When someone comes along with a new take on a classic, it can go one of two ways: either the new twist turns out to be a total flop, or it transforms the original in an exciting new way that lets us see it in a whole new light. Think of it this way: there is a huge difference between the 2016 film reboot of the original Ben Hur from 1959—did anyone even notice that they did a 2016 remake?—and Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower,” which even Bob Dylan agreed was a better version. This is to say, clever re-imaginings can occasionally produce something unique in a good way.
That brings us to the Stout Edition from Jameson’s young-but-growing Caskmates line. Here’s the story: when Jameson has finished aging their flagship whisky, they send some of their barrels to the nearby Franciscan Well brewery for them to use to age their stout. When they are finished they send the seasoned barrels back to Jameson to be re-filled with their already aged spirit for a few months of finishing. At the end of all of this, the result is the classic Jameson that you already know with some curious enhancements: a more mellowed nose of coffee, chocolate, and a touch of hops; an extra richness to the body; more distinct vanilla notes on the palate; and a warm but brief peppery finish. You can still recognize the classic Jameson underneath, so it is not a ground-up reimagining but more of some artistic embellishing that brings out the whiskey’s natural strengths. While not jaw-droppingly good, the Stout Edition is a well-executed experiment in whisky seasoning that deserves a place on your bar right next to its big brother. If you have not thought of yourself as a Jameson fan previously, give this one a try next time and see if the extra little bit of depth and complexity change your mind.