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Jameson

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  • Located at: Ireland
  • Founded in: 1780
  • Status:

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When John Jameson a Scottish businessman [2] acquired the Bow Street Distillery in 1780 it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the century it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world producing a million gallons annually. Dublin at the time was the epicentre of world whiskey production. It was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum, and internationally Jameson had, by 1805, become the world's number one whiskey. Today Jameson is the third largest Single Distillery Whiskey in the world. Historical events, for a time, set the company back. The temperance movement in Ireland had an enormous impact domestically but the two key events that affected Jameson internationally were the Irish war of Independence and subsequent trade war with the British which denied Jameson the export markets of the Commonwealth, and shortly thereafter, the introduction of prohibition in the United States. While Scottish brands could easily slip across the Canadian border, Jameson was excluded from its biggest market for many years. It was also a fact that the introduction of basic grain whiskey production using column stills by the Scottish blenders in the mid 1800's enabled them to produce vast amounts of almost neutral flavoured components for blending with some malt whiskey. This enabled them to create low cost blends that the Irish, still using the original Pure Pot Still technique could not compete with. This differing opinion of what a true whiskey consisted of culminated in a legal enquiry in 1908. It was a huge turning point in the history of whiskey. The Scottish blenders won the case and the blend became recognised in law as being whiskey. The Irish in general and Jameson in particular stubbornly continued with the traditional Pure Pot Still production process for many years and, to this day, a large proportion of Jameson is still composed of Pure Pot Still component. Jameson also produces a special limited edition Pure Pot Still Whiskey, Redbreast to celebrate the ancient Irish whiskey making craft.

In 1966 John Jameson joined forces with their rivals the Cork Distillers company and John Powers to form the Irish Distillers Group. The new Midleton distillery built by Irish Distillers now produces most of the Irish whiskey sold in Ireland. The new facility adjoins the old one, which is now a tourist attraction.

Bottles from Jameson distillery