Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Score: 87/100 
ABV: 40% 
Region: Ireland 
Body: Medium 
Best served:
Neat, mixed
Theme(s): Bourbon, licorice, barley, glazed cherries
Likes: Complex earthiness, interaction between the barley and sweet sherry/bourbon, sharp and crisp 

Dislikes: Starts quite weak, but developed!
Price: $40

Taste overview 

Wonderfully sweet with the distinct interplay between bourbon and sherry, this whiskey has vibrant youth intertwined with softness and suppleness as it offers its distinctive Pot Still character and unmalted barley mixed with malted barley. Combined with Jameson's triple distillation, this whiskey is sensationally smooth with lots of character. What most impressed me was its finish, which, when generous sips are taken, glows brightly on the palate for minutes and retains its superb balance. The barley crackles with an earthiness that spreads quickly while the sweet bourbon and sherry beams with energy.

Unexpectedly Falling in Love

It was a Saturday night in Melbourne, and we were at the Crown Casino waiting for a table at Jimbo & Rex. As we were waiting by the bar, Greta ordered a white wine while I navigated the bar for something "single malt". There was not a lot from what I could see, besides Glenfiddich. Most of the range were entry level blends, some bourbon, rum etc. I turned to Greta, and asked her to surprise me with a whisk(e)y while I went to the toilet. When I got back, there was a tumbler of neat whisk(e)y waiting for me. Now it was time for me to play our little game, and guess what it is...

I remember my heart sank when I realised that this sensational whisky - whatever it is - is an entry level whisky. It was delightfully sweet with the most subtle shades of vanilla and fruit complimented by just the right amount of oak, and it went down with the smoothness of velvet. It was then I realised that entry level whiskies can be spectacular, and put to shame some ridiculously overpriced whiskies. The lesson here is that - in my view - people usually (though there are some magical old whiskies out there) pay for age, rarity, perceived prestige rather than "enjoyability". I just made that word up, but it captures the whole reason we drink whisky... to "enjoy" ourselves.

Now I have a whole bottle to enjoy, and review! I make an effort to review whiskey at home in a controlled environment, so I can blind taste the whiskey alongside its peers and without being distracted.

Tasting notes - Jameson 

I blind tasted this whiskey in my tasting room, alongside Bushmills Original, Bushmills 10 Year Old, Johnnie Walker Green Label and a few other whiskies. The Green Label was the stand out of the group, but the Jameson was a close second. Its character does not immediately jump out of the glass, but with some patience and attention it floods out of the glass without warning! Initially I was disappointed, and wondered why the Jameson I had tasted at that bar was stronger... but as time wore on and the blind tastings grew from one to three, the Jameson came out of its shell to give my palate a good old Irish hiding.


This whiskey is matured for between 4 to 7 years in sherry and bourbon casks, and while shimmers of sherry shine in the heavenly Irish Pot Still character, the aroma of bourbon is most noticeable. My girlfriend - while at that bar while we were playing our "guess the whiskey" game - cheekily steered me in the wrong direction and suggested she got me a bourbon. It sure did have a strong bourbon note, though it is by no means the same. It has a sensational earthiness and bouquet of mixed grain and barley, all held together with gooey licorice and glazed cherries. There are also some wafts of lush green grass and freshly sliced green apple; the sweet kind such as Granny Smith. I can keep going, and all this shows that we have a very complex whiskey on our hands...


Sweetness. Lovely smooth sweetness is the first flavour to hit my palate, and then it unfurls into waves of bourbon and lighter bursts of sherry. That Pot Still character is beaming on the palate. The complex earthiness is sensational, too, with grain and grass crackling on the base of the tongue and lingers for a very long time. While the apple is less noticeable on the palate, that glazed cherry shines. This whiskey is sharp and crisp, with the young whiskies working beautifully with the more mature whiskies. It is by no means harsh, and to the contrary smooth as silk; perfect "enjoyability"!


This is the best part! A small sip disappointed, but a generous one made all the difference. There is a flood of Irish charm with a generous sip, which is long and soft as it glows on the tongue for an extraordinarily long time. Do not be shy with this whisky, gulp it up and enjoy it.

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