John Jameson was a lawyer from Alloa in Scotland. In 1786 he married Margaret Haig, sister to John Haig of Cameronbridge distillery and cousin to the Stein family of Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. Upon their marriage, John and Margaret were invited to Dublin, with John taking the role of manager at the family distillery. Later he formed John Jameson & Son Irish Whiskey Company and by 1805, he was producing the best selling Irish whiskey in the world.
It was not all plain sailing however, with the company forced to see off the threat from the Temperance Movement, then surviving the Wars of Independence with the British which denied them access to the export markets of the commonwealth. Then came Prohibition in the US, and the loss of Jameson’s biggest market.
The company survived however and in 1966 it merged with Cork Distillers and John Powers to form the Irish Distillers Group. This led, in 1976 to the closure of Bow Street Distillery and the opening just outside Cork of the New Midleton Distillery. It is here that many of today’s Irish Whiskey brands are produced including Jameson, Midleton, Powers, Redbreast, Spot and Paddy.
Irish Whiskey differs from Scotch in that it is usually distilled three times instead of twice, giving it a lighter, smoother texture than it’s cousin. Today there are just 7 distilleries at work in Ireland (compared to around 115 in Scotland) although there has been signs of late that the spirit is undergoing something of a resurgence. In any case, Jameson remains the worlds third largest single distillery whiskey.
Jameson’s entry level expression is made by blending Irish Pot Still and grain whiskey and for many, offers the best introduction to the charms of Irish Whiskey.
Smell: Not a bad nose, with notes of Vanilla and Coconut and Buttery Shortbread. Also, slightly Floral and after a while some Fruity notes like Apple and Pear and even a little Orange come through.
Taste: A little thin on the palate but carrying notes of Honey and Vanilla, a little bit of Spice and delicate fruit notes like Apple, Pear and Lemon.
Value for Money: Not an exceptional dram it has to be said, but for around £20 you get a fairly drinkable dram that isn’t without its charms.
Score: 35 / 50.
Like many blends, it lacks the kind of character offered by a good single malt, but for a relatively low price it is a decent option for a simple, inoffensive, every day dram.