One of my best mates is Irish. He’s fiercely proud of that fact too. So much so that we have to constantly remind him that it is the Scots that produce 95% of the glorious drams he likes to hoard and sip. That helps to momentarily take him down a peg or two, but never seems to be enough to wipe the filthy Irish prejudices out of his mouth.
But every now and again, just to show a little love and solidarity, we have to throw a bit of appreciation at the fine folk from the Emerald Isle. Without them we’d not have one of the world’s greatest accents, Guinness, Flogging Molly, St. Paddy’s Day parties, Oscar Wilde, Shane MacGowan, James Joyce, Bushmills, Conan O’Brien, Gary Oldman, Dropkick Murphys and so much more. They also say the Irish invented whisky, which makes ’em gold in my books, so it must just be the present company I keep that seems like rabble. Such is the nature of searching out your drinking buddies from the likes of Northern Alberta.
Among the greatest gifts the Irish have given the greater whisky world sits one absolutely sparkling gem of almost untouched clarity and brilliance. That gem is Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2007 edition. The first time I tasted this whisky was literally one of those ‘knock the wind out of you’ surprises. I simply had no idea Irish whisky could be this beautiful. It was the aforementioned Irish gent himself who opened that bottle to generously share with a group of eager folk at an early (and now defunct) incarnation of our local whisky club. It was a magical moment, wherein a room full of people were simultaneously bowled over. It’s become one of those touchstone moments in my whisky learnin’.
I want to state something clearly here: This is a blended whisky. That’s important. All blenders rigorously engaged in their craft should stop for a moment and be made aware that something like this exists out there. If a blended whisky this sublime (Irish, or otherwise) can be created through the blender’s alchemy once, it can certainly be done again. Maltmonster used these words in a previous write-up: “Blended whiskey with older grain (23-24 years old) and malted and unmalted barley matured in bourbon and port casks.” Whatever the mashbill…this is simply great stuff. Almost untouchable.
Nose: Pineapple. Grapefruit. Mango. Maybe some peach. Man…this is fruit on parade. Deeply rich in tropical notes. Even deeper than I remember. But they’re quite well integrated into the whole. Deep inhalations are VERY rewarding. Some citrus. White chocolate. Yogurt-covered Fun Fruits (anyone remember those things?). A touch of sweet sugar cookies. Cinnamon. Some great spicy bourbon notes.
Palate: Those same tart and tangy tropical fruit notes. Like an ‘adults only’ version of Five Alive. Orange rind. Lots of spice and a bit of chocolate. There’s also an oaky note at play.
Thoughts: Utterly fantastic. Far and away the greatest Irish whiskey I have ever tasted.
*(The author would like to state for the record that he loves the Irish and that no Irish or Edmontonians were hurt in the making if this review. Excepting perhaps the feelings of O’Maltmonster.)
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt