Jameson’s New Trilogies

Take a look into the two new trilogies from Jameson Irish whiskey. Appearing to be targeted at both travel and general retail markets, interesting things seem to be coming down the line for Jameson.
Bold, Lively and Round are not three rejected character ideas for Snow White’s dwarfs but are in-fact the three component

Jameson Deconstructed Series. Photograph curtesy of Frontier Magazine
Jameson Deconstructed Series. Photograph courtesy of Frontier Magazine

whiskeys that make up Jameson’s new Deconstructed Series. This trilogy marks the first Global Travel Retail offering from the Irish Whiskey giant. The series, which was announced late last month, is set to ‘deconstruct’ the ultra-popular Jameson Original and use these key notes as the base for the three new whiskeys.

Being described as “an exclusive range of super-premium whiskeys”, Jameson Deconstructed will retail at a recommended price of €36 a bottle. A fairly ‘competitive’ price for super-premium whiskeys, if you ask me.
Each bottle individually takes a different key note from the Jameson Original and builds upon them. For example, Bold highlights the Pot Still element of the blend, Lively is influenced by the grain whiskey that makes up a large component of the famous blend and finally Round showcases the influence that the oak aging has on the original. The official tasting notes read much as one would expect from whiskeys showcasing generic Pot Still, grain and wood influences:

  • Bold, (influenced by pot still whiskey), is an intense and robust whiskey, with a strong hit of spices. Initially sweet and creamy, with an abundance of soft fruits, the Pot Still Spices develop to bring a perfect balance of rich barley notes and mellow baked apple.
  • Lively, (influenced by grain whiskey), offers an elegant and floral taste combined with a citrus lightness. Its soft and sweet taste, provided by the perfume bon bons alongside Turkish delight, combines with drying hints of citrus to balance the sweetness. A little chili oil brings a prickle of spices to the mouth.
  • Round, (influenced by the wood contribution), is a balance of rich and plump charred wood tones. A perfect harmony of diverse flavours, sweet vanilla fuses with soft ripe fruit and, together, combines with the rich Pot Still Spices on a firm foundation of toasted oak.

Interestingly enough though, the Deconstructed Series is not the first trilogy that Midleton have showcased this year. In September, at the launch of the Midleton Micro-distillery, revelers were treated to an advanced look at ‘The Whiskey Makers Series’. This trio is composed of; The Distiller’s Safe, The Blender’s Dog and the Cooper’s Croze.

The Whiskey Maker's Series. Photograph curtesy of Bill Linnane.
The Whiskey Maker’s Series. Photograph courtesy of Bill Linnane.

Not much information was offered about the future plans for trilogy when it was shown to the public, other than the tasting notes. Although, it looks to me like it may become one of the new Jameson expressions for general retail.

This might be slightly controversial, as many revellers assumed that it was a once off release for the launch of the new distillery. In my opinion, if that had been the case, I would imagine they would have been presented in the familiar green Jameson bottles just sporting a fancy new label. For example, if they weren’t going to create new bottles for 3,000 Caskmates, I doubt they’d create new bottles for a few hundred units at a publicity event.

Alternatively, travel retail could be the destination. Although, it would seem very strange if it became a second triple pack offering for Global Travel Retail. Lastly, Jameson seem to have a common theme running between the two trilogies. Both are sporting their almost retro style labels and colourless glass bottles. I could very easily see these being in the same product range spanning general and travel retail, just like the current Jameson reserves.

Just a hunch I guess, but one I’d be willing to put money on.

Maker's Series and case. Photography Curtesy of Bill Linnane.
Maker’s Series and case. Photography Courtesy of Bill Linnane.

The tasting notes that accompanied the the preview are slightly ambiguous but do seem to echo the deconstructed range to some degree.

  • The Distiller’s Safe, this blend showcases the beauty and character of the distillates. It has a smooth mouth feel, typical of Pot Still whiskeys, combined with the soft buttery sweetness and gentle fruit notes of grain whiskey.
  • The Blender’s Dog, the intent with this expression is to create harmony, balance and an infusion of flavours that perfectly fill your mouth and nose. The Blender’s Dog has a rich creamy mouth feel, with the sweetness of butterscotch, giving way to the prickle of spices and subtle tannins.
  • The Cooper’s Croze, the whiskey has a distinct oak character with the nutty toasted flavours, sprinkled with dried fruits and sherry. The whiskey reflects the spectrum of flavours contributed by the variety of cask types from sweet vanilla to rich fruits and toasted wood.

 All the blends in this range are 43% ABV and non-chill filtered.

As Irish whiskey continues to explode in popularity, Non-Age Statement whiskeys like these two trilogies are becoming more and more common place. It makes sense from a stock management point of view. NAS releases such as these are used to divert attention from current age statement whiskeys in hopes to relieve some of the pressure on older stocks.

We’ve previously seen NAS whiskeys phased in to replace older age statement whiskey in the Jameson range. Jameson 12 had its NAS substitute, Black Barrel/Select Reserve, phased in to eventually replace the older whiskey when stocks began to run too low.

This leaves me wondering whether or not The Whiskey Maker’s Series will become another replacement whiskey. It would seem unlikely that with the stocks currently stretched thin that a new NAS offering would come with no draw backs somewhere else in the line.

So my question remains, if this is indeed a replacement, what is it replacing? The 12-year-old is already fit to be in retirement by the end of the year so the only aged stock remaining is the 18. Surely this couldn’t be a comparable replacement for such an iconic whiskey? Alternative options are the NAS Gold and Vintage bottlings. Both of which would seem like unlikely choices, unless their special third cask finishes were becoming harder and more expensive to facilitate.

If it is indeed a replacement for something within the current Jameson portfolio, such as the 18, they would need to ensure consumers wouldn’t choose substitutes from other companies. So perhaps a trilogy was chosen because the sum of the parts combined could be greater than the whole. A loss to older age statements could be swept under the rug as three exciting new bottles are released in its stead.

Current Jameson 12/Special, Gold, 18/Limited and Vintage Reserves
Current Jameson 12/Special, Gold, 18/Limited and Vintage Reserves

As I’ve said in previous articles, this is just my interpretation of current events. I unfortunately don’t have a crystal ball that lets me look inside Jameson strategy meetings, no matter how much I’d love that. So perhaps the Whiskey Maker’s will indeed live peacefully side by side with all the other Jameson offerings. Perhaps my understanding of how much aged stock Midleton possess is way off the mark and aged whiskeys are in abundant supply. Although I’ll choose to stay quietly skeptical, keep my ears to the ground and eyes on the prices of all their products.

Either way, The Whiskey Maker’s Series doesn’t seem like it will get its debut anytime this side of Christmas. So you can drink your Jameson in peace over New Years.
When this trilogy and its Deconstructed cousins Are released I will definitely be first in line to see what they have in store for consumers. The packaging does look great and I hope that the wooden travel boxes are available to general retail consumers, just to appease my inner hipster needs.

Regardless of my love of craft packaging, there appears to be interesting times ahead for Jameson and Irish Distillers. They’ve got their season ticket for the NAS train and don’t look like they’ll be getting off anytime soon. I look forward to seeing how they manage their existing portfolio alongside the exciting new trilogy releases.

Until then Sláinte


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