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Jameson Select Reserve Small Batch

Review: Jameson Select Reserve Small Batch Irish Whiskey   (90.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 15, 2017

The town of Midleton (near Cork City) is home to the largest distillery in Ireland, aptly named the Midleton Distillery. This distillery is part of the Pernod-Ricard group of companies, and it is home to a variety of Irish Whiskey Brands. Powers, Paddy, Tullamore Dew, and Red Breast all are distilled at the Midleton Distillery, as is of course, the largest selling Irish Whiskey Brand in the world, Jameson.  (Incidentally, the Jameson Brand is also part of the Pernod-Ricard conglomerate of companies.)

John Jameson, a Scotsman, established the company that bears his name in the year 1780, in Dublin Ireland. The popularity of Jameson Irish Whiskey grew steadily, and by the early 1800’s it was the most popular whiskey in the world. Social and political events such as the temperance movement in Ireland, and the Irish War of Independence (which caused a trade war with Britain) caused Jameson to lose its position as the world leader in whiskey sales, however in spite of these set backs, Jameson remains the third largest single distillery whiskey brand in the World.

The Jameson Select Reserve Small batch Irish Whiskey is a blended whiskey produced with from both Pot Still Irish Whiskey (said to be 12 years old) and a smaller amount of Irish Grain Whiskey (said to be 5 years old). The grain whiskey is apparently made only once per year and is exclusive to this particular brand. The spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

jameson-select-reserve-sb-sam_3020In the Bottle 4.5/5

In Canada the Jameson Select Reserve Small Batch is sold in the tall green bottle and black display box shown to the left. Both the bottle and the box look professional with labels which are easy to read and attractive gold striping below. The green bottle is topped with a solid cork topper.

I have a few quibbles and the first is the lack of substantial information about the whisky on either the box or the bottle label. Not only is the spirit is non age stated, no information is given with respect to the ages of the whiskies in the blend, not what type of barrels are used. As this whiskey is relatively expensive in my locale, I would appreciate some information regarding the flavour profile so that my purchase decision could be more informed.

My other quibble is that the oval label identifying the year the distillery was established has been affixed just a little out of alignment. It is a small thing, but speaks to a lack of attention to detail.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When poured into my glencairn, the whisky is amber coloured with a few hints of darker hues within the yellow-orange amber. The initial nose is lovely with wonderful punky Halloween caramel combined both malt and grain cereal scents. There is a nice fruitiness in the breezes which gives me impressions of green apples, canned apricots and semi sweet marmalade. Fine oak spices grow in the glass and a yummy smelling almond-like marzipan begins to make a presence as well.

I appreciate how well all of the scents and smells play together. The breezes appear to be in harmony with each component acting to support the other. The Small Batch Jameson Select Reserve promises to be an outstanding whiskey.

In the Mouth 54/60

The first sip does not disappoint. The whiskey reminds me a little of the suave 18 Year Old Limited Reserve (review here) with its creamy soft toffee flavours embedded in honeycomb and underlain with a light marzipan. However there is also an added element of peppery grain spice which gives the Select Reserve Small Batch Whiskey a livelier mouth feel. The younger grain whiskey in the blend has giving the spirit a touch of youthful exuberance which is appealing. This youthfulness is expressed in light fruity flavours of freshly mown grass, green apple, orange peel and the aforementioned peppery grain spice. Bits of sticky marmalade and canned apricot add to the fruitiness.

The whisky certainly is enjoyable to sip on its own; but in the interests of a solid review, I added a bit of ice to rocks glass and poured in a little more of the Jameson Whiskey. The result is a creamier softer whisky which oozes milk chocolate flavours which are also strongly appealing. Take you pick, serve the whisky neat to enjoy the lively fruit and spice, or serve it with ice for a more suave whiskey experience.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The whiskey has a medium length finish which features a both spicy oak and lively fruit flavours. With ice added vanilla and milk chocolate become the focus in the exit. Either way with or without ice, this is Yumm!

The Afterburn  9/10

Jameson Select Reserve Small Batch Irish Whiskey is a wonderful Irish whiskey. The spirit is approachable making it easy to sip, When sipped neat, the spirit has a ribbon of youthful whiskey which is interesting and full of nuanced fruity flavour. When sipped over ice the whiskey evolves into a more suave spirit that oozes vanilla and milk chocolate. It appears to offer us the best of two different whiskey worlds.

You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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