When it comes to a delicious crowd-pleasing Irish whisky, it’s hard to get past old faithful Jameson to tick the right boxes every time. The iconic green bottle, beige label and candy-apple red lid are all symbolic of one of the world’s most popular whiskies, and one which has celebrated popularity for a long time with good reason: it’s a top drop.
Smooth and delicate with the right amount of spice and lighter fruity notes at the top, though with little complexity, Jameson might not sit on a list of “premium” whiskies, but nor should it. It’s the everyman’s Irish dram; perfect as a shot, something to sip on, as a mixer or in a plethora of cocktails. Its versatility, in fact, may be its greatest asset, and all at a very affordable price.
But a new member of the Jameson family has been gracing the shelves of all good bottle shops for a few years now, and with multiple iterations having now been released, we thought it was time to take a look at Jameson Caskmates.
What started as a mash-up between a local brewery in Dublin and the whisky-producing giant has become a way for Jameson to showcase some of the different qualities its whisky will display when ages slightly differently, as well as help plug a few local breweries along the way.
Only recently the company released a Caskmates collaboration with Newtown brewers Young Henrys, and the continuation of the concept has more recently led to an IPA edition.
Caskmates, to be more specific, sees Jameson send some of their barrels to a brewery to be filled with beer, which is then aged in said barrels for a nominal amount of time. When the beer is ready to be removed from the barrels and then sold, the barrels (which are now seasoned with yummy, yummy beer) are sent back to Jameson to be refilled with whisky, which is then finished in these casks.
Hence the name “Caskmates”.
So, if it’s the same whisky, and isn’t aged for a significant enough amount of time longer to be stated on the label, then why is it between 10 and 20 bucks a bottle more than the regular Jameson? Well, while the juice may have the same origins, Caskmates is actually a really interesting way to approach Jameson whisky, and the results of the experiment speak for themselves.
While the first iteration, a Stout edition, showed subtle and nuanced differences to the flagship, the IPA edition Caskmates is like drinking a Jameson that has seen the light, donned its dancing shoes and taken itself to the races. Bright, vibrant and with a luscious mouthfeel, its fruity characteristics upfront are distinctively “Jameson”, but with more roundness and much more balanced finish.
The floral, hoppy notes of an IPA are there, too, but unlike the associated bitterness that these give to beer, in Jameson Caskmates IPA edition they chamfer the edges off the fruit and give a lengthy, interesting finish that makes this sipper very moreish.
These traits also lend themselves to making Jameson Caskmates IPA edition a fantastic mixer. Jameson & dry is a no-brainer, but ever tried it with tonic? With this expression, you definitely should.
The bottle shape, label, and lack of age statement might be the same as a regular bottle of Jameson, leaving more than a few of us scratching our heads at the extra dosh (at the time of writing, the biggest difference in price we could find was AUD$19, with the smallest being AUD$13, depending on the vendor), but if you’re a regular imbiber of the famed Irish tipple, we highly recommend you drop the extra coin and give Caskmates a try next time you pick up a bottle of the good stuff.