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Tea, shrubs or old Irish whiskey?   The Freemans Journal “Dublin Trade Report” of October 18th, 1847, detailing the current market prices for sugar, tallow, tar, palm oil, timber, fruit, rum, rice, whiskey, tea and cocoa shells. Readers were informed that the market for tea was in “a most depressed state” but, in a more upbeat note, there was a greater demand than usual for older John Jameson whiskey:    - "Genuine North-Whiskey, Rasberry-Whiskey, and Whisky shrub" -   To understand how the matured spirit of 1 to 2 years could be considered as “old whiskey”, one needs to examine the evolution of whiskey maturation in Ireland, for it wasn’t until the austerity of the First World War, and the efforts of noted abolitionist Lloyd George in particular, that whiskey was required by law to spend a minimum of three years in a maturation cask. Since at least medieval times it was common practice to store, and transport, all sorts of commodities in all manner of wooden casks - from a simple bucket all the way up to a 252-gallon tun (approx. 950 litres). Spirits, and whiskeys, were no exception. A Dublin newsletter with the delightful title of “Pue’s Occurrence’s” ran the following classified on 30th September 1749: At the Bourdeaux Warehouse in Back-Lane. Patrick O’Brien, Sells Choice Old Margeaux and Craves Claret, Right Good French White Wine, Frontignan, Lisbon White Wine, Sherry, Dry Mountain, Old Hock, Old Red and White Port. Right Good Tent, Genuine Canary, and other Wines, by the Hogshead, Dozen, or Gallon, at reasonable Rates, ALSO, NEAT Coniack Brandy, West-India Rum, Holland Genevea, Cherry Brandy, Bourdeaux Vinegar, fine Orange Shrub made of Neat Rum, Genuine North-Whiskey, Rasberry-Whiskey, and Whisky Shrub, by the Puncheon, Hogshead, or Gallon, at reasonable Rates, with good encouragement to those who Buy a Quantity to sell again.   It’s interesting to note the wide variety of wines and spirits on offer by Mr O’ Brien, particularly “Genuine North-Whiskey, Rasberry-Whiskey, and Whisky Shrub”. Shrubs were popular 17th and 18th-century beverages of polite society and were made with rum, whiskey or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruits. We can only guess as to the merits of “Genuine North Whiskey” but perhaps it alludes to the famed northern whiskeys of the Inishowen Peninsula? The location of the warehouse is interesting in itself, since Back Lane is just a stone’s throw from Christchurch Cathedral and an artery to Thomas Street, where the Power's first set up their distilling dynasty. By the mid-1700s, the warehousing of spirits was evidently a common practice in the booming metropolis of Dublin.  Nevertheless, due to the expense of paying duty upfront, it was difficult for merchants, or distillers, to place in storage any great quantity of whiskey. It was also quite a risky business to store, for any great length of time, highly flammable spirits within the cramped confines of the back streets of Dublin. In 1804 the authorities addressed these issues by allowing Irish spirits, until sales were made, be deposited, duty-free, in purpose-built customs warehouses. Even so, a public taste now favoured a noticeable alcoholic burn in preference to whiskeys of a more delicate nature. Whiskey of a few months old was regarded as a special treat for those few connoisseurs that sought out such luxuries. In addition, early 19th-century maturation warehouses were owned solely by the Crown and substantial rents were charged for lodging maturing casks of whiskey at His Majesty’s Pleasure. Distiller’s, and third party, bonded warehouses were eventually sanctioned in 1825 and 1848 respectively, yet compensation for losses within any maturation facility due to accidental leakage, or through natural evaporation (Angel's Share), was not allowable by Excise, in any form, until 1853. In that year a Distillery Act finally provided some, but not all, compensation to aggrieved distillers. Incredibly it took 60 years of complaints from distillers and bonders before their genuine grievances were belatedly addressed in 1864 when full and accurate allowances for warehouse losses were finally introduced. In 1867, and stemming most likely from the recent regulatory changes, Tuohy’s Housekeepers Store of 1 Faulkner’s Lane (since renamed Opera Lane), Cork, were in a far stronger position to list older whiskey for sale; “Jameson’s Dublin whiskey, Five Years Old, stored in Sherry casks”. David Earls, tea and wine dealer of Wexford, was something of a maturation trailblazer in that very year when he proclaimed that he held upwards of 120 sherry hogsheads of “John Jameson & Son, from 5 to 12 years old” whiskey and local “Wexford whiskey from 2 to 8 years old”. On the same Wexford Independent page of August 7th, 1867, Earls’ small classified was overshadowed by a comparatively enormous advertisement by W & A Gilbey, and their Wexford agent, that showcased a bewildering assortment of their Castle branded Marsala’s, Sherries and Ports. W & A Gilbey were happy to flex their impressive financial muscle as this expensive advertisement included brand logos at a time when newspapers, particularly the classified sections, were almost devoid of imagery. Within a few short years, Gilbey’s would go on to fill those emptied fortified wine casks, with pungent Irish pot still, to become a reputable whiskey supplier in their own right, and the largest independent stockist of Irish whiskey in the world. Warehoused spirits in Ireland, chiefly pure pot still whiskey at this time, amounted to 8.5 million gallons in 1870, rising to 14.6 million gallons in 1875 and 20 million gallons by 1885. In 1888, for example, the elite of Cork society could acquire from Woodford Bourne, at 22s per gallon, “Jameson’s Extra Whiskey Ten years Old” of “extra quality” and “very scarce”. Ten years later, during the much-celebrated Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria that marked her sixty years on the British throne, the notion of what constituted “old Irish whiskey” had changed utterly. The following Woodford Bourne advertisement appeared in The Cork Examiner of 19th December 1898:   Rare novelties in eXtraOrDinary OLD WhiSkieS the “JubiLee WhiSkey” 20 yearS OLD DiStiLLeD by John Jameson & Sons mentioned that you had been involved in Irish whiskey.   We have just paid duty on a cask of this curious old Whiskey now lying so many years in our Nile Street Bonded Stores, as a speciality for our Christmas trade. This rare and scarce old Whiskey (of John Jameson’s & Sons make), is simply delicious – in fact almost a thing of the past, and quite a novelty. We have named it “The Jubilee Whiskey” to distinguish it from other qualities we sell. Sold only in bottles, Price 5s 0d Each Jameson whiskeys, of ten, twelve, fifteen, or twenty years, were not mass-produced by Bow Street distillery. ess mature whiskey, of perhaps four to six years, was purchased under bond, direct from the distillery, by Gilbey’s, Mitchell’s, Woodford Bourne etc., and then sold on immediately, or matured for longer, in a bonded warehouse or cellar. It is likely that persistent advertising efforts of these wine & spirit merchants, and other third-party bonders of good reputation, resulted in an increased market, throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom, for whiskeys of greater maturity. Thomas Healy of 31 The Mall, Tralee, an agent for Messrs W. & A. Gilbey Ltd., placed the following advertisement in The Kerry Evening Star of Thursday, January 14th, 1904: the only Whiskies sold in Tralee with an absolute guarantee of quality, age and Strength John Jameson & Sons twelve years old Liqueur Whiskey 27/- per gallon 6d per glass Mr Healy also advertised “John Jameson’s & Sons Six Years Old Whiskey, Castle Brand “JJ” at 21/- per gallon, which indicates that the twelve-year-old whiskey was also supplied by Gilbey’s, rather than direct from Bow Street distillery, and was the forerunner to their famous Gilbey’s Redbreast whiskey.As   As an aside, this advertisement suggests, since whiskey could also be consumed on the premises by the glass, that this was a spirit grocer business. These types of premises were originally a response to the temperance movement and consequent drop in sales of spirits. Publicans had to diversify to survive and were allowed to trade-in other commodities such as hardware, groceries, drapery and locally sourced agricultural produce, such as; meat, grain, feedstock and vegetables. Once the shopping was done, the customer was enticed to relax with a nicely matured whiskey, or other such refreshing beverage, before he/she went on their way. It took the arrival of low cost supermarket shopping, in the 1960s, before spirit grocers largely became a thing of the past. It was decades later before the directors, of JJ & S, made the decision to offer premium John Jameson whiskey to their export customers. Jameson Three Star (seven years old) was by then a recognized international brand when, in 1932, the main label was re-designed by George Lionel Jameson (managing director) and coupled with a separate foot label featuring the famous Jameson Barrelmen and the updated slogan: “Every Drop Sold is over Twelve Years Old”. The trading difficulties of the 1920s probably caused the older stock to build up in the Bow Street warehouses and the whole world was aware that Prohibition was about to come to an end in America.     Carol Quinn, Archivist at the Irish Distillers Archive in Midleton, believes that this marks the beginning of the period when John Jameson both produced and marketed Jameson 12. Bottled in their London premises, where all their export bottlings were carried out
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