Whiskey Review: Jameson Distillery Edition

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and that means green beer, a green river (if you are in Chicago), and Irish whiskey — because it’s the one day we are all Irish. The number one Irish whiskey in the world is Jameson, and we’ve previously reviewed a couple of their other versions including Caskmates Stout Edition, Caskmates IPA Edition, and most recently Crested. But before we start to celebrate on March 17th, I thought we should take a look at one of the most exclusive versions of their product: the Distillery Edition, only available at the County Cork or Bow Street distilleries.



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. 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.


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 it: “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 formerly used to age bourbon, and casks that formally 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 is typically a 50/50 blend from those barrels. The Crested version we just reviewed places a heavier emphasis on the sherry barrels, but the Distillery Edition flips that ratio around with an 80% emphasis on the ex-bourbon barrels.


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

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 metal screw top. The label features the Distillery Edition name prominently, and has what looks to be a old ink stamp of the Bow Street Distillery featured in the center. The design looks very clean and modern, which I appreciate for a distillery-exclusive bottle of an iconic brand.

This design 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 for this varietal.



The first thing I notice is the aroma of fresh sugar cane mixed with a pleasant yet mild vanilla. There are also notes of tropical fruit — specifically, mango comes to mind. It’s all pulled together with a rich, buttery aroma.

This Irish whiskey drinks remarkably like a bourbon, which is not surprising given the time it spent in ex-bourbon barrels. There are bold notes of orange, brown sugar, ginger, and peach. These fruit notes seem to bookend the flavors, giving it a sweet lead-in and conclusion.

There is a mild black pepper flavor but not a lot of burn, which I attribute to the triple distillation process. The finish has a rich vanilla flavor, and – most surprisingly – herbal basil. One thing I am stupefied about is where the buttery flavor went, since it was such a strong aroma on the nose but is completely absent in the taste.

On Ice

Ah – there is that buttery flavor. It seems that the ice opens up the flavor profile more, most notably adding a full-bodied buttery texture and flavor to the drink. It almost reminds me of that fake stuff you find on movie theater popcorn (in a good way).

In addition to that buttery flavor, the orange and peach are still very apparent, as is a mild vanilla that all add some depth and complexity to the spirit.

This drinks very smoothly on the rocks. Unlike a standard bourbon, it’s got some deeper complexity due to the sherry barrels, which I suspect is where the fruity notes are coming from. One change from trying this neat is that there is now little to no black pepper flavor and no burn.

I don’t think you can go wrong with this neat or on the rocks.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

You don’t really ever hear about a Jameson Old Fashioned… and I can see why.  This is just okay (or, as popularized on The Simpsons, “meh”).

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad old fashioned, it’s just underwhelming. All of the flavors are in good balance, and the whiskey is the star of the show. It’s technically everything you want, but nothing about this drink is unique or special. There are plenty of other choices for the spirit in this cocktail, and there’s no discernible reason to pick this one.

Cocktail (Fizz)

Much like the old fashioned, this drink is solidly middle of the road. The spirit comes across a little lighter than I would prefer in the cocktail, but that is not the big problem — the real issue is that this could be almost any whiskey instead, and you’d have the same experience. 

If you are really wanting a Kentucky mule and you only have a bottle of this on hand, I would recommend that you stick to the tried and true Jamo-and-Ginger drink instead.


Overall Rating

I like this bottle more than the standard Jameson offering. It has more depth of flavor and levels of complexity.  It’s good on the rocks and neat, but it doesn’t really stand up well in cocktails… or rather, not well enough to justify 65 euros and a trans-Atlantic flight.

That said, if you are ever in Dublin I would highly recommend the Bow Street Distillery tour. It’s immersive and they do a fantastic job explaining the process and highlighting what makes Irish whiskey different. It’s definitely the best distillery tour of a facility that does not do any distilling.

I do appreciate the fact that the Jameson distillers continue to iterate and experiment with their product. There is so much that can be done in this space, it’s exciting to see such a long tenured brand really branch out. 


Jameson Distillery Edition Irish Whiskey
Produced By: Jameson
Owned By: Pernod Ricard
Production Location: Ireland
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: 3 Years
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $75.59 / 750 ml
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: 3/5
A solid bottle to uplevel your St Patrick’s Day – just make sure you visit Dublin with a spare suitcase before.


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