Jameson Irish Whiskey at Gallo's
My favorite way to warm the bones this time of year is with a couple fingers of Irish whiskey, preferably Jameson. Most bars carry the standard triple-distilled Jameson, which, even though it's considered "cheap whiskey" by most aficionados, is quite enjoyable.
There are a few local spots that offer older vintages and special reserves. One of those haunts is Gallo's Tap Room, a swanky sports bar on the Northwest Side that's a cut above the rest - it even has the giant antler chandelier to prove it. Here's a rundown of each bottle served there.
J ameson Irish Whiskey ($4)
Most whiskey fans either love or loathe this drink's hefty kick, which sets in after the initially clean, slightly sweet, slightly spicy taste.
Of course, it's all followed by the heat, but that's what warms the belly.
Jameson 12 Year O ld Special Reserve ($5.50)
This aged version has a distinctive ruby color that's noticeably darker than the other two. That's due to extra years spent in sherry barrels - the others develop in both sherry and bourbon casks.
The other considerable difference is an immense flavor - a wonderfully crisp honey-like sweetness backed by a subtle woodiness - that is literally liquid gold.
Jameson 18 Year O ld Limited Reserve ($8.50)
This vintage is billed as Jameson's top-of-the-line whiskey (excluding the Daddy Warbucks-priced $250 Rarest Vintage Reserve).
I was excited to taste this "elder statesman of the Jameson family," but was less excited by what I tasted. I was thrown off by heavy smoke and wood flavors that were smooth at first but had a stiff aftertaste.
It wasn't bad by any means. It just tasted more like a Scotch thanks to being aged in oloroso sherry casks, which are usually used for that whiskey variety.
If you're shopping for an Irish whiskey fan (friends and family: hint, hint), pick up a bottle of the 12-year-old Jameson and make them squeal like a 10-year-old who just opened a PS3.
Gallo's Tap Room
5019 Olentangy River Rd.
By the bottle:
Jameson Irish whiskey ($19)
Jameson 12-year-old Special Reserve ($39)
Jameson 18-year-old Limited Reserve ($74)