You’d be hard pressed to find a crowded bar that’s not slinging rounds of “Jamo” multiple times an hour. The iconic whiskey brand Jameson is the biggest in the world, and it’s practically ubiquitous in the bar scene, showing up in dive bar classics from the Green Tea Shot to the Pickleback Shot. Established in 1780, the brand has continued to gain in popularity in Ireland and beyond. If you want to know more about the magical amber liquid that people have been knocking back since the era of powdered wigs, read on for 13 things you should know about Jameson blended Irish whiskey.
Jameson is the #1 Irish whiskey in the world.
Jameson is the best-selling Irish Whiskey in the world, and the third best-selling whiskey worldwide. For many American drinkers, Jameson practically defines the Irish whiskey category.
Jameson’s founder wasn’t even Irish.
John Jameson, the distillery’s namesake, was actually a Scottish legal clerk. He was born in Alloa in 1740. His wife, Margaret Haig (whose brothers were in the Scottish Whiskey business), had family — the Steins — who owned the Bow Street Distillery in Dublin.
John Jameson’s in-laws’ family founded “his” distillery.
The 1780 seen on Jameson bottles refers to the year the Bow Street Distillery was originally founded by John Stein, Jameson’s father-in-law. John Jameson was brought on as the general manager of the distillery, though he didn’t actually take full ownership until 1805. In 1810, the distillery was officially renamed The John Jameson and Son Irish Whiskey Company, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. It was nicknamed “Jameson,” which stuck. It looks like mixing business and pleasure worked out fine for Mr. Jameson.
The Jameson family was fearless.
The Jameson family coat of arms, seen on the brand’s labels, includes the motto “Sine Metu,” which means “without fear.” The family was granted the coat of arms in honor of their pursuit of pirates along the Scottish coast in the seventeen century (hence the ship that also appears on the label.) Additionally, the Jameson brand survived a myriad of catastrophic events: two world wars, an Irish civil war, and American Prohibition.
The Jamesons are a family of fighters.
That explains why legendary Irish mixed martial artist Conor Mcgregor wants to take them down. He declared that his own Irish whiskey brand Proper No. 12 would overtake Jameson in American sales. It hasn’t.
Jameson didn’t sell whiskey by the bottle for over a century.
The distillery did not sell Jameson in bottles until 1968. For nearly two centuries the whiskey had been sold exclusively by the cask to bonders. Now, the trademark green Jameson bottle is one of the most recognizable in the world.
There’s only one functioning Jameson distillery in the world.
Though Jameson is a global superpower, there’s only a single Jameson distillery that’s in operation today. Jameson hasn’t been distilled in Dublin since 1975, at which point the operation was moved to Cork, Ireland. Whiskey lovers can still tour either one of the distilleries, but true history buffs might prefer the one in the Irish capital.
In the 1970s, one company produced all the whiskey in Ireland.
Irish Distillers, formed by a merger of John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son, and the Cork Distillery Company in 1966 — and later Bushmills — was the sole producer of whiskey in all of Ireland for over a decade.
Jameson is owned by a French liquor company.
Pernod Ricard, one of the largest liquor companies in the world, and based in France, acquired the Jameson brand when it purchased Irish Distillers in 1988.
Jameson is aged in American and Spanish oak barrels.
Although Jameson is Irish whiskey, meaning it’s aged in Ireland for at least three years, the brand sources its barrels from Spain and the United States. The barrels were formerly used to age bourbon, which helps to impart the whiskey with notes of vanilla and toasted wood.
It’s made with locally-sourced ingredients.
All of Jameson’s barley is grown in Ireland, and all of the water used in its production process is sourced from the Dungourney River, which flows directly through the distillery.
Jameson is distilled three times.
No wonder it’s so smooth: The Irish whiskey is distilled three times in copper stills to insure its smoothness. Good things come in threes, according to Jamo. They also offer a “Triple Triple” bottle that is not only triple distilled, but triple cask matured.
The Irish whiskey brand is beloved around the globe.
90 percent of Jameson’s production is exported. When Pernod Ricard purchased Jameson, only half of its whiskey left the country, and about half a million cases were produced annually. Today, 90 percent of the 4.7 million cases of Jameson produced are exported around the world.