What Happens When Jameson Meets Beer, Meets Jameson Again
Not Just your standard press release, I had the opportunity yesterday to have a quick chat with Dave Quinn and Shane Long who told, like all the best stories, Caskmates all began over a pint and chat.
Shane Long explained….”It all started, in bar with a pint of beer, historically the Jameson guys would have parties in my bar, and as such I had come to know them very well over the years.
I was looking for a bigger challenge, in early 2012 there were some people in the US that were pioneering new methods of brewing and that was exciting. I knew that what I wanted which was to produce a beer that was well rounded and had enough components, we wanted it to be a beer that somebody new would go back for more, we wanted something entirely different.
When I was voicing this, Dave (Quinn) said he would supply me with some casks and we really had no idea what we would do with them, but I knew that we could use them and experiment. We decided to stick to a traditional Irish Stout, and (quite fairly) Dave had said that whilst he was happy for me to use the casks I wasn’t allowed to use Jameson on the label.
I got to work with Jameson seasoned barrels, produced a (in my mind) great tasting beer, but I needed Jameson to approve it. I took a couple of bottles down and they were so impressed, they said I could use it and put the Jameson name to it.
I rung by barman/designer and told him to put Jameson on the labels and then we put them to market and it lasted two days on the shelves. We knew then that we had a product that people really loved.
I put it into the international Beer Challenge, and we won that competition in 2013 and this year we won Gold at the World Beer Award. We are working on other collaborations with Jameson but this is still hush hush, and for now, this is the most exciting and challenging situation.
Whisky Corner: Were you worried it wouldn’t work?
Shane Long: Honestly I didn’t know if it would work or not, I used my years of experience and knowledge, I had an idea as to flavour profile I might achieve and it did work. Our first batch was 2000 litres, but we had no idea how well received this would be.
So, you have the stout, that’s gone well, but where does Jameson Caskmates fit it?
Dave Quinn: We were all excited for Shane, the beer had gone really well, it tasted fantastic and it was incredibly popular. One day Shane called me up and asked if we wanted the casks that were used to matured the beer in back? I said that we didn’t want them, or need them and that Shane could use them in their beer garden, he said he had no room and could we please take then back.
So we took them back and on a whim we refilled the barrels with Jameson Whiskey, we left them there for a few months, truth be told we forgot about them, until the warehouse man reminded us. They had been maturing for about six months. We decided to try the whiskey and see what had happened, we weren’t expecting anything but we were blown away by the whiskey, it had Jameson traditional flavour with other nauances, it was like a threefold profile change with spirit, wood changes, and the beer.
There are extra characters of coffee, cocoa, hops in the background, which comes from the beer, but there is no dominance, and yet it works so well. There is an extra creaminess on the mouthfeel and the taste with an added smoothness to the texture, it was a different and unusual mouthfeel.
Whisky Corner: How many casks did you fill?
Dave Quinn: Our first experiment was 12 barrels and after realising how good it was, we got more barrels from Shane back in 2013 which gave us enough that we could do a pilot release in Ireland.
Marketing did a great job, as Caskmates is an excellent way of describing the collaboration, we gave Shane the casks and he made great beers, and then we got it back and made great whiskey. The production run was very limited and released mainly in in Dublin and Cork and this sold out in two weeks. We then saw bottles up for sale in the secondary resale market and knew that we were on to winner.
In the last 12-18 months we have been working hard on producing enough stock to allow a more widespread release, and are now ready to launch in UK, Ireland and EU and take some to the states too. We are very optimistic and excited about this new release, however we are working together, this isn’t a beer flavoured whiskey or a whiskey flavoured beer. Because of the collaboration there will always be some limitation of supply and we are ok with that.
Whisky Corner: Will this become part of the core range?
Dave Quinn: Yes dependent on any issues with supply and demand. The States shipment was sent last month and is appearing on shelves as we speak.
Whisky Corner: How does this compare to regular Jameson?
Dave Quinn: You can really taste the seasoning, Floral, spicy, creamy in addition cocoa and coffee and the hops in the background. It’s very creamy on the palate, and the hops come through.
Whisky Corner: Are there any plans to experiment with the abv?
Dave Quinn: We decided to leave it at 40% to keep it the same as Jameson. The beer with has an d ABV of 8.4% and there are no plans to change this.
Official press release below
The Jameson Caskmates story began back in 2013, when Jameson Master Distiller, Brian Nation and Master of Whiskey Science, Dave Quinn, first met Franciscan Well Founder and Head Brewer, Shane Long, in a Cork bar.
The Jameson Masters agreed to loan some Jameson casks to the brewery to discover their influence on Irish stout and when the stout-seasoned barrels were returned to the Midleton Distillery, Dave Quinn re-filled them with Jameson Irish whiskey. Over time, the maturation resulted in a new taste sensation: Jameson Caskmates.
The product of curiosity, collaboration and innovation, Jameson Caskmates retains the triple-distilled smoothness of Jameson Original, while adopting additional notes of coffee, cocoa, butterscotch and gentle hints of hops.
The release is set to tap into the existing consumer appetite for craft beer and whiskey, as it fuses the two categories and showcases exceptional versatility; the result can be served neat, on the rocks, as a beer pairing and in beer cocktails. The tag line behind the creative, ‘Triple distilled, once stouted’, reinforces the union of whiskey and beer while injecting the wit and personality of the Jameson brand to further enhance its appeal to millennial consumers.
Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at the Midleton Distillery, says: “When the stout-seasoned Jameson barrels arrived back at Midleton from Franciscan Well, curiosity got the better of us and we experimented by maturing our Jameson Irish whiskey in the casks. We found that after around six months, the perfect balance of flavor was achieved and we couldn’t be happier with the results; Jameson Caskmates retains all the smoothness of triple-distilled Jameson with added cocoa, coffee and butterscotch notes from the stout barrels. We are thrilled that the rest of the world is getting the chance to enjoy this Irish gem!”
Brendan Buckley, Global Innovation Director at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, added: “Jameson and stout are no strangers behind the bar, but for the first time ever they have come together to create our latest innovation, Jameson Caskmates. The story goes right to our heart in Cork, where our Midleton Distillery and the Franciscan Well Brewery are located, and represents what we are most passionate about: Irish craftsmanship, collaboration and innovation. With Jameson Caskmates, we hope to surprise and delight existing Jameson drinkers by providing them with an authentic, new whiskey experience, as well as to recruit craft beer fans globally to the Irish whiskey category.”
Bottled at 40% ABV, Jameson Caskmates is available from September 2015 in eight markets including the USA, South Africa and Ireland, at the RRP of €38.99, $29.99 or local equivalent, supported by global ATL and BTL campaigns, POS and merchandising support tools.