It's St. Patrick's Day today, so what better way to celebrate than with some fine Irish whiskey. I've been lucky enough to be included in tonight's Jameson Twitter Tasting, hosted by the marvellous folks at The Whisky Wire.
I've tasted Jameson's original level whiskey before (and rather liked it), so I'm eager to explore some of their other expressions. Tonight's Tasting includes three of their Reserve releases, in addition to the original.
Jameson Original is the most commonly available of the range, and one that I've tasted before. It's also the palest of the lot, although the picture above doesn't make that very clear.
The nose is sweet, with delicate warm citrus notes and a slightly sharp fruitiness that I'm struggling to pin down until the folks on Twitter nail it – gooseberry. Over time, the aromas shift and become more honey, and overripe pears.
Water brings out a much woodier character, losing some of that sweetness and releasing some cardamom spice notes.
On the tongue, it's light and honey sweet with a hint of some delicate melon fruit and just a slight touch of pepper at the very end. Water brings those fruit flavours out more along with gently toasted wood, bringing a little welcome depth to the flavour.
Jameson Gold Reserve is a blend of three aged whiskies including, unusually, one which has been matured in virgin oak barrels – whiskey has traditionally always been aged in used barrels.
The nose is much more powerful, richer with tangerine fruit, pale sherry and a much bigger alcohol hit than I would have expected at 40%. There is also, bizarrely, what I can only describe as a hint of beeswax in the background.
Watered, the nose is calmed down and becomes softer, creamier almost to the point of being buttery.
In the mouth, it's slightly oily and nutty, with a dark, caramel sweetness to it and a pepper spice that slowly builds to a substantial finish. Chocolate is mentioned on Twitter, and I realise it's not so much the flavour but rather the mouthfeel of the cocoa butter.
Unusually, water doesn't seem to impact the flavours significantly.
Jameson Select Reserve is next up.
The sweetness on the nose is much more like candy sugar than the heavier, honey tones of the previous drams. There are boiled sweet tones too, pear drops and perhaps a touch of lemon sherbet, but I'm not getting the tropical fruit basket that many of my fellow Twitter Tasters are getting. Then again, I'm not sure I'd recognise the smell of papaya anyway!
Water exposes more of those boiled sweet fruit aromas, a subtle creaminess and some touches of vanilla peaking through.
The honey comes back in the flavour, stickily coating your tongue along with more tropical fruit notes. The spice is sharp but not hot, and lasts impressively long after you've swallowed.
Water again doesn't drastically change the flavours; the pepper is reduced a little but there's still plenty of sweet honey backed up with ripe, sweet tropical fruit.
Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve is the only whiskey of the evening that is over 40% ABV, coming in at 46%.
The first thought on the nose is that it's like smelling a bourbon; soft brown sugar, old polished wood, vanilla and the suggestion of old madeira wine. Over time, red berries start to come through.
Watered, the sweet red fruits come through more strongly, but the wood is retained along with worn leather.
Rich and fruity on the tongue, it's almost port-like – black cherries, old wood, creme brulee and even a hint of turkish delight. Twitter helps me identify some blackcurrant tones too, both in flavour and a dry, slightly acidic finish.
Water calms the sweet fruit down a little, but helps the blackcurrant to reveal itself more and brings a jam-like character out.
Many thanks to Jameson and The Whisky Wire for this evening.
This review was originally published 17th March, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.