Jameson vs Jack Daniels Compared – All You Need to Know

It is often said that comparison is the best way to judge progress. This is so true, especially when it comes to comparing two iconic whiskeys, Jameson and Jack Daniel’s. However, taste in whiskey is also a matter of preference; some enjoy the softer side while others prefer the oak punch while ensuring everything remains smooth. This is why James Irish Whiskey is the best alcoholic beverage and highly recommended as well.

Want to know why? Then you should read this article to the end. Let’s start by taking a look at each of these whiskeys to find out why they are the leaders in the industry today, and why James Irish Whiskey takes the vote.

Main Differences between Jameson and Jack Daniel’s

Now that you have arrived at this point, have you ever wondered what the difference is between Jameson Irish whiskey and Jack Daniel’s? both are whiskeys, but that does not mean that they are the same.

In a few words, therefore, here are the main differences between Jameson and Jack Daniel’s whiskeys:

  • Jameson is an Irish Whiskey while Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey, not a bourbon
  • Jameson undergoes pot still distillation (a traditional method that produces heavy, alcoholic beverage with strong characteristics, i.e. aroma and body) while Jack Daniel’s undergoes patent distillation (an industrial process that produces alcoholic beverages with high alcohol content but lacks the real taste or feel of constituent ingredients)
  • Jameson is a triple distilled and blended Irish whiskey made from malted barley and other components. Jack Daniel’s is produced from sour mash and mellowed with sugar maple charcoal before aging.
  • Jameson is aged in bourbon barrels, sherry butts, and port pipes which impart the complexity of the spirit. Jack Daniel’s is aged in new, American white oak
  • Jameson is produced by Jameson & Son in Midleton Single Distillery, County Cork, Republic of Ireland while Jack Daniel’s is produced by Jack Daniel’s Distillery from Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Now that you can tell the difference between these two

Jameson Irish Whiskey

jameson

Jameson Irish Whiskey is not only one of the most popular – i.e. the world’s #1 Irish whiskey – spirits globally but also the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world. This smooth and robust spirit that is perfect for cocktails and shots is the only Irish whiskey among the Top 100 whiskeys in the world!

According to a report released in 2014, Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing spirit category in the United States, with over 90 percent of its production exported to other parts of the world for consumption. This phenomenal growth is said to be linked with its acquisition in 1988 by a French parent company known as Pernod Ricard.

The love for Jameson has spread from the United States to other parts of the world. It is enjoyed with relish in about 122 countries globally, thereby accounting for the largest share of the global Irish whiskey market.

So, what makes Jameson so popular in the whiskey-verse apart from its affinity with ginger ale and its pleasant smoothness? Let’s take a more exhaustive look at this iconic brand, starting from its brief history.

The Brief History of Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson Irish Whiskey came into existence sometime in the 18th century – i.e. the 1780s – soon after the creator, John Jameson, a Scottish attorney, got married in 1786. The couple eventually moved to Dublin to manage a distillery known as Stein’s Bow Street Distillery.

At the time that, before the advent of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Dublin was renowned as the best producer of whiskey, especially in Ireland. Only the Irish Distillery produced and sold whiskey in the 1970s.

It was on this particular belief that Mr. John Jameson – who was adamant in his refusal to cut corners on quality products – built the eponymous brand that many have grown to love today.

The year 1780 has been earmarked as the year the first Jameson whiskey hit the market, and this is why it is used in Jameson marketing. The Stein’s Distillery – which was founded by John Stein – was established that same year.

John Jameson displayed highly remarkable and shrewd business acumen, and soon enough, the production of his unique brand of whiskey increased tremendously from 30,000 gallons annually to more than 1,000,000 at the turn of the 19th century.

John went ahead to establish the John Jameson and Son Irish Whiskey Company in 1810. But sales became slow soon after following the temperance campaign in Ireland, the trade war with Britain, and the Irish War of independence.

In 1966, John Jameson merged with John Powers and Cork Distillers to form a new company known as the Irish Distillers triumvirate. Production soon moved from the renowned Bow Street distillery in Dublin to the large, modern distillery in County Cork, constructed by Irish Distillers.

Thus, an end came to more than 200 years of Jameson whiskey production – and dominance – in Dublin. To this day, the Old Jameson Distillery in Bow Street – which has become a tourist center – offers tastings and tours.

Today, Jameson is owned by the Pernod Ricard group which took over Irish Distillers back in 1988. Annual sales of the world’s #1 Irish whiskey topped 4.7 million cases – i.e. about 56.4 million bottles – in 2013.

How Jameson Irish Whiskey is Produced or Made

The production of Jameson Irish whiskey is a tedious process; however, the fact that Jameson Irish Whiskey is made from triple distillation, the finest ingredients, and undergoes aging in seasoned oak barrels makes it worthwhile.

The spirit is distilled from a blend of single malt whiskey, single pot still whiskey, and grain whiskey. The process involves the use of a mixture of both unmalted (or “green”) and malted Irish barley. These ingredients are sourced from a 50-mile radius around the distillery situated in Cork.

That is to let you know that all ingredients used in the production of Jameson Irish Whiskeys are fresh.

The Malting Process

Traditionally, during the harvest season, barley is harvested and stored in silos close to the distillery just before they are conveyed to the malting floors.

The harvested barley is then steeped in water to set off the natural germination process. After seeping in water, it will be taken out and spread on malting floors manually using a variety of tools.

The grain is then turned from time to time so that there is an even growth over the next few days, i.e. five days to be exact.  The regular turning of the grains also safeguards the malt from getting attacked by molds.

During this waiting period, enzymes are quietly transforming the starch inside the grain into sugar. This is when the germination is stopped and then the grains are spread out to dry until only about 4 percent moisture is left. Mind you; this is the traditional process.

The modern-day process – i.e. today’s process – the traditional method no longer counts as a lot of adjustments have been made over the years.

In this case, the barley is malted in the big malting companies that produce it a lot more efficiently and can supply both the beer and whiskey industries. Peat levels can even be specified in the letter.  For Jameson, the barley used in producing the spirit is dried with the use of a closed kiln which is powered by natural gas. There was a time when anthracite coal was used, but that was in the not too distant past.

The Fermentation Process

After the starch has been fully converted into sugar by enzymes, it will be extracted from the corn. Malt mills are used for grinding down the malt in the grist, i.e. a coarse substance.

The grist is then mixed with hot water so that the sugar can be eliminated. The grist and water are mixed inside mash tuns up to three times. And each time they are mixed, the temperature is increased until it reaches 95 degrees Celsius.

By the third time that the mixing occurs, the amount of sugar extracted by this time is negligible. The water is then preserved for use when the next batch is introduced into the mash tun. The relatively sweet water is known as “wort” and is used during the fermentation process.

The wort is cooled until it reaches around 20 degrees Celsius before yeast is then added to it. This results in a solution which is placed in pinewood washbacks for up to 48 hours, minimum or 96 hours, maximum. This allows the yeast to work on the sugar, thereby resulting in the development of alcohol. At this time, bubbles of carbon dioxide can be observed as they rise from the solution.

The washbacks used today are built with stainless steel, and the majority of them come with cooling systems that help to control the speed of fermentation.

Distillation

The Jameson distillery makes use of a blend of triple distilled “pour pot still” – i.e. “single-pot still” whiskey – and column-distilled grain whiskey.

“Single-pot still” refers to the distillation of a blend of unmalted and malted barley. this practice was birthed in Ireland for the sole purpose of circumventing the payment of tax. Malted barley was taxed at the time, but unmalted barley was not.

Single-pot Still Distillation

Here, the process begins with the wash into the first pot still, known as “wash still.” Heat is applied to it until it produces an alcohol solution, measured about 20 to 25 percent volume.

The heat is intense enough to make the light alcohol to evaporate to the neck of the pot still, and when the vapors become cool, the resulting liquid is collected in spirit receivers. The remaining part of the wash, however, is left in the pot.

Column Still Distillation

The wash is introduced at a high point and allowed to flow down through the still. Steam is introduced into the column at the lower part of the structure. The steam rises against the down-flowing stream of the wash.

The alcohol has an excellent chance to evaporate and rise to the upper part of the still. In the end, different elements present in the wash are separated throughout the entire still. The lighter alcohol is at the top of the still while water and other residues are collected at the bottom of the column.

Other whiskey brands repeat this distillation process only once and then proceed to the next stage. However, this is not the practice at Jameson distillery. The entire distillation process is repeated three times. That is why Jameson portrays the extraordinary blended smoothness it is known for and the primary reason why it has remained the #1 best-selling Irish whiskey in the world today.

Cask and Maturation

To mature this Irish whiskey will require the use of casks made from oak. During the aging process, some of the alcohol escape. They are known as Angel’s Share, so it is alright to allow them to escape. And so, after the whiskey has reached full maturation, it is then vatted in big, steel tanks for bottling.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Tasting Notes

Jameson portrays a sweet fragrance of malted barley along with subtle oak and butter tones. The palate is also marked the same as the fragrance with the grain turning much darker and even more apparent with notes of spicy nut mixing in and out.

The whiskey finishes with honey and smoky (spicy) snaps of barley which work through the long fade.

The Different Types of Jameson Irish Whiskey

There are several varieties of Jameson Irish Whiskeys in the market today. Here they are in no particular order:

•    Jameson Original

•    Jameson Gold Reserve (It is the only version of Jameson that makes use of virgin American oak for maturation)

•    Jameson Signature Reserve, which is exclusive to travel retail and duty-free shops around the world

•    Jameson 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve is available at their two visitor centers in Ireland and also available on their online shop

•    Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel, an expression available in limited quantities in the United States

•    Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve, which was formerly known as Jameson 1780

•    Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. Containing Jameson’s oldest and rarest whiskey components

•    Jameson Caskmates, a blend finished in stout-seasoned barrels

•    Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve

•    Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition

•    Jameson The Blender’s Dog

•    Jameson The Cooper’s Croze

How to Drink Your Jameson Irish Whiskey

How you drink your whiskey is always down to your taste as well as your choice. Jameson is and always has been an exceedingly pleasing sipper for robust whiskey connoisseurs and an impressive cocktail ingredient.

Therefore, you can choose to drink your Jameson Irish whiskey in the following ways:

•    Straight

•    With a bit of water

•    On the rocks

•    In cocktails (Irish Coffee, The Tipperary, Irish Lemonade, The Midleton Mule, Salt & Honey, House Hot Whiskey, The Grand Stretch, The Granny Smithfield)

•    With ginger ale (1 part Jameson, 2 parts ginger ale)

•    With a bit of club soda

Quick Fun Facts about the Jameson Irish Whiskey

•    The Local Pub located in Minneapolis is said to be the only tavern that pours more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other gin mill in the world

•    Jameson Irish Whiskey has a Latin motto printed on the label, “Sine metu” meaning “without fear.”

•    John Jameson’s in-laws’ family founded the distillery where he started from. John Stein founded the Bow Street Distillery in 1780, hence the date of establishment of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Jameson himself was brought on board as the General Manager but took full ownership in 1805

•    The Local, which is an Irish pub located in Minneapolis, sold 22 bottles of Jameson a day in 2008. That is 671 cases of Jameson Irish Whiskey. the pub became the largest server or provider of Jameson Irish Whiskey in the world and even held that title consecutively for four years

•    Jameson & Son’s distillery did not sell whiskey by the bottle until 1968. Up till then, and for almost 200 years, the distillery exclusively sold whiskey by the cask to bonders

•    The primary ingredients in Jameson Irish Whiskey are maize, unmalted barley, malted barley, and Irish water drawn from the Dungourney River local to the distillery

•    90 percent of Jameson’s production is exported to other countries of the world. At the time Pernod Ricard took over the ownership of Jameson’s distillery, only half of the company’s whiskey left the shores of the country

•    Approximately half a million cases of the Irish whiskey were produced annually. But that is not the case today as up to 90 percent of the 4.7 million cases of Jameson Irish Whiskey produced every year find their way to other parts of the world

•    Jameson is usually aged in bourbon barrels, port pipes, and sherry butts between 4-7 years

The Best Jack Daniel’s Whiskeys

It is touted as America’s most famous whiskey and produced from the first, registered distillery in the United States. The distillery was established in 1866 by Jasper Newton Daniel a.k.a. Jack Daniel. The distillery was the birthplace of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey as we know it today.

The rapid growth of the Jack Daniel’s brand – i.e. the Old No. 7 – earned a gold medal at the World’s Fair in 1904. That was the first of the seven gold medals that the alcoholic beverage has won consistently to date.

Jack Daniel’s has come a pretty long way in its almost 150-year history. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the alcoholic beverage was able to solidify its place in pop culture when it started telling the world its story. Jack Daniel’s is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee by the Jack Daniel Distillery. This distillery was acquired by Brown-Forman Corporation in 1956.

A Brief History of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey

According to the official website of the Jack Daniel’s brand, the founder of one of America’s bestselling whiskeys, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, was born sometime in 1850 which is the date on the founder’s tombstone. But in reality, no one really knows for sure as his birth certificate was destroyed in a fire when he was very young.

He became orphaned when his father passed way in the Civil War and left home since he didn’t get along well with his step-mother.

Jack Daniel was taken in a little later – i.e. as a teenager – by a local moonshine distiller and preacher known as Dan Call. The preacher had a master distiller who was an enslaved African-American named Nathan “Nearest” Green who was burdened with the task of teaching young Jack Daniel the art of making whiskey. Nathan Green gained his freedom later on, but he stayed and continued to work with Call.

Jack Daniel inherited some money from his father’s estate from which he founded the distilling business with Call, only this time it was a business that was duly registered and legal to operate. Call handed the reins of the business to Jack Daniel for religious reasons sometime in 1884. He purchased the entire hollow land where the distillery is presently situated.

In the 1880s, Jack Daniel’s became the second-most productive distillery right after Tom Eaton’s Distillery and one of the 15 legally registered distilleries operating in Moore County. He switched over to using square-shaped bottles in 1897; the shape of the bottle was designed to convey a feeling of integrity and fairness.

What is the Origin of The “Old No 7” Brand Name?

As stated by Jack Daniel’s biographer, the number was assigned to Jack Daniel’s distillery for legal, government registration. When the federal government re-drew the district later, Jack Daniel was forced to change the registration number from No. 7 in district 4 to Number 16 in district 5.

But by then, the Jack Daniel’s brand had already been established and so he had no choice than to continue using his original number as part of his brand name. The popularity of Jack Daniel’s soared to the high heaven when the whiskey was awarded a gold medal for the finest whiskey at the 1904St. Louis World’s Trade Fair. At the time, the local reputation of Jack Daniel’s was taking a severe hit, no thanks to the temperance movement, which was gaining a lot of ground in Tennessee.

Jack Daniel, just before he passed away, handed the reins of running the distillery business to two of his nephews since he had no child. One of the nephews bought out the other one and operated the distillery successfully for the next 40 years.

Jack Daniel, however, passed away in 1911 as a result of blood poisoning, as against the tales making the rounds that he injured his foot when he angrily kicked an unopened safe in his office. It is alleged that he developed an infection in one of his toes, which eventually led to his demise.

Jack Daniel’s and the United State Government

During the height of World War II, the United States government banned the production of whiskey, and so Jack Daniel’s ceased operations from 1942 to 1946.

From 90 U.S. proof to 80 Proof

Until 1987, Jack Daniel’s black label was, with respect to history, produced at 90 U.S. proof, i.e. 45 percent alcohol by volume. The lower-end green label product was 80 proof. And so, every label variations were reduced in proof. This move began with the black label which was initially brought down to 86 proof. Both the green and black label expressions are made from the same set of ingredients; only professional tasters could determine the difference between the two.

In 2002, there was a further dilution in which every one of Jack Daniel’s products was brought down to 80 proof, thereby lowering excise taxes and production costs. This reduction of the alcohol content was made without any publicity, announcement, and no changing of logo or packaging was noticed.

This action made the brand to receive a lot of flak, especially by Modern Drunkard Magazine. However, the sales of Jack Daniel’s significantly increased from the period the dilution began, thus affirming the brand’s claim that consumers preferred the lower-proof alcoholic beverages.

How Jack Daniel’s Whiskey is Produced or Made

Jack Daniel’s is made from a mash made from rye, corn, and malted barley. It is then distilled in copper stills and filtered through 3 m (10-foot) stacks of sugar maple charcoal.

This filtering process – a.k.a. Mellowing – is followed by the Lincoln County Process, which involves eliminating impurities as well as the taste of corn. It is alleged that this extra step makes the product different from bourbon.

But according to the terms outlined in Canadian law as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is a requirement for Tennessee whiskey to be referred to as “a straight bourbon whiskey.”

The Jack Daniel’s brand grinds the charcoal that is used for the filtering process. After the distillate has been filtered, the whiskey is set for maturing and stored in newly handcrafted oak barrels. These oak barrels give the whiskey its renowned flavor and color.

On the product label, you will notice the words “sour mash” whiskey; what this means is that during the preparation of the mash, some of the wet solids from a previously used batch are mixed in to help facilitate the fermentation process so that it can operate consistently. This practice is a common one in the production of American whiskey.

All straight bourbon produced today, especially since 2005, is made using the sour mash process.

Many oak barrels, after they have been used for aging Jack Daniel’s, are moved to Scotland where they can be used during the production of Scotch whiskey.

The Different types of Jack Daniel’s

Here are the different labels from the Jack Daniel’s brand arranged in no particular order:

•    Old No. 7, also known as “Black Label”: this is the original Jack Daniel’s label (80 proof/40% ABV; previously 90 proof/45% ABV until 1987)

•    Single Barrel Whiskey: (94 proof/47% ABV)

•    Green Label:  (80 proof/40% ABV)

•    Gentleman Jack: Charcoal filtered twice, compared to once with Old No. 7 (80 proof/40% ABV)

•    1907: A lighter, slightly sweeter bottling of Old No. 7, from the cooler areas of the warehouse and sold in the Australian market (74 proof/37% ABV)

•    Tennessee Honey: Honey liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV)

•    Silver Select: For export only (100 proof/50% ABV)

•    Tennessee Fire: Cinnamon liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV)

•    Winter Jack: Seasonal blend of apple cider liqueur and spices (30 proof/15% ABV)

•    Single Barrel Rye: a permanent line extension and the brand’s first fully matured rye whiskey, launched 2016 (94 proof/47% ABV)

•    Sinatra Century: Honors the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra (100 proof / 50% ABV); Limited Edition

•    No. 27 Gold: Limited release (80 proof/40% ABV)

•    Single Barrel Barrel Proof (125–140 proof / 62.5–70% ABV, depending on the bottle you get)

•    Sinatra Select: Tribute to Jack’s biggest fan: Mr. Frank Sinatra (90 proof / 45% ABV)

How to Drink Your Jack Daniel’s

You can drink Jack Daniel’s neat, on the rocks or in a Lynchburg Lemonade as well as in a Jack and Coke. Some drinks that call for Jack Daniel’s include:

•    Southern Joe

•    Jack-o-lantern

•    Three wise men

Whichever way you choose to have it is up to you.

Jack Daniel’s Tasting Notes

Jack Daniel’s Black Label – which is the flagship drink of the brand – offers gentle aromas of vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel on the nose. A hint of toffee notes as well as wood is also very apparent, especially when it opens up in the glass.

On the palate, Jack Daniel’s has a smooth, smoky sweetness that is thrilling with a corn syrupy note. The light licorice note – which is apparent in all the various types of whiskeys produced by the brand – is not overwhelming but enhances the flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, nuts, freshly brewed coffee, and English toffee.

The complexity and depth that is hidden in a bottle of Jack Daniel’s cannot be fully comprehended. This is because when you settle down with one and think through the different flavors that appear on your palate, you will be surprised at the end of the day.

Jack Daniel’s has a quick but sweet finish with a hint of spices, oaky notes and a little touch of cedar mixed with warm caramel. These, however, give way to walnuts and pepper.

Quick Fun Facts about Jack Daniel’s

•    Jack Daniel’s is the 4th best-selling whiskey, and America’s best-selling spirit in the entire world (measured by value).

•    Jack Daniel’s is produced in a dry county; however, you can still legally purchase several bottles of Jack Daniel’s when you take a tour of the distillery. That whiskey inside the commemorative bottle – which was, in fact a loophole that was established in state law – is free.

•    Frank Sinatra so loved Jack Daniel’s that it was once said that he climbed one of his stages and called the American whiskey the “nectar of the gods.” He was the first unofficial ambassador of Jack Daniel’s, and that announcement significantly boosted the sales of the spirit across several counties.

When Frank Sinatra passed away, he was buried with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s along with a dollar’s worth of dimes, a pack of Camel cigarettes, and a Zippo lighter.

A new 90-proof Jack Daniel’s whiskey – known as Sinatra Select – was created and named in his honor. The whiskey is still available today. He is the first individual who was not an employee of Jack Daniel’s but had his name on a bottle of the renowned Tennessee whiskey.

•    Jack Daniel’s quest to beat his competitors while producing the finest whiskey the world has ever seen led to only make use of the iron-free cave spring water on his property. The cave is situated at the base of a limestone cliff; the limestone takes out iron from the sediment-free water – with a steady temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit – as it flows through, making it ideal for distillation. Iron-heavy water gives the whiskey a bad taste by ruining both its color as well as its flavor

•    To mellow his whiskey, the spirit had to pass through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal which was changed out often to produce better and more consistent whiskey.

•    Jack Daniel’s is left to mature in uninsulated buildings. Warm weather forces the whiskey into the cracks of wooden barrels in which they are left to age during the summer season. But the cold weather in winter pushes the whiskey back out. This is how the alcoholic beverage gets its flavor and color.

These occurrences happen for the next four years before the initial testing is performed. If it is ready, the whiskey is bottled. But if not, it is returned to the building and tested again at years five and six.

However, the maximum time for maturation of whiskey is eight years, beyond which it starts to lose its notable sweetness.

•    Brown-Forman spends hundreds of millions of dollars on expansion. The explosive and remarkable growth of Jack Daniel’s led to a $103 million expansion in 2013, and an additional $140 million investment has been made in the distillery and visitor center just three years later, i.e. February 2016. Two other barrel houses are to be constructed as well.

•    Jack Daniel’s is the second best-selling whiskey among travelers at duty-free shops, up to 889,000 cases annually. It is alleged to be the 3rd most popular overall, coming behind only Johnnie Walker and Absolut Vodka.

•    Jack Daniel’s distillery, which is a major tourist attraction, is said to draw up to 250,000 visitors every year. Paid – along with premium sampling – tours of the distillery are carried out several times a day.

•    Jack Daniel’s distillery has a visitor center that was dedicated in 2000 and is decorated with memorabilia that relates to the distillery. There is also a gift shop at the center, too.

•    Jameson is available at 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), i.e. 80 proof. Jack Daniel’s also comes at 40 percent ABV, (80 proof)

•    Jameson is as smooth as silk, thanks to its triple distillation, just like vodka. The best way to enjoy it is by taking it neat or on ice. Jack Daniel’s work best when used as a mixer, though a few people enjoy taking it neat or on ice. However, some whiskey connoisseurs think it is somewhat brash but would redly recommend Gentleman Jack for those looking for nice, straight sipping, Tennessee whiskey.

Conclusion

These two giants in the whiskey industry, i.e. Jameson Irish Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s, continue to make waves around the world. They are enjoyed respectively by all and sundry, especially in the whiskey-verse.

But the clear winner in this comparison article is Jameson Irish Whiskey. It is not only the #1 Irish whiskey in the world but also the most beloved around the world as more than 90 percent of the product – which is produced in Ireland – is exported to other parts of the world.

Recommended Reads:

Ben Holt

Ben has years of experience with wine, whiskey, and scotch. After becoming a wine sommelier, he decided to focus his attention on the dark southern gold we call whiskey. Now a seasoned vet in the whiskey game, he regularly provides Whiskey Watch with the latest whiskey info and his personal opinion on the best whiskeys in the world.
Close Menu