Jameson is the third best-selling whiskey brand in the world but the best-selling Irish whiskey brand in the world. It’s not surprising then that for many people – including myself, this is their first Irish whiskey. I wanted to do a proper review of the nine main Jameson whiskeys to see what they were like in general and how they compared with each other. Here’s what I found.
1. Jameson Irish Whiskey
- Price: $29.99 approx. for 750ml
This is Jameson’s signature expression and the reason why it’s so popular. It’s a blend of pot still (meaning made from malted and unmalted barley) and grain whiskeys that have been triple distilled and aged in oak casks for at least four years.
Color: Amber, gold
Nose: Vanilla, apples, oak, floral, caramel, grain, pear
Taste: Vanilla, oak, pepper, apples, floral, malty, honey
Finish: Short: Oak, malty, honey
Score – 75 / 100
This is a sweet, tasty and relatively smooth whiskey that’s very easy to drink. It doesn’t have enough flavors to be a sipping whiskey but it’s great for mixed drinks and cocktails because it has just enough character to stand out but not so much that it dominates any other ingredients in your drink.
It’s also great for shots, because it has a pleasant taste and it’s smooth without being expensive.
No wonder it’s so popular.
2. Jameson Black Barrel
- Price: $40.99 approx. for 750ml
The barrels whiskeys are aged in are usually charred. That’s because charring helps the whiskey pick up more flavors – in three ways. It breaks down parts of the oak which creates flavor compounds for the whiskey to pick up, it allows easier and deeper penetration by the whiskey into the wood of the barrel, and it creates a charcoal layer that filters out unwanted flavors.
Jameson Black Barrel is signature Jameson whiskey from barrels that were charred twice – hence the name, to give it even more intense flavors.
Nose: Caramel, vanilla, oak char, cinnamon, peach, apricot, black pepper
Taste: Vanilla, caramel, oak char, honey, butter, sherry, grain
Finish: Medium: Oak, vanilla, caramel, malt
Score – 76 / 100
This is definitely better than the standard expression. Again, it’s a sweet, tasty, smooth and easy to drink whiskey, and although the double charring doesn’t catapult this whiskey into higher realms of depth and complexity, it does add bourbon like flavors and sweetness, and a light smokey (char smoke as opposed to peat smoke) flavor.
3. Jameson 18 Years
- Price: $156.46 approx. for 750ml
This is Jameson that’s been aged for at least 18 years.
Nose: Wood, lemon, vanilla, fruity, spicy, toffee, peach, shortbread
Taste: Caramel, vanilla, oak, spicy, fruity, toffee, pepper, lemon, apples
Finish: Medium – long: Fruity, spicy, oak
Score – 80 / 100
This is a great whiskey especially if you like the Jameson flavor profile as it’s that only much, much better having the extra depth and complexity you would expect with 14 more years of aging (and despite it being only 40%ABV). It’s a delicious whiskey with lots of soft flavors that are well integrated. It’s rich and velvety and incredibly smooth.
The only problem is that it’s expensive when compared to other whiskeys of the same quality.
4. Jameson Bow Street 18 Years
- Cask Strength (55.3%ABV in this case)
- Price: $179.99 approx. for 750ml
This is a cask strength version of the 18, that’s finished at Jameson’s original distillery in Bow Street, Dublin (hence the name).
Nose: Vanilla, caramel, oak, bananas, honey, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, sherry
Taste: Vanilla, oak, pepper, cloves, honey, caramel, cinnamon, apples, bananas, sherry
Finish: Long: Oak, spicy, fruity
Score – 85 / 100
This is even better than the 18. It’s an excellent, delicious and refined whiskey that has an intense nose, a thick and creamy mouthfeel and a palate that’s rich and deep. It’s full bodied, warm, sweet and smooth. The higher-than-usual alcohol is well integrated, and the complex flavors are relatively well balanced.
It’s not that much more expensive than the 18, but as that’s very expensive in the first place, all that means is that it’s not much more expensive than something that is.
5. Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
- Price: $34.79 approx. for 750ml
One day, the head brewer of a local craft beer brewery asked Jameson’s head of Whiskey Science (how do you get that job?) if he could barrel age his stout beer in Jameson whiskey barrels. The answer was yes, and the beer that came from it was good.
However, things didn’t stop there. A lot of that goodness was now in the barrels so the only logical thing to do was refill them, only this time with fully mature Jameson whiskey so that the unique character of the barrels could be added to it.
That’s how the Jameson Caskmates series got started. And this is the Stout Edition.
Color: Gold, amber
Nose: Chocolate, honey, vanilla, coffee, grains, citrus, floral hops, caramel
Taste: Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, hops, honey, caramel, cinnamon, pepper
Finish: Short – medium: Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, honey, spices
Score – 70 / 100
This is a pretty good whiskey, and the ex-stout (and ex-ex-Jameson) casks have given it some richer and deeper flavors – the light, floral and fruity Jameson whiskey interacts well with the chocolate and caramel flavors coming from the stout beer.
If you like both Jameson and stout, then you’ll definitely enjoy this.
6. Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
- Price: $34.99 approx. for 750ml
One good thing leads to another and once you’re finishing Jameson whiskey in one type of beer-and-Jameson barrel, it’s only a matter of time before you’re finishing it in another.
This edition of the Caskmates series is Jameson whiskey finished in Irish pale ale (not India pale ale) barrels so that it can pick up all its great flavors.
Color: Gold, amber
Nose: Hops, honey, citrus, grain, vanilla, spicy
Taste: Hops, honey, citrus, grain, vanilla, oak, spicy
Finish: Short – medium: Hops, vanilla, citrus, pepper, grain
Score – 70 / 100
Once again, the beer barrels have enhanced the whiskey. The IPA adds a citrus and hoppy bitterness to the Jameson flavor profile, making this another simple but unique whiskey.
And once again, if you like Jameson and IPAs then you’ll definitely enjoy this.
7. Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Distiller’s Safe
- Price: $73.91 approx. for 750ml
The Whiskey Makers Series is a range of three whiskeys, each focusing on the effect a different part of the whiskey making process has on the final product.
Distiller’s Safe (named for the small, locked, clear box the head distiller uses to visually analyze and cut the distillate without being able to taste it) was created by Jameson’s head distiller to showcase the flavors of the distillate, which come from the pot still and the grains.
Color: Pale (I know pale is not a color but that’s what it looks like)
Nose: Banana, apricot, coconut, citrus, grain, biscuit, vanilla
Taste: Butter, apricots, cinnamon, vanilla, grain, pepper, honey, citrus
Finish: Short – medium: Citrus, pepper
Score – 73 / 100
Focusing on flavors of the distillate makes this quite a light whiskey, but it is sweet with lots of fruity notes.
Personally, I prefer a whiskey that focuses on all the flavors but if you want an (expensive) insight into the contribution the distillation process makes to a whiskey’s flavor, then this whiskey will certainly give it to you.
8. Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Cooper’s Croze
- Price: $71.99 approx. for 750ml
Cooper’s Croze (named for the tool used to make the groove into which the head of the cask is fitted) was created by Jameson’s head cooper to highlight the flavors that come from the wood of the casks.
This expression contains pot-still whiskey matured in first fill bourbon barrels, second fill bourbon barrels and sherry casks, and grain whiskey matured in virgin American oak casks.
Nose: Vanilla, apples, citrus, honey, sherry, cereal, caramel, floral, raisins, oak
Taste: Oak, vanilla, caramel, citrus, ginger, apples, honey, cinnamon, raisins, pepper
Finish: Medium – long: Pepper, cinnamon, oak, banana, caramel, vanilla
Score – 78 / 100
This whiskey is sweet and smooth with lots of well-balanced flavors. You can definitely taste the wood influence on the flavor of the whiskey, especially the virgin oak which seems to make the vanilla and spices more intense.
On the downside, the mouthfeel is a bit thin and it’s a little too ethanol hot but for a non-age statement whiskey, it’s pretty good.
9. Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Blender’s Dog
- Price: $70.90 approx. for 750ml
Blender’s Dog (a dog is a dipper that blenders use to retrieve samples from the barrels through the bung) was created by Jameson’s head blender to highlight the skill needed to create a whiskey whose different flavors work well together.
Nose: Vanilla, cinnamon, floral, apples, honey, nutmeg, grain, citrus, oak
Taste: Honey, caramel, pears, bananas, apricots, oak, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, apples
Finish: Medium: Spicy, apple, vanilla, oak
Score – 78 / 100
The extra depth and complexity of this whiskey certainly highlights the role of the master blender in ensuring that everything works well together. It’s still quite light-bodied but it’s sweet and smooth with a nice soft mouthfeel and lots of delicious flavors.