One day in Dublin I found myself at 5pm with an open agenda. So I decided to take the Jameson Distillery Tour. Located at the original brewery address on Bow Street the building is now home to a restaurant, gift shop and the visitor center. The actual distillation now takes place in Cork (saving that tour for my next adventure to Ireland).
In 1780 John Jameson, a Scottish businessman acquired the distillery and by the turn of the 19th century it was producing 1 million gallons annually. Present day, Jameson is the world’s third largest single-distilled whiskey and the most popular whiskey sold world-wide.
Upon entering the visitor center one will see a most appropriate chandelier! The main room used to house the original mash turns. Under what is now the bar, one will see the circular brick walls that were needed to support the mash turns.
There were many antique bottles of Jameson on display, most were already enjoyed but a few remained intact.
The actual tour takes you through a scaled down version of the entire process of creating Jameson Whiskey. It begins with a video (super cheesy reenactment of John Jameson in 1776), from there the tour guide brings you into a mock warehouse where the barley is stockpiled. Jameson uses a mixture of malted barley and unmalted or ‘green’ barley all sourced within a 50 mile radius from the Cork Distillery.
From the warehouse the tour continues to the drying and malting of the grain. The tile below is from the original floor in one of the drying warehouses. I thought the pattern incredible sweet and attractive, in reality the perforations served to help dry out the barley.
Next up, the waterwheel, which provides water for the mash and powers the mash mixers. Then the distillation in 3 separate copper pot stills. The wash still, feint still, and spirit still, all of which create the triple distillation which is said to produce a higher purity of whiskey.
The final stage is the aging process. The raw materials used to build the barrel helps to determine the flavor and different taste aspects of the whiskey. Below, the barrels showcase the aging process and how the color changes. Along with color, notice how the ‘angel’s share’ increases (amount of evaporation which occurs during distillation). Bottom Left is 1 year, middle is 3 years, right is 5 years, on the top row the left is 10 years and the right is 18 years.
At 18 years the top right has the most amazing color! I’ve heard people speak passionately about the color of whiskey or scotch, but it was the first time I actually understood! A really rich caramel color.
The black and white photo above is from the old distillery. The roster below is interesting. Many of the employees at the distillery were family, which meant lots of the same last names. In addition to last name, the tour guide mentioned that at that time the male children were often given the same first name as their father. Meaning there would be 5 John Kavanagh’s or 6 Jamie O’Conner’s.
To to keep the employees straight, everyone had a nickname. Some of the names were self assigned, but our tour guide explained the funniest nicknames were those not self assigned (rather given by some embarrassment).
Finally, the tasting. No picture required. I enjoyed my Jameson with a splash of water!