In early February I visited the Jameson Irish Whiskey distillery - actually two of them.
The original Jameson distillery is in Dublin, but it is no longer made there. In 1971 it moved to the Midleton distillery in Cork. The reason is because in the late 1960's Irish Distillers was formed, a merger of Jameson, Powers, and Cork distilleries.
In Dublin there is a visitors' center and restaurant. We went there first. I've got to admit, they did a really good job making a non-working distillery look working, using dioramas and original distillery parts but with fake ingredients pumping through them.
The next day we went to the new distillery in Cork. But actually it's the new-new distillery, located next to the old one.
Here we skipped the typical tour in favor of an in-depth one.
Jameson Fun Facts
- Triple-distilled, as opposed to most scotch's twice-distilled
- The old pot still here is gargantuan, probably one of the largest in the world. That is no longer used in favor of two wash stills half the size- that are still pretty huge.
- All of the pot-still whisky made here is made on the same four stills: two wash stills, 1 feints still, and one spirit still
- There are also several column stills as Jameson is blended whiskey.
- Redbreast (available in US) and Green Spot (not) are all pot-still whiskeys.
- They also make Middleton, Powers, and Paddy here, plus a couple other brands
- They distill Tullamore Dew here under contract
- Most Jameson uses ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Some (Rarest Reserve) uses ex-port barrels
- Sherry butts are prepared by putting oloroso sherry (that has already aged the minimum of three years to be called sherry) into new casks for two years to prepare them.
- Their pot-still spirit is a combination of malted and unmalted barley. If it's all pot-still whiskey, it is called "Irish pot still." Bushmills is "Irish malt" as it uses all malted barley.
- They don't make a big deal about yeast strains here - use a "standard distilling yeast"
- We nosed 100% malted distillate vs. malt/unmalt blend. The malted smelled more fruity and esthery than the blend
- Due to the weather, there isn't a great temperature variation in the barrel warehouses, and only 2% angel's share per year
- Jameson and Jameson 12 have opposite ratios of pot to column distilled spirit in them, though they don't say the ratios.
- Jameson 18 tastes like green caramel apples
- Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve tastes like the inside of banana peels, coconut flakes, pineapple gum arabic. It is the yumz.
- Only before 1800 was Irish whisky peated, and much of that would have been poteen rather than whisky. Around 1800 large-scale production became legal in Ireland and everyone moved to using coal rather than peat. So really in modern Irish whisky making there is no tradition of peating.