Jameson is known as an iconic Irish Whiskey with centuries of heritage behind its characteristic green bottles. With an expanding range of products the people behind the brand are keeping an eye toward innovation while staying grounded in the smooth flavor profile that has won over the palates of imbibers worldwide. As they look forward to new projects and upcoming limited releases, staying grounded in their own tradition is front and center.
One of the hallmarks of Jameson is a sense of community. In its early days, the original Bow Street distillery in Dublin provided jobs that sustained hundreds of families. Today, master distiller Brian Nation’s first point is that it still takes a village:
“What’s very important...to realize is that it’s not about one or two people, it’s about everybody that’s in the Jameson family who works so closely together. We all have the same goal in mind, which is to produce the best whiskey we possible can and innovate as much as we possibly can, and have a good time doing it!”
There is a great sense of pride in finding inspiration from within the company, whatever their positions may be, and Nation recognizes that new team members and assistants to the masters often spark conversation that leads to new ideas. Alongside innovation from within, Jameson pays attention to the tastes of their loyal drinkers Nation explains: “we do a lot of research with our consumers to see what they are looking for next and what the important qualities in an Irish whiskey are to them.”
Master Blender Billy Leighton looks toward consumer trends as an essential part of his role. “Forecasting is a huge part of [the job] for a blender [in order] to keep the stocks of the flavor profiles that will satisfy the consumers,” shares Leighton. For a whiskey that will age a total of 18 years this means looking forward decades into the future, as Leighton describes: “we need to know the forecast for the next 18 years, but it’s not just 18 years...we need a 10 year forecast so...I have to take my demand for Jameson 18 another 10 years; so for one product I need a forecast for 28 years.” Taking into account lead times for cask procurement and distillate inventory there’s often 40 years of plans laid out at any given time.
One project that was not forecasted, but rather took shape as circumstances allowed is the Jameson 18 Bow Street. Present day distillation takes place in Cork, and the original Bow Street location has been converted into a visitor center and barrel aging facility. In an effort to reconnect with the place where it all started, Jameson has been aging a special blend in Dublin for the last 18 years and has plans to release it the summer of 2018. The current Jameson 18 Year Old won the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman’s Trophy for Irish Whiskey with 96 Points. The nose on this whiskey has aromas of vanilla, orange zest, and freshly pulled espresso. The palate is brilliantly balanced with flavors of white chocolate, caramel, oak, and vanilla butter cookies with a warm, lingering finish.