Jameson Irish Whiskey Brings The Celebration Back With St. Patrick's Day - Exclusive Interview

It's time to gear up in green and get ready, because after two years of canceled, scaled back, and solitary celebrations, this year's St. Patrick's Day is officially back with a force. No one is more ready to get the celebration started than Jameson Irish Whiskey. The brand is practically synonymous with St. Paddy's Day, whether you're throwing back a round at the bar, sipping casually at home, or hosting a cocktail party with friends.

This year, Jameson is taking this festive holiday to a whole new level by declaring a two day event. That's right, Jameson says this year we should be celebrating St. Patrick's DayS, and the company wants to pay you to do it. Fans who sign Jameson's pledge to celebrate twice this year can enter to win a $20.22 cash prize (via Venmo) as well as a $30 UberEats gift card to fuel up on a full English breakfast. The celebration wouldn't be complete without raising a glass to the restaurant workers serving up your drinks, so Jameson is also donating up to $100,000 to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.

Ahead of the party, Mashed spoke exclusively with Jameson's Brand Director, Kelly Suhr, for more details about St. Patrick's Double Days and other ways you can celebrate with Jameson. Suhr also talked whiskey trends, Jameson's newest flavors, and the best food and whiskey pairings.

Jameson Irish Whiskey says one St. Patrick's Day isn't enough this year

Why do we need two St. Patrick's Days?

What inspired this idea is really the recognition that, due to the pandemic, we haven't really been able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in ways that we used to for the last two years. This year, what we really wanted to do is make up for those two years we missed with family and friends.

That's why in 2022, Jameson wanted to officially take a stance on this and say, you know what, St. Patrick's Day, let's make it a double holiday. We want to make sure that we are encouraging consumers to get together with their family and friends to celebrate – responsibly, I should add – on both Thursday, March 17th and Friday, March 18th, because we know we haven't really had that opportunity to do so in the last couple of years.

How are you hoping people make the most of the two St. Patrick's Days this year?

It's about coming together with family and friends. As part of our campaign, [there is] an opportunity to sign up for a variety of different prizes. One of those is actually sending a $20.22 gift [on Venmo] out to consumers, so that they can use that to enjoy a drink with their friends or family members.

It's about making sure that we are showing up in different ways, no matter where those consumers are. Whether it's virtual, or whether they are at home with their family and friends, or turning up at a bar,. We want to make sure that we are showing up for consumers. What's nice about this is the $20.22 is a fun play on the year 2022. In addition to that, we are offering an Uber Eats voucher. It's up to $30 to make sure that on March 18th, we can deliver a full Irish breakfast. That includes the meal, the delivery, and the tips. We've got that covered for consumers as well — inspiring consumers to get together with their family and friends, whether it's the Thursday or the Friday.

Yes, Jameson will literally pay you to celebrate St. Patrick's Days this year

How many winners will there be and how can people become eligible to win cash or breakfast from Jameson?

We have 2,000 consumers who are going to win the $20.22 and the UberEats voucher. To sign up is very simple. You go onto the website, we've got a hyperlink there and [you can] sign up to the announcement. We're calling it St. Patrick's Days. It's really simple.

Can you win both money and breakfast, or will it be one or the other?

It's both. It's basically the $20.22 via Venmo on Thursday, and then the Uber Eats voucher on Friday to continue the celebrations.

What are some other ways that people can celebrate St Patrick's Day with Jameson this year?

Outside of signing up and joining us on Thursday and Friday, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the festive occasion. We know this is a very iconic moment and Irish holiday. We've got a whole variety of different cocktail recipes on our website and social media. We are inviting consumers, family, and friends over for that Irish cheer at their home, whether it's enjoying your favorite Irish foods, or simply wearing green. Jameson also has a variety of merchandise on our site. We've got themed kits available as well for St. Patrick's Day, if you want to take it to the next level with your celebrations at home, or with family and friends.

As part of [this campaign], we want to be able to give back to the hospitality industry. We know they've had a very challenging couple of years. [We have] a lot of partners in the hospitality industry. We want to make sure that we are helping to support them. [Jameson is] also donating a flat fee of $75,000 [to the industry]. What's nice is that for every consumer who signs up, we're also going to give a dollar. That's basically like a digital tip jar back to the restaurant workers, up to $25,000. That's a nice way for us to be able to give back to consumers.

You can celebrate St. Patrick's Days with two new cocktails from Jameson

Jameson is also coming out with a new product, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. This is Jameson's first ever ready-to-drink offering. Can you tell me a little bit more about this?

It's Jameson Ginger and Lime. We have seen a huge amount of momentum in the ready-to-drink space. This is our first foray. We're really making a splash on shelves as of February, just in the last month. Jameson Ginger Lime is one of those signature cocktails we have that's very, very popular with Jameson and Jameson consumers. It's a very versatile and refreshing way to be able to enjoy Jameson.

Do you have any other favorite Jameson cocktails for St. Patrick's Day that you like to make?

Actually, I am pretty excited to have a Jameson Orange and Sprite this year. That's also one of the other products we launched at the beginning of this year. Again, [it's a] very refreshing product [and] very simple to make: Jameson Orange, add Sprite. You can garnish with a wedge. It's like tapping into that flavor trend that you're seeing within the whiskey category within the US. This was our first opportunity to lean into a trending flavor. We know orange is very high up on the list when you look at cocktails and cocktail menus. [We are] really excited to be able to put our own unique twist on this high demand flavor with Jameson.

The secret to Jameson Irish Whiskey lies in its heritage

There are so many Irish whiskey brands out there these days, and never ending innovation. Yet, Jameson remains ubiquitous with the term for everybody. It's the bestselling Irish whiskey brand in the world, still today. What is it about Jameson and Jameson's approach to whiskey making, that sets it apart from other brands?

When thinking about Jameson, it's the largest Irish whiskey [brand] in the world. This brand is steeped in heritage. We know that there's a lot of new entrants coming out into the Irish whiskey category. I would say that Jameson has really set itself apart, based on its 240-year heritage. That really serves as that more authentic backdrop. We know that it's the world's bestselling Irish whiskey. Again, coming back to that heritage, it really continues to pull through in everything that we do. From our signature triple distillation process, to our St. Patrick Day celebrations, to innovation we're launching, we definitely want to stay ahead of the trends, and make sure that Jameson continues to be at the forefront of Irish whiskey.

Flavored whiskey is having its moment, and drawing in new whiskey drinkers

What are some of the current and emerging trends that you're seeing when it comes to how people are enjoying Irish whiskey now?

We know there is a really large segment of consumers who are looking for diversity in whiskey, especially as it relates to flavors. There continues to be really strong growth in the flavored whiskey market. Consumers are getting more curious about drinking spirits in different ways. Flavored whiskey is now a $1 billion segment in the U.S. It's really driving growth for the category overall. What's also really interesting about that is, 50% percent of those consumers who drink flavored whiskey are really new to whiskey. It's actually an inviting way in, especially if you haven't tried Jameson for the first time. Being able to try flavored whiskey sometimes is a much more approachable and accessible way into the world of whiskey.

We're also seeing a trend of premiumization. The Irish category is premiumizing. We've seen that trend happening within North American whiskeys, within scotches and single malts. We're definitely seeing this now starting to emerge with Irish whiskey. We have a great portfolio of brands that really deliver our premium expression, whether it's Jameson Original Caskmates, Cold Brew, [or] Black Barrel if you're looking for something a little extra special.

Whiskey isn't traditionally what younger drinkers tend to reach for. Is that something that you guys see changing in the future?

Actually, yes. We do see that there's a shift in the demographics of who's drinking whiskeys. Ten, 15 years ago, we would've seen it's much more male-dominated and older consumers. The emerging next generation of whiskey drinkers are younger. I think that you can see that coming through in the variety, whether it's flavors, or whether it's the rise of convenient formats, like ready-to-drinks. This is definitely an opportunity to welcome younger consumers into the whiskey journey a little earlier. I should add to that — multicultural consumers [are] really driving that appeal of whiskey in the last couple of years. It's definitely trending.

How to pair Jameson Irish Whiskey with your St. Patrick's Day snacks

Do you have any tips you can pass along from your kitchen experts for pairing whiskey and food?

Yes, for sure. We know that there's celebrations on the horizon with St. Patrick's Day. Jameson Original is actually perfect for pairing with cheese and charcuterie boards. [It's a] great opportunity if you're gathering with family and friends, [and it] pairs really beautifully with the smooth, spicy nutty flavor notes of Jameson Original. Particularly, it pairs well with that gamey flavor of cured meats and cheeses. We definitely feel that's a great opportunity there. 

If you're looking for a pairing suggestion, we also have Jameson Caskmates IPA. That's more bright, floral, crisp. It can actually complement with pizzas or salty ham. There's definitely some really nice pairings there. Steaks also go really well with whiskeys, with the spicy undertones, and the Jameson Caskmates can pair very well there. We have a whole variety of different suggestions and cocktail pairings and food pairings on the website, if you're looking for some [more] inspiration.

Click here to sign up for St. Patrick's Double Days with Jameson. Visit the Jameson website for recipes, merchandise, cocktail kits, and more to help you celebrate. You can also show support for restaurant workers (and your favorite bartender) by donating to Jameson's digital change jar. Proceeds go to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.