Friday, 24 November 2017

Beer & Whiskey: Did Jameson get it wrong?

(This post relates to free product I received from Jameson - although there's more to it than that - so back out now if that bothers you...)

As I've said previously, I'm not really a whiskey person.

Although I do like the idea of sitting back in my armchair with a nice warming single malt and a pipe, basking in the glow and warmth of an open turf fire with a little bit of vinyl jazz tickling my eardrums, as I read the latest dispatches from abroad with my obedient King Charles asleep at my feet...

Okay, so perhaps that's overkill but the fact is I've never really been exposed to spirits in any meaningful way until recently, and even now a bottle can last me an awful long time, so perhaps my hearts not really in it ... I may need to cancel the spaniel and the load of turf.

Spirits such as whiskey were never something that featured in my past. My parents and grandparents didn't drink much, although allegedly when my great grandfather came back from WW1 with undiagnosed (and unheard of) PTSD he took to whiskey to blank out his past and spent his journey home from the local pub saluting the telegraph poles that were erected along his route, perhaps in tribute to fallen comrades.

I was for a brief time partial to the odd whiskey myself in my younger days when my constitution was better and I needed that warming alcohol hit without the stomach-filling volume of a pint. But in recent years my 'Drink Less, Drink Better' mantra (which I may have stolen from The Beer Nut) has kicked in and although I still enjoy alcoholic beverages, it's more likely to be beer or wine and taken in a different, more analytical and sometimes-social, way where the alcohol content can be an unwanted but necessary part of the consumed liquid.

But I still do buy the occasional bottle of spirits, which are slowly consumed and rarely commented on. Therefore I was surprised to receive a free gratis bottle of Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition a few weeks ago via their marketing company - not that I refused it because, let's face it, I'm not that stupid! (Hush now...)

Anyhow, the whiskey came with a memory stick which contained a blurb about the whiskey and some images ... which I quickly deleted and it's now full of beer and whiskey related history research - cheers Jameson! It also arrived with a can of Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA to pair with the whiskey, as the whiskey was finished in casks that were previously used for flavouring an IPA.

This struck me as a little odd as surely the IPA would mask any hint of hops, which already had to fight for its place on my palate with the whiskey flavours themselves? Nevertheless I did what I was told and sure enough, although they were quite pleasant together they didn't give me the contrast I was looking for ... 

So I went off-piste and ignored Jameson and their silly ideas ... Sure what would they know about whiskey anyway?

I tried drinking the whiskey with one of my all time favourite stouts from Galway Bay Brewing - Buried at Sea. This was better for me, as the contrasting sweet stout brought out the subtle citrus quality of the whiskey. I'm sure other stouts would also work by the way - just differently.

A different night I tried another experiment with a half measure of the IPA Caskmates and the same amount of the older Caskmates Stout Edition of the whiskey, which I'd purchased myself by the way. This was better again as the sharp contrast between the vanilla-like stout edition enhanced the hoppy-citrus notes of the IPA version and vice versa, this part of the experiment impressed me the most.

Lastly, I tried the Stout edition of the whiskey with an IPA and again found this a much better partner, as that contrast in tastes worked much better for me. Again the nice vanilla sweetness of the whiskey enhanced the hops in beer and even bought out a different side to the malts.

So ... where does that leave us? Well for me Jameson did get it wrong...

They should have shipped the IPA edition with a stout and the stout edition with an IPA - but that's just my palate of course - and if you want to pick up the hops in the IPA whiskey in any meaningful way try it after the stouted version.

Then again some people like to match yellow with orange and others like the contrast of yellow with blue ... so maybe you like complements, where I like contrasts...


(Thanks again to Jameson & Co.)

(Responsible Bit: This experiment took place over a couple of weeks, I don't suggest doing it all in one night!)

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