ES Taste Test: Do Foodies Know Whiskies?

As y’all know, us ES-ers are always happy to talk your ear off about where our sushi is sourced and the difference between green garlic and garlic scapes. Fine, we’re food snobs. But for some reason, we’ve never been great at the whole alcohol snob thing. We just generally prefer our whiskey in car bomb form. So when the fine folks at Jameson asked ES to taste test their four different varieties of high-end whiskeys, we saw it as a chance to answer the question: can low-end foodies like us taste the difference between a good whiskey and a great one?

So we assembled a not-very-esteemed panel of amateurs and blind taste tested Jameson’s four selections of increasingly expensive whiskey (sorry, no Crystal Jameson), seeing if we could tell which ones were more expensive, and whether we actually liked the more expensive ones better. Here’s what Jameson says, and what we say:


12-Year Special Reserve ($59.99)

Jameson Says: Carefully aged in Sherry and bourbon casks to achieve its peak of perfection. Warm, spicy, assertively complex nose. Sherry richness, nutty flavor, mild woody undertones.

ES Says: Foodies Fail. Some said it was smoother than the classic Jameson; others say rougher (can you call a whiskey rough?) Suffice it to say, none of us would pay nearly double the price to upgrade from regular Jameson to 12-year.

Classic Jameson Irish Whiskey ($39.99)

Jameson Says: Mellow pot-still whiskey with toasted wood and Sherry undertones. Uniquely smooth, approachable and an ideal cocktail ingredient.

ES Says: Story checks out. Clearly less complex than the other whiskeys, but definitely smooth. Not the choice if you’re looking for interesting things to say about your drink, but if you’re more concerned with drinking all night, this one’s your guy.

18-Year Master Selection ($89.99)

Jameson Says: The Master Blender’s handpicked selection, finished in a bourbon cask from 18 months to three years. As only limited stocks are available, each bottle is individually numbered. Spice and toffee nose, a long and lingering finish carries the theme of wood, spice and toffee right to the very end.

ES Says: “It tastes like dirt, in a good way.” Extremely musky and earthy, with an almost smoked wood element. Definitely the most interesting one, although all agreed this is more of a one-drink whiskey.

Jameson Gold Reserve ($69.99)

Jameson Says: A creative blend of three whiskeys of advanced years, one of which is uniquely matured in virgin oak barrels. Creamy, honeyed, spicy character.  Long finish, peppery finale.

ES Says: “Like a happy ghost flying into my mouth.” Smoky and smooth at the same time. While several tasters realized the 18-year was probably more expensive, all agreed we liked this one best, and that it succeeds the most at being both interesting and smooth enough to really enjoy.

What do you think ES-ers? Are we nuts for liking the gold better than the 18-year? Are you willing to pay more for an assertive nose, or do you stick to the well?

(Photo: barockschloss)

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