It is not every day one gets the chance to taste a real piece of Irish history, but tonight I am tasting a John Jameson 15-year-old from the Very Special Old Whiskey bottling series. It is one of the last blended versions from Bow Street Distillery in Dublin, which closed in 1971, where it was distilled, matured and bottled. This particular whiskey was probably bottled around 1970, before the move to Midleton in 1975. A real collector’s item!
Upon pouring this whiskey into a glass, I am getting that old, dusty cellar on the nose. I am also finding some petrol, maybe even some paint remover, followed by notes of leather, wet leather, think leather bag or leather shoes.
When left to breathe in the glass for about 15 minutes, the old, dusty cellar pulls back as the leathery notes step forward. Then I am getting fresh cut grass, definitely some herbaceous note lurking in the shadows, a little forest and spearmint, ending in a hint of salty liquorice.
The alcohol is a little bit overwhelming with the first sip. I was not expecting the alcohol sting to be this rough (although it might just be me). I am getting a lot of raw wood. It is quite astringent and dry – hitting the roof of my mouth, leaving me with the same feeling as when I have burnt myself on a cup of hot coffee, almost leaving a kind of metallic note. It has a lot of tannins and bitter notes like burnt caramel, espresso coffee and bitter chocolate. And a bit of eucalyptus right at the very end.
The finish on this one is rather short, but it makes up for it with its smooth, oily, mouth-coating qualities. I am also getting caramel on the finish, marmalade made from stewed stone fruits, some of the bitterness sticks, some hay, and some spearmint.
ABV: 40 %
Photo of this bottling is borrowed from The Whisky Exchange.
It is not the actual bottle, the photo is used merely for illustration.