Whiskey Makers: Blending with Jameson’s Head Blender Billy Leighton

During our visit to Dublin for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with Jameson Irish Whiskey we took part in a Whiskey Blending session at the Dublin Bar Academy with Billy Leighton – Head Blender at Jameson.

Dublin Bar Academy Blending

The idea was to form our own personal blend of Irish Whiskey from the three building blocks distilled and matured at the Midleton Distillery. These were;

Jameson Blending Whiskeys

Pot Still Irish Whiskey, distilled in 2006 and matured in a 1st fill sherry butt

– full of dried fruit, nut ‘Christmas Cake’ and chocolate

Pot Still Irish Whiskey, distilled in 2010 and matured in a double charred bourbon barrel

– smooth and rich with a deep toffee sweetness

Grain Irish Whiskey, distilled in 2013 and matured in a 1st fill bourbon barrel

– light, vanilla and a touch of citrus

Having sampled each of the individual components as Billy described the qualities of each, Billy’s advice was to from an idea in our mind of what qualities we wanted in our final blend and then mix the components together to try and achieve this idea.

Immediately I was taken with how good the Sherry-matured whisky was and despite Billy’s advice that ‘a little of this one goes a long way’ I decided my blend was going to be sherry heavy and utilise the minimum amount of Grain whisky.

Jameson Blend

I quickly realised however that the sherry-matured was really overpowering my final blend and so constantly adjusted the volumes until I hit on a sweet spot which was a much more balanced mix of sherry and double charred bourbon Pot Still Whisky with a touch of Grain Whiskey to help bring out the more subtler elements of each. After about 4 or 5 iterations of this blend I kept returning to my 3rd attempt as the finest – so bottled this one in the end at 50% Sherry-matured, 40% Double charred bourbon matured and 10% Grain.

Once bottled the final touches were added by hand-finishing our own personal labels, using traditional leather-crafting tools to personalise our very own Jameson labelled blended whiskey.


I may have a way to go to reach Billy’s standard but had a huge amount of fun and learned a great deal during this blending session. I also have a greater appreciation of what exactly goes into consistently reproducing a well-known and much-loved blend such as Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Like what you read here? – As part of the new Jameson Bow St Distillery experience, Jameson are offering The Whisky Makers experience to get in touch with your inner blender:

The Whiskey Makers experience is a whiskey masterclass which provides a 90 minute, in-depth exploration of Jameson Original and the three whiskeys that make up the Whiskey Makers Series: Distiller’s Safe, Cooper’s Croze and Blender’s Dog. Each was developed by one of our Master whiskey Makers and represents their ideal expression of a whiskey.

One of our knowledgeable Jameson Ambassadors will guide you through a tasting experience that teaches you how to deconstruct the ingredients, craft and different flavour profiles of each whiskey. As well as using it to impress your friends, your new-found knowledge will come in handy when you get to blend your own whiskey to take home. Our motto is ‘fear a bit less, live a bit more’ and to that point, we think blending your own whiskey in the home of Jameson is one for the bucket list. Most whiskey blenders spend decades learning their craft, so ninety minutes is a pretty handy shortcut.

The whiskey tour continues into the Maturation Warehouse where you’ll have the rare opportunity to sample whiskey straight from the cask.


Categories: Event

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