Thursday, 22 April 2010


Whilst I was stuck in Dublin I went to The Old Jameson Distillery. Here is everything I now know about Jameson Whiskey.

In 1780 John Jameson began Irelands best selling and well known Whiskey brand, Jamesons Irish Whiskey. Jameson was Scottish, but we were told originally the recipe for Whiskey was created by Irish Monks and taken to Scotland.

The distillery in Dublin city produced the Whiskey for nearly 200 years. In 1971 is was moved to Cork, to a bigger facility in order to produce more of the spirit and keep up with the huge and growing demand for Jameson Whiskeys. This is where the distillery is currently based, along with the barley crops used as the initial ingredient in the Whiskey, although the bottling still does take place in Dublin. So this old distillery is a re creation of what it used to be like. There were lots of minitures and a taxidermied cat that apparently used to be used to kill mice getting in to the barley stores.

I’ve only recently begun enjoying Whiskey and do usually drink it with ginger ale, this was my first foray in to Whiskey tasting. Usually I'd describe Whiskey as tasting like, well Whiskey. But now I can say things like, caramel and honey and pepper. The tour was extremely informative with replicas of each of the stages in creation of the whiskey. From heating the barley over the fire of smokeless fuel, to mixing the barley with water, the triple distillation process, laying the Jameson in 3 different types of barrels, to mixing and bottling.

Jameson is triple distilled, this means the alcohol and water are separated 3 times, to create a pure, smooth alcohol. Jameson never use new barrels, most have been used once before by other whiskey or wine makers. They felt new oak would create a Whiskey much too strong. There are 3 types of barrels, Bourbon barrels from America, Sherry barrels from Spain and Port barrels from Portugal. Those flavours infuse with the Jameson to create smokey, fruity sweet flavours. The barrels will be laid down for anywhere between 13 - 25 years depending on the vintage. Each year there is a loss of 2% per barrel due to evaporation.

At the end of this process the whiskeys are mixed together and left for 5 days to create the Jameson as we know it. There are differences in age and amounts that are mixed to create the variations available, but each recipe is always exact.

In America Bourbon is made using corn instead of barley, its once distilled and it is the law that every barrel used is brand new. The bourbon takes in the tannin from the new oak and this creates a much stronger flavour.
Scotch Whiskey is usually ( and I say usually because its possible there are some triple distilled scotch's) only once or twice distilled, is made using barley which is heated using fuel that does smoke, like wood (hence the smokey flavour!) and uses Bourbon barrels.

So you see there are lots of differences and I am going to have to try Bourbon and Scotch now to have an opinion on which is my favourite.

Finally we were able to sample the Jameson Irish Whiskey (a bottle is €24) . I was told because of the smoothness of their whiskey it will happily be mixed with Gingerale, Cranberry or Coke.
I chose it straight up. A drop of water to the straight whiskey is encouraged to open up the flavour
Some lucky volunteers were able also to taste a Jack Daniels Bourbon and Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch after which we discussed the differences.

After the tour I bought a sample of 3 Jameson’s, the Gold reserve 13-18 years (€72 p/bottle), The 18 yearLimited Reserve (my favourite at €122.00 p/bottle), the Midleton Very Rare 2008 (€147p/bottle)

Midleton Very Rare is created by the master distiller, each year he selects the 200 barrels he deems the best and these are used to create this whiskey.
It’s a family affair usually past down each generation and this year’s vintage was laid down originally by the father of the master distiller. You can by a bottle from each year dating back to 1984, that will set you back 50,000euros!
As a person who hasn’t had much experience with Whiskey I can’t really speak much about flavours and aromas in each type of Whiskey, I was given some information with each taste and they’re pretty spot on. All the descriptions are here on their website
As I mentioned my favourite is the 18 year old reserve. I really enjoyed the sweetness and toffee flavours that were very strong in this Whiskey.

So thats the story of my trip to the Old Jameson Distillery and due to this trip and drinking more whiskey than I ever had before lunch I was unable to get to the Guinness Brewery, so thats for next time, t’be sure!


Em. x. said...

All I can say B, is that I am impressed. This post is a long way from a trip to Manhattan, drinking Manhattans, that's for sure. x.

B said...

Why Thank you Em! Lets go for more manhattens in manhatten!

Anonymous said...

Jack daniels is tennesee whiskey, bourbon is only made(by law) in kentuckey, and the processes to make either are as different as the processes to make scotch and irish whisky. If you're really curious buy a bottle of jack daniels and a bottle of makers mark, that should clear up any confusion.

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