Whiskey Review: Jameson Crested Blended Irish Whiskey

Jameson is probably the most famous Irish whiskey in the world, one of those ubiquitous spirits where just about everyone who has ever raised a glass has given it a shot. There are several varieties that have been released over the years (including the Caskmates Stout Edition and Caskmates IPA Edition that we’ve previously reviewed). While I was in Dublin, I took a tour of the Bow Street Distillery and learned of their Crested edition, a variety that I never knew existed, and I picked up a bottle and flew it back to the states with me to give it a proper test.



The Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, Ireland was established in 1780 by the Stein family. They started producing their version of a distilled whiskey and by 1786 they were cranking out about 30,000 gallons a year. It was at this point when Scottish businessman John Jameson joined as manager of the business and within fifteen years of his joining, the distillery would be the second largest producer of distilled spirits in Ireland and turning out one million barrels per year.

A few years later, in 1805, Jameson bought out the Stein family and became the sole proprietor of the distillery. This started an ambitious expansion of the facility that would eventually extend to a full five acres of land by 1886 and included all the necessary facilities to produce whiskey including an on-site barrel manufacturer.

Following some hard times during the American prohibition and two world wars, Jameson merged with two other longtime competitors to create the Irish Distiller’s Group conglomerate in an attempt to reduce production costs by combining their efforts. Jameson closed their original distillery in 1976 and moved to a combined facility in Middleton. French company Pernod Ricard later purchased the Irish Distiller’s Group in 1988, and continue to own the Middleton distillery and produce Jameson Irish whiskey from there to this day.

The original Bow Street distillery was renovated in 2016 and now serves as a tourist attraction designed to increase interest in Irish whiskey tastings.


The Jameson Irish Whiskey is a blended whiskey, which means the final product is comes from the blending of multiple whiskeys each with a different mashbill, distilling processes, aging requirements, and barrels.  Specifically there are two strains of whiskey of note that are combined to make the product we see here today.

The first whiskey is what you probably think of when you hear “Irish whiskey” and comes from a blend of malted and un-malted Irish barley that is sourced from within fifty miles of the distillery. The grains are dried using natural gas kilns (unlike the peat fired kilns used in Scotland), fermented with water from the Dungourney river, and then distilled three times in batches within their small pot stills.

The second whiskey can be thought of like a filler, an alcoholic blank canvas, and is distilled much like a neutral grain spirit might be. It starts as corn grown in the south of France, as they explain: “Ireland’s famous climate is anything but tropical, so that’s why we use a farmer in the South of France to provide us with all our non-genetically modified maize”.  This grain is cooked, fermented, and then distilled three times in a column still.

The combination of spirits are then added to a combination of two kinds of previously used barrels: American oak barrels that were formally used to age bourbon, and casks that formerly housed sherry. To meet the legal requirement the whiskey must age for at least three years on the island — and while Jameson does not disclose the actual aging time, it does suggest that they typically age for longer than the minimum three years.

When the whiskey is ready, expert blenders combine whiskey from both the ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels to create the final product. The original Jameson that everyone knows (and loves?) is typically a 50/50 blend from those barrels, but this Crested version changes that ratio to something closer to 80/20 with an emphasis on the ex-sherry barrels.


Jameson sends their Irish whiskey out in rather standard shaped glass bottles, with the minor change of being green tinted instead of the more common clear or brown (perhaps a nod to the Emerald Isle). Because of the popularity of this spirit, the standard Jameson bottle has a very recognizable design and shape — but this bottle changes that up a bit by using clear glass. Otherwise, though, the shape and general labeling of the bottle is the same.

The bottle is wrapped in a yellowed label that bears the name and arms of Jameson and capped with a wood and synthetic cork, which is a step up from the usual metal screw top. The label features an ‘X’ feature in the background, and several golden splatters meant to represent the first drops of whiskey distilled at Bow Street.

This version takes the iconic Jameson bottle and steps it up. The label is more interesting, the stopper feels more high-end, and the use of clear glass allows the whiskey to really be on display.



As soon as you crack the cork, the aroma really lets you know that this is a sherry-heavy bottle, and I’m here for it. There are some fruity and sweet aromas coming off the glass; specifically, apricot and fruit wine that come through very plainly.

Unfortunately, my dreams of sweet and fruity sherry-tinted whiskey are dashed with the first sip. It’s very thin and slightly sour, lighter and less viscous than I had expected looking at the liquid. The most prominent flavors are a little bit of sweetness and some faint oak flavor, which might make sense given the lighter toasting that cooperages usually put on sherry casks versus the thick crocodile char that you get on a bourbon barrel, but that could also just be what you get when you add so much corn whiskey into the mix.

Looking deeper, there are some mild fruit flavors throughout, but they are easy to miss and pretty nondescript. The strangest part to me is the aftertaste, which has the taste of some sticky caramel that you threw on the floor, allowed to get kicked around for a while, and then decided to eat anyway… in other words, it’s just not pleasant.

Taken neat, this whiskey drinks more like a barrel gin – or maybe Rich & Rare… which is not a compliment for any whiskey.

On Ice

When you enjoy some really delicious bourbon on the rocks, the flavor profile typically will open up and reveal new flavors. In this case, it just seems to open up to a bad car interior. 

The dirty caramel flavor is still there, but this time it’s been chilling on the floorboards of an ’88 Chevy Nova. It might actually be more of a pronounced flavor on the rocks – which is interesting, since all of the other flavors are there, as well. Mild sweetness, nondescript fruit, and lightly toasted oak all make their appearance. Usually we’d see these notes significantly reduced, but instead the awful parts of the experience have just been accentuated.

The bright side is that both neat and on the rocks, there is little to no burn. Small miracles, I suppose.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

I love a good old fashioned. It might be a boring cocktail to proclaim love for, but it fits with my “get off my lawn” personality (ignoring the lack of an actual lawn, since I live in Chicago). However, I might have to take a break from making them for a while after this atrocity.

It’s all angostura bitters, sugar, and orange — the whiskey is almost non-existent in the favor profile. You can barely tell that any whiskey went into the glass. Heck, the Few Barrel Gin that we’ve reviewed makes a better old fashioned. 

It would have been nice to see more of the sherry flavor profile come out here. The fruit and sweetness had the potential to make a good (or at least decent) cocktail, and the depth and richness that a sherry can bring would be ideal in this situation. Instead, this one is headed straight for the drain.

Cocktail (Fizz)

After the old fashioned, I was not expecting much here. And unsurprisingly I did not get much… but credit where credit is due, I did get a little more effort here and a slightly better result.

The effervescent ginger beer and squeeze of lime seem to have given a slight boost to some of the fruit flavors, and you can taste a flavor that is closer to sherry behind the ginger beer. I think the OG Jameson makes a better mule, but this would do in a pinch.


Overall Rating

It’s a bottle only available in the European market (or at least that was the case when I purchased it), and it took a ride across the Atlantic… but I’m not sure if it was worth the extra weight in my luggage. 

The sherry casks don’t seem to have had a huge impact on the end result. There are some hints of fruit and sweetness, but I feel like the heavy use of corn whiskey has diluted that flavor and hasn’t given it any fertile ground to take root. Even from the barrels themselves, something is missing, as there is a clear lack of rich oak flavor that you would get from more ex-bourbon barrels.

Yes, it’s an exclusive bottle found only across the pond, but I would recommend that you find it at a bar and try a shot if you’re really hell-bent on trying this. There is no need to invest in the bottle.

Jameson Crested Blended Irish Whiskey
Produced By: Jameson
Owned By: Pernod Ricard
Production Location: Ireland
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: 3 Years
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $46.51 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 1/5
This European-exclusive Jameson is one I should have left in Europe.


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