Hapy St. Patrick's Day!
As one of Irish extraction, myself, I'm sort of torn between my enthusiasm for any celebration of our modest race and at the same time a little put off by the sterotypicity involved. Also, neither I nor any Irishman I know cares for corned beef.
Anyway, here is Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel Irish Whiskey. Bottled by John Jameson and Son in Dublin at 40% ABV, this cost me a bit north of $30.
As we all might have noticed, it seems that "black" is the new black in the spirit world, with Crown Royal Black, Courvosier Black, Cuervo Black, etc, pandering to our more melanotic desires, as well as the more longstanding JW Black and Black Bowmore. I think it usually means more wood is involved.
This is positioned as a step up from standard Jameson, but not all the way up to the 12. Apparently there is more pot still whiskey in this than the standard bottling, but they are both blended whiskeys. This brings me to why I so rarely like Irish whiskey, it is usually pot still (lovely) blended with grain whiskey (vodka). Just like blended American or Scotch whiskey, it is the rare whiskey that is improved by the addition of neutral spirits. This is why Redbreast is so appealing and Jameson is usually used for shots. Anyway, the black barrel offers:
Nose: Grain and barley notes similar to unpeated scotch, some apples a touch ot "pot still funk," and very little barrel influence. Clean overall, but not inspiring.
Palate: Caramel, apples and a hint of vanilla that makes me suspect refill bourbon casks used in maturation. The palate is hot and thin, the latter consistent with its 80 proof. The palate is also a bit bitter. Fairly boring.
Finish: Slightly oily, sweet and ends with a touch of bitterness and mint.
Overall, I wish I could like this whiskey, but I just don't. I want to like Irish as a category, but have found few good examples. Redbreast, Jameson Gold and Powers 12 are all lovely and I wish I had some for today. On the other hand most are like this one: mostly water, neutral spirits and, I suspect, tired cooperage. I've been hearing about the recent Irish whiskey Renaissance, but this guy ain't it. I will still look for the Power's John Lane, the Green and Yellow spots and will continue to hope for the Jameson Gold to go on sale, but this, like the standard Jameson, is really only fit for shots which, unlike the hooligans outside, I try to avoid.
Happy SPD anyway!