Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve: sneak preview
I’m in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland (jet-lagged, but otherwise fine). The official launch of the new Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve is tomorrow (Wednesday) at the distillery, with select press being invited to the launch. I was fortunate enough to meet this afternoon (Tuesday) with the four key players at Irish Distillers: Barry Crockett (Master Distiller), Billy Leighton (Master Blender), Dave Quinn (Master of Science) and Brendan Monks (Master of Maturation). We tasted our way though the entire line of Jameson whiskeys, including the new Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. Here’s the scoop.
This is a new whiskey which completes the newly organized Jameson portfolio (12 year old Special Reserve, Gold Reserve, 18 year old Limited Reserve, and now Rarest Vintage Reserve). Side note: those of you who have been drinking Irish whiskey for a decade will notice that they’ve brought back Jameson Gold, a great whiskey (part of which is aged in new American oak) that was available in the U.S. back in the late ’90s, but was then limited to Travel Retail (a.k.a. Duty Free).
In brief, the new Rarest Vintage Reserve is a blend, like the other Jameson whiskeys, consisting of older grain whiskeys in addition to pure pot still whiskey (containing both malted and unmalted barley), some of which was aged entirely in ruby port casks (with the rest matured in second fill bourbon casks). They told me today that the grain whiskey is 23-24 years old, with the pot still component being slightly younger. The whiskey is bottled at 46% and is not chill-filtered!
The whiskey is the deepest, richest, and most lush of the Jameson family, and nicely layered. In short, it’s a great whiskey! Such luxury isn’t without a cost, though. I’m told that the whiskey will run approximately 10x that of the standard Jameson. And it really is a Vintage Reserve: the bottle is vintage-dated, and each vintage will be a limited edition, unique expression of Jameson.
As Dave Quinn told me: “The Rarest Vintage Reserve line allows us to experiment and have a little fun with the brand.”
I’m off to dinner with the same group of guys, along with a tour of the distillery with them tomorrow morning before the rest of the press show up, so stay tuned.