The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 61 of 148

january-february 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  61 Of course, it's not just this country that loves Jameson. The spirit also sees climbing sales in Russia, where brown spirits keep chopping into vodka's long reign, and in South Africa, one of Jameson's first export markets and one with a devoted and still-growing following. Caulfield, who previously worked on the brand in France and Australia, is now focused on the U.S. market and says there's no denying where Jameson really rules: "The brand thrives in the U.S. That's been the case for the past decade." During that decade, the U.S. saw overall Irish whiskey sales soar several hundred percent, making it the fastest growing category in the domestic spirits industry. But it's also interesting to note how different parts of the country have an affinity for different types of whiskey. Caulfield points to more established markets with strong levels of discernment, like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, where the original Jameson, with its iconic malty, fruity character, does very well. "But Minnesota, too, has a strong whiskey culture; and in Austin, Nashville and Seattle, influential consum- ers—those who start art, music and cultural trends in the country—really push for craft spirits and small-batch whiskeys." Jameson is right there with them. Jameson Black Barrel Nation While the original Jameson—triple-distilled and fabled for its affinity with ginger ale—has long been respected by consumers and the beverage trade alike, there has been a steady appetite for bolder flavors that shows no signs of abating. In 2011, intending to bring some Irish excitement to the American palate, Jameson debuted Jameson Black Barrel, a blend of pot still whiskey blended with small-batch grain whiskey that's matured in extra-charred American oak. "The U.S. has a very cocktail-centric bar culture, so it was important for us to make Jameson Black Barrel for bartenders to be able to express themselves with," says Caulfield, adding that, for original Jameson drink- ers, "It's been a natural trade-up." Anthony Malone, Director of Operations at Pier A Harbor House in Manhattan, agrees: "Everyone now expects well-made cocktails in every food-and-beverage location. For us, it's about being clever with what we're doing and standing out with quality ingredients. Jameson Black Barrel fits our program really well. It's very easy for us to offer it as a trade-up so consumers can experience different Irish whiskey profiles." Malone admires Jameson Black Barrel's versatility and amplified flavor profile as definite pluses for cocktails. "There's clearly great flavor here for an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan," he says, "and it takes infusions really well." North of Pier A, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, The Penrose is a modern take on the traditional Irish pub, and General Manager Peter Vasconcellos says its cocktail program mirrors that concept: "We rely on the classics for the DNA of our cocktails, but we do some experimentation and some forward thinking with our originals." Functionally speaking, Jameson Black Barrel is rich and smooth and "very easy to sip," he says. "But one of the first cocktails we tried it in was a take-off on the Boulevardier. It was absolutely delicious." we recognize that bartenders have played a massive role in making Jameson what it is today," says Patrick Caulfield, Senior Brand Manager for Jameson Irish Whiskey at Pernod Ricard USA, on the success— dominance, actually—of Jameson in America's Irish whiskey market. "We're amazingly fortunate that we're on a great trajectory, inspired largely by advocacy and word of mouth of bartenders who bring so much of their own passion to promoting it." Peter Vasconcellos, General Manager of The Penrose on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

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