Jameson is a brand that almost needs no introduction. Even so, in my review for Bushmills Original, I alluded to one brand being more ubiquitous for Irish whiskey. Expecting anything else would be foolish. Jameson as a brand is so recognized that it almost transcends boundaries. Like Jack Daniel’s, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and others, Jameson is tried and tested, which is even more impressive considering most folks aren’t even aware that they have other expressions.
We’re here to discuss their flagship, however, and there’s a decent bit to talk about. As with many Irish whiskeys in the budget range, Jameson is a triple-distilled whiskey blend (pot still and grain in this case) and aged in oak for at least four years. Statistically it seems routine, so let’s see what the whiskey itself has to offer and chew on.
Nose: Somewhat grassy. Lemon, chamomile tea, floral honey, and malt. After sipping I get pine and lychee with an undercurrent of vanilla and shortbread.
Palate: Slightly buttery and metallic. Lemon cookie, shortbread, and mild to moderate grain (young). Honeydew, melon, and cantaloupe. Light trace of honey.
Finish: Short. Soft lemon and yeast. Honeyed tea. Alcohol gives the impression of effervescence.
Based on what the flavors and overall experience, I’m somewhat surprised Jameson is as celebrated as it is. The whiskey is bright and young, offering a glimpse into what a more full-fledged Irish whiskey might offer. Perhaps the fact it stands above its main competitors (see: Bushmills and Tullamore Dew) is part of its lasting appeal. After all, Jameson’s role as a mixer and cocktail pour simply makes sense which, as I mentioned in my Bushmills review, isn’t a bad thing.
Part of me wants to parrot my Bushmills review and encourage tempered expectations with the base Jameson bottling. I personally wouldn’t reach for this as a sipper, which the target demographic likely confirms. Yet that’s what expressions like Black Barrel exist for. Do I have similar suggestions to Bushmills for my final verdict on Jameson? Without a doubt. The key difference is that Jameson doesn’t suffer from fading to the background, and it offers a tangible hint of the buttery, slightly indulgent notes higher quality Irish whiskeys present in full. If you can pull that out of Jameson, then it may just set you on a path to richer spoils. And that is something few budget whiskeys can offer.