Heading to Dublin with the good people of Jameson for the definitive Irish holiday rightfully makes you a bit nervous. It threatens to be too much of a good thing. Dublin, like New Orleans, has a powerful effect on the imbiber’s imagination. You suddenly hear yourself saying, Yes I’ll have a Guinness at 11am, and it feels perfectly natural. It recalls a line from a novel by the great Irish writer John Banville. Two men walk into a pub before it’s opened and one says innocently: “We were passing by and to our surprise discovered we had a thirst.”
By now, Jameson is so familiar that it’s easy to forget it was founded in 1780. When you wonder why these companies endure, look no further than Ger Buckley, their master cooper who’s worked there for decades. Coopers, of course, build barrels and casks (the original Kennedys—yes, those Kennedys—who immigrated to America were coopers). We watched Ger demonstrate how to assemble one of the barrels that ages the whiskey. It’s a demanding process that Ger made look easy, like an expert fly caster, but of course you know it’s not. The barrels are made of charred white oak from Kentucky, using the same essential technology the Romans invented two thousand years ago. Why change a good thing?