A St Patrick’s Weekend With Jameson

Jameson Old Distillery

St Patrick’s day is celebrated the world over. It’s a time where all bars in the UK and USA especially, will dress to the colours of Ireland and promote their Irish offerings to the masses that will swarm through their doors. It’s inevitable, and there’s no way to escape it. To me, working in the trade always throws up me serving drinks or hosting a Irish master class, but this year, I had it a little different. Jameson, one of my all time personal favourites, invited me to experience the homeland of both the whisky, and St Patrick’s Day itself last weekend as I travelled to Dublin.

Dublin is a place I’ve never been to before, so jumping at the chance to take in a tour, as well as experience St Patrick’s Day in the way of the Irish meant that the early flight over made no harm to my spirits. The Marker Hotel, alongside the water of the Grand Canal Quay, would be home for three days as not only myself, but an abundance of bartenders from South America, DJ’s from around the world, and fellow UK journalists Gary Sharpen of Cocktail Lovers, Holly Motion of Drinks International, Melita Kiely of The Spirits Business and Alice Howarth of GQ. It’s here that over the course of the day, we mingled and chatted until our first port of call – Master Cooper demonstration with Midleton Master Cooper Ger Buckley.

A short walk from the hotel brought us to a disused space, transformed into a Jameson pop-up, complete with bar, barrels and of course, plenty of Jameson to sample. Hosted by Ger Buckley, he explained the art and craft of a process that although many of us brush off and take little notice in, it ultimately defines each whisky expression we enjoy. A fifth generation Master Cooper, and one of only four coopers working at whiskey distilleries in Ireland, Ger has plenty of passion for his trade, explaining that up to 50% of the taste comes from the wooden barrels. Always white American oak too, as red oak leads to seeping of the whiskey, a crime not worth thinking about! Re-charring is also an art form, a process that Ger explains is necessary to give the richness of Jameson and its various expressions.
One of the newer expressions within the Jameson portfolio (at least to the UK as South American have already experienced), the Black Barrel Select Reserve, takes on the re-charring process a little differently, charring at a deeper level to acquire the toasted flavours and notes needed.

Speaking of the Black Barrel Select Reserve, we had the opportunity to enjoy a dram or two of this, alongside the Jameson Original –

Jameson Black Barrel
Jameson Black Barrel

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 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.

Soon after the demonstration, it was straight to L. Mulligan Grocer for food and tipples. As the name suggests, the venue was back in the day a grocery shop, turning into a pub around the 1960’s, yet keeping its name right until the present day, where it is now a whiskey, beer and fine food emporium. Passing a well stocked Irish whiskey bar, we were led to the back of the venue, where long wooden tables were situated, ready for us to join and dine on the likes of scotch eggs, fine food burgers, and dark chocolate mousse. To wet the whistle, we had the first of the weekends many Jameson varieties; The Black Barrel, consisting of Jameson Black Barrel, orange bitters, grapefruit juice and Fever Tree ginger ale. To finish this particular visit though, we were recommended by one of our tour guides Jane Myron the best Irish Coffee in town, using coffee from Bailies Roastery in Belfast, Jameson and Glenisk organic fresh cream. Spot on!

Midleton Master Cooper, Ger Buckley
Midleton Master Cooper, Ger Buckley

Once finished, we were to be visiting the Old Jameson Distillery, where indie band White Lies were performing an exclusive acoustic set within, beamed live by New York based East Village Radio. VIP guests a plenty, Jameson signature serve in the Jameson & Ginger were on trays, alongside Jameson Whiskey Sour to wet the whistle, all in the confines of the now tourist attraction (don’t worry, Jameson is now produced in Cork at the Midleton Distillery). It was also odd to see on the floor glass windows, looking onto the brick structures that held the original wash backs. It would have been here that the fermentation of the whiskey would have taken place. It all added to the experience; drinking Jameson, inside the Old Jameson Distillery on St Patrick’s weekend. Perfect!

The last venue to visit for the evening came in the form of a third floor lounge. Peruke & Periwig, a rather stunning bar setting, invited us in to enjoy the likes of The Smoking Gun; Jameson, tobacco liqueur, Bénédictine and bitters, as well as a Harry Houdini; Sazerac Rye, Fin de Cognac, honey, bitters and an absinthe rinse. A wall full of books on one side, and a fire place with framed Victorian-esque images hanging from either side, complete with small tables and chairs to give that really intimate feeling, I’d say it’s a perfect escape from the noise and bustle of St Patrick’s.

A tour of Dublin was the order of the day on the Sunday, with local traders on the list as we started out with the Irish Design Shop. Award-winning Irish illustrator, Dermot Flynn gave us a short talk about his inspiration behind the new St Patrick’s themed Jameson label for the brands next limited edition, saying that he was “inspired by the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Jameson’s hometown, Dublin”. We also visited the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, a speciality shopping centre set in an elegant Georgian house, as well as well as enjoying some Irish cheese from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Our final venue on our ‘Sights and Sounds of Dublin’ tour was the Me and Him and You Design Studio. They’ve been creating prints and artwork, and were specially commissioned to create Dublin themed print for the brand, as well as designed print on the lining of flat caps, in honour of the new Jameson Black Barrel.

Grogan’s pub, the famous whiskey and toastie den, was to be the setting for lunch, complete with cheese and ham toasties, and plenty of Jameson and Ginger, or of course, Jameson straight from the bottle. Soon after though, we were on our way to Damson for a Jameson cocktail master class hosted by Oisin Davis. Oisin demonstrated the versatility of Jameson, creating such classics as the Jameson Whiskey Sour, The Irish Cocktail and The Tipperary, the latter not seen as much over in England, but causing quite a stir between myself and fellow cocktail lover Gary Sharpen!

An appetite created after sampling cocktails for the afternoon led us to Fade Street Social, a traditional Irish restaurant and gastro bar. With a menu that included such dishes as smoked salmon, roasted pork belly, rump of Wicklow lamb or Wexford sirloin,  it was hard to resist ordering a banquet for the table. Despite being a Sunday, the venue was always tipping to full, with its open kitchen looking out over all three rooms available.  We couldn’t be their for long though as we had the annual Jameson St Patrick’s Live Event at the Ambassador Theatre to attend, with the White Lies once again on stage, this time in full throttle to adorning fans of both Jameson and the trio. An added bonus for the evening was the secret VIP Jameson bar, serving up Jameson and ginger alongside straight drams to carry on the main St Patrick’s evening of the weekend.

That wouldn’t be it for us though, as we attended the after party held in the lower level of Hogan’s Bar. A chance to wind down and enjoy the festivities was had, and after spending all weekend with fellow journalists and trade, it was great to enjoy the last swan song so-to-speak before I hit the hotel for a couple of hours and caught my early morning flight back.

In a nutshell – what an experience! The chance to enjoy not only St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, but in the capital, alongside world-wide known brand Jameson, with a tour of bars that I have to be honest, I would probably have missed if I was here with others. Looking back on it too, I never received a bad drink. Of course, the Jameson alone is always up to scratch, but the likes of the Whiskey Sour, The Tipperary and The Smoking Gun are just a few of a number of highlights enjoyed, echoed by Gary himself.

If you get the chance, experience Dublin over St Patrick’s. It’s a very high recommendation.

© 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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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.