If there were ever a time for Jameson to go all-out with their Caskmates line, this would be it. What began as a seemingly logical collaboration between distiller and brewer in Caskmates Stout Edition became something a bit more adventurous with the addition of Caskmates IPA Edition (Eight Degrees being the brewery this time). Considering how much craft beer blew up, as well as the more recent fascination with whiskey finished in all sorts of bizarre casks, I’m almost surprised Jameson haven’t already added Witbier, Porter, or Lager as potential permanent additions to their Caskmates line.
Say what you will about IPA’s (not generally a fan myself), they have a devout fanbase, some of whom fully admit that there’s more to a good IPA than just hops. And while I enjoy regular Jameson well enough, I wouldn’t say I’m an enthusiastic fan unless we consider my recent revisit of their Black Barrel offering. Jameson simply has a little too much grain whiskey influence for me to consider it go-to material…yet that’s also why I think an IPA-finished version has potential. Most of the IPA’s I’ve had leave me with pine and citrus notes, which aren’t far removed from what I can pull out of regular Jameson, so I could see some overlap happening between the two. Time to find out if my suspicions are founded:
Nose: Surprisingly layered. Caramel green apple. IPA and more traditional Jameson notes reveal themselves over time, including lemon with a tinge of honey and faint pepper to go with the hoppy effervescence. Get more sour fruit over time, maybe even grapefruit. Swirling brings pine and citric personality to the forefront. Once it calms back down, the apple notes come out in a fairly unique way. Easily the best part of the pour and experience.
Palate: Quite malty with a backbone of honey to boot, offset by the hoppy influence. A mellow vanilla and shortbread backbone slowly reveals itself over time, but is also offset by bitter, grassy notes. Borders on being outright peppery. Mild pot still hits the front and mid-palates while the finish seems to mesh with the grain whiskey, hitting the back and sides of the tongue.
Finish: Short-medium. Lemongrass, pine, and pepper. Hints of honey and elderflower.
My impression with Caskmates IPA Edition just based on nosing wasn’t exactly what I expected. The beer influence was present, but not overwhelmingly so. If anything, a fruity aspect seemed to shine in an aromatic sensation that became more layered over time. I got much more IPA on the palate, but even then, it seemed blended just well enough to not drown out the whiskey. I’d say my suspicions about the beer and grain whiskey coming together in an odd harmony were mostly spot-on, which sounds like a ringing endorsement to pick this over regular Jameson. However, just because a less appealing aspect seems to work well with a divisive influence doesn’t mean the end result is more enjoyable.
Caskmates IPA Edition is an expression that I can only see fans of both IPA beer and Jameson liking. Granted, I say this as a non-fan of IPA’s and one who’s indifferent to standard Jameson. Yet I do imagine many are in a similar boat to me where they might have a morbid curiosity about Jameson mingling with IPA beer. The end results are about what you’d expect when you eliminate as many considerations as possible; worth trying for those who want to give it a fair shake, but a pass for most anyone else.