I can’t believe it, but this is the first time I’ve written about Jameson for this column, which has been around for more than a year now. Given my proclivity for the Irish whiskey — I am kissing a bottle of it in that lovely, slightly embarrassing profile picture — I’m not sure how this happened. Whatever the case, I’m very pleased to write about a Jameson product, and especially pleased with how good this one is.
Jameson Black Barrel Select Reserve ($34.25) was recently made available in Ohio after being on limited release elsewhere. The newest Jameson product from the Midleton Distillery is an interesting spirit that will please anyone who enjoys the standard Jameson Irish Whiskey. And who doesn’t?!
Black Barrel is a blend of pot-still and small-batch grain whiskeys, which is a similar approach used in the standard Jameson. The difference: The proportion of pot-still, the better whiskey, is higher in Black Barrel, and the blended whiskey is then aged in charred bourbon barrels.
The result is a smoother, tastier product compared to the original. Black Barrel has more complex flavors (mainly the toasted oak and vanilla, but also a hint of sweetness), but its biggest strength is just how smooth it is. The standard Jameson was already damn smooth, but Black Barrel takes it up a big notch.
The finish also leaves an oiliness on the tongue, though not as much as Midleton’s high-end Irish whiskeys of perfection, Red Breast 12 and 15-year. Still, Black Barrel is a more mature whiskey compared to the original.
Now I won’t go so far as to proclaim Black Barrel as my favorite Jameson product; that’s reserved for the fantastic Jameson 12-Year Reserve. That whiskey is one of the finest, but at $50 it’s far more expensive than Black Barrel (yet worth it).
Simply put, if you’re a Jameson drinker, Black Barrel is a must-have. It’s a very similar whiskey, only enhanced. Black Barrel can be found at most specialty (market-based) liquor stores, including Weiland’s Market, Huffman’s Market and Worthington Hills Market.
Photo by Meghan Ralston