It’s always difficult to write a review for an iconic spirit. When a spirit like Jameson Irish Whiskey is consumed so frequently and so regularly, it begins to transcend the category it lives in and becomes its own thing. In the case of Jameson, it has not only transcended the category of Irish whiskey, it’s helped reshape it. To most, Irish whiskey now means a light and easy spirit that can be sipped or shot easily.
These past few weeks we’ve been spending a lot of time with some truly great Irish whiskeys, and one thing we’ve found is that it’s really problematic to lump them all together in one neat little grouping. While many of the Irish whiskeys we’ve tried have been easy to drink (including Powers Gold Label Special Reserve), some have been anything but light (like the Michael Collins 10 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey), and then there’s Jameson.
When most people think of Jameson, they think of the iconic blend. Most people aren’t even aware that there’s a Jameson Gold Reserve Irish Whiskey, Jameson 12 Year, and a Jameson 18. For most, the base blended whiskey is their experience of the brand. So, as we do with all our spirits, we put Jameson through our tasting panel, evaluating it outside of its brand space and tasted along side others in its class.
Jameson Irish Whiskey “A Blend” – ($20 – 750ml) – light gold in color, with a fairly light nose, there are notes of vanilla, subtle honey, and a hint of the smell of a pencil eraser. There’s a slight edge to the nose. The entry of Jameson is actually a little more flavorful than you’d expect. Although the whiskey has a very light and thin mouthfeel, you get hit with some sweet vanilla right out of the gate and this transitions to a milk chocolate note with a slightly salty undertone. Unfortunately, before you really get a chance to lock into the flavor of this whiskey, it dissipates very quickly into a short finish. There’s a touch of heat that comes on in the mid-palate that persists through the finish, so the thing you’re most left with is the heat.
Jameson Blended Irish Whiskey is almost by its very definition light and easy. It’s what the brand promise of Jameson is; however, side by side other Irish whiskeys in its class, it’s fairly unremarkable. Jameson is by no means a bad whiskey, it’s just not very exciting. The mid-palate heat gives it some legs, but there’s almost no complexity of any kind. Some of the flavor notes are nice but they vanish so quickly, it’s hard to enjoy them. Jameson Irish Whiskey Blend actually feels more like a good mixing whiskey (like the Michael Collins Blend) rather than something you’d want to sip or shoot. For shots, there are much smoother options, and to sip, more complex. We tip our hat to Jameson for putting whiskey in the glasses of so many drinkers, but we think that they’d do much better to upgrade to the Jameson Gold Reserve instead. Recommended.