Did you know beer and whiskey are long-lost brothers? They both contain a mixture of water, barley, and yeast. That mixture is then malted, milled, and mashed into a hot, sugary liquid called wort. The wort is then fermented, and yeast is added to create a beautiful, glorious, low-ABV beer. This is the point where the process of making beer ends, however, there are a few more steps to create a whiskey. That sour beer is then put into a copper pot still to be distilled into whiskey. Boom. Boozy brothers. (Air five.)
From their genesis, beer and whiskey share a lot in common, so it makes sense that the two would complement each other as brothers do, or so two Irishmen thought when they came up with the idea of stouting. As a novice lover of whiskey and semi-experienced craft beer drinker, I was curious to find out more. What better way to learn about the craft than from experienced Jameson Brand Ambassador Killian Lee? I quickly learned stouting was far more complex than dropping whiskey into a stout; my "whiskey aficionado" status had a long way to go...
The story of stouting starts in 2013 when an Irishman walked into a local brewery in Cork, Franciscan Well, for a sleepy pint after work. "Franciscan Well is called that because it’s on the ruins of the monastery, and so the notion in Cork city is that the water that is used there has healing qualities," said Lee as he recounted their story. "You know us Irish — we have a story behind everything."
Dave Quinn, one of the distillers at Jameson, met frequently with his long-time friend Shane Long in the tap room of Franciscan Well after work. Long is the head brewer and founder of Franciscan Well, so naturally they had plenty to talk about.
Quinn and Long were discussing a recent trend in North America. Brewers there were maturing their beers in bourbon-aged barrels, which resulted in a robust fusion of the two drinks' signature flavors. Intrigued and anxious to experiment, Long asked Quinn if he had any spare barrels lying around he could take a crack at. In the spirit of innovation and fearless exploration, Quinn agreed — and thus, the seed was planted.
For this experiment, Long wanted to use a traditional Irish stout to complement the bold flavors of the Irish whiskey. He filled several used Jameson barrels with his recently brewed beer. The beer sat inside the barrels for approximately four to six months, soaking up all the flavors, like a nice pork roast pulling in all the flavors and spices from a slow cooker. After the beer aged, the barrels were ready to be opened, and the mysterious liquid was prime for consumption. The two tapped the newly formed Jameson Barrel Aged Stout and admired the glass as it ascended toward their lips.
The resulting stout was a harmonious blend of each drink's distinct qualities.
If you were to grab a pint of stout right now, you would notice its velvety texture with notes of chocolate and coffee. Now imagine that beer soaking in a barrel that had absorbed all the flavors of Jameson whiskey. "Whenever you think of the notes that are in Jameson, that sort of soft vanilla, that spiciness from the copper pot still, that very much is an Irish trait in our whiskeys...enhanced by those kind of bitter chocolate notes and coffee notes coming through the stout," said Lee.
Since 1780, the Jameson family motto has been Sine Metu which means to live "without fear." True to the family motto, both Quinn and Long had no idea how the resulting beer would taste, but they experimented anyway. After taking a sip of their little experiment, they were delighted by what they had discovered. Inspired by the success, Quinn wanted to take it a step further. He took the barrels back and filled them with fully matured Jameson Irish Whiskey. The wood of the barrels had now soaked in all those rich chocolate and coffee notes from the stout.
They knew from previous craft brewers that the beer would taste great after soaking in Jameson barrels. What they didn't know was what Jameson would taste like after it soaked in those stout barrels. After six months of waiting, Long and Quinn opened the whiskey barrels and extracted the mysterious liquid. The instant it hit their tongues, they knew they had made a beautiful discovery. The final liquid had all the robust characteristics of Jameson Irish Whiskey, a balance between the spiciness of the pot still and wood with vanilla notes, enhanced with flavors of butterscotch, toffee, and chocolate from the stout. Their hard work had paid off; their new form of stouting was a success.
What makes Jameson Caskmates so unique is the diversity of flavors coming from the craft beer barrels that complements the signature smooth taste of Jameson. All of these flavors are elevated when it goes through the stouting process, making a really unique and enjoyable whiskey. True to Jameson's family motto, Sine Metu, one bold decision to try something new led to a brilliant discovery. “It came from this genuine relationship between these two guys, these two Cork men,” said Lee, "and that is how Caskmates was born."
Try Jameson Caskmates today to experience the bold blend of stout beer and Jameson Irish Whiskey for yourself.
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