Is there a difference between the different types of Jameson?

When it comes to alcohol, there is only one drink for me – Jameson Irish whiskey. I pronounce it ˈdʒeɪmsən but many people say it ˈʤɪməsən although I believe Jamieson is pronounced this way but who am I to say what’s right and what’s wrong.

Generally, I drink the normal Jameson in the green bottles (most often 0.700 L). My friends know that I am a big fan of this whiskey and very often they would buy me something more special from Jameson for my birthday. They have bought me Black Barrel, Crested and Black Barrel Select Reserve, and once I drank Caskmates but I haven’t bought a whole bottle of it. I drink the whiskey neat. I don’t like cold or diluted drinks – I don’t put ice in it, I don’t keep it refrigerated, I don’t mix it with other soft drinks (soda or juice). But I would always have a glass of coke with it – separately in another glass. In Greece and other countries, for example, there aren’t different measures of the alcoholic drinks (big – 100 ml or small – 50 ml as it is in Bulgaria) – the measure is only one – 50 ml (in some countries it’s 25 ml). If you purchase whiskey and coke they would serve it mixed. This is something that you should know if you visit Greece (in some bars at the seaside in Bulgaria they would serve your drinks mixed in order to disguise the fake alcohol and to respond the expectation of the deluded foreign tourists).

Don’t get me wrong, I am really a big fan of this whiskey. One of my walls in the living room is green, I have a bunch of Jameson bottles on the shelf and my cat is named after the whiskey and its short name is Jamie. However, there’s something that bothers me:

I don’t feel difference between the different types of Jameson.

I am monogamous. I drink only this whiskey. I could „cheat“ only when I am invited at another place and I am served something different or when we drink all the whiskey in the bar and we have to swap it (the reason is not that we drink a lot, they just didn’t purchased enough). Tullamore Dew is a good substitute with a close taste to Jameson in my opinion. However, my question is: Is it me or it really there isn’t difference between Caskmates, Crested, Black Barrel and Black Barrel Select Reserve?

I decided to search for more information in Google and see if anybody shared their opinion. I searched in English as it is widespread international language but if I don’t count the advertising articles from Jameson I didn’t find an opinion form a real consumer so I decided to share my experience.

So it occurs that „Black Barrel delivers the signature smoothness of Jameson Original, with enhanced spice, nutty notes, vanilla sweetness and sherry fruit“ and so on and so forth but I really don’t find the difference.

I decided to perform an experiment with my friends and relatives. I invited them at home and put on the table 3 bottles of Jameson – normal, Crested and Black Barrel. But there was a difference just in the bottles. The liquid inside was the same. I poured regular Jameson in all bottles. I asked them to taste the different types and to tell which one they liked the most. All of them shared the same opinion – the whiskey in the transparent bottle with the label Black Barrel was „unique“.

„It is so smooth that I could drink it neat“, „I liked the most this whiskey“ (pointing the bottle Black Barrel). It occurred that people already felt something different in the taste just because of the product’s appearance. At the end I told them: „All bottles contain one and the same whiskey“. They were stunned. At first they didn’t believe me and thought I was joking. And I was indeed but not at this particular moment when I told them the truth. They drank again, they tasted again… At first they said „No. That was different“, then „Yes. It is the same.“ But before I told them, they said it was different, very soft, very smooth, it was the best.

National Geographic once performed an experiment with a group. They ordered food and served it to the people. One part of the food was packed in food boxes and the other part was put in dishes and served. The group was asked to tell which food is more delicious. They said the food in the dishes was more delicious but it was actually the same, just like I did with the whiskey. It occurred that the only different things are the appearance and the advertising, and the price, of course, because it comes in a different bottle, more luxury label and even a cardboard box to enhance the appearance. In conclusion I advised my friends not to buy expensive bottles because the whiskey inside is the same as the regular ones.

Few days after my experiment I served real Crested and a regular Jameson in different glasses and I asked them to tell me which one is better. I said that I will tell which one is Crested and which one is regular after that. According to Jameson’s website, Crested has „delicate sherry undertones & toasted wood, with fruit, spice & chocolate notes“. At first they pointed the correct glass and said „this one is better“ but I asked „Are you sure?“, then they pointed the other glass – „No, this one.“ I told them which one was Crested but I really don’t think that people need to prepare their receptors for something different and to force themselves to find a difference when it is not tangible from the first sip, and, in this case, such a difference does not exist. If really there was a difference, people wouldn’t wonder and taste again and again, they would simply tell which one is different.

One of my friends got a little angry at my experiment (he wasn’t in the experimental group). He shared his thoughts and said that we are not such connoisseurs and we don’t have the palate which can differentiate between the tastes and our opinion cannot be considered as valuable. He supported the theory that the whiskey is different but we can’t feel it. But if we can’t feel it, why we should waste our money on something more expensive?

I am open for the opinion and the experience of other fans of the whiskey. I would be happy if you share it in the comments but for me, personally, the whiskey in the different bottles of Jameson does not differ in taste (at least in Bulgaria). I have drunk so much Jameson that I even have noticed a difference in the color in the different batches. There aren’t caramel, sherry fruit, spicy notes and chocolate. There are only bottles which make our brain to think that we drink something more qualitatively. All about these bottles is just a marketing trick.

Do you find difference in the different types of Jameson?

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2 thoughts on “Is there a difference between the different types of Jameson?

  1. Nice article, thank you !

    I just came back from Ireland and had a chance to visit the Jameson factory and had a very nice bartender arrange an impromptu whiskey tasting.

    We tried the regular, Irish Oak, Spanish Oak, IPA, Stout and Chestnut barrel Jameson and I can assure you the smell and tastes were very different.

    As an example, the Irish Oak we were told is a lot more humid than the Spanish Oak and I could taste the difference.

    1. Thank you Dave for your comment. I am glad that you shared your experience. I would like to visit the Jameson factory one day. May be I will write another article for it. Have you tried the different types from my article? I think they offer the best whiskey in their factory but I think it is very different in the bottles for the mass market.
      By the way, I am having a glass of Jameson right now

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