Just when you thought we were finished talking about barrels, we have another barrel-filled story to get your mouth-watering.
A few months ago we told you about the Jameson Drinking Buddies program, a collaboration effort between Jameson Irish Whiskey and several U.S. craft brewers. As part of the Drinking Buddies Program, Jameson selected five brewers to tour the their whiskey distillery in Ireland and learn about the history of Jameson Irish Whiskey. They were then sent home with several used Jameson barrels of their own, and tasked with making a one-of-a-kind craft beer to age in these Jameson vessels. Colorado’s own Great Divide Brewing Company was one of this year’s Drinking Buddies participants, and we attended the release party for their Jameson barrel-aged beer, The Smoothness. Smooth it was, and delicious too. It was an incredible example of two good things – Great Divide beer and Jameson Whiskey – combining to make something so much better than the sum of its parts.
On a personal note, The Smoothness event also helped me acknowledge that I have a low tolerance to whiskey. We all have our Achilles heel alcohol, the booze that can hit us hard and leave us in a blurry fog of regret the next day. Jeff will admit that for him it’s gin, and apparently for me it’s whiskey. I can drink it just fine, I just need to be careful because it sneaks up on me like a ninja. Before you know it I’m giggling like a school girl, rambling about nonsense and calling people by the wrong name (shout out to Josh, aka Todd!) So when a bottle of Jameson Caskmates showed up at our door, Jeff was as giddy as a kid at Christmas, while I was slightly more apprehensive. At least we could enjoy this one at home, with no witnesses.
Fresh off the heels of Drinking Buddies, Jameson Caskmates is the Irish whiskey maker’s newest beer-inspired collaboration. For Caskmates they took Jameson Original and finished it in stout-seasoned whiskey barrels from Irish microbrewery Franciscan Well. If you’re keeping track at home, that means these barrels were first used for Jameson whiskey, then used to age an Irish Stout from Franciscan Well Brewery, before finally returning home to Jameson. The stout-season barrels were then refilled with whiskey for finishing, creating Jameson Caskmates. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Irish whiskey and Irish stout are already BFFs that go well together, so why not take this relationship to the next level?
The time spent finishing in the stout-soaked casks helped infuse Jameson Caskmates with rich notes of coffee, cocoa, butterscotch and a touch of hops. We sampled our Jameson Caskmates side-by-side with Jameson Original to highlight the unique flavors and while we don’t have the whiskey tasting skills that many experts have, we could definitely taste the difference. Caskmates was even smoother than Jameson Original, with less of that whiskey sting on the finish. The caramel colors and rich flavorful notes would make Jameson Caskmates a great sipping whiskey for autumn.
The fact sheet we received with our whiskey said that Caskmates is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Jeff was fine with this, and enjoyed it best with just a few ice cubes. Personally I enjoyed it with a bit of water and ice, paired with a nice strong stout like Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. Don’t take that to mean that girls can’t handle their whiskey straight. I know plenty who can, I’m just not one of them, so I decided to also give a Jameson cocktail recipe a try and made myself a Jameson CaskmShort and Stout.
To make Short and Stout you combine 2 parts Jameson Caskmates with 1 part stout syrup. You can make your own stout syrup by combining 1 part of your favorite stout with 1 part caster sugar. Easy-peasy, right? Well, we still managed to mess it up a bit. We didn’t have caster sugar so we made superfine sugar by using our food processor, which according to the internet is pretty close to the same thing. But then we overpoured the stout, so we ended up adding 2 part of stout for 1 part sugar. In all honesty this was a happy accident, since the finished beverage was delicious and still very sweet, perhaps because the Yeti is already fairly sweet. It ended up being fantastic and we wouldn’t recommend using more sugar. It probably depends on what stout you use and how sweet you prefer, but our Short and Stout came out perfect, despite our best effort to mess it up. We would definitely make this drink again.
Finally, in a wholly organic, spontaneous and unexpected test, our kitty Gracie decided she wanted to enjoy her Jameson Caskmates right from the bottle. Of course we didn’t let her have any, we’re responsible pet parents, but she did totally crash our photo shoot and seemed to really enjoy the Caskmates aroma. We were pretty surprised since we always thought of her as more of a beer cat. Clearly she has a more sophisticated palate than we give her credit for, as she clearly would have enjoyed a little whiskey too. Sorry Gracie, this we already called dibs.
We received our Jameson Caskmates whiskey from Jameson USA directly, but you can find it in select retail locations and bars nationwide. Please also know that while we did receive this sample free, all opinions are our own. We really enjoyed Jameson Caskmates, and if you love whiskey and beer, we think it’s worth a taste. We can’t wait to try Caskmates more, perhaps in a rich and delicious Irish Coffee as the weather continues to grow cooler. Let us know if you try Jameson Caskmates, or if you have any great whiskey recipes to share, in the comments below.
For more information on Jameson Caskmates visit http://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/caskmates