Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jameson Black Barrel Reserve Review

Hapy St. Patrick's Day!
 I don't usually drink Irish whiskey, but I have this open, the wife still isn't home, and I'm trapped in the house while a thousand gobshites in green antennae are shit-facedly snogging and throwing shit all over my neighborhood. Which I assume has something to do with 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!

14 comments:

  1. I'm Irish on one side - grandparents immigrated - and I love corned beef. But my (non irish) mom made corned beef and cabbage once for my Irish grandfather. He said "this food is why I left the old country". He was kind of a prick.

    My love of corned beef is more a jewish deli thing than auld sod, anyhow.

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    1. I always say that my family came here mainly to get something to eat. I think the corned beef thing may have actually started in New York due to the proximity of Jewish and Irish immigrants. Thanks for reading!

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  2. I think you have undervalued this whiskey. I found this bottle to have delightful deep flavors. And for a cheap price!

    I also find it disturbing that you would prefer powers 12 over this or many other irish expessions. Jameson gold is a a very sweet dessert dram, also alarming. Now everyone has different pallets, perhaps you should consider this before flaming something so harshly.

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    1. I am very happy that your life is good that you find a review of $30 whiskey both "disturbing" and "alarming!"

      As you say, everyone's palate is different. This tastes to me like the blend of majority grain whisky that it undoubtedly is. As I point out, I am not purporting to be an expert in Irish whiskey, bit sadly, this remains the whiskey I have least enjoyed on this entire blog with the sole exception of Rebel Yell.

      Thanks, in any case for reading and participating in the discussion, and I hope perhaps our palates are more in agreement with other genres of whiskey.

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    2. sorry, first line should have read:
      I am very happy that your life is so good that you find a review of $30 whiskey both "disturbing" and "alarming!"

      Nothing like messing up a joke with a typo...

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  3. I'm a long time whiskey fan. It goes without saying that Red Breast is a few rungs above Jameson, however unless I'm celebrating something my everyday irish whiskey is regular Jameson. For a a bit more you can Black Barrel which is no doubt worth the extra cost. Black Barrel is made for people like me who enjoy Jameson but are looking for a bit of smoother finish. I actually prefer Black over the 12 year which I find too woody.

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    1. My sentiments exactly.... Black is a much smoother finish than 12... can't beat the $.

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  5. I think that your palate is lacking one thing... it's not about you it's about the consumer... So instead of bashing it why nottry describing it properly. Irish whisky does have an overly bitty approach but people like that. so talk about the bite and sweetness combined.

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    1. Hi Daniel,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the blog. This article has been my most controversial, but I write my honest and independent opinion of a whiskey, usually after several tastings.

      Have you had this whiskey?

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  6. Hi there. Based on your list of preferred Irish whiskeys, I have to assume we have a similar palate. I'm glad to have had your review at hand as I was debating whether to go quality or quantity in buying some whiskey for Husband's impending birthday. Thanks to it, I'm opting for a 1.75L of the regular stuff. Won't necessarily last longer, but we'll have a lot more fun getting to the bottom of the bottle!

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  7. Hey there WO,

    First of all, I would like to say thanks for the review. It's always nice to see someone with a differing opinion than the mainstream descriptions listed on sites mimicking that of the brands own. However, even though I may be partial to smoother, easier-to-the-finish whiskies as well as the fall weather pairings, I do enjoy to spiced cider element found within BBR. Although my opinion reflects that of the common phrase, "to each his own." Thank you again for the insightful description of your experience as I enjoy looking to find these notes from opinions different than my own in order better experience whisk(e)y neat.

    Also, to clear up the secondary issue of corned beef before it becomes to prevalent, corned beef can be (at this point) accurately dated back to the 17th century when the British Industrial Revolution had need for foods with non-perishable qualities. The English traded Irish corned beef for British civilian consumption and as provisions for the British naval fleets and North American armies. The rest you can put together seeing as I'm sure we all have some basis of understanding in what happened in history after the 17th century.

    Cheers!

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  8. Bought by accident, thought we had 12yr old. This whiskey is smooth and flavorful. I only drink Jamesons neat,as all upper shelf liquors. I rather like it. I don't enjoy the burnt sod taste of many "top shelf" scotches. This is drinkable. Nuff said.

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  9. what is the rose colored jamesons whiskey called that i drank last night?

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