Dublin on St. Patrick’s day is something everyone should experience exactly one time. That was my feeling anyway, and when the people of Jameson Whiskey invited me to experience things firsthand, it seemed there was very little deliberation to make.
St. Patty’s St. Paddy’s day in Ireland seems to carry the significance of every major holiday rolled-up into one day (or in this case, one weekend) of madness. As it turns out, there also happens to conveniently be a bank holiday on the Monday following the festivities this year, which provides a nice and quiet day of, ummm well, reflection. Many seize the holiday as a chance to dress up in ridiculous outfits and act crazy (my preferred method of dealing with that sort is to run in the opposite direction), but the folks at Jameson took the opportunity to demonstrate a finer touch and showed off the more enlightened side of St. Patrick’s day.
The program in Dublin entailed seeing some of Dublin’s most interesting libation destinations (Vintage Cocktail Club and the Bar With No Name to call out to good ones) and spent an afternoon with the incredibly talented artist & sign painter David Smith. We also might have had a whiskey or two.
When you come to Dublin with Jameson it’s not surprising that all business of any sort takes place in the back room of a pub. What I never expected to see in the back room of the The Stag’s Head (an excellent classic old pub), is something as amazing as David Smith’s work.
Jameson commissioned Smith to create a limited-run etched bottle in his beautiful style that was “inspired by the intricate glass etching and ornate gilding synonymous with the décor of great Dublin pubs.” Smith was with us in Dublin to show us his work with Jameson and to show us how vintage gold-leaf signs are made. We got a chance to see more of Smith’s work, including hand drawn designs he has made —which are incredible— and heard about his recent work making the album art for John Mayer (which is also pretty astonishing). While looking at his drawings I got to thinking that this Dave Smith guy is good, really good.
It wasn’t all sign painting and pub touring, I also met up with Jameson Master Distiller Liam Donegan, who walked me through the different varieties of Jameson whiskey. We spoke about the process of making whiskey and the strategy that must be deployed in the distillation process. Grain to glass, original Jameson takes between five to seven years; so there’s obviously a lot of planning involved. The more we spoke about it all, the more I came to understand that the process is part science, but it is also an art. It also takes what amount to the most patient people in the world. But luckily, there’s plenty of good whiskey around to make the time pass.