Search results: jameson whiskey

Stogie Spirits: Jameson Irish Whiskey 12 Year Old

27 Jan

While both spirits work well year-round, I tend to think of rum as the supreme summertime drink and whiskey as more suitable for the cold winter months. Maybe that’s why, since November, I’ve been exploring the various blends of my favorite, most reliable Irish whiskey: Jameson.

Jameson 12 Year Old ReserveThe 12 Year Old blend is a fine choice if you want to venture away from the traditional recipe but don’t want to break the bank. One of four blends in Jameson’s Reserve line, it has a suggested retail of $35 per 750 ml. bottle—a price that, in my opinion, indicates this whiskey is undervalued.

The 12 Year Old Special Reserve, according to Jameson, is “matured for a minimum of 12 years in oloroso sherry and bourbon casks.” The blend was originally dubbed “1780” to honor the year the Jameson Distillery was established.

After peeling away the burgundy foil from the classic green bottle, I was greeted with a corked top. This nice touch, which you’ll also find on the pricier Gold Reserve, is a simple yet underappreciated pleasure.

The amber pour is strikingly similar to the original blend, if not with a slightly more golden hue. Laying the two whiskeys side-by-side, I also noticed similar legs.

You won’t really discover any significant differences, in fact, until you take in the 12 Year Old’s aroma. There’s less of an alcohol tinge on the nose. And while you’ll find similar notes of honey and oak, there’s also a richer, syrupy scent with traces of fruit and leather.

The balanced, complex flavor profile of warm almond, peach, and oak is simply heavenly as it slowly fades into spice. Full-bodied yet mellow. An ice cube or two will bring out more taste and round off some of the edges. The smooth finish goes on for days. Where the original blend is gentle and sweet, 12 Year Old is savory and comforting.

Unlike Jameson’s traditional recipe, feel free to couple this spirit with more powerful smokes. Particularly good pairings include La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero, Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro, Cubao, and the Montecriso Petit Edmundo.

As you might have guessed, my verdict is this premium sprit serves as an exciting reminder that you don’t have to spend a fortune for a respectable whiskey. But Jameson 12 Year Old is much more than respectable; it’s downright sublime.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Spirits: Jameson Irish Whiskey Gold Reserve

4 Dec

As I wrote in early November, I’m a big fan of Jameson’s original blend. Aside from bearing my middle name, the spirit is an excellent, top-notch, reliable whiskey that doesn’t command an unreasonable price.

But maybe you’re looking for something a little more exquisite this holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a friend, or a loved one, I don’t think you can go wrong with the new Jameson Irish Whiskey Gold Reserve.

Gold Reserve was released in March as part of Jameson’s expanding Reserve Line of whiskeys. At about $65 per 750 ml. bottle, it’s more affordable than Rarest Vintage Reserve ($250) and the 18 Year Old Limited Reserve ($85), but pricier than the 12 Year Old Special Reserve ($35). Don’t let that ranking fool you, though; this is one phenomenal spirit that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Pernod Ricard, Jameson’s distributor, had this to say when Gold Reserve joined the Jameson Family: “Jameson Gold Reserve is a unique blend of three whiskeys of advanced years, one of which is matured in virgin oak barrels lending a satisfying complexity and honey toasted sweetness.”

Not unlike the original blend, the pour is crisp and clean with an amber hue. I find fresh oak, syrup, and sweet sherry on the nose. The complex taste features a wonderful interplay between spice and honey, and the slightest tinge of vanilla fades in and out to keep things interesting. Intricate and enjoyable.

The black pepper finish is extremely long and warm, a welcome characteristic that I think makes this whiskey easily compatible with most mild- to medium-bodied cigars. Since the sturdy flavor lingers long enough to take and taste a puff of smoke, you’ll have ample time to explore the relationship between the spirit and your cigar. Let me recommend trying Gold Reserve with a CAO Black, Davidoff Grand Cru, PG Gourmet II, or an Oliva Serie G.

Either way, whether you’re picking out something for that whiskey connoisseur on your list or rewarding yourself for conquering your Christmas shopping early, Jameson Gold Reserve will not disappoint.

Patrick A

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Stogie Spirits: Jameson Irish Whiskey

5 Nov

Call me what you will, but last night, as I watched the political pundits attempt to analyze the election results with their fancy maps and roundtables of “expert” commentators, I could think of no better activity than drinking whiskey. And since the whole election experience had me craving something strong and reliable, I turned to the trusted brand that bears my middle name.

Founded in 1780 by John Jameson in Dublin, this is a very popular whiskey that probably needs no introduction. Jameson has been crowned the fastest growing international whiskey in the world, with sales reaching 2.6 million cases in June.

Jameson is made exclusively from Irish barley, both malted and un-malted, all grown around the company’s modern distillery in the southern Ireland city of Cork. Kiln-fired then triple distilled, the “grain to glass” strategy is meticulously executed with the goal of balance. This helps the original blend remain “true to the pot still whiskey tradition laid down by John Jameson in the 18th century. The current Master Distiller, Barry Crocket, continues this great distilling tradition by ensuring that John Jameson’s high standards are upheld.”

The original blend‘s pour is amber-gold with a brilliant clarity. Swirl the glass to notice the great “legs” (i.e., high viscosity) and the rich aromas of malt and wood. If you pay closer attention, you’ll be rewarded with more delicate notes of honey, grass, and oak. But don’t breathe in too deeply; the smell of the alcohol will overpower the whiskey’s aromatic subtleties.

Fortunately, you won’t find much alcohol in the flavor profile. Jameson is extremely smooth with a gentle sweetness and an enjoyable interplay between wood and nuts. The warm finish is long enough to chew.

Full-bodied stogies would drown out this spirit’s subtle balance of flavors, and I think most mild cigars are better suited for beer or wine. So, for pairings, look to the medium-bodied spectrum. My recommendations include the Isla de Cuba Classic, Bolivar Royal Corona, Gran Habano #3, Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill, and Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino. Any of these will make excellent companions for this fine whiskey, which retails for $25-35 per 750 ml. bottle (40% alcohol).

No matter what cigar you pair it with or how you drink it, I think you’ll agree that Jameson is an excellent way to get top-notch, reliable whiskey for a reasonable price. Heck, if it’s good enough for my middle name, it’s good enough for your liquor cabinet.

Patrick A

photo credits: Stogie Guys

Cigar Spirits: Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

16 Dec

For the dozens and dozens of fine bourbons, ryes, and single malt scotches I’ve tried, I could count on my fingers the number Irish whiskeys I’ve sampled. Fact is, variety is tough to find when it comes to Irish whiskey, even at liquor shops that have an excellent selection of other whiskeys. These days you’ll often find more Japanese whiskey on the shelves.

Teeling Small Batch 750ml WhiskeyStill, there’s a lot to Irish whiskey beyond Jameson (not that there’s anything wrong with Jameson). And Teeling seems intent on proving that. Which is why I took Teeling’s marketing company up on an offer to try a bottle, which is relatively new to the U.S. market.

While Teeling is a new whiskey, the Teeling name is anything but. Walter Teeling founded a distillery in Dublin in 1782. More recently, John Teeling bought a potato alcohol plant in 1987 and converted it into the acclaimed Cooley Distillery, which he subsequently sold to Jim Beam in 2011. John’s son Jack Teeling got back into the business soon after the sale with plans for a Dublin distillery with former Cooley whiskey man Alex Chasko as master distiller. In the meantime, the whiskey currently being bottled for Teeling is sourced from the Cooley Distillery, which supplies 16,000 barrels that were reportedly added to the $95 million purchase price.

Once the barrels are in their hands, Chasko and Teeling put their own stamp on the product with a rum barrel finish, which is almost certainly a first for Irish whiskey even though rum barrel finishes are commonplace elsewhere. Teeling Small Batch ($40) is then bottled without chill filtration at a 92-proof, a nice bump from the fairly standard 80-proof in Ireland. (Other Teeling offerings are made but currently none are available in the U.S.)

The dark bottle hides a light, straw-colored whiskey. The nose features lemon, honey, and malty sweetness. On the palate, I find dried fruit, malt, and a prominent woodiness, plus tropical citrus and spice likely influenced by the rum casks. The medium-length finish has a tinge of spice along with smooth wood and caramel.

Teeling will probably catch most people off-guard, and it will certainly surprise you if your idea of Irish Whiskey is Jameson shots. It has loads of sweetness, good balance, and plenty of complexity for a blended Irish whiskey.

To pair Teeling with a cigar, turn to a milder smoke. A balanced Connecticut-wrapped cigar like the Cabaiguan Robusto ExtraDavidoff Colorado Claro Short Perfecto, or Paul Garmirian Gourmet hits the spot without overwhelming your drink, which should be enjoyed neat.

Irish whiskey is on the rise. In 2000, there were three Irish distilleries. Now there are nearly a dozen. The whiskey they produce is more varied and more interesting than ever, and the rum cask-finished Teeling Small Batch is no exception to that Irish whiskey renaissance.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Spirits: Michael Collins Single Malt Irish Whiskey

11 Nov

While Scotch gets most of the glory, we’ve made no secret of the fact that Irish whiskey can be an equally exciting spirit. But unlike the Jameson blends we’ve praised before, Michael Collins is a single malt whiskey, an attribute more commonly associated with Scotch.

Michael Collins

Still, with a name like Michael Collins, there’s no mistaking that this spirit comes from the Emerald Isle. Collins was an leader in the fight for Irish independence from Great Britain. Known affectionately by the Irish (but not necessarily by the English) as “The Big Fella,” he was later assassinated in 1922 at the age of 31 by factions in Ireland who opposed the treaty of independence he signed with the British.

Collins’ image emblazons the tall tapered bottle and, if he happened to be a smooth yet bold character, his spirit would certainly be captured within. This single malt is a most exemplary whiskey, as evidenced by the Double Gold it won at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. (Note: A blended Michael Collins Irish Whiskey is also available, although it doesn’t seem to be as widely available.)

The first thing that strikes me about Michael Collins is its bright bronze hue, which, while dark, isn’t at all cloudy. After pouring a few fingers in a glass, you’re greeted with a nose of peat, citrus, honey, and oak. The oak is imparted from the 8-12 years that the whiskey is aged in oak barrels.

When I enjoyed it neat I found flavors of peat, a hint of spice, and a toffee-like sweetness. It’s a warm, balanced combination that is very smooth. The finish is long with a bit of vanilla bean.

For those who can’t handle a bit of heat on the tongue, though, Michael Collins also does well with an ice cube or two. But drinking it on the rocks will spoil  some of the subtleties this whiskey has to offer.

Either way, this $35-40 spirit goes great with a cigar. I found medium- to full-bodied smokes to be the best paring. The Paul Garmirian Soiree, San Cristobal, and EO 601 Red all went very well. If you’d prefer something from that certain island south of Miami, light up a Hoyo de Monterey Epicure Especial, Hoyo No. 2, or Montecriso Petit Edmundo, pour a bit of Michael Collins Single Malt, and enjoy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Nicaraguan Crisis Escalates to Nationwide Strike, Drew Estate Releases Five Flying Pigs, and More

15 Jun

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 583rd in the series.

1) The tumultuous situation in Nicaragua—spurred by President Daniel Ortega’s April 18 proclamation of social security reforms, including decreased benefits and higher taxes—took a new turn yesterday, as many working Nicaraguans participated in a nationwide strike. “Streets were deserted in cities and towns as banks and supermarkets, gas stations and corner stores were closed. Few people ventured out during the 24-hour stoppage,” reports Reuters. “Police officers with assault rifles lined the largely empty main streets of the capital Managua. The strike, organized by university students, farmers, and business owners, was the latest tactic by a loose national alliance formed to dislodge the president.” Nicaragua is the largest importer of premium cigars into the U.S. market. The widespread protests have taken their toll on the industry as roadblocks have severely hampered transportation and shipments. Sadly, many lives have been lost as well. “Nearly 150 have been killed and hundreds injured in eight weeks of clashes between pro-Ortega forces and protesters armed with rocks, slings, and homemade mortars.”

2) Drew Estate has released shipments of five Liga Privada and Undercrown Flying Pigs to retailers, including the Liga Privada No. 9, T52, Undercrown, Undercrown Shade, and Undercrown Sungrown. The unique format is nearly 4 inches long with a ring gauge of 60 and includes a tapered foot and a tapered pigtail cap. The Liga Privada No. 9 and T52 will sell for $181.20 per 12-count box (2,500 boxes made); the Undercrown Flying Pigs will sell for $152.64 per 12-count box (2,500 boxes made). “As president of Drew Estate, it brings me great pride to report that our production floor’s passion, and painstaking dedication to detail, remains as strong today as the day we began as a little fabriquita,” said Jonathan Drew. “All of us at Drew Estate wish to dedicate this release collection to all the fathers who give us the wisdom and love to fly high everyday.”

3) Random Read: Why an Irish whiskey shortage, years in the making, may soon be upon us.

4) Inside the Industry: The cigar industry lost Eric Hanson on June 8. The founder of Hammer + Sickle cigars passed away at just 45 years old. Hanson created Hammer + Sickle cigars in 2010, as a complement to Hammer + Sickle vodka, which he also owned. We interviewed Hanson about his Second Growth brand here.

5) From the Archives: Want to become adept at aging cigars? Check out our 2008 interview with Doc Stogie.

6) Deal of the Week: recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, workout gear, and more) delivered for just $45. Of note is the Churchill box, which features four exclusive cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter. Once you are signed up, there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase each month. Sign up now to be eligible for the July box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr / Drew Estate

Cigar Tip: Six Green Cigars for St. Patrick’s Day

12 Mar

Green candela wrappers were once very popular with American cigar smokers. So much so that candela wrapper leafs—which go through a special quick and hot fermentation process that locks in the green color—were known as “American Market Selection,” as opposed to more traditional brown “English Market Selection” wrappers.

These days candelas are less popular and more of a novelty. Which is why cigar makers who bring American Market Selection cigars to the U.S. market often attach their release to St. Patrick’s Day, where consumers sometimes pair them with green beer (pictured).

If you’re thinking about trying a candela, this weekend (St. Patrick’s Day) is as good a time as any. To that end, here’s a quick rundown of some of the green cigars available:

Black Market Filthy Hooligan by Alec Bradley — This is 2013’s new addition to the candela ranks. It features the same blend as the regular Black Market (Panamanian and Honduran filler with a Sumatra binder) coupled with a candela wrapper. If you like the regular Black Market cigar, this is your best bet.

Illusione Candela — Illusione makes it’s original blend (Nicaraguan binder and filler) with candela in a few sizes. Back in 2011 when it first came out, we found the 88 size to be a pleasant smoke with tea and plenty of sweet flavors, and lacking the bitterness that sometimes defines candela cigars.

Viaje WLP St. Patrick’s Day — Now in it’s third annual release, this Viaje is part of the limited release “White Label Project” series. I’ve smoked a few of the 2012 edition, which features the brightest candela wrapper I’ve ever seen, and found that it equaled the Illusione as my favorite candela.

Camacho Candela Monarca — Many years ago I reviewed this candela by Honduran producer Camacho. One of the first candelas I ever smoked, it features the classic banana peel and grassy notes that I strongly associate with green wrappers.

Don Tomás Candela — My colleague reviewed this candela with some skepticism when the company claimed it was the result of three bales of candela wrappers that had been “lost” for 18 years. Ultimately, though, he found it to be a “respectable” smoke with enjoyable flavors, even if it wasn’t destined to be a regular in his rotation.

Fuente 8-5-8 Candela — Fuente’s regular line is known for smooth, mild flavors produced by Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. I smoked one of these a few years back and recall just that: a mild, balanced smoke with just a hint of classic grassy candela flavors.

Those are the candela cigars we can personally speak to, but there are a few others. La Flor Dominicana recently released their “double claro” (another name for candela). Rocky Patel makes the Edge blend with a candela for St. Patrick’s Day. And for while La Gloria Cubana also made one in a few sizes, it isn’t clear if it’s still produced.

If you’ve considered trying one before, I’d encourage you to use St. Patrick’s Day as a reason to take the plunge. Pick a brand with non-candela smokes that you like, and see what a world of difference a green wrapper can make. Finally, remember that for better or worse, with enough Jameson and Guinness, any cigar is bound to taste good.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys