I have to start off this series of reviews of Irish whiskey with a confession: I’m not a big fan of triple distilled whiskey. This is not snobbery, I just find that the third distillation adds a certain musty note that I find rather disagreeable (yes, also in most Auchentoshan expressions). Yet, in a category with so many different whiskies and the care that goes into crafting those that are higher up on the rungs, it is incumbent upon me to keep tasting and trying different expressions, and try to asses them for what they are. I’ll also answer the question I know is on the tip of your tongue: No, I don’t find that note in either Springbank or Mortlach, and have not had the opportunity to actually sit down seriously with Springbank’s Hazelburn (other than a quick taste of the 12 year old) to actually see how I fare with it.
With that caveat aside, I took to tasting a flight of Irish whiskies which included the Jameson Caskmates, four Redbreast expressions and a Cooley in a Madeira finish.
This first expression is the Jameson Caskmates. I’ll admit to have come to this whiskey with absolutely no expectations. I mean a NAS Jameson, at 40% ABV, right? WRONG!!
This dram was actually surprising, going well beyond anything I expected. The story of this expression is that some Jameson whiskey was finished in casks that were seasoned with Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery stout, and they even made a cute video
The result is surprisingly good, to the point of me wondering how it would be at cask strength. That happens for me only with drams I like.
Jameson Caskmates (40% ABV)
Appearance: Copper, thin and quick legs.
Nose: White wine, pineapple, coconut, pine nettles, some herbal notes, thyme, lemongrass and a hint of eucalyptus. After some time you get light pickle in vinegar with some bourbon like notes.
Palate: Sweet caramel, popcorn, sort of an unsweet bourbon, hints of red apple peel, some acetone and spice.
Linger: Sweet on the tongue with bitter citrus in the back of the throat, with overtones of spice. The finish is surprisingly bitter and very rewarding.
Definitely a dram that exceeded any expectation I had of it. I was honestly expecting a NASty triple distilled disaster, and was wholly taken by surprise by this expression. This is actually a bottle I’d buy….
Might this be a turning point in my relationship with Irish Whiskey?