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Exclusive: Jameson Debuts Caskmates Extension Nationwide

September 9, 2015

Pernod Ricard’s Jameson Irish whiskey is rolling out its new Caskmates extension nationwide in the U.S. The brainchild of Dave Quinn, master of whiskey science at Jameson Distillery, and Shane Long, head brewer at Irish microbrewery Franciscan Well, Caskmates was created after Jameson casks were sent to Franciscan Well to age the brewer’s Irish stout beer. The ex-Irish stout barrels were then sent back to Jameson Distillery, where Jameson Original was aged in the returned casks, creating Caskmates. The new expression, which began shipping in late August, is priced at $29.99 and will be available nationwide.

“Innovation continues to be a core part of the strategy, and consumers get excited when we bring something new to the market,” says Sona Bajaria, brand director for Jameson & Paddy Irish whiskies at Pernod Ricard USA. “Jameson and the craft beer community have a lot in common with each other in terms of our passion for craftsmanship and quality. It’s a very organic idea that came up, and the marriage between the two has been pretty seamless.”

The Caskmates launch follows the success of Jameson’s Black Barrel offshoot, introduced in 2011. Billed as a small-batch grain whiskey, Black Barrel is triple-distilled, matured in Bourbon oak casks, and priced slightly higher up the ladder at around $35. According to Bajaria, the super-premium entry has encouraged consumers to trade up from Jameson Original, which retails at around $24.99, and has also had particular success with attracting Bourbon consumers, due in part to its versatility in classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned.

“We’re seeing a trade-up happen, and we’re also seeing consumers come to us from other categories,” says Bajaria, adding that, pricing-wise, Caskmates serves as a perfect stepping stone between Jameson Original and Black Barrel.

The leading Irish whiskey brand in the U.S., Jameson has enjoyed steady gains stateside of late, surpassing the 2-million-case mark on 7.6% growth in 2014, according to Impact Databank.

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