By Richard Thomas
Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve is billed as the “elder statesmen” of the line by the distillery, and it is certainly the most rarefied bottle of whiskey Jameson produces. Given that Jameson is arguably at the forefront of Irish whiskey labels (it is certainly the most famous), Jameson 18 Year is at the forefront of premium Irish whiskeys. In many parts of the world, where fine scotch and single barrel bourbon are impossible to find, extensive distribution ensures that a bottle of Jameson 18 Year Old Reserve constitutes the very top of a bar’s top shelf.
I’m not enough of a whiskey snob to insist that a bottle labeled “Reserve” come with a cork stopper, although that always contributes to the appearance of the bottle and the drinking experience. However, Jameson 18 Year has a plastic bottle cap, which is a step down from the metal cap of the standard bottle of Jamesons. This is the same sin committed by J&B Reserve 15 Year Old. For some, this is a minor sin, but when you must pay premium prices for a bottle of whiskey, you deserve a premium package.
As cheap as that bottle cap is, there is nothing cheap about how Jameson 18 Year is made. The whiskey is aged for at least 18 years in Oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, and represents a blend of at least three casks, chosen by Jamesons Master Blender. This aged Irish whiskey has a amber-gold color, darker than most Irish whiskeys and very pleasant in the glass. It is bottled at 40% alcohol.
The nose is thick with a spicy toffee scent with mellow hints of woodiness. The latter quality points to one of the most surprising characteristics of the 18 Year, since one might expect more wood from a whiskey that spent almost two decades in the barrel. On the palate, the toffee retreats into a smooth, even blend of oily fudge, wood, toffee and vanilla. The finish is very smooth. Overall, I think the prolonged aging and skilled blending enhance the complexity of the whiskey without eliminating the signature lightness of the Irish style.
A bottle of Jamesons 18 Year Old Limited Reserve is usually priced at between $90 and $100 on liquor store shelves. Although the whiskey can be found on the internet for under $90, after shipping and handling is included the price will be in tune with what is available on the liquor store shelves.