Attention all whiskey enthusiasts:This is the experience for you! I just got back from a visit to Dublin, Ireland and had the greatest time. One of the highlights from the trip was the amazing Whiskey Makers Experience at the newly renovated and re-opened Jameson Distillery on Bow Street in Dublin.
When you first walk up to the Bow Street Jameson Distillery, there is a buzz around the building and you are instantly excited for what comes next. Upon entering the building, you are greeted with Jameson chandeliers, a full bar, laughter, conversation, and the sound of family & friends enjoying a drink. You instantly feel welcome.
We checked-in with our prepaid Tenon Tours voucher and were given a laniard & a ticket, and told our tour would meet 5-minutes before our scheduled time over at the door labeled “Whiskey Makers and Whiskey Shakers.” We sat down at one of the tables and grabbed a drink in the meantime, taking advantage of the daily Jameson cocktails designed by the skilled bartenders.
Our tour guide Rob was dynamic and so knowledgable about whiskey. He met us at the door and led us on our 90-minute tour. We went to a private bar where each seat had a set up with all kinds of fun gadgets, including a graduated cylinder, beaker, droplet tool, blind fold, various whiskey glasses and small whiskey bottles. We each got a booklet with lots of information about whiskey making and mixing, and a section in the back to take notes! Rob started by going through and asking everyone where we were from and how extensive our whiskey knowledge was. This was nice as it was a small group and we got to know each other a bit, before we learn about and enjoy whiskey together.
We were educated on the basic story of Jameson and how it came to be what and where it is today. John Jameson, who was actually Scottish, (shhh), came to Ireland in 1780 and began distilling whiskey in the same exact building that we were standing in! The building is now 237-years old – WOW. John and his wife had 16, yes SIXTEEN, children together, and they kept the Jameson tradition going. Fun fact: During the years 1870-1910, 60% of all whiskey in the world was distilled in Dublin. Jameson has stayed strong through rivalries, recessions, prohibitions and civil wars. Their mantra, “Sine Metu” translates to ‘without fear’.
Back to the Whiskey Making! We started by discussing the flavors in traditional Jameson. There was some poured in a glass for us and we were told to start by smelling. Some flavors that people smelled were nuts, vanilla, pine, caramel and fruit. We learned more about whiskey; which parts of the world its distilled, the types of barley that are used in whiskey, the distilling process, how the whiskey actually turns into alcohol, and the two types of distilling that Jameson uses: Pot stills and column distilling. It turns out that I enjoy whiskey that is distilled using the pot stills best! It makes the whiskey more creamy and robust; a darker whiskey. Distilling using a column will produce grain whiskey, offering a light and zesty flavor that can give off a strong burning sensation upon tasting. It is all about your personal preference.
We tried 3 kinds of whiskey during the tasting part. They were 1. Distiller’s Safe, 2. Cooper’s Croze and 3. Blenders Dog. The Distillers Safe was sharp and very tasty. It delivered a smooth mouthfeel with gentle notes of apricot, cinnamon and melon. After tasting this whiskey we were given a sorbet to cleanse our palate…YUM.
Next we tasted the Cooper’s Croze which was even better to my taste buds. This whiskey is maturated in virgin American oak barrels, seasoned bourbon barrels and Iberian sherry casks. After tasting this whiskey we were given vanilla and white pepper chocolate to enhance the tasting experience. It sounds weird, I agree, but was probably my favorite part of the tasting 🙂
Last we tasted the Blender’s Dog Jameson Whiskey and this was my absolute favorite! A rich, round, creamy mouthfeel with the sweetness of butterscotch, giving way to the prickle of the pot still spices. Succulent fruit brings the perfect balance, as charred oak and some subtle tannins add to the complexity.
Finally, it was time to play with all of the tools on our desk and blend our very own whiskey! We were pouring, removing, adding water, tasting, and creating our own masterpiece! After you are done the guide gives you a label for your bottle and you are officially a whiskey maker!
Our last treat of the day was a trip into the maturation room which smelled amazing. You are not allowed to have your phone on in this room, and the security system in place is very impressive! Rob opened a barrel right in front of us and let us all taste an aged whiskey that would usually cost €60.00 a GLASS! We certainly felt very special.
In summary, I had a brilliant and educational time on this tour. Afterwards we spent time in the gift shop and had a drink before leaving Bow Street. Anyone who enjoys whiskey or is simply interested in learning more about the whiskey making process should absolutely participate in this experience. Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions for me about the tour!