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Jameson Irish Whiskey Tasting with Museum of the American Cocktail: Drinking Hibernia.
By: Maren Swanson • April 6th, 2015
Jameson Irish whiskey is usually a spirit I only mingle with once a year with and that usually falls on the celebratory St. Patrick’s Day. According to Maeve Gordon, Jameson’s community manager direct from Dublin, schooling us on the old time libation, “Americans tend to celebrate it (St. Patrick’s Day) more than the Irish.” Gordon was giving a rundown of the old whiskey’s roots last week in partnership with The Museum of the American Cocktail at General Lee’s in Chinatown and the event, Drinking Hibernia, was an opportunity to taste a range of Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers portfolio and listen to traditional Irish music performed live by some of LA's finest folk musicians.
We tasted a lot of whiskey that night and we also learned more about Jameson, the man and his whiskey. John Jameson was born in 1740 and fathered 17 children. When he wasn’t busy making children, the Scottish lawyer worked hard and passionately at creating his first distillery in Dublin (1780). The man seemed pretty fearless and today the Sine Metu motto is displayed on the label of Jameson, translating to ‘Without Fear.’
Whiskey is generally made with two ingredients, barley and water, and what makes Jameson Irish whiskey unique is its mixture of malted and unmalted barley, the fact that it is triple distilled and all of its ingredients are locally sourced. Jameson Irish whiskey is stored mostly in American bourbon barrels and the original "classic" label brew stays inside those barrels up to seven years. What’s even more impressive is the whiskey made at the Bow Street location today still sits in some of the original copper stills. I hadn’t heard of ‘Angel Share,’ but supposedly, $35,000 dollars a year worth of whiskey “goes to the Angels,” or is evaporated into air.
Throughout the course of our whisky education, we got to try a selection of Jameson whiskeys on their own and mixed cocktail style. The first one we tried was Black Barrel; a whiskey aged 13–14 years in double–charred, flamed black barrels. The Black Barrel ended up being one of my favorites of the night; it was very approachable and creamy with notes of spice and toasted fruits. Mixologist Christopher Day, of General Lee’s cocktail bar, made us “The Fearless,” a stirred cocktail comprised of Jameson Black Barrel, Amaro and Oolong sweet vermouth – a variation of a Manhattan and also tying the name into the Sine Metu logo.
Secondly, we tasted the Red Breast whiskey, sporting a red-breasted robin on the front. The Red Breast is aged for a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 16 and you can taste its age at first sip; full-bodied, complex, robust and steeped in flavors from the sherry cask – almost fruit cake-like. Day made us his “Red Breast” Old Fashioned interpretation with the Red Breast whiskey, Scrappy’s chocolate bitters, orange oil and honey.
Next, we moved on to the Green Spot whiskey with flavors of "green fruit" and aged 10-12 years. This Jameson whiskey is light, with a long finish and something tells me it won’t be long until there is “G Spot” cocktail made in its honor.
Lastly, we got to try the newly released Yellow Spot whiskey; so new in fact, that our event was the first public tasting hosted in Los Angeles for the product. The Yellow Spot is matured in bourbon barrels, sherry butts and Malaga casks. To me, this particular whiskey exuded some honey and nutmeg on the nose and the flavors tasted a bit like crème brulee and caramel.
I now understand a little bit more why whiskey was and is still referred to as the “water of life”. Jameson Irish whiskey has history and spirit, balanced and bold flavors and it’s not for drinking just one day out of the year. John Jameson was fearless and he went with his whiskey gut – boy, did it pay off.