Jameson is the best-selling Irish whiskey brand in the world. It’s also the third best-selling whiskey brand in the world. Now if you’re one of the people who have helped Jameson become so popular then you’ll know exactly what their whiskeys taste like. If you’re not, then read on and you soon will be.
Jameson whiskeys taste sweet and smooth with flavors of vanilla, honey, caramel, spices, fruit, cinnamon, pepper and oak. The flavors are most intense in the older and cask strength expressions, enhanced with beer notes in the Caskmates expressions, and highlighted differently in the Whiskey Makers Series.
Of course, each of the 9 current Jameson whiskeys taste different, so the rest of this article will go into more detail about the flavors in each of them. These are not just my own personal opinions, but a consensus obtained with the help of my friends.
And by friends, I mean anyone who would help me with this project.
(Note: The earlier a flavor appears in the coming lists, the more people detected it. All flavors were detected by at least two people.)
Jameson Irish Whiskey
This is the standard Jameson expression. It’s a blend of pot still (meaning malted and unmalted barley) and grain whiskeys that have been triple distilled for more smoothness and aged in oak casks for at least four years.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Irish Whiskey:
“… spicy, nutty and vanilla notes with hints of sweet sherry and exceptional smoothness”
Flavors we found in Jameson Irish Whiskey:
Vanilla, oak, pepper, wood, apples, grassy, malty, cream, honey, alcohol, spices, cereal, floral, nuts
As you can see, we found the vanilla, spicy and nutty flavors and although you can’t tell from our notes, we also found this whiskey sweet – although not sherry sweet as suggested but vanilla sweet. We also found it to be relatively smooth.
I need to point out that although it seems from our notes that we found lots of flavors that’s only true as a group. Each of us individually only found four or five so this is quite a simple whiskey that would probably be boring and one dimensional to more experienced whiskey drinkers.
That’s not to say you should overlook this whiskey. In fact, the reverse is true because this is the expression that’s responsible for making Jameson so popular. You see even though many experienced whiskey drinkers wouldn’t drink it neat, even more whiskey drinkers find its simple, sweet and smooth taste good for cocktails, mixed drinks and shots.
It’s good for cocktails and mixed drinks because it has enough character to stand out but not so much that it dominates the other ingredients in your drink, and it’s good for shots because at about $30 the simple, sweet and smooth taste comes relatively cheap.
For more information about the best ways to drink Jameson whiskeys, see this more detailed article I wrote here.
Jameson Black Barrel
Jameson Black Barrel is Jameson Irish Whiskey aged in barrels that were charred twice. Charring barrels breaks down parts of the oak which creates flavor compounds for the whiskey to pick up and absorb, makes it easier for the whiskey to seep further into the wood to pick them up and creates a layer of charcoal that filters out unwanted flavors.
Charring barrels twice does all that only even more, to create a whiskey that has more flavor.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Black Barrel:
“Nutty notes are in abundance alongside the smooth sweetness of spice and vanilla”
Flavors we found in Jameson Black Barrel:
Vanilla, spices, fruit, caramel, wood, oak char, honey, oak, brown sugar, butter, sherry, grain, light smoke, maple
This whiskey also tastes sweet and smooth, and we did find this to be better than the standard Jameson expression. The double charring adds bourbon like flavors and sweetness to the Jameson profile and it also gives it a light smokey (char smoke as opposed to peat smoke) flavor.
It’s still probably not interesting enough for those who want a complex whiskey, but it is a higher quality whiskey for a higher quality cocktail.
Jameson 18 Years
The previous two Jameson whiskeys were good despite being aged for, as the brand says, ‘a minimum of four years’ and although the actual number may be more, I’m not convinced it’s that much more. After all they don’t say they’re aged for ‘a minimum of five years’ – so make of that what you will.
Either way my point is if Jameson aged for at least four years tastes good, Jameson aged for 18 years should taste even better.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson 18 Years:
“… mellow and smooth, a mouthful of complex flavours – toffee, spice, hints of wood and leather, gentle sherry nuttiness and vanilla”
Flavors we found in Jameson 18 Years:
Caramel, vanilla, spices, oak, fruit, tannin, leather, toffee, banana, wood, lemon, pepper, apples
We found this to be a delicious whiskey. It’s the Jameson flavor profile only much much better. It tastes rich and velvety with lots of soft, well-balanced flavors. And it’s also incredibly smooth.
The downside is the price of over $150 which for some, will ruin its taste.
Jameson Bow Street 18 Years
The minor difference between Jameson 18 Years and Jameson Bow Street 18 Years is that it’s finished at the original Jameson distillery in Bow Street Dublin (hence the name). The major difference between Jameson 18 Years and Jameson Bow Street 18 Years is that it’s a cask strength whiskey (the bottle we had was 55.3%ABV).
Jameson 18 Years improved the standard Jameson expression with a longer period of maturation. Jameson Bow Street 18 Years improved the standard Jameson expression with a longer period of maturation and a higher ABV.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Bow Street 18 Years:
“Toffee and oak remain consistent with hints of leather and vanilla along with a subtle sherry nuttiness creating depth and complexity”
Flavors we found in Jameson Bow Street 18 Years:
Vanilla, oak, pepper, spices, cloves, honey, caramel, wood, cinnamon, apples, bananas, leather, sherry, corn, crème brulé, nutmeg
The Jameson Bow Street 18 Years is better than the Jameson 18 Years. It’s full bodied with lots of flavors as you can see from our notes and they’re all well balanced. This is a delicious and smooth whiskey.
As for being cask-strength, the alcohol is well integrated, but you may want to add water to dilute it to a more palatable level.
Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
Now you may think from its name that this is just Jameson whiskey that’s been aged in barrels that were previously used to age stout beer. But you’d only be half right. It’s actually Jameson whiskey that’s been aged in barrels that were previously used to age stout beer that itself was aged in barrels that were previously used to age Jameson.
Confused? It’s simple. There was a barrel. It was used to age Jameson. Then it was used to age stout beer so that the Jameson character could be added to it. The resulting beer was so good that the barrel was then used to age more Jameson so that the stout-plus-Jameson character could be added to it.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition:
“The initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Irish pot still inclusion is quickly complemented by the subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans from the beer cask finish”
Flavors we found in Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition:
Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, sugar, hops, honey, pepper, caramel, butterscotch, cinnamon, spices, beer, malt
The use of the ex-stout (and ex-ex-Jameson) casks have enhanced the Jameson expression giving it some richer and deeper flavors. The typical Jameson flavors are still there but with the addition of chocolate and butterscotch flavors that come from the stout beer. If you like the taste of Jameson and you like the taste of stout beer, then you’ll like the taste of this.
Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
Now you may think from its name that this is just Jameson whiskey that’s been aged in barrels that were previously used to age India pale ale. But you’d only be a third right. It’s actually Jameson whiskey that’s been aged in barrels that were previously used to age Irish pale ale that itself was aged in barrels that were previously used to age Jameson.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition:
“Hops and light citrus with sweet herbal notes and delicate spicy tones”
Flavors we found in Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition:
Hops, honey, citrus, bitterness, grain, malt, oak, apples, spices, vanilla, oak, lemon, fruit, caramel, bread
Once again, the beer barrels have enhanced the Jameson expression giving it a citrus and hoppy bitterness. If you like the taste of Jameson and you like the taste of IPA, then you’ll like the taste of this.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Distiller’s Safe
The point of the Whiskey Makers Series is to create a range of whiskeys that highlight the effect different parts of the whiskey making process have on the flavor of the whiskey. This whiskey is meant to showcase the flavors of the distillate, which come from the pot still and the grains.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Distiller’s Safe:
“Starts off with barley sugar sweetness, progressing to hints of cinnamon and even a touch of liquorice. A vibrant note of mandarin orange appears alongside the nuttiness of ground almond”
Flavors we found in Jameson Distiller’s Safe:
Butter, apricots, cinnamon, vanilla, grain, fruit, pepper, spices, honey, citrus, pears, malt, grass, oak
This whiskey does showcase the flavors from the distillate but since they come from the pot still and the grains, they’re few and light. The whiskey is still sweet and smooth but it’s simple and expensive (about $74) so you’d probably only drink it if you really want an insight into the contribution the distillate makes to the flavor of a whiskey.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Cooper’s Croze
This whiskey was created to highlight the flavors that come from the wood of the casks which is why four of them are used to make it. As mentioned earlier Jameson is a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys and for this expression the pot still whiskey was matured in first fill bourbon barrels, second fill bourbon barrels and sherry casks, and the grain whiskey was matured in virgin American oak casks.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Cooper’s Croze:
“The initial impression is from the sweet vanilla of the American ex-bourbon barrels. This brings added depth to the rich fruits typical of the ex-oloroso sherry butts. A pleasant touch of hazelnut and toasted wood complement the pot still spices”
Flavors we found in Jameson Cooper’s Croze:
Fruit, oak, vanilla, spices, caramel, citrus, ginger, stewed apples, honey, cinnamon, raisins, malt, pepper, nuts
This whiskey is sweet and smooth with lots of well-balanced flavors, and you do see the influence from the wood of the barrels on its flavor, especially the virgin oak which makes the vanilla and spices more intense.
It is a little ethanol hot, which is not surprising given that it’s 43%ABV (the standard Jameson is only 40%ABV) and has no age statement, but with a few drops of water it will taste fine.
Jameson Whiskey Makers Series – Blender’s Dog
The last of the Whiskey Makers Series, this was created to demonstrate the skill needed to make a whiskey whose different flavors work well together.
What the brand says about the taste of Jameson Blender’s Dog:
“A rich, round, creamy mouthfeel, with the sweetness of butterscotch, giving way to the prickle of the pot still spices. Succulent fruit brings the perfect balance as charred oak with some subtle tannin add to the complexity”
Flavors we found in Jameson Blender’s Dog:
Honey, fruit, caramel, pears, bananas, apricots, spices, oak, licorice, ginger, malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, butterscotch, vanilla, apples, pepper, chocolate, oranges
This whiskey has more depth and complexity than the standard Jameson (but not as much as the 18s) and all the flavors do work well together – which is what this whiskey was meant to demonstrate. It’s a very drinkable Jameson whiskey that’s sweet, smooth and tasty.
You can buy any of these whiskey at drizly.com here.