The Jameson Experience
Spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a novel idea, and likely the setting of a movie saved for watching on the plane. While Dublin is a beautiful city, full of charm, history and character, its reputation for heavy consumption is no secret. Couple this with what may be the country’s biggest export, St. Patrick’s Day, and you may have a recipe for excessive memory loss and a visit to the consulate in search of a new passport.
For as long as I can remember, March 17th marks the one day a year when everyone is Irish. It also serves as the unofficial kick off to spring and the only pseudo holiday that everyone finds a way to celebrate, and almost never forgets. And obviously there’s the green, which is especially present in Chicago (my home town) where the river is dyed bright green to celebrate Ireland’s patron Saint. This year, to kick off spring and St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to join Jameson for a tour of duty through Dublin. It provided the opportunity to see if all the fuss was true, or if like most international imports, the American version is nothing but excessive.
The John Jameson & Sons story is a good one. Built from hard work and consistency, the family owned business has been distilling Irish whiskey for over 200 years, becoming the world’s largest exporter. And for good reason. What started in 1780 with John Jameson and his passion to produce a spirit, grew into true family business and a household name that would win the world over, becoming one of the most globally recognizable brands. Ever since Mr. Jameson brought his Scottish roots over to Dublin, where he set up shop on Bow Street, Jameson whiskey has continued to flow despite famines, two world wars, blockades and a US prohibition.
Today, Jameson has outgrown their Dublin home and moved south to Midleton, Co Cork, where full production takes place and where over a thousands barrels of whiskey stand idle awaiting bottling and eventual sale around the globe. And while production has moved from its Bow Street home, at its core, Jameson is still a very Dublin company. This was evidenced during our visit to the old distillery in the Smithfield neighborhood, where we were offered a glimpse into how the spirit made, from grain to glass, and what makes it special amongst a continually crowded whiskey market.
Walking around the home base of the world’s most famous drinking holiday is a surreal experience. Like their American cousins, people are out in numbers; enjoying themselves and raising a glass in what is an overwhelmingly positive and civil environment. Over the course our St. Patrick’s day whirlwind, the good folks at Jameson gave us not only several tastes of whiskey, but a true taste of how important March 17th is to both Dubliners and everyone who is Irish, even if only for a day. [Jameson]