This is another in a series of occasional writings about a particular whiskey. Rather than the standard review and tasting notes, I tend to focus on the story about a whiskey, the occasion I found myself drinking it, who I was with, or some other hopefully interesting anecdote.
I’m often asked my opinion on what the best whiskey is for certain occasions or best choice as a gift. It dawned on me recently that I often come up with the same recommendation. While pot still varieties are always a good choice, for those visiting Ireland or requesting a traveler bring a bottle back for them, I usually recommend Jameson Crested Ten. This may not be a name familiar to Americans which is the primary reason I recommend it. Since one of the primary targets for Irish Whiskey is the American market, we benefit by receiving almost all available brands. In fact, we actually receive many independent brands not even available in Ireland. However, one of the few Irish whiskeys not available in the United States remains Jameson Crested Ten.
Crested, as it is commonly known, is not a new whiskey. In fact, it is one of the oldest brands in existence. Crested has the distinction of being the first whiskey bottled by Jameson in 1963 at the old Bow Street Distillery in Dublin. Prior to this, whiskey was delivered in casks to bonders who took care of the bottling. The bottle has undergone a 2016 renovation as Jameson re-branded much of their line of products. Part of this change resulted in production of some age statement whiskeys being ceased. Jameson Crested Ten was re-branded as simply Jameson Crested. In an ode to the past, a large X appears in the background of the new bottle to celebrate its former age statement.
Ironically, Crested has not been a 10 year whiskey for some time. The other major bottling change was the shift from the traditional green glass and cranberry cap to a clear bottle without any hint of its prior color scheme.
Call me a traditionalist but I prefer the old style bottle. It is rare to find whiskeys in non-clear glass bottles anymore which is one factor which made many of the Jameson brands unique. Why the change? Production costs undoubtedly had a factor. Others contend that clear bottles are preferable so that consumers can see the whiskey color inside the bottle. In any case, I secured a few green bottle versions before the bottle change.
How about the whiskey? Jameson Crested is a blend similar to regular Jameson but with a heavier sherry influence. The nose is great, reminding me of fruit orchards. The blend has a nice combination of sweet from the aging in sherry butts and spice from the Midleton pot still component. It is an everyday whiskey that goes well as a companion to your favorite beer. I find myself often ordering it as my first whiskey upon arriving in Ireland. Rather than trying to decide what new brand to sample, going with an old reliable friend is a good way to start. Plus, I try to make it a rule to try a new pub with each visit (not hard to find) and drink whiskeys I cannot get in the States.
Another nice thing about Jameson Crested is the affordable price. Similar to regular Jameson, Paddy, or Powers, you will find Crested reasonably priced and available. No one wants a recommendation you cannot find. Most Ireland pubs, particularly those in Dublin, will carry Crested. Be sure to ask for it as Crested to avoid getting a pour of everyday regular Jameson. If you are lucky enough to visit Ireland, and find yourself in a pub (what are the chances?) order yourself a Crested neat. While enjoying your newly found whiskey, don’t lament that you can’t get it in the States. Simply purchase a bottle in duty free on the way home for less than 25 euro.
President - Irish Whiskey Society of America