In recent years, the immensely popular Jameson Irish Whiskey has gone way beyond its well-earned reputation as the shot you throw back with a cheap beer at your local dive bar. You can and should still do that, to be clear, but the brand has also released some interesting and more complex new expressions in recent years, including the Caskmates series.
For Caskmates, the distillery partners up with small breweries and gives them used whiskey barrels to age their beer. These beer-seasoned barrels are then returned to the distillery and refilled with mature Jameson for a short finish during which the whiskey picks up new flavors. The first two Caskmates used IPA and stout casks from local Irish breweries. The new releases are collaborations with small American breweries Bale Breaker (Yakima, WA) and Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL), and are part of the Caskmates Hyperlocals series. Both breweries traveled to Ireland to brew their beer and create these seasoned barrels, instead of brewing here in the U.S. and shipping the barrels to the New Midleton Distillery just outside of Cork.
Jameson Caskmates Bale Breaker Limited Edition is finished in the brewery’s Topcutter IPA-seasoned casks, resulting in citrus notes with spice and vanilla, while Jameson Caskmates Revolution Brewing Limited Edition is finished in that brewery’s Fist City Pale Ale-seasoned casks, giving the whiskey notes of grapefruit, hops, and vanilla, per the distillery’s tasting notes.
Connecting distilleries and breweries is not a new trend, but it’s a pairing that makes perfect sense. After all, before you can make whiskey you have to make “distiller’s beer.” This is the mash of fermented grains, water, and yeast, essentially a rudimentary beer, that is subsequently distilled to become a spirit.
For a large brand like Jameson, the goal here seems to be both broadening its whiskey range and linking up with craftspeople in local communities. “Jameson’s commitment to local neighborhoods is the cornerstone of our connection with whiskey drinkers and local tastemakers, across the country,” said Paul Di Vito, vice president of Jameson Irish Whiskey, in a prepared statement. “Having the opportunity to highlight a shared passion for artistry, with two breweries that have been a part of the Jameson family since the inception of Drinking Buddies program in 2015, is a great feat for everyone involved.”
You can find each of these Caskmates editions at stores nationwide for $29.99.
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