Irish Whiskey Tasting: Tullamore Dew and Jameson

Whiskey tasting
Whiskey tasting. Getty Images/David Epperson

Taste in whiskey is a matter of preference. Some people enjoy the softer side while others want to feel the oak punch while keeping everything smooth. Everyone knows what they like and when it comes to any whiskey tastes are relative. It is in the side-by-side comparisons that one can really take notice of those preferences and that is what we did with two Irish whiskeys.

Take Jameson and Tullamore Dew.

Jameson is disputably the more common and popular but Tullamore is out there and preferred by many. Both can be found for about the same price (around $22 give or take) and their standard bottlings can be found throughout the world. What I was shocked at when tasting the two is that they are considerably different in a few aspects.

Both whiskeys are smooth, almost surprisingly for the price, but Jameson has a more robust profile whereas Tullamore Dew is considerably softer and sweeter. Also, in Jameson, there is a notable snap of spice underneath the sweet smoothness. Obviously, from two different distilleries there are many places where the process differs to impart this separation from the barley selection to the ratio of malted to unmalted, but for these two whiskeys which are both triple distilled, it is the barreling that makes the largest riff. Tullamore Dew finds itself aged in charred oak, that’s simple.

Yet it is Jameson that complicates the blends with a combination of sherry, bourbon, and port aging and if you taste carefully enough you can find these characteristics inside every sip.

So, what’s the verdict? Honestly, you can see ​the good in both options. Where Tullamore Dew is often enjoyed far better straight with a splash of water or in fruitier cocktails like the ​Irish Gold, Jameson with ginger ale or to coat the glass for an Irish Martini makes the drinks far more interesting.