Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Jameson Caskmates

jamesonpromoA confirmed truth: very few things hit the spot quite like a dram of whiskey after a big holiday meal.  With that in mind, this special edition of Tasting Notes features the craft beer-themed offering from Jameson Irish Whiskey (Dublin, Ireland) simply named Jameson Caskmates.

It is pretty safe to assume that the two beverages that see the most time on bar tops at Irish pubs are fine Irish Whiskeys and really good Irish Dry Stouts.  This being the case, it is kind of odd that there has yet to be a truly thoughtful attempt at bringing these two together.  Well . . . until now.  This all changed when the Master Distiller at Jameson Irish Whiskey and the Master Brewer at Franciscan Well Brewery (Cork, Ireland) sat down together and hatched a plan:

  • Step 1 – Jameson would send the brewery several used whiskey barrels.  The brewers at Franciscan Well would then fill these barrels with their Irish Stout.  Once the beer properly aged and picked up the complex notes of the Irish Whiskey tucked snugly away within the wood, the barrels would then be returned to the distillery.
  • Step 2 – Upon receiving the return shipment of the now Irish Stout-infused barrels, Jameson distillers would fill the casks once again with their classic Original Irish Whiskey.

Since they had never done anything like this before, all the distillers could really do at that point was wait and see what would be the result of this collaborative experiment.  When the aging process was finally completed, they found the whiskey’s “triple-distilled smoothness . . . very much intact” but it had also taken on Stout-influenced notes of “cocoa, coffee and butterscotch.”  The proper introduction of Irish Whiskey and Irish Stout had finally been achieved, and now we all get to enjoy these results in bottles of Jameson Caskmates – Stout Edition.  If you would like a taste of this unique offering, you can find this Stout-infused Whiskey available in 750ml bottles at fine liquor stores and bars across the United States.

Now that we have the story behind Jameson Caskmates covered, it is time to break out the whiskey glasses, sip, relax, and take down a few Tasting Notes.

Tasting Notes for Jameson Caskmates – Stout Edition from Jameson Irish Whiskey

Appearance:  With a pour of two fingers, this whiskey rests in the glass light golden in color with soft hues of brown burnishing the edges.  Although pristine in clarity, the still liquid displays mesmerizing, oily rings when presented with the right angle of light.  With a gentle swirl of the glass, the whiskey leaves lengthy, slick legs behind.

Aroma:  The presence of alcohol soaked grain and hay begin the experience.  Once given a little time to breathe, the aromatics open up and soften to reveal notes of citrus, pear and apple.  The stout-like characteristics are reserved, but they do grab your attention late by lending qualities of cocoa and coffee.  The aroma rounds off with some honey sweetness.

Taste:  Caramelized, bordering on burnt, brown sugar and earthy barley rush the palate to start.  These two notes take on toffee and butterscotch qualities that nicely complement the building stout flavors of roasted malt, coffee and bittersweet dark chocolate.  Slightly nutty, this offering finishes with notes of woodsy, charred oak and creamy vanilla.

Mouthfeel:  Slick in texture, the coating ability of this whiskey quickly grabs the attention of your taste buds.  Sweet on the palate, but far from being overly cloying.  At 80 Proof, any heat here is slow and comforting.  The finish is long, allowing notes of oak, vanilla and cocoa the opportunity to linger.

Final Thoughts:  Jameson Caskmates absolutely comes together as an offering that builds on the experience of Jameson Original.  That being said, craft beer fans need to realize that this is still an Irish Whiskey experience.  It must be noted that we are dealing with a 40% ABV Irish Whiskey here, so boozy notes of fine grain and charred oak do show some aggression at first sip.  When this happens, just slow down, sip gently and really take in the flavors resting on your palate.  If done correctly, you can reach that transcendental moment that reveals the Irish Stout-like notes of coffee, roasted malt, toffee and cocoa.  With a bit of patience, this whiskey will open up and a rush of familiar flavors will surface to absolutely blow your mind.  I had a blast exploring this offering, and I highly suggest that you sit down with a glass of Jameson Caskmates to experience it for yourself.  Prost!

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