The future is bright, the future, as one advertising slogan once famously stated, is most definitely orange. Or at least it is when it comes to flavoured spirits. Check this: according to a CGA Mixed Drinks Report from last year, orange has been one of the key growth flavours in the past three years with over a quarter of consumers typically drinking orange flavoured serves. So can you blame Jameson for getting on board the zesty bus?
Jameson Orange launched in the UK earlier this year, neatly coinciding with the arrival of Janice Snowden as Irish Whiskies Ambassador. We caught up with her to talk whiskey and why orange is most definitely the new black when it comes to flavoured spirits.
You began your new role at Pernod Ricard UK just when the brand was launching Jameson Orange. But before we hear about that, let’s find out about you and how you were sought out to become Irish Whiskies Ambassador. When did you first catch the hospitality bug?
I grew up in Galway, on the magical west coast of Ireland. If you’d asked me what I wanted to do from the age of 10, it was open my own restaurant. Hosting is my speciality, it’s where my heart lies and I’m fortunate enough to be able to combine my nerdy passion for Irish whiskey along with it.
When did your love for whiskey enter the equation?
I started working in my local oyster restaurant when I was 15, from there I worked my way up to five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. It was when I was handing people the big fancy whisk(e)y lists that I became super passionate about the category. Controversially, it was in Scotland that I first started learning about whisky and that made me realise that I didn’t know anything about my own home country’s whiskey. So I moved back from Edinburgh to Dublin to work at the Jameson Bow Street Distillery where I taught a Whiskey Makers Class, a 90-minute deep-dive session, covering everything from the ingredients to the maturation, distillation and production.
That sounds like the perfect role for a true whiskey fan, why did you leave?
It was an incredible role and I really loved doing it but then I got an opportunity to represent Irish whiskey in New York. However, after a year, Covid happened and I returned home. Shortly after this wonderful opportunity came about and I can honestly say that I’m the luckiest human in the world to be doing this role.
Your passion for the category is evident. How do you go about drawing other people in, particularly those who say they don’t like whisk(e)y?
Even if the idea of the liquid scares them, I love the fact that you can engage people with the stories – especially when it comes to Irish whiskey.
There was a time when everyone was drinking Irish whiskey, it ruled the world. In fact, we were outselling Scotch eight times to one in the late 1800s. Then, thanks to a mixture of wars, restriction of trade and Prohibition, we nearly went into extinction, going from 100 working distilleries in Dublin alone to four in the entire country. Now there are closer to 40, with more planned. The more you can share these stories with people, the more they become fascinated with the entire category. And then of course, the liquid is pretty magical. That’s the thing about Irish whiskey, it’s known for being soft, smooth and approachable. With good reason.
How does Jameson Orange fit into the picture?
I’ve spent the past few years of my life talking about single pot stills and single malts but I must admit, the flavoured category has always interested me – especially while I was in the US. The global team gave me a fascinating stat: something crazy like 8.5 million households in the US purchased a flavoured whiskey last year, and 48% of those people were first time buyers in the whiskey category, so it’s been pivotal in getting people into whisk(e)y-based drinks.
Gotcha. But what’s all the fuss about orange?
First and foremost, it’s a non-gender specific flavour, it’s also very familiar which is the important part – everyone knows orange and its delicious citrus forward characteristics. People gravitate to what they know and I don’t think there’s a person out there who can’t appreciate this and think, this is an orange-based spirit drink – I understand it. That familiarity makes things much more approachable to people.
So how have you worked with it?
I began by looking at the most popular serves, particularly here in the UK. Cocktails like the Espresso Martini for example – I’ve made a delicious chocolate orange Espresso Martini with Jameson Orange and it’s gone down a treat. I should also mention that Jameson Orange comes in at 30% abv, so it’s been great to to work on tasty, lower abv drinks. I’ve also worked on bringing a zesty twist to classic cocktails.
Two of my favourites are the Spiced Orange Sour, infused with cinnamon, cloves and anise and Jameson Orange Hot Chocolate (see recipes below). You can make it with regular powdered hot chocolate or go boujis with fancy molten chocolate, either way it tastes amazing.
What’s the best thing about Jameson Orange for you?
I like the fact that it actually tastes like oranges. People aren’t expecting that fresh, orangey flavour when they sip it, it really is like peeling into an orange – you get that big hit of orange zest – it’s really nostalgic. Even people who may be hesitant, who either think that flavoured whisk(e)y or whisk(e)y isn’t their thing – try it and understand it.
I also love the fact that we’re able to get out of the whisk(e)y boundaries and push it to the next level. It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage a new customer base that we wouldn’t have been able to reach before. But at the same time it’s important to say that we’re not saying goodbye to die-hard whisk(e)y fans or dedicated Jameson lovers, we’re just bringing new people in. Take your Gen Z’ers for example. Maybe a refreshing Jameson Orange and lemonade is their first ever whiskey-based spirit drink and that’s their way into the category. Try it, we think you’ll like it.
45m Jameson Orange
10ml dark chocolate syrup (simple sugar syrup mixed with cocoa powder)
Dark chocolate shavings and orange zest to garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake hard over ice. Fine strain into a chilled Coupe glass. Garnish with dark chocolate shaving and orange zest.
50ml Jameson Orange
25ml egg white
25ml lemon juice
15ml spiced syrup*
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Star anise to garnish
Shake all ingredients hard over ice. Strain into a chilled Rocks glass. Garnish with star anise.
*To make spiced syrup: simmer 2 parts water with 1 part water and cloves, cinnamon and anise).
50ml Jameson Orange
200ml hot chocolate
50ml whipped double cream
Dark chocolate shaving and orange zest to garnish
Mix 50ml Jameson Orange with 200ml hot chocolate in a heatproof glass/mug. Layer the top with the whipped double cream. Garnish with dark chocolate shavings and orange zest.
Jameson Orange is available in Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, rrp £23.95. For more information see jamesonwhiskey.com