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A Scotsman in Ireland
John Jameson was a lawyer from Alloa in Scotland. In 1786 he married Margaret Haig, the sister of John Haig, owner 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 where John took on 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. The company had to see off the threat of the Temperance Movement and survive the Wars of Independence with the British, which denied them access to the markets of the commonwealth. Then came Prohibition in the US, and the loss of their biggest export market.
Jameson’s 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 often distilled three times instead of twice, giving it a lighter, smoother texture than its cousin. Today there are just 7 distilleries at work in Ireland (compared to around 115 in Scotland) although there have been signs that something of a resurgence is taking place. In any case, Jameson remains the worlds third-largest single distillery whiskey.
Jameson’s entry-level expression is made by blending Irish pot still whiskey with grain whiskey. For many, it serves as an introduction to the world 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.
Thoughts: Jameson’s isn’t a dram I reach for particularly often. I’ve heard plenty of people slate it but for me, it doesn’t really taste enough of anything to be unpleasant, it’s just bland. As someone who likes to chew on their whisk(e)y, this is particularly delicate. To be honest, I’ve had weightier water. But then a bottle of Jameson’s will cost you less than £20 so perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical. It also sells millions of bottles per year so they must be doing something right.
The entry-level Jameson’s isn’t for me and I suspect most people that really love whisk(e)y would agree but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. It no doubt has its place as an easy-drinking, mixable spirit in pubs all over the world.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.