To most people, Irish whiskey is about Jameson and Irish Distillers Limited, and to a degree that has been the case for around several decades, but there are good reasons for this as the market in Ireland has had a pretty rough ride over the last century, but is now innovating and a plethora of new brands and expressions are hitting the shelves globally each month… which is why today we are talking about the new Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2.
To clue you up on IDL, Irish Distillers are an amalgamation of the Powers, Jameson and Paddy whiskey brands and businesses who joined forces for the good of the Irish whiskey category, as well as to grow their united company through strength in numbers.
I always find it impressive that these previous rivalries were put aside for the greater good and for progress.
Although, I do feel sorry for the poor sales blokes who would have to change from ‘don’t buy Jameson, this Paddy Irish whiskey is miles better’ to ‘nah, only kidding, all three are great’. Tough.
Speaking of innovation, tradition is also massive for IDL, as mentioned above.
Not too long ago, the awesome IDL archivist, Carol Quinn, found a distillers notebook in the archive and when disbound for preservation grain fell out that dated back to 1820, along with John Jameson’s recipes and notes. The micro-distillery stills have been built to a similar size to the stills that would have been present at The Bow Street Distillery back in the day. Will these produce similar spirit and flavour as was once produced at Bow Street? Will this end up being a limited edition in the near future? I think so…
Anyway, now in it’s third iteration (that I know of and have visited), the Jameson Distillery Experience in Dublin was originally a trade tour site until local tour companies demanded it be added to their tours.
The whiskey in question today whilst I’m visiting is the Bow Street Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2, which has spent a whole year being finished in the only live maturation warehouse in Dublin.
Speaking of which, you really must visit the Bow Street Jameson Distillery Experience in Dublin
When you come to this place, and I implore you to visit when you’re next in Dublin, it is not just about the whiskey, but has various other craft experiences too on site such as mixology experiences, whiskey and cheese pairings and blending your own whiskey sessions, so it’s immersive, unique and brings more than just whiskey drinkers into the world of Irish whiskey, which can only be a good thing.
There have been 84 casks of the Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2 bottled, which equates to roughly 30,000 bottles,which – gloriously – is roughly the same amount of bottles that IDL loses to the Angels’ Share each day across all their maturation warehouses.
The whiskey has been finished in first fill bourbon casks, and the blend itself has been created using a grain component and pot still component, as you’d expect, that have themselves been maturing in a small number of first fill bourbon casks, but the majority of the blend has been matured in second and third fill casks and on the pot still element there will be a small amount of sherry casks. These are not for flavour as such, but it helps the blenders balance flavour.
“We do not want to overly ‘bourbonise’ it as we want the signature pot still flavour which is the Jameson signature blend character” – Billy Leighton, Master Blender for IDL
Interestingly, they use bourbon casks from a number of distilleries, including – Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, O. Z. Tyler Distillery and Jim Beam with various different char levels including level four.
Now it is time to try the Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2 at a natural of 56%-ish cask strength
Even at this ABV it’s smooth, creamy, sweet, oak spice and char, there’s a nuttiness and a pronounces walnut note too. Stunning spicy notes. Bit floral after time in the glass, but that creamy mouthfeel is stealing the show.
“I look at the casks and have a feeling about the style of whiskey I’m looking to create, then make up a composite, then assess if it needs a few more bourbon or sherry casks at different potencies to hit what the blender’s intent is. Each batch should be related but slightly different… danger is if you vary one style you may encroach in another style in the range” – Billy Leighton
Don’t tell anyone, but the Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2 contains 18 – 21 Year Old components.
After trying the product straight from the cask it was time to try three of the Jameson 18 Year Old Batch 2 component parts.
Pot still Irish whiskey 1999, 2nd fill ex-bourbon cask 58%
Fruity, sweet, spirits, black pepper note on the nose, creamy smooth on the palate, a little spicy but just a joy in a glass. Slight citrus note there too.
Pot still Irish whiskey 1997, 1st fill sherry cask, originally in bourbon then into first fill sherry 2006
Dried fruits, nutty, quite thick on the nose, a leathery note too. Full bodied! Palate is big, bold and spicy – a proper tongue tingled that mellows after a few seconds to be slightly sweeter and with more fruity and citrus notes to it. Lovely – only if the most powerful and complex Irish whiskeys I’ve tried. They should bottle this!!
Grain Irish whiskey, 1998, first fill ex-bourbon cask
Tropical fruit note, buttery, slightly perfumed notes with pineapple and lots of vanilla. Impossibly smooth on the palate. Molten brown sugar and tangy pineapple again. Slight spice on the finish. A delight.
Jameson 18 Year Old, 55.1% ABV finished for one year in the Bow Street distillery
Soft pineapple and sweet sugar and cream notes on the nose, earthy. The palate is so soft at the high ABV, fruity, sweet, mellow, calm and a properly luxury drop of Irish whiskey. A lovely treacle and toffee note on the palate too. Quite a short finish, expected longer but all it served was to draw me back for another sip… and another… and another…
You will have to wait until August to get your hands on it though, but believe me, the wait will be totally worth it!