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Water of Life – Jameson Deconstructed

Chances are that no matter if where you roam and you enter a bar, the Irish whisky available will be Jameson, which not only helped to make evenings during e.g. my travels in the more remote regions of Northern China immeasurably better, but also serves as a reliable constant. In other words, Jameson – and specifically its core expression - is known the world over, widely accessible and while unfortunately a lot of it is still shot, it lends itself exceptionally well to sipping.

Once one delves a bit further into the Jameson cosmos and the way Head Distiller Brian Nation, Master of Wood Management Ger Buckley and Master Blender Billy Leighton channel their alchemy, things get even more refined and delicate, especially with its Whiskey Makers Series, the expressions of which are named after each of their respective key tools.

Aged between twelve and sixteen years and having matured in first and second fill American, virgin oak and sherry casks, the Cooper's Craze expression is not surprisingly oak driven with an aroma comprised of honeyed vanilla, tropical fruits and toffee.

What materializes on the palate is a creamy, velvety extension of what the nose promised, resting on a backbone of cinnamon, raisiny gingerbread, nutmeg and culminating in a spicy, warm finish – an expression that expertly showcases the personality that casks infuse.

The Blender's Dog is, as the name suggest, a masterclass in blending: Not only in terms of different distillates but also cask styles and ages. The result is a well-orchestrated calibration of each component, culminating in a bouquet of floral and perfumed notes, tropical fruits and butterscotch. Flavour-wise, chocolate and toffee notes dominate, which are accentuated by spicy highlights, hints of smoke, liquorice and an elongated, rounded finish, bookended by nutmeggy, woody spices.

The logical next step for an appreciator of Jameson, was to examine the DNA that makes the core expression idiosyncratic and to explore the Deconstructed series, which is exclusively available at travel retail outlets.

The underlying idea of the Deconstructed series is to highlight individual defining aspects of the standard expression and my first exposure to it, was the Round variant.

Focussed on the impact of the barrel wood, the deep golden dram tickled my nostrils with a melange of leathery vanilla, toffee and cereal, which seamlessly transitions to a creamy, raisiny and nutty maltiness on the palate, before it is pierced by delicate peppery spices. An interesting twist that I had not noticed in such form with the standard expression. With the spiciness dialled up, I found the elongated finish specifically enticing as it wonderfully exhibits the contribution of the oaky wood casks.

I cannot wait to try the Lively and Bold expressions, to see how the remaining two variants of the Deconstructed series differ.

With the number of distilleries in Ireland having nearly quadrupled over the last years, it brought quite a bit of innovation to the game. Jameson’s Caskmates Stout Finish is part of an experimental series where barrels are used that were used for the brewing of beer. With the cask exchange collaboration with Young Henrys having knocked it out of the park and not being the biggest aficionado of dark, top fermented beer, I was curious as to how Jameson’s Stout Cask treatment would go.

Caramel in colour, aromas of coffee, honeyed malt, citrussy hop notes and spices result in a complex and multi-faceted, punchy bouquet, which hints at what can be expected to materialize on the top of the mouth. Flavours are further amplified and enriched with notes of nutty cinnamon, citrus fruits, dark chocolate and syrupy coffee. It is quite astonishing what the Stout cask finish elicits, with the finish not only extending the aforementioned flavours but adding a grounding earthiness.

In quite a few aspects, the new limited Jameson Cold Brew bottling resembles the Stout Caskmates expression, as rustic coffee notes are front and centre along with lemon and vanilla both on the nose and the palate. What I missed with this expression is that the whiskey itself does not play a prominent role, which also explains the short and abrupt dark chocolatey and syrupy finish. An expression that could possibly serve as an entry point for an Expresso Martini fan to transition to whiskey.

November 7, 2020

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