It was World Whiskey Day over the weekend and hopefully you celebrated with a glass or two of the good stuff…like the new Jameson Caskmates, a unique whiskey aged in craft beer barrels, which recently hit South African shores. Following a successful limited run in Ireland – Jameson launched the ‘Jameson Caskmates’ offering – a new taste experience that will no doubt satisfy the appetite of whiskey enthusiasts around the country.
The story began back in 2013, when Jameson Master Distiller, Brian Nation and Master of Whiskey Science, Dave Quinn met Franciscan Well Founder and Head Brewer, Shane Long at a bar. By the end of the night the Jameson Masters agreed to loan some Jameson casks to Shane’s brewery for an experiment of sorts – to discover the influences of the casks on Irish Stout. The stout seasoned barrels were returned to Jameson’s Midleton Distillery, where they were refilled with Jameson Irish Whiskey.
And what does it taste like you ask…
Nose: The initial aroma of freshly mown hay is complemented by a crisp orchard fruit character, green apples and pears along with a twist of lime zest. Mild pot still spices appear, deepening from green tea to hazelnut and milk chocolate. The lingering hop influence combines effortlessly with toasted oak and barley grains to form a solid base.
Taste: As expected, there is the initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey inclusion. Then the effect of the beer cask finish becomes apparent with the subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans. Some marzipan and charred oak add to the complexity.
Finish: Long and sweet with milk chocolate and butterscotch.
South Africa is Jameson’s second biggest market globally, and in the spirit of collaboration sought to invite two truly South African breweries who were brave enough to be part of the local Jameson Caskmates journey.
“People questioned why we would want to share our casks with breweries. They found the concept hard to grasp, but we saw it as an opportunity for collaboration. Jameson’s motto is ‘Sine Metu’ which means ‘without fear’ in Latin, that is the ethos of Caskmastes. People are always scared of what they don’t know, but living without fear is what inspires us, so we’re constantly looking to work with collaborators who feel the same way we do” says Jameson’s Assistant Brand Manager, Nicole van Zyl.
Jameson approached Soweto Gold Brewery in Johannesburg and the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company in Cape Town. The idea was to give the breweries some of Jameson’s old whisky casks and see what they would come up with.
“These breweries were handpicked for the Jameson Caskmates collaboration. It is important for us to work with collaborators who share the Jameson brand values and who are willing to push the boundaries when it comes to innovation” says Head of Marketing for Irish Whiskeys at Pernod Ricard, Seth Pereira.
‘667’ – an Irish Red Ale brewed by Devil’s Peak was inspired by the Cape legend of Jan van Hunks, who beat the devil in a smoking competition. “667 is a tribute to Jan and all the other brave souls who have faced their fears by edging out darkness – that was a nice tie in to the Sine Metu motto” explains JC Steyn, Devil Peak’s Head Brewer.
‘Soweto Gold 76′ – a tantalising craft beer by the Ubuntu Kraal Brewery – pays homage to the June 16 protestors, many of whom sacrificed their lives for freedom. “The bravery of those protestors gave me the freedom and courage to open up the first black-owned brewery in Soweto” says Soweto Gold founder Ndumiso Mdlala “I really wanted to honour them with ‘Soweto Gold 76′”.
Now go get yourself a bottle of Jameson Caskmates.