In anticipation of the up-and-coming St Patrick's Day holiday, and an impending trip to Midleton Distillery over the holiday weekend, I thought it only right to bring you all a quick review of a Jameson whiskey that is quickly gathering a cult following amongst the collectors out there.
I am, of course, talking about Jameson "Caskmates".
This limited edition whiskey is born out of a collaboration between Midleton Distillery and the Franciscan Well Brewery which is based in Cork City. After managing to get their hands on a few Jameson casks, Franciscan Well aged some of their stout in the barrels as an experimentation.
Once finished with, the casks were returned to Jameson who decided to give the process of experimentation a rattle themselves. Jameson took their blended spirit, at around 60%ABV, and filled the newly returned barrels for around 6 months.
The results were deemed to be so successful that Jameson set about releasing 3,500 bottles of the "beer finished" whiskey for us all to enjoy and it was with this release that "Caskmates" was born.
Released with a RRP of €35 the majority of bottles were quickly snapped up all over Ireland and are now rather difficult to track down. The rarity of these bottles has also allowed the "collectors" and "investors" to cash in with many now appearing on various auction sites and one screenshot, I viewed back in January, showed a bottle going for at least £200...CRAZY!!
Thankfully though I managed to nab a couple of bottles at a proper price.
Rumour also has it that a second release is in the planning so keep your eyes peeled for those hitting the shelves.
Onto my notes:
Nose - What's immediately obvious that this whiskey has taken on a very new identity indeed. The Irish style is not the first thing that hits you but rather an almost metallic, hoppy beer note. The stout has had a serious effect on this spirit. Undeniably youthful but well balanced with light grain and fresh citrus lemon integrating well with the touches of dark beer. Coffee is suggested in official tasting notes but is not a prominent as you'd think. The richness eases off and allows the young spirit to come to the fore with more of a light, gentle sweetness that's bordering on perfumed. Light pepper sits nicely in the background and just keeps the pot still identity present.
Palate - Much deeper on the palate than on the nose. Again the stout is ever present and gives a dark rich flavour to the whiskey that again has a slight metallic note to it. As the deep flavours recede the light grain comes back in and holds up nicely with a slight dryness. Dry spice comes through and there's a further feel of light lemon and some green apple.
Finish - In fairness short but sure just take another sip and enjoy it all over again.
Overall this is a whiskey that hits the mark. It's not out there to blow you away with depth and complexity but it has plenty of it in it's own right. It was brought together as an experiment and for me it has really worked.
The balance of flavours are spot on and this is, quite simply, great fun to drink.
At €35 this is a dram that's affordable and not lacking in care and presentation. Some other companies should take note. Whilst it may be hard to find there are still bottles knocking about and, for me, they are well worth seeking out.
As I said it's not the most breath-taking whiskey you'll drink this year but I doubt you'll drink anything that's more "fun".
**Update - Since this was written, Jameson have now launched a newer version of Caskmates on a wider scale and into the U.S. market.**
Until next time,