2016 Whisky Wind-down, 18: Other Good Uses for Grain


Today’s dram: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Caskmates (Stout Edition)

Today’s tasting notes: Before I tell you how it tastes, I should really make note of how it’s made.

As I mentioned back in Whisky Wind-down Interlude: Terminology, and further discussed in Whisky Wind-down 24, whisky barrels get reused a lot. Many begin life holding bourbon, then, since they can’t be reused for bourbon, they get sold off, mostly to other distilleries making other types of whisky.

Lately, however, some brewers have taken to buying used bourbon barrels and using them to age beer, particularly high-gravity stouts, barleywines, and Belgian-style ales.

Given this disruption to their supply lines, it was probably just a matter of time before some clever whisky maker decided to strike back.

Enter Jameson Caskmates.

The distillery partnered with a local brewery, Franciscan Well, to mature some of its whisky in barrels that had been used to age stout.

That sounds somewhat straightforward, but it’s actually a little more complicated.

Jameson usually matures only in barrels that formerly held bourbon and fortified wine. The distillery took a set of its used barrels to the brewery, which used them to age stout, then sent them back, were they were used to further age regular Jameson.

So it went: bourbon, fortified wine, Jameson, stout, Jameson again.

Whew!

And for all that? The distillery’s tasting notes indicate this lends the whisky flavors of cocoa, coffee, and butterscotch.

I can’t say I perceive all of that, but this is definitely a whisky that has been spending time at the brewery. It’s darker and richer than pure Jameson, and I rather enjoy it.

Today’s thoughts: So, it may surprise you to learn I don’t only drink whisky.

Sometimes, I reach for beer.

Okay, a lot of times.

Okay, maybe even more than whisky.

I rather enjoy brewery tours, and The Empress of Whisky and I make a point of looking for them wherever our travels take us.

It’s a good time to be a beer drinker. The United States has more breweries now than at any point in its history (~4,200), but almost two-thirds of those were founded in the last decade. Beer is booming, and there’s probably a local brewery near you. Check it out.

I’ll surely write more about beer later, especially if I follow through on becoming a certified beer judge. (Plans are in motion.) 

Today’s note on a future objective: Acquire Franciscan Well’s Shandon Stout and Jameson Aged Stout.

Today’s toast: To all the makers of the all the fermented beverages: Cheers!

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