Jameson Whiskey is the most recognized Irish Whiskey in the world. A visit to the original distillery in Dublin is a requisite during a visit to Dublin.
While production is now in Midleton, County Cork, the original location on Bow Street in Dublin is now a fascinating museum dedicated to Jameson Whiskey, and the history of Irish Whiskey.
The Bow Street Experience begins by taking you through the history of Jameson Whiskey, starting with John Jameson starting Jameson Whiskey in 1780, though growth at the Bow St distillery, the devastating effects of the Easter Rising, WWI and II, and Prohibition, and the transfer of leadership down the line of Jamesons. (John and his wife, Margaret, had 16 children!)
The presentation of the history is impressive, with a video display on a table in the middle of the room, accompanied by an entertaining and very knowledgeable guide.
In the next room, we learned how Irish Whiskey is made. We were most excited for this part, since we’ve been to plenty of wineries and breweries, but very few distilleries. The interactive display of the steps for creating whiskey was paired with a table where you could experience each step. You could smell the different types of barley, see the color comparison at each step, and smell the difference between the bourbon and sherry barrels.
Armed with knowledge about whiskey and the Jameson brand, we headed to the final room, the tasting room. Each spot was set up with three kinds of Jameson, and a glass of water. Similar to wine, we began by assessing the color and quality of the liquor and it’s legs (or tears of whiskey for the poetic Irish) and smelling the glass. Once we identified the different aromas, we sampled the whiskey. The guide suggested holding it on your tongue for five seconds to fully taste it, but as a non-whiskey drinker, I could barely stop myself from spitting it out, let alone hold it in my mouth!
After trying the original Jameson, we tried the Crested. It’s made in sherry barrels so it was a little sweeter and easier on my naive palate. Because they can’t get enough sherry barrels, they can’t make enough to sell it in the US. But you can head up to Canada to buy it and bring it back in.
The last one was the Black Barrel. It was smokier and creamier and I dare say I kind of liked it. It reminded me of my grandma’s eggnog at Easter (although she used Makers Mark).
The guided tour ends after the tasting at the gift shop. You can find all sorts of whiskey there. My father has become a big fan of Spot Whiskey, so I got him a bottle of Blue Spot, which I have to carry around Europe for the next four months and will probably regret more than once. But it can only be purchased here so I had to get it.
After spending too much money in the gift shop, you head out to the main area with the bars and get your free drink. You have the choice of neat, on the rocks, with ginger beer, or the special that day, the Jameson Orange with Sprite. I got the ginger beer drink and The Husband got the orange one. If you like whiskey cocktails, I highly recommend trying the Jameson Orange. It was so good that we both actually enjoyed it!
They also have more involved tours for the aficionados. You can do a blending class, cocktail making class, secret whiskey tasting, and even bottle your own class. They are all varied prices but we stuck with the basic Bow St Experience at €30 per person.
Disgusted by my distaste for Irish Whiskey? Buy me a shot and change my mind!
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