Jameson is the third best-selling whiskey brand in the world and the best-selling Irish whiskey brand in the world, but which of their whiskeys are the best and for which occasions. That’s what I wanted to know and after some (very enjoyable) research I found the answers.
Best for Flavor: Jameson Bow Street 18 Years
The Bow Street 18 Years is the best Jameson whiskey when it comes to flavor. That’s because it’s the expression where the Jameson profile is at its most flavorful. To better explain what I mean, here are the nine main Jameson whiskeys and what they’re like in terms of flavor.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
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, cocktails and shots.
Jameson Black Barrel
This is a somewhat better version of the standard expression. Again, it’s a sweet, tasty, smooth and easy to drink whiskey, but because the barrels it was matured in were double charred, it also has bourbon like flavors and sweetness, and a light smokey (char smoke as opposed to peat smoke) flavor.
Jameson 18 Years
This whiskey has the Jameson flavor profile with the extra depth and complexity you would expect after 18 years of aging. It’s delicious with lots of soft flavors that are well integrated. It’s rich and velvety and incredibly smooth.
Jameson Bow Street 18 Years
This is the cask strength (and therefore better) version of the 18. It has an intense nose, a thick and creamy mouthfeel and a palate that’s rich and deep. It’s full bodied, delicious, sweet and smooth. The higher-than-usual alcohol is well integrated, and the flavors are relatively well balanced.
Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
This is Jameson whiskey that’s spent time in ex-stout barrels – the twist being that when the stout was being matured they were ex-Jameson barrels. It gives the light, floral and fruity Jameson whiskey some richer and deeper chocolate and caramel flavors.
Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
This Jameson whiskey is finished in ex-Irish pale ale (and ex-ex-Jameson) casks which adds a citrus and hoppy bitterness to the Jameson flavor profile.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Distiller’s Safe
The Distiller’s Safe highlights flavors that come from the distillate, which is why this is quite a light whiskey. Nevertheless, it’s sweet with lots of fruity notes.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Cooper’s Croze
Cooper’s Croze highlights flavors that come from the wood of the barrels, which is why this whiskey is sweet and smooth with lots of well-balanced flavors.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Blender’s Dog
Blender’s Dog highlights the skills needed to create a whiskey whose different flavors work well together. That’s why it’s sweet and smooth with a nice soft mouthfeel and lots of delicious flavors.
As you can see, while the Jameson Irish and Black Barrel are pretty good, since they’re only aged for four years, they don’t have that many flavors. On the other hand, being aged for 18 years clearly gives the Jameson flavor profile much more depth and complexity, and even more so when it’s at cask strength.
Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog also have lots of flavors, but they have to take joint third place after the 18, which is second place to the 18 Bow Street, which is the best Jameson whiskey when it comes to flavor.
For more information on these whiskeys, see my in-depth review of them here.
Best for Price: Jameson Irish Whiskey
Jameson Irish Whiskey is the best Jameson whiskey when it comes to price. To help me explain why that is, here’s a list of the nine main Jameson whiskeys and their approximate prices for a 750ml bottle:
|Jameson Irish Whiskey||$30|
|Jameson Black Barrel||$41|
|Jameson 18 Years||$156|
|Jameson Bow Street 18 Years||$180|
|Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition||$35|
|Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition||$35|
|Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Distiller’s Safe||$74|
|Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Cooper’s Croze||$72|
|Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Blender’s Dog||$71|
Obviously it would have been better if the best Jameson whiskey for flavor would also have been the best Jameson whiskey for price, however, as you can see from the table that’s far from being the case. Although the Bow Street 18 is not that much more expensive than the 18 Years, making it the one to buy if you’re going to spend that much money, both are very expensive when compared to other whiskeys of the same quality.
Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog, which are also quite flavorful, are much more affordable in comparison and while still quite expensive for what they are, may be your best bet for a more flavorful Jameson whiskey before the gap between value and price becomes too big for most people.
The price of the Caskmates Stout Edition and the Caskmates IPA Edition are good but only as long as you like / prefer the stout and IPA flavors that they have.
Which is why I think that the Jameson Irish Whiskey is best when it comes to price. It may be a less matured version of the Jameson flavor profile but it’s still a good whiskey with a decent amount of flavors and relatively cheap for what it is.
Best For Mixed Drinks & Shots: Jameson Black Barrel
Black Barrel is the best Jameson whiskey for cocktails, mixed drinks and shots.
That’s because it’s a cheap yet light and easy to drink whiskey that’s tasty, sweet and smooth.
This makes it great for shots where you want something cheap but also something pleasant and easy to drink that will go down smoothly. Often, the cheaper whiskeys that are used for shots are also unpleasant. Which is why they’re the cheaper whiskeys used for shots in the first place.
This also makes it great in mixed drinks and cocktails. Being light and clean allows it to blend well with other flavors. And the tasty, sweet and smooth Jameson character is distinctive enough that you can pick it out of your cocktail but light enough that it doesn’t dominate the whole drink.
Now this applies to the Jameson Irish Whiskey too. However, the Black Barrel does have more flavors from the double charring and while this makes it a slightly more expensive whiskey, it’s worth it for a higher-quality mixed drink or shot. Which is why I think that the Black Barrel is the best Jameson whiskey for cocktails, mixed drinks and shots.
Best For Stout Flavors: Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
The Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition is the best Jameson whiskey for stout flavors.
That’s because it’s Jameson whiskey that spent time in ex-stout barrels – but not just any ex-stout barrels, ex-stout barrels that when they were maturing the stout were ex-Jameson barrels. The ex-Jameson improved the stout while it was being matured and the ex-stout then improved the Jameson while it was being finished.
This gives the light, floral and fruity Jameson whiskey some richer and deeper chocolate and caramel flavors. If you like the Jameson flavor profile and if you like stout beer, then the Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition will be the best Jameson whiskey for you.
Best For IPA Flavors: Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
The Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition is the best Jameson whiskey for IPA flavors.
That’s because it’s Jameson whiskey that was finished in Irish pale ale (not India pale ale) barrels – and again the ex-IPA barrels are also ex-ex-Jameson barrels. This adds a citrus and hoppy bitterness to the Jameson flavor profile.
If you like the Jameson flavor profile and if you like IPAs, then the Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition will be the best Jameson whiskey for you.
Best For Highlighting Flavors: Jameson Cooper’s Croze
Cooper’s Croze is the best Jameson whiskey for highlighting flavors. It’s one of a range of three Jameson whiskeys, where each one focuses 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. This makes it quite a light whiskey, but it is sweet with lots of fruity notes.
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. Which is why this whiskey is sweet and smooth with lots of well-balanced flavors.
And 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. Which is why this whiskey is sweet and smooth with lots of delicious flavors.
All three highlight their respective flavors, but since more flavors are better than less and since the best flavors come from the cask, I think that Cooper’s Croze is the best Jameson whiskey for showing you how good Jameson can be with the right selection of casks.