It’s common for breweries to use whiskey or bourbon barrels to age beer in, the idea being the beer will take on some of the whiskey’s characteristics for a boozier, more complex flavor. Not as common is when the distillery takes those barrels back to flip the script: a whiskey that takes on the characteristics of that previously aged beer. That’s the idea behind Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies, a limited-edition Jameson Whiskey series where the Ireland-based distillery partnered with seven American breweries, including Angel City, Deep Ellum, Great Divide, Stoup, Cycle, Fatheads, and, a big name in our backyard, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.
Captain Lawrence Owner/Head Brewer Scott Vaccaro
These team-ups weren’t just thrown together, but came about for several reasons. “We looked for qualities like craftsmanship, fearlessness when it comes to brewing, and similar values in putting out a quality product,” said Jameson brand ambassador Killian Lee. From there, Captain Lawrence owner/head brewer Scott Vaccaro and his team were invited to Jameson’s Old Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland, and a collaboration was born.
With their newly acquired Jameson Whiskey barrels, all Captain Lawrence needed to do was figure out a beer to brew. “We wanted to brew something that could hold up to the lofty standards of the barrels and knew we only had one shot at getting it right,” said Vaccaro. “We came up with Trans-Atlantic Red, with flavor complimentary to both sides of the Atlantic, but we used cascade and centennial hops to make this an American red.”
After aging in the Jameson barrels anywhere from eight weeks to five months, Trans-Atlantic Red’s complex layers of malt, citrus, caramel, coffee, and chocolate really come through. It’s an easy-to-drink 7% ABV, and the expected punch from the whiskey barrels wasn’t so upfront, aiding the ale instead of taking away from it. Trans-Atlantic Red was brewed just once, and by now it’s scarce in the area, but there were a few hints dropped that it may not be quite extinct, so keep a lookout in case your favorite bar hoarded a keg for future tapping.
What you can find right now is the Jameson Caskmates Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. Edition, aged 2 to 6 months. This sippable dram adopted some of the traits of the barrel’s previous tenant, the Trans-Atlantic Red, so you can expect some chocolate and coffee notes, and a sweet, malty nose. “It’s best enjoyed neat or on the rocks,” Lee said. “And it’s great side-by-side with the beer (Trans-Atlantic Red).”
If you’re in the market for whiskey and this collab appeals to your taste buds (MSRP $29), the following Westchester liquor stores have limited quantities: Grape Expectations, Tarrytown; Vine & Co., Bedford; Row 13 Wines, Croton-on-Hudson; Rose Hill Wines & Liquors, Thornwood; Rochambeau Wines & Liquors, Dobbs Ferry; Manor Wines & Spirits, Briarcliff; Hawthorne Wines & Spirits, Hawthorne; Old Country Wine & Liquor, Ossining; Dylan’s Wine Cellar, Peekskill.
When asked whether this partnership between Captain Lawrence and Jameson would happen again, Vaccaro replied, “It was a big honor and it was really exciting to join Jameson in doing this. I would do it again!”
Raise a pint and a shot in hopes that they do.
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