Often we are asked by whiskey virgins, “What whiskey should we try?”
Irish is a fine place to start. It usually is not very pricy, and Irish tends to be a gentle, approachable whiskey, unlike Scotch, which can overwhelm the unseasoned palate.
Twenty years ago, there were not a whole lot of Irish whiskeys available outside of Ireland and England. (Happily, times have changed.) Back then, regular Bushmills and Jameson were usually all you could find.
Jameson is a storied brand, but for a time it sort of fellow into a ho-hum rut. It was fine to sip, but no great shakes. The company did get its focus back, and these days Jameson is a brand worthy of attention.
The standard Jameson Irish whiskey (80 proof) remains a solid drank (Rating ***1/2).
But Jameson 12-Year Old (80 proof) is significantly better. It is rounder, richer, and more nuanced. (Rating ****)
Jameson 1780 (80 proof) is tricky to find these days. It is very different from the standard Jameson. It is sherry casked, which makes it a little less sweet. The sherry flavor comes through and this whiskey has a more oily texture. (Rating ****)
Then there is Jameson Gold (80 proof) –oh my. This $70 or so a bottle Irish whiskey is delicious. It is utterly silky in the mouth, and shows flavors of honey, barley, orange peel and more. Wow. (Rating ****1/2)