George Bernard Shaw once said, “Whisky is liquid sunshine.” If that is the case, then the Emerald Isle of Ireland would be one of sunniest places in the world. While the land of James Joyce has a reputation
for rainy weather, the friendly country makes up for its meteorological woes with its world-renowned whiskey.
From the Bushmill’s distillery north of Belfast to the lyrically named Tullamore Dew, tourists have a wide choice of whiskey distilleries and museums to visit in Ireland. One of the most frequented spots is the old Jameson Distillery in Central Dublin.
I head to Jameson’s Old Bow Street distillery on a notably overcast morning looking for a way to brighten my day and ease my jetlag. Even though the sky is gray, I feel my spirits lighten as I reach the front entrance, which is tucked away in a courtyard on the West side of the River Liffey.
The visitors’ center is located inside the original Jameson distillery. Whiskey was made here for nearly 200 years, until its closure in 1971. Jameson is now distilled in Southern Ireland in Middleton, in County Cork.
The center has recreated the old distillery on a smaller scale. A cordial guide walks us through every step of the whiskey-making process, from malting and storing barley, to mashing and fermentation, to distilling and maturation.
While I find the tour both interesting and educational, I am eager to enjoy the tasting sessions that follow. For the first part, we are presented with three distinct whiskeys—a Scotch (Johnnie Walker Black), an American bourbon style-whiskey (Jack Daniels) and Jameson.
We’re encouraged to savor and compare each one. The scotch has a dry, slightly smoky taste, while the American whiskey comes in with a sweet, faintly harsh finish. Finally we try the Jameson. It boasts a smooth and full taste with floral and fruity characteristics. It finishes with a hint of vanilla. I feel like Goldilocks eating porridge, proclaiming, “This one is just right.”
Before bellying-up to the bar for another sample, we are shown a flashy commercial about the different ways Jameson is served throughout the world. In Moscow Jameson is popular on the rocks while New Yorkers prefer theirs neat. Londoners drink it with ginger ale, and in Paris Jameson and Coke is a fashionable tipple.
The most popular mixer in Dublin is cranberry juice. Although this seems like and odd combination,
I order my drink this way.
I am pleasantly surprised. The twang of the cranberry works as a delicious foil to the rich sweetness of the whiskey while not covering up its slightly oaky flavor. A squeeze of fresh orange adds a touch of warmth. This simple highball would make a great Thanksgiving or Christmas cocktail.
When I leave the visitors’ center, I feel a slight spring in my step, I am ready for my remaining day of seeing the seeing the sites of Dublin – cloudy or not.
As the weather in Washington begins to turn chilly and darkness comes earlier in the day, I’ll catch myself peeking over to my liquor cabinet and eyeing up my bottle of Jameson I brought home as a souvenir. Just a quick glance, gives me warm and sunny feeling.
Jameson, Dublin Style
I part Jameson
2 parts cranberry
Squeeze of orange or tangerine
Pour Jameson into a highball glass. Add ice and cranberry juice. Squeeze fruit. Stir to mix
Jameson Irish Whiskey may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.