The Whiskey Makers Series is a new range from Jameson, the biggest selling Irish whiskey brand in the world. The range will be available through domestic retail markets and forms part of a major restructuring for the brand. This sees the the core range get a design update with the Select Reserve being renamed Black Barrel with the Crested Ten being renamed Crested and getting a worldwide distribution.
The revamp came from a need to evolve the super-premium range of Jameson, which had not really changed for the last 15 years, and to be attractive to new consumers and core Jameson fans alike. During development the brand consulted with consumers in key markets, bartenders plus past and present staff members. Another new range, named The Deconstructed Series, has also been created exclusively for the travel retail market. To read our review of The Deconstructed Series - click here.
The Whiskey Makers Series is designed to bring to life the three major craftsmen behind the Jameson brand and for them to tell their stories and showcase their passions. These are Brian Nation (the Master Distiller at Midleton where Jameson is produced), Ger Buckley (Head Cooper and Master of Wood Management) and Billy Leighton (Master Blender for owners Irish Distillers). Each whiskey has been named after one of their key tools - The Distiller's Safe, The Cooper's Croze and The Blender's Dog.
"The Whiskey Makers Series is underpinned by the brand’s people and craft, heritage, taste and fearlessness; in short, the qualities for which Jameson is celebrated throughout the world."
Daniel Lundberg - Global Brand Director for Jameson.
The Whiskey Makers Series is available across global domestic markets including key Jameson markets such as Ireland, South Africa, the UK and the USA. All are bottled at 43% ABV and the recommended retail price for each expression is €70 (£60) a 70cl bottle.
Our tasting notes
This whiskey has been created by Brian Nation, the Master Distiller for Jameson. He wanted a light and delicate whiskey that would allow the quality of the distillate to shine through and selected a mix of three different styles - grain whiskey, small batch grain whiskey and small batch pot still. All were matured in American oak casks. It is named after the important apparatus where the cut for the final distillate is taken and fine tuned - the spirit safe. The whisky has a 'distillate driven' profile and includes whiskeys between four and seven years of age. After this the wood influence takes over.
The colour is pale yellow and the nose is light, delicate and vibrant. There are immediate aromas of green apple, pear, vanilla, honey and barley sugar with hints of cinnamon and lemon zest. On the palate there is plenty of initial malty cereal and this is followed by the barley sugars and green fruit from the nose. The sweetness evolves from something resembling icing sugar and marshmallows towards a heavier butterscotch note as time passes. Then comes some vanilla, fresh green grass, candied lemons and a pinch of white pepper. The finish is short and sweet. The delicate and sugary characteristics fade to leave the palate fresh and wanting another sip.
"I was like a schoolboy in a sweet shop when asked to create my own whiskey!"
This whiskey has been created by Ger Buckley, the Head Cooper for Irish Distillers. He wanted an 'oak driven' flavour profile that showcases the quality and consistency of the casks used at Midleton. The whiskey is a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys that are aged between 12 and 16 years - these have been matured in a combination of first and second fill American oak casks, plus some virgin oak casks and a small percentage of ex-sherry casks. It is named after the croze, a traditional coopering tool that cuts the groove at each end of the cask to allow the head to be fitted tightly.
The colour is golden yellow and the nose exhibits an immediate mix of sweet vanilla, honey, toffee and dried tropical fruit aromas. There is also some delicious background wood spice and earthiness. On the palate this whiskey feels initially very sweet and soft. It has a creamy and velvety texture. The sweetness from the nose is replicated with plenty of vanilla, honey (or possibly golden syrup?), butterscotch and dried tropical fruits (think of mango and lychee especially) present. Background notes of raisins, fresh peach, fresh oak shavings, cinnamon, gingerbread and nutmeg add great depth. These late spices make the finish warming and on the dry side.
"A cask may be an inanimate object, yet it has a personality – it’s a living, breathing organism."
This whiskey celebrates the role of Bill Leighton, the Master Blender for the Jameson range and Irish Distillers. He wanted to demonstrate the skill needed to blend a range of different distillate styles, cask types and ages of whiskey together. In the case of Blender's Dog he has used three distillate styles, four cask types and ages ranging between five and 12 years. By using his decade of Master Blender skills he can harness each variable element and allow them to work together in harmony. The whiskey is named after the 'dog' - a tool used to collect samples from maturing casks in a warehouse.
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has a lovely mix of aromas present - think of butterscotch, candied orange, sultanas, dried tropical fruits, cinnamon and a hint of something floral like rose petals or honeysuckle. On the palate there is plenty of initial milk chocolate, toffee and bittersweet cereal. These give the whiskey a good grip on the taste buds. Underneath are further notes of dried apricot and mango, toasted oak, sultanas and increasing wood spices (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg especially). Hints of liquorice, cloves, tobacco leaf and burnt candied orange add a great depth. This combination creates a lovely warming and long finish with the earthy wood spices to the fore.
"I wanted the Jameson signature present - the balance of sweetness, light perfumed notes and spices. They all had to be there."
What's the verdict?
The Whiskey Makers Series is a lovely set of whiskeys and one that offers something for most tastes - The Distiller's Safe is light, fresh and delicate, The Cooper's Croze is fruity with plenty of wood spice and The Blender's Dog is rich, rounded and complex. All are delicious and enjoyable to drink.
The range should sell well and we recommend sampling them next time you have a few spare minutes at the airport or if you get to visit the Midleton distillery in Co. Cork. Which one was our favourite? That is a tough call but if we had to go for one then it would be The Cooper's Croze for our current mood.