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Monday, April 11, 2022

Things I Really Drink: Three Jamesons

I was too wrapped up in Scotch whisky reviews to honor St. Pat's Day with Irish whiskey reviews this year. So you're gonna get them now.


In an early attempt to expand the Jameson blended whiskey range, Pernod Ricard rolled out the Caskmates sub-range, which included the standard blend finished in beer-seasoned refill casks. The series began and ended with two whiskies. One finished in Cork's Franciscan Well stout casks, and one finished in "craft" IPA barrels.

Though I'm apparently the only one who thinks Jameson Black Barrel was a large step down from the standard expression, I was interested in these two beery whiskies because I've enjoyed the interplay of whisky and beer on my palate and in my tummy, more so than whisky and wine.


Jameson and I have been chums for nearly a quarter of a century, but we've grown apart over the past eight years or so. Either my palate or the whiskey's recipe has changed because my opinion of it has dropped precipitously. Jameson was always grain-heavy, but it seems to have crossed into 80-90% 3-year-old grain content territory. The 375mL bottle I'm reviewing today was purchased more than two years ago, but has barely been touched.

I also bought the stout edition two years ago and drank it rather swiftly. And there was good reason for that, as it paired really well with Guinness. The 375mL bottle being reviewed today was opened on 3/17 of this year and will be reviewed only with its two mates, no Guinness.

The IPA Edition was also opened on St. Patrick's Day this year. It registered so foully on my palate that night that I haven't touched the whiskey since.

So that is where we begin.

Irish Triplets:

bottled 2020 - 40%abv
Jameson IPA Edition
bottled 2018 - 40%abv
Jameson Stout Edition
bottled 2018 - 40%abv
This stuff is getting closer to Canadian Club every year. The nose is mostly just Nillas soaked in vodka, with hints of citrons, cherry blossoms and Powers-style machinery in the background.IPA dominates the nose at first, all grapefuity hops and old bong water. It picks up lemon zest and lemon candy with time. No vodka.This has a much better integrated nose. The gentle stout element forms the foundation, balancing ripe peaches, toffee, and a hint of vanilla bean. Like the old Gold Reserve, it's what I wish Jameson actually smelled like.
Neutral grain spirit, imitation vanilla extract and corn whiskey lead the palate, with occasional notes of flowers and peppercorns appearing occasionally.The manic palate starts with lemon candy, Lucky Charms, flowers, vanilla and hoppy bitterness. It goes Full IPA after 15 minutes with only the vanilla and lemon candy clinging on for dear life.Mild roasted grain and mellow bitterness from the stout registers first in the palate, with a slight pencil shaving note that almost makes this read like a French oak thing. It has the mildest vanilla and sweetness of the trio.
Heat, vanilla and black pepper in the finish. The bitterness starts tilting towards woodiness in the finish, mixing awkwardly with a cloying sweetness and lots of vanilla.It finishes with lemons, peppercorns and vanilla porter.
On the Rocks:
The vanilla and corn notes grow, the vodka vanishes. An improvement.
On the Rocks:
Ah, this is that note I didn't like when I tried the whiskey three weeks ago. An ugly bitterness mixed with vodka.
On the Rocks:
This one also loses all of its good aspects, turning it into something close to the regular Jameson.


Jameson - As referenced in the notes, this has become almost interchangeable with Canadian Club, which is quite a descent. Though ice helps it out, I don't really see any need to use this bottle's contents again, especially with the Stout Edition on hand.

IPA Edition - There's no doubt this version will appeal to IPA fans since the end result is so close a moderate India Pale Ale. The palate is a weird goulash of flavors, which winds up being the whiskey's best attribute. Sadly the parts didn't come together as well as Glenfiddich's IPA Experiment. Perhaps a 43%abv single malt has more backbone than a grain-heavy 40%abv blend.

Stout Edition - The best of the trio by some distance, though I was surprised to see it take to ice so poorly. Otherwise, it's the only one of the three I'd buy again. Heck, it's the only one I want to drink again. My bottle was on the clearance shelves here in Ohio, so I hope this expression is not being phased out.

Jameson, bottled in 2020 - 70 (and that's being generous)
Caskmates IPA Edition, bottled in 2018 - 76 (keep it neat)
Caskmates Stout Edition, bottled in 2018 - 82 (keep it neat)