I’ve done a couple Irish whiskey comparison posts in the past, but I’ve never discussed the Irish whiskey founded by ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor. Proper Twelve will face off against Jameson in this comparison guide. We’ll see if some new blood can go toe to toe with one of the oldest and most celebrated Irish whiskey’s out there.
In this Proper Twelve vs Jameson guide, we’re going to cover some of the basic history and production methods, as well as differences in taste and price. If you’re wondering whether you should be buying Jameson or Proper Twelve, just keep on reading.
Proper Twelve vs Jameson History
The #1 best selling whiskey and #4 best selling whiskey have vastly different histories. One is filled with centuries of prosperity and struggle. The other, an opportunity to create a whiskey out of stardom…. or perhaps a money grab.
Proper Twelve History
As you can imagine, there’s not a long history here. Proper Twelve was founded by Conor McGregor in 2018. If you consume any news, pop-culture, or sports, then you likely know exactly who Conor McGregor is. If not, I’ll give you a quick rundown.
At the time of Proper Twelve’s launch, McGregor was one of the best UFC fighters in the world, holding two UFC championship belts in different weight-classes, simultaneously. While some will argue about his talent and actual ranking among the greats, there is no doubting his popularity – much of which came from his trash talking and polarizing behavior.
He launched Proper Twelve at the peak of his career, using his popularity to shoot Proper Twelve right towards the top of Irish Whiskey sales. In just a couple years, Proper Twelve has become the 4th most poupular Irish whiskey world-wide, behind Jameson, Tullamore Dew, and Bushmills.
Proper Twelve is named after McGregor’s home town of Crumlin, Dublin – or the twelfth district of Dublin.
McGregor sold Proper Twelve for a reported $600 million in April 2021 to Proximo Spirits.
The Stein’s Family Bow Street Distillery was founded in 1780. A man by the name of John Jameson became the General Manager in 1786 and later purchased the distillery in 1805. Fast forward a couple years to 1810, and The John Jameson and Sons Irish Whiskey Company was born.
John Jameson, his sons, and grandsons saw good times and prosperity producing and selling Irish whiskey. In the 1910’s and 20’s, the Irish war of independence put a stop to any trade between the Irish and British. Furthermore, the US was just entering the time of prohibition, so there wasn’t any one to export Irish whiskey to.
Jameson endured. In 1988, Jameson was purchased by Pernod Ricard.
Proper Twelve vs Jameson Overview
|Spirit:||Blended Irish Whiskey||Blended Irish Whiskey|
|Owned By:||Proximo Spirits||Pernod Ricard|
|Distilled By:||Old Bushmills Distillery||Jameson Distillery|
|Aged:||Minimum 4 years||Minimum 4 years|
|ABV:||40%, 80 proof||40%, 80 proof|
|Mashbill/distilled:||Triple distilled. Blend of malt and grain||Triple distilled. Blend of pot still and grain whiskey|
Proper Twelve vs Jameson Distillation and Production
Proper Twelve uses a blend of malt and grain whiskey. Malt whiskey is made 100% malted barley. Grain whiskey uses no more than 30% malted barley, usually corn, wheat, or unmalted barley makes up the majority of the mash. These whiskeys are triple distilled and blended together.
Jameson, on the other hand, uses a blend of pot still and grain whiskey. Pot still whiskey uses at least 30% malted and unmalted barley, and up to 5% of other cereal grains. Pot still whiskey is always produced from a single distillery and triple distilled. It’s blended with triple distilled grain whiskey to create Jameson.
In terms of aging, Jameson is aged in bourbon barrels and sherry butts. Proper Twelve is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels. The minimum age requirement for Irish whiskey is 3 years; however, both Proper Twelve and Jameson are aged 4 years.
The last thing to note is price.
A 750ml bottle of Proper Twelve will cost $20. A full handle, 1.75L, is ~$38
A 750ml bottle of Jameson will cost $23. A full handle will be ~$40.
When it comes to price between Proper Twelve vs Jameson, Proper Twelve is just a couple dollars cheaper. The extra couple dollars shouldn’t play a huge role, though. With this difference, you should just buy the one you like more.
These are the average prices from Total Wine stores all across the country. Prices may vary greatly based on individual location and store.
Proper Twelve vs Jameson Tasting Notes
Alright, let’s cut to the chase. There are some differences between these two whiskeys, but at the end of the day, they are both blended Irish whiskeys. So, Proper Twelve vs Jameson: which is better? Let’s pour ourselves a glass of both and find out.
Proper Twelve Tasting Notes
Nose: A little dusty…. and a little musty. vanilla, light fruit like pear. A touch of baking spice.
Palate: More spice on the palate than the nose. The fruit, pear and apple, work as the base aroma with spice over it. Slight vanilla. Not super thick and rich. A touch on the thin side, but not an off-putting mouthfeel.
Finish: This is where more of that vanilla from the nose comes in. As the pepper fades on the palate, vanilla takes over. A little short and dry on the finish, though.
Jameson Tasting Notes
Nose: There’s some vanilla and fig notes, undoubtably from the bourbon and sherry casks. Some pear as well and cinnamon spice. There’s a little bit of that dustiness as well, but cleaner in my opinion.
Palate: The vanilla and fig, peach, blackberry shine most here. I also get a decent amount of the lighter fruits. The mouthfeel is thicker, richer, more buttery. Not by a whole lot, but noticeable.
Finish: The lighter fruit is replaced by a bit more spice (cinnamon and black pepper), dark fruit, and vanilla. A little short as well, but certainly more oily.
Proper Twelve vs Jameson: Which is Better?
To me, Jameson is clearly the better whiskey. It’s not that it’s so much better than Proper Twelve, it’s not that Jameson is amazing and Proper Twelve is bad. Jameson has and does everything that Proper Twelve does. Jameson does it a bit better and has a bit more.
The sherry cask Jameson is aged in added those dark fruit notes, and helped clean up the dusty note from the malt.
There’s a reason Jameson is and has been the most popular Irish whiskey in the world… for $20-something, it’s pretty good.
Proper Twelve certainly isn’t bad. It’s inoffensive, but there’s not a lot going on with it. It could certainly use extra aging, or perhaps a second barreling. The only downside was the dusty note on the nose. I didn’t think it was very fresh. It didn’t seem to show up on the palate or finish, though.
Proper Twelve vs Jameson Summary
Neither Proper Twelve nor Jameson are very expensive. If you want to find out for yourself which is better, or which you like more, buy a bottle of both! They are widely available, so it’s easy to find a bottle. I even, to spare some expenses, bought a 50ml shooter of Jameson and a 375ml of Proper Twelve.
Both of these bottles are good starter options, they are inoffensive, approachable, and affordable. Jameson just has more going on, but for $20 you can’t go wrong.
Now, I know celebrity spirits may catch some flack from your more serious drinkers, but some of them are actually pretty good. And a lot of them bring in new drinkers, perhaps new fans of whiskey or tequila. Even if Conor McGregor started Proper Twelve as a cash grab, he made a decent and affordable product that brought a lot of attention to Irish whiskey.