasing the Bushmills Distillery despite being in the middle of prohibition and sales boomed, especially in the USA, after the war. Bushmills is still going strong today, and in 2010 Bushmills swept the board at spirits competitions across the world.

So a rather lengthy history with some highs and lows, but how does the whiskey itself all come together?

Every bottle of Bushmills starts with un-peated malted barley and ground into to a coarse flour or ‘grist’. It’s then mixed with hot water in a large mixing vessel, or a mash tun, to produce a sweet liquid called ‘wort’. Yeast is added which triggers alcoholic fermentation causing the wort’s sugars to turn into alcohol. The fermentation takes place in washbacks which are large fermentation vessels, and produces an alcoholic liquid similar to malty ale, called ‘wash’, with a strength of around 8% abv. The wash is then triple distilled in copper pot stills and then matured in oak casks for at least three years. Once matured, the whiskey is then blended and combined with different casks to find the consistent flavour. Different casks of malt whiskey are blended to find the right flavour, while malt and grain spirits are mixed for a blended whiskey. At Bushmills, they make both blends and malts, which is  unusual in the world of whiskey. Once finished it is then bottled.

This process creates a six strong portfolio, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Bushmills Original – 40%

Floral nose with slight spice following with a honey start on the palate. Hints of sweetness come through with a lingering, long finish of barley and a faint hit of spice.

Bushmills Black Bush – 40%

Matured for up to seven years in spanish oloroso sherry casks and sweet bourbon barrels. Red fruits, cream and soft floral elements on the nose, with pear, honey and slight raisin aromas on the finish. Honey favours developing into spiced cinnamon and cassia bark with quinine on the palate. Damp oak with heather and ripe cereal contribute towards the warm , very long finish with a bold spice.

Bushmills 10yr – 40%

Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.

Bushmills 12yr Distillery Reserve – 40%

Only available to purchase at the distillery. Delicate sherry and soft biscuit aromas combine with subtle oak notes on the nose. Very light, thin honey with kicks of liquorice and figs are present on the palate, with sticky cinnamon and citrus fudge on the bold, long finish.

Bushmills 16yr – 40%

Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.

Bushmills 21yr – 40%

Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.

A great sipping whiskey, and versatile enough to be used as a base within a cocktail too –

Whiskey Smash

Glass – 

Rocks

Ingredients – 

45 ml Bushmills Original
2-3 mint leaves
22 ml simple syrup
2 pieces of lemon
30 ml water

Method – 

Muddle the lemon, mint, water and simple syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass. Then add Bushmills, shake and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve.

Simple! One to easily recreate at home, and indeed order at your local bar. The Bushmills range also includes a Irish Honey variety. A great portfolio to experience!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jameson

Jameson Old Distillery

Jameson is a brand that you see everywhere. Most pubs, bars and restaurants stock the brand, or at least one of the expressions, and is more than usually the first name to be mentioned when talking about Irish whiskey. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Irish whiskey covered 80% of the world export market back until the 1900’s when an unfortunate twist of events occurred. The institution of the Irish Free State in the early 20th century caused a fatal trade war with Great Britain, closing down the Irish Distillers’ main market, and then the US Prohibition declaration in 1920 served a nail in the coffin. With no way to export their local trade, the majority of the Irish distilleries closed or merged together, leaving only three distilleries running compared to the abundance of Scottish venues. The New Middleton distillery houses Jameson, a brand that has been alive since 1780 and has fought its way through the Irish hardship and bad luck.

Created by Scotsman John Jameson and with is backing of the family motto ‘Sine Metu’ meaning ‘Without Fear’ (awarded for their bravery in battling pirates on the high seas back in the 1500s), he moved to Dublin in 1879, set up his Bow Street Distillery to make his mark on the whiskey world and created what he thought was the smoothest whiskey around due to using a triple-distilled method instead of the usual double-distilled adopted by the Scots, as well as using a traditional copper pot still.
The introduction of column stills by the Scottish blenders in the mid-19th-century enabled increased production that the Irish, who still using the copper pot stills, could not compete with. There was a legal enquiry in 1908 to deal with the trade definition of whiskey, which the Scottish producers won and blends became recognised in law as whiskey. The Irish in general, and Jameson in particular, continued with the traditional pot still production process for many years and to this day much of Jameson remains Pure Pot.

The production has now moved to the Midleton distillery and as of 1988 is owned by Pernod Ricard. The Bow Street site is currently a museum and visitors centre. Jameson is made following the original 1780 recipe that uses a mixture of malted and unmalted or “green” Irish barley, all sourced from within a fifty mile radius around the distillery in Cork. The barley is dried in a closed kiln fired by natural gas to preserve its flavour. It is then distilled three times in copper pot stills and matured in ex bourbon and sherry casks for at least seven years.

So how does Jameson fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Jameson Original – 40%

Matured for at least seven years. Soft hints of vanilla on the nose with a light, smooth aroma boding well for the long offering on the palate. Smoother offering of grain and honey with a slight dryness near the end.

Jameson Select Reserve – 43%

Produced using a small batch of grain collected once a week per year from a field that is never touched thereafter. Around 10 years matured. Slightly sharp nose at the beginning but softens out with a wisp of smoke. Sweet offering on the palate with very smooth texture of toffee and lingering smoke.

Jameson Gold Reserve – 40%

Matured in original fresh oak barrels, then ex bourbon barrels and finished in ex sherry casks. Rich malt on the nose with almond aromas dancing nicely. Very smooth when it hits the palate with flavours of honey and oak mixing well. A long finish of malt.

Jameson 18yr – 40%

Bold with lots of flavours of honey, cherry, caramel and dark fruits mixing well on the nose. They carry onto the palate and change slowly as you breath in. A lengthy finish which is incredibly smooth.

Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve
Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve

Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve – 46%

Blended with some of the oldest and rarest whiskeys from Jameson’s maturing stock – one of which was a pot-still whiskey matured in a port pipe.
Light on the nose with a slight spice and hints of vanilla and butter. The palate lingers with fudge and buttery notes creating a long, slightly dry finish.

Yellow Spot 12yr – 46%

Very smooth on the nose with a rich malt aroma dominating, but notes of sweetness following. The palate experiences a slight spice that warmly tingles. Honey, chocolate and red fruit blend over the longevity.

Green Spot – 40%

A nose of damp raisin and hints of marzipan, with an ending of dry wood. A rich sharpness on the palate with a full bodied flavour of thick green fruit that produced a fresh, long finish.

Jameson Black Barrel
Jameson Black Barrel

 

The Whiskey Makers Series:

Jameson The Distiller’s Safe – 40%

The Distiller’s Safe celebrates the role of Jameson’s Head Distiller, Brian Nation, and is a true showcase of the original copper pot still distillate.
Barley notes on the nose, with sweetened green pepper and a floral edge.Lively on the palate, with cinnamon and nuts coming through. Heated, long finish with plenty of vibrant spice.

Jameson The Cooper’s Croze – 40%

Matured in virgin American oak barrels, seasoned bourbon barrels and Iberian sherry casks, and named after Jameson’s Head Cooper, Ger Buckley and his prized possession – a croze – passed down through his family. A tool used to make the groove where the head of the cask is positioned!
Subtle notes of ripe red fruits, with hints of the deep sherry coming through slowly. Light on the palate, with some vanilla and hazelnut present. A bolder finish.

Jameson The Blender’s Dog – 40%

The Blender’s Dog celebrates the role of Jameson Head Blender, Billy Leighton; a tribute to the fine art of blending.
Light, fresh fruit pulp, bringing pineapple and kiwi to the nose. Dry spices dominate the palate, releasing a rich butterscotch and charred cherry oak to the finish.

Heritage Whiskies:

Jameson Black Barrel Select Reserve – 40%

A good blend of soft caramel and toffee aromas on the nose, with both carrying on to the palate. The caramel becomes a little salted, with pepper flavours mixing with spice to create a lingering finish.

Jameson Crested – 40%

Launched globally in March 2016, is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that celebrates the first drops of whiskey to be bottled, sealed and labelled at the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, marking the moment in time (1963) when Jameson took full control of the whiskey making process, from grain to glass. Jameson Crested brings together rich pot still Irish Whiskey and grain whiskey, matured in a high proportion of sherry casks, as well as bourbon barrels.
Sherry notes are visible on the nose, with it carrying on smoothly to the palate. Dry oak is present, with hints of spice, cocoa nib and red fruit.

Jameson Signature Reserve – 40%

Jameson Signature is a triple-distilled Irish Whiskey that bears the signature of John Jameson, a mark of quality that has appeared since the early days of the Bow Street Distillery, when all casks were signed off by John Jameson.
Subtle honey notes on the nose, with hints of leather, nuts and dried raisin. Heather dominates the palate to begin, but moves over to a honey coating, with plenty of dried red fruits and currants on the long finish.

The Deconstructed Series:

The Deconstructed Series is a range of super-premium Irish Whiskeys that explores the key flavour notes of the original Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Jameson Bold – 40%

Influenced by pot still whiskey. Rich, creamy notes on the nose with soft fruits. Sweet on the palate, with notes of baked apple pie and soft spices on the long, bold finish.

Jameson Lively – 40%

Influenced by grain whiskey. Floral citrus notes on the nose, followed by light, thin flavours of dry citrus, chilli and black pepper on the palate. Intense spiced finish.

Jameson Round – 40%

Influenced by the wood contribution. Soft red fruit on the nose, with hints of fudge coming though. An oily butter note on the palate, with vanilla and cherry spices to finish.

A fantastic range of one of Ireland’s most beloved brands. Something for everyone to enjoy once taken out of your drinks cabinet, and with the new Whiskey Master series, it’s time to geek out and try a couple of different expressions in a row!

 

Take a look at my trip to Dublin with Jameson over St Patrick’s Day here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.