Jameson Irish Whiskey in Dublin
Jameson is a single distillery Irish whiskey produced by a division of the French distiller Pernod Ricard. Jameson is similar in its adherence to the single distillery principle to the single malt tradition, but Jameson combines malted barley with unmalted or "green" barley. The most famous component within Jameson is the "Pure Pot Still" distilling tradition.
The company was established in 1780 when John Jameson established the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. Jameson was Scottish, a lawyer from Alloa who had married Margaret Haig, a sister of the brothers who founded the main Haig firms, and related to the Steins, a Scottish distilling family with interests in Dublin. Portraits of John and Margaret Jameson by Sir Henry Raeburn are in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland.
Originally one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys, Jameson is now distilled in Cork, although vatting still takes place in Dublin. With annual sales of over 31 million bottles, Jameson is by far the best selling Irish whiskey in the world, as it has been sold internationally since the early 19th century when John Jameson along with his son (also named John) was producing more than a million gallons annually.
When John Jameson, a Scottish businessman, acquired the Bow Street Distillery in 1780, it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the 19th century, it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world, producing 1,000,000 gallons annually. Dublin at the time was the centre of world whiskey production. It was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum and internationally Jameson had by 1805 become the world's number one whiskey. Today, Jameson is the world's third largest single-distillery whiskey.
Historical events, for a time, set the company back. The temperance movement in Ireland had an enormous impact domestically but the two key events that affected Jameson were the Irish War of Independence and subsequent trade war with the British which denied Jameson the export markets of the Commonwealth, and shortly thereafter, the introduction of prohibition in the United States. While Scottish brands could easily slip across the Canadian border, Jameson was excluded from its biggest market for many years.
The introduction of column stills by the Scottish blenders in the mid-19th-century enabled increased production that the Irish, still using the Pure Pot Still, could not compete with. There was a legal enquiry in 1908 to deal with the trade definition of whiskey. The Scottish producers won and blends became recognised in law as whiskey. The Irish in general, and Jameson in particular, stubbornly continued with the traditional Pure Pot Still production process for many years and to this day much of Jameson remains Pure Pot. Jameson also produces a special limited edition Pure Pot Still Whiskey named Redbreast, as a celebration of the ancient Irish craft of whiskey making.
In 1966 John Jameson joined forces with Cork Distillers and John Powers to form the Irish Distillers Group. The New Midleton Distillery built by Irish Distillers produces most of the Irish whiskey sold in Ireland. The new facility adjoins the old one, now a tourist attraction. The Jameson brand was acquired by French drinks conglomerate Pernod Ricard in 1988, when it bought Irish Distillers.
In 2008 The Local, an Irish pub in Minneapolis, sold 671 cases of Jameson (22 bottles a day.) making them the largest server of Jameson's in the world, a title they have been able to maintain for four consecutive years.
As well as Jameson Original, the Jameson Reserves include:
- Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve (Formerly known as Jameson 1780)
- Jameson 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve exclusive to the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield, Dublin and the Jameson Single Distillery at Midleton, in Cork.
- Jameson Gold Reserve (the only expression of Jameson that uses virgin American oak).
- Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve
- Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve (Jameson's oldest and rarest whiskey components).
- Jameson Signature Reserve (exclusive to Travel Retail & Duty Free outlets around the world)
- Jameson Select Reserve Small Batch (only available in South Africa at this time)
Making Irish whiskey
Jameson Irish whiskey is produced from a mixture of malted and unmalted or "green" Irish barley, all sourced from within a fifty mile radius around the distillery in Cork. The barley is dried in a closed kiln fired by clean-burning anthracite coal to preserve its flavour. Like most Irish whiskey, Jameson is triple distilled for optimum smoothness. The philosophy is balance, ensuring that no one flavour element overpowers another. The end result is a sweet-tasting whiskey.
By the early 19th century, the distillery was producing one million gallons (3,785,412 litres) of whiskey per year and had grown to be the largest in the world. The production has now moved to the Midleton distillery and the Bow Street site is currently a museum and visitors centre. Jameson is made following the original 1780 recipe that uses malted barley combined with unmalted barley and other grains. It is distilled three times in copper pot stills to create its famous smoothness and flavour. Jameson sells 30 million bottles a year around the world, making it by far the best selling Irish whiskey.
Jameson products — in particular its 18-Year and its Rarest Reserve — have rated very highly at international spirit ratings competitions. The 18-Year received a series of gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2005 and 2010. The Rarest Reserve has won gold and double gold medals there as well. Rarest Reserve is rated as one of the Top 20 whiskies in the world by Proof66.
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