In April this year, about a year after it disappeared, we saw the relaunch of the Jameson 18 in it’s newest form, the Jameson Bow Street 18 Cask Strength (along with a new Jameson 18 standard bottling). A blend of pot still and grain whiskey, this whiskey spent it’s time maturing in ex bourbon and sherry casks in Midleton before being married together and re-casked into first fill American ex bourbon casks for 12 months. This final 12 months of maturation then takes place in the Bow Street Visitors Centre, the ancestral home of Jameson whiskey. So why did it spend 12 months up in the big smoke? Just to be able to brand the name on the bottle. It did bring Bow Street back into the maturation business and I suppose it renewed the centre’s tradition for whiskey. Sure the visitor centre is cool and interesting but it always lacked the live experience. And while it is still not a distillery, at least now you can enter a live maturation site and breath in (DEEPLY) those lovely lingering aromas emanating from the casks in the form of the angels share. As an aside, there truly is no better experience than sampling a whiskey direct from the cask and Bow Street now offers this experience.
Anyway, I digress. The whiskey. New packaging, new bottle and new price hailed it’s way in a similar fashion as the Midleton Very Rare 2017 did in November last year. It was quite a jump for the Jameson 18, price wise that is. €130 for Jameson 18 in 2017 and with the relaunch it jumped to €200 for the standard ABV and €240 for Bow Street Cask Strength and while I do understand that there is only a set amount of space in Bow Street, meaning only a finite amount of whiskey for this bottling, it does unfortunately seem like we are in a race to the top for premiumisation. Dingle have done it. Independent bottles have done it. IDL have done it. It seems most brands are in some small way raising their prices slowly and surely to make all Irish whiskey fit into the premium market. And there I go digressing again……!
So the Bow Street 18. Firstly, the packaging is fantastic. Real sturdy box with a map of bow street burnt into the wood. The opening is covered by a brass effect sliding door and the bottle has been widened and shortened into a pot still shape. The box also contains a little Jameson “coin” that has a code on the rear to access some online content. So what do we think of the liquid? A few months ago I got a beautiful sample from Irish Distillers and ashamedly, I am only getting around to reviewing it now!
Nose – Lots of wood with some toffee and cinnamon. Pot Still spices are evident and the higher ABV isn’t evident immediately. Addition of water brings out sweeter toffee and caramel notes.
Palate – Well that’s an explosion of flavours!! Lovely spicy warmth that reveals a sweet oily mouth feel. There’s white pepper in there, caramel, and almonds. Some baked bananas and a touch of créme brule. Addition of water makes it lose some of it’s obvious warmth which I enjoyed but it does allow some of the subtler notes come to the fore.
Finish – Medium to long with a slight dryness. Lots of vanilla towards the end as the alcohol slowly fades.
Overall – Who doesn’t love cask strength whiskey???!! It gives you a great experience to sit and enjoy multiple drams of the same whiskey by adding a wee drop of water each time to find your preference. I honestly don’t know why more Cask Strength expressions aren’t released (hint hint IDL, I would love a cask strength Redbreast 21……!!!). Taking price out of it, subjectively this is a cracking blend. SPS forward but still an easy drinking blend that provides an absolute burst of flavours. It’s a whiskey that would offend no one and be enjoyed by most. Is it better than a Redbreast 21? No, for the money, I don’t think so myself. Que IDL raising the price of RB21!!
On a final note as I finish this review, the Whiskey Fairy has delivered a full bottle of Jameson Bow Street 18 as a Christmas present from IDL…..I wonder what I should do with it?? Stay tuned fellow drammers…….!!
This sample was provided free of charge to the author. No monetary reward was received for the review. The review, as with all reviews, was written subjectively and not influenced in anyway.