Ulster Whiskey Blog

Jameson Bow St, Set fake smile to stun

Set fake smile to stun, Jameson Bow St.

There’s a bit of a lie these days that we don’t make anything anymore. It’s not strictly true, but it seems that way since manufacturing has shrunk against the service industry.  Loads of huge empty spaces, where once hundreds, maybe thousands, of people earned a living now stand empty or redeployed.  Lovely ornate buildings that hold heritage and memories have been turned into arts centres, cafes, offices or whatever.  Calloused hands replaced by cappuccinos, machines by movies and forklifts with fake smiles.  When dealing with the public, fake smiling is essential, the ability to smile at people even when you’re tired, bored, hungry etc.  Jameson Bow St have adapted to the modern world, quite well but only quite well.

“I’ve another one of these after this lot”, my cheery young guide said to another, or maybe security just as I passed.  This was uttered in not a hushed way or, to be frank with any care if anyone heard.  It was uttered with a deep sigh and by someone scunnered by their job.  Like a true pro though my guide donned the obligatory fake smile, gave a cheery “Heeellllooo everybody” and off we set. Firstly, you go into a small cinema and watch a fairly cool, sort of holographic film about John Jameson and you learn about the company’s motto “Sine Metu” Latin for “without fear.” I like the fact that a Whiskey has a Latin motto, makes it sound established and grand, it appeals to the nerd in me.  It was rather good except for 2 things.       

At one point our fake smiling guide asked everyone where they were from, and I mean everyone. Even families of four got asked individually.  It was excruciating.  The other oddity was when the guide explained that the company found “this notebook” which was attached to the projector with a bit of string and explained that it was an ancient book from bygone age full of secrets.  I can’t be sure but I’m going guess that the one in the guide’s hand wasn’t THE one.  The real one, I am fairly certain, is under lock and key somewhere in Cork.

The comparative tasting at the end wasn’t what was expected, in that it wasn’t all Jameson but totally different brands, ones that aren’t even owned by Pernod.  You get an Irish, a Scotch and a Bourbon.  Being totally honest the Scotch was the best of the three by a margin. It’s a bold move to give a sup of a competitors during a tasting when it is a tastier product.

You exit via the gift shop, as always, after about 40 minutes a few people were left asking “Where was the stills?”, because they thought that Whiskey was produced on site.  There is no Whiskey produced on site.  It is a maturation facility, meaning there is a few barrels shoved in a corner somewhere about the place.  The gift shop is packed with the usual stuff including reserve bottles and T-shirts.  I bought a bottle and the attendant couldn’t have been more pleasant, charming and cheery.  As they were printing off a personalised label for my bottle. “You been here long?” I asked. “Two weeks” they replied.  So not long enough to have moved from production to service, from delightful to disgruntled.  If I went back today I would be fairly sure they would have moved on.

You finish the tour with a complimentary drink in JJ’s bar, which is a rather lovely place to finish.  It’s nice and bright, looks aged and suitably wooden and the drink was a refreshing Jamo and ginger. At 20 Euro Jameson Bow Street distillery is a reasonably good tour but let down badly by some silliness and the way it is marketed as a distillery when it isn’t.  Worth a visit.


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