I am starting my whiskey journey on familiar territory, in a place that I am fairly confident I will enjoy the outcome. Although, immediately I realise that all these years I have been calling it Jameson’s Irish Whiskey when in fact it is just Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Apart from the faux pas with the name, drinking it pretty much goes as expected but I will get to that in a minute.
Jameson Irish Whiskey at a Glance
- Type: Triple distilled Irish Whiskey – 40% Vol.
- Colour: Golden brown/amber and very similar in colour to golden syrup.
- Flavour: Woody, slight astringency with a fairly smooth finish. Rich with a consistent sweet edge.
A drinkable whiskey that is pleasant without being overly nice. Not as full bodied as I imagined it would be and even neat it still doesn’t ring with the depth you might expect, especially when it smells so heady and flavoursome.
Jameson Irish Whiskey Full Review
One of the main components of any self-respecting whiskey review is the aroma, and Jameson Irish Whiskey is a fantastic smelling whiskey. It is floral, woody without being smoky, with a wonderfully fragrant citrus edge. It smells as though it would be a rich full-bodied sweet drink with a bright lemon zest overtone.
But smells can be deceiving. Sadly.
There is another step to take before diluting and tasting and that is simply to roll the whiskey around the glass. A good whiskey shouldn’t be over-diluted already and should cling slightly to the glass. This oily, syrupy texture is a good indicator that the whiskey hasn’t been watered down too much before bottling.
Next you will actually want to dilute it with either water or ice. For more on why this is done, I have created a separate blog post as it is a must and funnily enough some companies that claim to be whiskey authorities advise you drink whiskey neat or with whiskey bullets. NO, don’t do it.
In short, adding water allows the whiskey molecules to expand and this enhances the flavours of the whiskey. It is for this reason that true whiskey professional tasters always advocate water being added. Adding water also takes some of the alcoholic edge off as well which is good when you consider how powerful whiskey can be.
Jameson Irish Whisky Flavour
Adding water to Jameson Irish Whiskey didn’t tick the flavour box for me. It tasted a little weak with the bright and acidic citrus note still there but none of the mellow and enchanting warmth underpinning it that I had smelt earlier. I decided that I would test the theory and see if drinking it neat was better. It wasn’t.
The bitter taste pervaded and was accompanied by a strong sterile alcohol taste. The kind of taste you get with high percentage neat vodka. Not something you want from a whiskey that has sat in a barrel.
Which got me thinking, what is the Jameson process? The bottle tells me nothing except it is triple distilled and made the same way it was in 1780 which to anyone that knows whiskey history, isn’t something to be proud of.
Jameson Irish Whiskey – Behind the Glass
Digging a little deeper I am not really too impressed by the whiskey making process used by Jameson, it focuses on the “quality of the barley and water” and not really on the care it takes to make a truly great whiskey. Jameson state all their whiskey is aged for at least three years in bourbon and sherry casks and while I believe this to be true, I am sure it isn’t for a day longer.
Mature whiskies that are sometimes aged for over ten years grow more flavoursome as the time goes by in part because the barrels instil a bit of flavour but mostly because malted barley has a slow maturation curve. The clue for me is that Jameson use malted and un-malted barley which allows them to still get a whiskey like product but without having to rely fully on the whiskey developing over a long period of time.
Why? Well they have a massive demand so they need to make sure they have optimised their output which has meant that either they lost quality along the way or they never had it to start with (after all they claim they use the same method they did in 1780 *cough baloney).
Jameson Irish Whiskey Conclusion
Trying this whiskey first has been a learning experience to say the least as it has set a framework of what to expect and where whiskies like Jameson will fit into my overall whiskey palette. The whiskey is okay, drinkable and just bearable enough not to be offensive. The triple distillation process that Jameson are so proud of is not a unique or even rare whiskey process and the resulting smoothness is not very rare either.
Yes, there are some whiskies that are much coarser and not as pleasant on the throat, but Jameson Irish Whiskey is actually not very pleasant on the throat because of the bitter edge. The claim of vanilla isn’t there in taste and might be there a little in smell. The overwhelming flavour of Jameson is rather lack-lustre and perhaps they meant vanilla as a placeholder for boring.
Jameson is a great mixer whiskey though, going very well with anything sweet, rich and full-bodied. A perfect accompaniment to coffee which is why most Irish Coffee uses Jameson because that bitter note rings wonderfully against a full flavour creamy background. I also imagine it would be lovely with Vanilla Coke and normal Coca Cola as the sweet and sugary cola drink will play the perfect bass to the citrus high note.
Jameson whiskey is most likely consumed in this way, I can’t imagine anyone purchasing it to drink alone with so many other affordable and much more flavoursome whiskies to choose from. On the last point, Jameson is priced right for what it is. A low price for a popular, nothing special run of the mill whiskey. You won’t get anything to write home about, but did you really expect to at that price and from such a popular brand?