By Richard Thomas
Even before the big brand and packaging relaunch in June, Jameson was already engaged in shaking up its lineup. The biggest early signpost was taking Crested Ten and turning it into Jameson Crested. As with Small Batch becoming Select Reserve “Black” and now Jameson Black Barrel, the classic Crested Ten evolved into Jameson Crested in March. The whiskey in the bottle is the same, but now the titling and imagery are clearly identified with the parent brand and company, rather than appearing as a semi-stand alone.
Crested Ten was long one of Midleton’s best kept secrets, something I had been meaning to write up and rave about for years. My main stumbling block was picking up a bottle to photograph, and with the rebranding it seemed time to push past that qualm. The brand dates to 1963, and the blend holds a high proportion of pot still whiskey, and within that is a high proportion of sherry cask-aged pot still whiskey.
The old “Ten” was somewhat misleading, because it implied ten years old, when in fact the whiskey within hovered around the seven to eight year mark. Essentially it was Jameson with the constituent whiskey blend juggled up. The name change is a good thing in that respect, because it dropped that implication. It is then bottled at the customary Jameson 40% ABV.
The appearance in the glass is the golden hue of a sufficiently aged Irish whiskey, although apparently some coloring has been added to bring that out.
The nose tells you right away that, unlike Powers, the pot still whiskey content in this whiskey is either high enough or of sufficient quality to make a noticeable difference. It smacks of spearmint-spiced honey goodness, with a strong current of toffee.
The liquid flows like velvet over the palate, a smooth run of honey-toffee sweetness, seasoned with a dab of vanilla and spiced up with a pinch peppery mint and ginger. The finish is sweet and moderate, being just warm enough to cause notice.
With Jameson Black having experienced a major price increase, Jameson Crested is now the best bargain buy coming out of Midleton. The strong showing of pot still in the flavor profile and the bargain price tag also makes it a grand starter for those delving into pot still whiskey, general purpose sipping aside. One hopes the rebranding will lead to wider distribution.
Roughly €35 in Europe and £39 in the UK. It’s not regularly available in the United States, but Americans may find it as a special import item.