Jameson: A Walk Through Time
The world of Irish whiskey is and has been reigned over by none other than good ol’ Jameson for quite some time now. However, the story of their beginnings is an interesting one that might just leave you thinking ‘hmm...who'd have thought’.
It all started back in ye olden days...
The year was 1780 and a young Scotsman (yup, Jameson was a Scot) by the name of John Jameson decided to up and venture for the emerald Isle. He reached Dublin and it is here that he came across the Bow Street Distillery, at which point was called 'The Steins Family Bow Street Distillery'. By the time we reach 1786, Jameson was now the general manager, right up until 1805 when he then became the full owner. Fast forward 5 years to 1810 and the beloved brand that is ‘Jameson Whisky’ was born. It wasn’t long before Jameson was the biggest distiller of whiskey in not just Ireland, but the world.
Despite the huge success they found, Jameson also had to endure several major struggles; one being after Ireland had gained its independence from Britain causing a trade war that saw tariffs rise when exporting to what was one of their biggest markets. Then there’s the whole American prohibition which, well, it's pretty obvious how that affected a Whiskey distillery.
In 1966, in what can surely only be described as a major power play, Jameson decided to partner up and merge with rivals ‘Cork Distillers Company’ and John Powers forming what would be known as the ‘Irish Distillers Group’. In 1976 the ‘New Middleton Distillery’ opened its doors which in turn meant that the ‘Bow Street Distillery’ would be closing theirs. It’s not all sad though as the year 1997 saw the ‘Bow Street Distillery’ open its doors again but this time as a visitor centre where you can go and immerse yourself in the history of Jameson and its family legacy.
Despite whatever changes the brand saw, there was one thing that never changed. The way they made created their whiskey. Jameson whisky is a blend made from 2 different whiskeys and is distilled three times rather than the typical two, which is what gives it its iconic and easy to drink smoothness. It is also matured for at least 3 years on Irish soil (the minimum required to be classed as an Irish whiskey). It's important to Jameson to use local produce in their whiskey using grains harvested within 50 miles and water that is from the Dungourney River, a river that runs right through the distillery (now is that local, or is that local?). It’s not just what goes into the whiskey that’s important to Jameson, but also what the whiskey goes into. Jameson is very particular about the barrels that they use, in the way that they need to be hand crafted with perfectly measured wood staves instead of using glue or nails that could alter the taste of the whiskey or even cause a leak.
Talking of barrels, once upon a time that was actually the only way you could get Jameson, by the barrel. Back in the early years the idea of bottling into glass was simply too expensive. So, unless you invested in a whole barrel (which by the way, held something like 53 gallons), you would have had to hit up your local that done just that to enjoy a glass of the fine Irish liquor. It wasn’t until 1968 that Jameson decided that it was the right time to start bottling, and so they did. They started bottling their sought-after whiskey and distributing to merchants.
Not only did Jameson start putting their whiskey into bottles, but they started putting their family motto onto the front of those bottles. On every single bottle of Jameson, just underneath the crest is the words “Sine Metu”, if you don’t believe me, go grab a bottle and have a look. It’s Gaelic meaning ‘without fear’, a motto that John Jameson brought with him on his life changing jaunt to Ireland. And well, it didn’t exactly steer him wrong now did it.
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