CASK STRENGTH | JAMESON BOW ST 18
What’s an address? Purely a location, a pin on the map, a regional identifier? For Jameson, it’s so much more. It’s the start of a legacy that would not only define a city, or a country, but the entire world of whiskey.
It was the place that John Jameson created his globally famed Pot Still Whiskey, and also the location Jameson housed many of the Bow St Distillery workers in the early 1900’s, at a time when living conditions in the region were at their most severe. Such is the nature of the institution – a term not used lightly – that the Bow St distillery formed the cornerstone of Irish whiskey for many years.
A combination of Prohibition, World Wars and Trade embargoes resulted in the formation of the Irish Distillers, which is now responsible for keeping the flame of Irish whiskey alive, and of which Jameson is very much the heart of. While the bulk of Jameson’s processes now take place at expanded facilities in Midleton, Co Cork, the final stage of the maturation of this new Bow St 18 actually happens on Bow Street, a nod to the traditional John Jameson’s distilling legacy in Smithfield.
As we journeyed through the newly renovated Smithfield Distillery on Bow Street, it wasn’t long before all in the group came to the same conclusion; this legacy is tangible. With the complexities of the blending process cinematically explained, it was now my turn to try blending, as I humbly attempted to recreate the composition of the new Bow St 18 release under the watchful eye of Master Blender Billy Leighton. I created something that was somewhat drinkable, if not unbalanced with the ’98 Grain Sherry cask matured Whiskey variant, a particular favourite of mine.
While my resulting ‘concoction’ quite miraculously shared the same ABV as the soon to be released Jameson Bow Street 18 Whiskey (55.3%), the similarities ended there, as Master Blender Billy Leighton surgically proceeds to point out. On the Jameson Bow St 18 Billy continued:
“We’ve put our own Jameson stamp on it by using first-fill bourbon barrels, whereas the traditional approach would be to use casks multiple times. I like to think of the whiskey getting engaged in Midleton and then “married” in Dublin!”
A romantic notion, one backed up by pride in heritage as much as the final product. Jameson don’t seemingly have employees or staff, but family – both literally and metaphorically speaking – and a large one at that, transcending generation and overcoming adversity as a team. Nothing epitomises this more than the way the team handled a recent tragedy which – quite rightly — pushed back the launch of this momentous whiskey.
Even the bottle itself tells part of the Jameson story, featuring 18 facets – one for each year of maturation – and housed in a wooden presentation box celebrating the traditional pot stills used during the production process.
One thing is certain; Jameson’s Smithfield Distillery location may be a pin on the map, but one gleaming brightly and radiating like the effervescent copper stills they use to create the drink that has fuelled their growth for over a century. In Jameson Bow Street 18 Years Cask Strength, they have created a fitting tribute.
The first batch will be released at 55.3% ABV without the use of chill filtration and is available in 20 markets from July 2018 at a RRP of €240.