Irish whiskey maker Jameson debuted Jameson 18-Year-Old Bow Street Edition Wednesday, the first whiskey to be matured in its Dublin distillery since 1975.
The whiskey, called “Jameson Bow Street 18 Years” is a cask strength whiskey that represents the brand’s strongest globally available whiskey ever, and its new top of the line.
While the Jameson you typically buy at the store comes in at 40%, Bow Street comes in at 55.3% ABV and is meant for sipping, not shooting at your local bar. While your normal glass of whiskey would be “proofed” and diluted with water, cask strength is sold the same way it comes out of the barrel. The lack of water dilution also gives the whiskey a lot of flavor.
“For me Jameson 18 has always been one of my go-to whiskeys. I love it. I think the flavor profile of it has been amazing,” Brian Nation, Master Distiller at Jameson tells Fortune. “To have it as a cask strength expression as well now — it takes all of those flavors, that rich wood, that toffee, that spice, and it raises up the level because of the intensity of cask strength.”
When you buy a bottle of Jameson off the shelf at your local store, it’s been both distilled and matured at the brand’s distillery in Midleton, several hours outside of Dublin. For the Bow Street Edition, the whiskey is also distilled outside of the city and aged between 18 and 22 years. Afterward, it’s aged in a combination of first-fill American bourbon barrels, 2nd-fill American bourbon barrels, and sherry barrels for 18 to 22 years, then blended together. That blended together “married” whiskey is then put back into barrels that are brought to the distillery’s original Dublin location where they mature for an additional 6 to 12 months.
“That whole marrying, what it does is it allows the flavors to almost gel together and to develop a complexity of taste. It also reintroduces a little bit more of that first-fill bourbon cask type of flavor that almost enhances the vanilla sweetness,” says Nation. “Because this is a relatively short marrying period some of that bourbon influence comes through as well. It just brings the whiskey together.”
The blend is created and tended to by Jameson’s head blender Billy Leighton.
“There was an underlying demand for a cask strength Jameson,” says Leighton. He says that while the basic blend for the Bow Street 18 is similar to Jameson’s traditional 18-year whiskey, the fact that it’s a smaller batch aged in a different location gives the whiskey a distinctive taste.
Jameson closed its Bow Street distillery in 1975. Today, the old distillery serves as a visitors center for the brand in Dublin where visitors can learn about Jameson’s history and participate in whiskey tastings and blending classes.
Jameson plans to make the whiskey part of its regular lineup, although each run is limited to 84 barrels, so the supply will be exceptionally limited. The whiskey launched Wednesday at the distillery for €240, or about $290 and will come to select markets in the United States in early August.