A few years ago, John Hansell selected Jameson 18 Year Old for one of the Malt Advocate awards. To let me know why, he sent me a 50 ml sample bottle. I was mightily pleased; it was awesome. I saved a bit in the bottle, and I'll be honest with you: occasionally, I just open the bottle and smell the stuff.
Last week an acquaintance sent me a bottle (thanks again, acquaintance). And partly to balance all the time I've been giving Bushmills lately, and partly because whiskey ought to get its due in the mad rush to 365 posts that I'm doing, but mostly because I just can't wait any longer to open it, I thought I'd give you a note on it.
Jameson Master Selection Irish Whiskey 18 Years Old: A Blend. It's a beautiful bottle, really, slender and curvy without being silly. I love the first gluh-gluh-gluh-glugggguhh out of a new bottle of whiskey, the way it catches on the shoulder of the bottle. The 18 is a lustrous gold dram, sparkling in my nosing glass. The aroma is all about malt, and vanilla, and little teasing notes of flowers, full summer flowers. It's sweet, but not perfumey.
Oh, God, that is wonderful, and just as I remember it. This is such juicy stuff, and there's a definite one-two character to it. There's the first pure rush of malt fire, followed by a splash of sweet nectar, like butter candy melted thin and cool, or maybe the lightest, most delicate caramel top on a creme brulee that you can imagine. Jameson is so distinctive, it is one whiskey I do feel confident I'd pick out in a totally blind tasting.
This 18 Year Old in particular is especially delicious: sweet, soft, lyrical, but engagingly multi-layered and rewarding. It is, as I believe John said, almost flawless. I'm going to hide this one away, for when the very best of friends comes over.
John thinks this might be a big year for Irish whiskey. (Looks like this bottling may be undergoing a name change, too.) In the course of writing a piece for Massachusetts Beverage Business, I learned that Irish whiskey's been growing faster than craft beer over the past few years, and that's saying something. I've really discovered Irish whiskey in the past four years, and it's been fantastic. If you don't know Irish, time to get acquainted.