It wasn't too many St. Patrick's Days ago that I would gleefully head out to an Irish bar by 6 PM, several pints of Guinness or Harp in my future, as well as few shots of Jameson and a lot of bouncing around to the Pogues.
Of course, I still love all those things. I still love that St. Patrick's is just another of the world's wonderful excuses for getting drunk (as long as it leads to an exuberant, non-belligerant state). It's depressing, but I'm older now and sitting here at home laid woefully low by this uber-cold that seems to be devastating most everyone I know, I foresee a mellower St. Paddy's. Yes, I'm wearing something green. There may even be a Guinness in my day. But I'm not doing any shots and will instead be drinking finer whiskey. Gladly, though, it will still be Jameson, now that they've come out with the Rarest Vintage Reserve.
For what it is, regular Jameson is great. Triple-distilled, it's light, quick and easy to shoot when a shot of whiskey is called for (which is often). And that's largely been the profile of Irish whiskey in the world. However, it's not exactly best for those moments when you need a glass of something complex to enhance that contemplative, reflective (congested, fatigued) mood, such as I find myself in today. The Rarest Vintage Reserve is a complete departure, combining well-aged triple-distilled stock with more flambuoyant stocks from a pot still and, reportedly, some of the oldest, rarest stock Jameson had at its warehouse. While it's still got that smoothness of regular Jameson, it is thick and rich where the other whiskey is light. It's complex with a bevy of flavors both savory (coffee, dark chocolate) and sweet (banana, vanilla), finishing with a lengthy note of spice. It's the kind of whiskey I can drink slowly and taste a different aspect of with each sip. It's exceptional, and scopes out a new horizon for Irish whiskey. Yes, it's not a drink for those looking for green beer, whiskey shots, and diving into a mosh pit of Pogues fans. But if this whiskey is what St. Patrick's Day is to an older, sicker guy, I'll take it. Of course, at $250 it's about the same cost as a round-trip ticket to New York. But it's a lot more fun and will last a whole lot longer.