Jameson Has Revamped Their Whiskey Portfolio

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Jameson Has Revamped Their Whiskey Portfolio

Jameson is one of the classic bar shelf whiskeys, a gateway, “pint and a shot” staple through which many have become acquainted with whiskey in the first place. The brand has also dominated the Irish Whiskey resurgence of recent years, accounting for slightly more than three-quarters of Irish Whiskey sales in the U.S., according to International Wine And Spirits Research.

Yet the larger Jameson family of whiskeys had been something of a tangle, and earlier this summer the brand lineup was overhauled. The old, familiar Jameson Irish Whiskey went untouched, as did Jameson 18 Year Old near the top of the spectrum, but everything else got a shakeup. Here is what to expect from Jameson’s other, more upscale offerings.

The Bad News

When Jameson Special Reserve, also known as Jameson Small Batch and Jameson Black, was introduced several years ago, it instantly became a popular bargain choice in premium Irish Whiskey. This whiskey has been kept in the lineup and relabeled as Jameson Black Barrel, but unfortunately with a significant price hike. Previously available for around $35, the price in Europe is now €47, and American prices are now inching up to that mark. At that price point, Black Barrel is no longer a bang for the buck winner.

Crested Ten has been brought into the Jameson family proper as Jameson Crested. For almost five decades this whiskey has enjoyed a cult following among Irish Whiskey fans around the world, but it was only occasionally available in the U.S., and then as a special import item. Priced at €36, it replaces Black Barrel as the best bargain of the Jameson line, but sadly there are no plans to bring it to America at this time.

Finally, Jameson 12 Year Old was discontinued. Like Black Barrel, this whiskey was widely available in the U.S., but unlike Black Barrel it was never particularly budget friendly, coming in at around $70. Still, it was a fine expression, had its fans (my wife was one of them!), and some will miss it dearly.

The Whiskey Makers

New from Jameson is a trilogy dubbed “The Whiskey Makers,” each designed to highlight the contribution of a member of Jameson’s senior production team: Distiller’s Safe, Blender’s Dog and Cooper’s Croze.

Distiller’s Safe is the youngest of the three whiskeys, minimizing the influence of barrel maturation to show what Master Distiller Brian Nation turns out at his copper pot stills. Its youth imparts lightness to it, while at the same time the whiskey is also remarkably smooth, in spite of that very same youthfulness.

Cooper’s Croze, named for the groove in the barrel head into which staves are fitted, reflects the role wood plays in imparting flavor to whiskey, as well as that of Master Cooper Ger Buckley. Fittingly, it is the oldest of the three, drawing on stock aged 12 to 16 years, and has the most robust character.

Blender’s Dog utilizes the widest array of whiskey and barrel types of the trio, pointing to the skills of Master Blender Billy Leighton. Appropriately, it is the best constructed, balanced, and sophisticated of the three, something for aficionados.

At present, Cooper’s Croze is the only member of the trio available in the U.S., but the others will follow in due course. Like Jameson 12 Year Old before it, Cooper’s Croze bears a $70 price tag.

Traveling Whiskey

Jameson Signature used to be a travel retail-only item, but now it is finally breaking out of the airport duty free shops and finding its way onto liquor store shelves. Take the basic Jameson, increase the proportion of sherry cask-aged pot still whiskey, and put it in a bigger, one liter bottle. The price is about the same as Jameson Black Barrel, but you get roughly a quarter more quantity for the money, making it a good buy.

Introduced in October 2015 to the airport shops was another trilogy, Jameson Deconstructed, consisting of Jameson Bold, Jameson Deconstructed, and Jameson Lively. Like The Whiskey Masters, it’s a set of thematic whiskeys. Bold focuses on Jameson’s signature pot still whiskey, Lively on grain whiskey, and Round on the influence of cask aging on flavor. Like Signature before it, these three all come in one liter bottles, and at €36 are good bargains and worth a stop in duty free to bring on the way back from a trip to Europe.