John Jameson was a lawyer from Alloa in Scotland. In 1786 he married Margaret Haig, sister of the famous Haig brothers and cousin to the Stein family who owned Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. John and Margaret were invited to move to Dublin, with John taking up the role of manager at the distillery. It was here that he formed John Jameson & Son Irish Whiskey Company and went on to achieve great success. By 1805, Jameson was the best selling whiskey in the world.
It was not all plain sailing though and the company saw some major setbacks over the years, first seeing off the Irish Temperance Movement and then surviving the Wars of Independence with the British which denied them all the export markets of the commonwealth and then, not long after, came Prohibition in the US and the loss of Jameson’s biggest market.
Jameson survived however and in 1966 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.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 15 / 20. 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 lttle Orange come through.
Taste: 13 / 20. 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: 7 / 10. It may be nothing exceptional, but for around £20 you get a very drinkable dram and you can’t say fairer than that.
Overall: 35 / 50. Like many blends it lacks the kind of character on offer from a good single malt but for the low price it’s a decent option for a simple, inoffensive, every day dram.