2 Gingers Whiskey: Stands up to Giant Jameson

2 Gingers Whiskey: Stands up to Giant Jameson

by Neal MacDonald

The story behind 2 Gingers is quite interesting: a bar owner who sold so much Jameson Irish whiskey that he thought he could do better on his own.  And he did. Kieran Folliard contracted with then Cooley Distillery of Ireland to commission his own Irish Whiskey to replace the Jameson in his bar. Please note the courage/brashness: the Minnesota businessman is going to presume to replace the number 1 selling whiskey in the world in his bar with a private product.

We presume it’s a similar price and similar taste profile… is it a better product? Beam, Inc hopes so, since they bought the label along with the distillery in Ireland that makes it.

We were provided a bottle of 2 Gingers to try and we were excited: this seems specifically designed for a head-to-head matchup and the kind of tasting we specialize in. We purchased a bottle of un-opened, flagship brand of Jameson whiskey and got ready for what we do best: liquor Thunderdome!

Thunderdome: Jameson vs 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey




2 Gingers

Sipping Neat



Sipping on Ice



In Ginger Ale (Highball)



In Cranberry Juice



“Honeycomb Cream”

(Cream, honey, and whiskey)



“Double Dose”

(Hum, triple-sec, lemon)






Sipping Neat: As ever we start at room temperature and neat. Happily, this is precisely the first recommended servings from Jameson.  

Jameson: The nose is the classic, grass-scent of barley… short-lived with a hint of alcohol heat. After resting in the glass, a bit of honey comes out. It’s a little sweet on the front of the palate—classic Irish whiskey all the way—finishes nice and smooth with a warming fade. Being a younger whiskey, it has a very short finish. We describe it as “competent.”

2 Gingers: Here the same grass-scent of barley but a warmer, wetter, almost a jungle whiskey with maybe a whisper of apple that was missing in the Jameson. On the tongue, it’s a much lighter and much drier taste. The finish is even shorter. We felt it actually had some scotch characteristics (absent the peat smoke).

The decision: This is a tough call… they’re very close. We give the barest of tie-breaking nods to the 2 Gingers here, though both can be enjoyed neat with slightly different characteristics. Blindfolded, it’s a matter of some concentration to tell the difference between the two (after a couple of drinks, we speculate, impossible). 

Sipping on Ice: Jameson recommends serving with ice cubes—precisely 3 ice cubes. This we did for both whiskeys…

Jameson: the ice really brings out the honey aromas that we noted neat. Ice does improve things… it makes for a  thicker, more luscious drink even if the flavors fade a bit. The heat is hidden. The added water brings out the grain character a great deal more and would appeal greatly to beer drinkers.

2 Gingers: here on ice, there’s no sweetness and heavy, heavy grain. Where the Jameson got thicker, 2 Gingers became bantam-weight light—almost wine-like. The finish vanishes. The mouth-feel did not thicken. This might appeal to more hardcore, single malt drinkers (scotch, Irish, or American whiskey) but there is no complexity outside the earthy grain. Don’t mistake us: it’s not bad—and at the cost of Jameson or (importantly!) less—one might buy a glass for a change of pace or a bottle as an addition to the home bar.

The decision: Again, this is a very tough call because the whiskeys are very close in craftsmanship and taste. But ordering in the airport bar, the cruise ship, or other locales that feature teenage bartenders and quick, easy drinks, Jameson is the better choice for its richer flavor.

In Ginger Ale: Both brands recommend serving with ginger ale, which is nice because it allows for a good comparison and is also a classic highball cocktail (or, in some circles, a version of the Leprechaun cockatil since it uses Irish whiskey).  We used on of the best in Fever Tee Ginger Ale in ratios of 2 parts to 1.

Jameson: A dash of lemon, by the way, is essential in this drink. Let us repeat: essential. Without it, the drink is flirting with uncomfortable and dangerous. With lemon, one has a kind of hard-lemonade / Arnold Palmer flavor with a pleasing whiskey character. Good. Not dazzling… but good.  Reluctantly good just like Lone Starr (for you Spaceballs fans out there).

2 Gingers: One hopes that a drink using the ingredient that’s called out on the label will be delicious! In tasting, the deeper grain, wine-like character comes through the sweetness of the ginger ale. It’s subtle. More citrus generally improves the drink up to a point… but it’s easy to go too far and lose the whiskey altogether.

The Decision: with proper proportions of citrus (essential!), we give the tie-breaking nod to 2 Gingers. Where the Jameson is “reluctantly good” but unremarkable, one does have the potential to remark on the 2 Gingers version. Again, it might be difficult to tell the difference after a few drinks but we’ll go with the grain here, though we note that both are quite good. 

In Cranberry Juice: Jameson recommends serving in cranberry juice, which we associate more with Cosmopolitan cocktails and Sarah Jessica Parker but what the heck? Can (brand owner and large company) Pernod-Ricard be wrong? We used regular old Ocean Spray cranberry juice with a dash of lime.

Jameson: note: the lime here is essential… do not drink without it!! Really: trust us. Regardless of citrus, the smell is not appealing. The aroma is a little bit too much like skunk or wallpaper paste depending. In drinking, though… it’s not bad. It’s like a handsome man trying to be a transvestite… pretty, maybe, but also off-putting and a little off-kilter. Vodka might be better here.

2 Gingers: here, the grain overwhelms, fights with, yells at, divorces, stalks, makes up, fights again, and ends with a restraining order when mixing with cranberry. In other words: too much drama. It’s bad. 

The Decision: in a comparison of a pretty weak cocktail recipe to begin with, Jameson wins. This suggests to us that it may have a bit more versatility than the 2 Gingers.

2 Gingers Irish Honeycomb Cream: We took this right off the 2 Gingers website calling for 3 oz of whiskey, 1 tablespoon of honey and ½ ounce of cream, shaken and served. This seemed to us like an interesting and beguiling drink.

Jameson: while we were excited to try this we were kind of bored when drinking. The whiskey is gone. It’s like a lightly sweetened cream without any excitement at all. Imagine going to a roller coaster rated as the top 10 in the country and finding out there’s no height restriction to ride. That’s this drink. We wouldn’t send it back; but we’d never order another one. 

2 Gingers: now the tale takes an interesting twist. Forgive us, but it’s a lot worse with 2 Gingers. But also, it tastes like something memorable. The grain comes out—if you’re happy with that grain, you may be happy with the drink. To us, we went from sweetened cream to sweetened oatmeal with cream, which wasn’t an improvement. But it was a significant flavor difference. This suggests to us, that designer mixologists might find a hit with 2 Gingers that wouldn’t work with Jameson.

The Decision: despite any academic interest we might have with the flavors, there’s no question that in this pretty bad drink Jameson wins.

Double Dose: we tried another drink off the 2 Gingers website which was an exotic mix of spices and fruits. It called for 2oz of whiskey, 1oz of Hum Hibiscus liqueur (one of our favorites), and ½ ounce of orange liqueur (we used the French Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge). Expensive to order… would it be brilliant in the glass?

Jameson: okay, there’s nothing but Hum liqueur here. For all we know, this could be a glass of Hum mixed with vodka or moonshine or even weak cologne. We can pick up the Grand Marnier but as far as whiskey… well, what whiskey?

2 Gingers: Amazingly, the barley comes out in this drink. This is saying something, because the Hum buried the Jameson like Hoffa. It’s better. It’s not a great drink, but it’s better. We tinkered a bit with more ice and less hum. We think the proportions here are better served at 3:1 or 4:1 rather than 2:1… then the drink starts becoming tasty.  A little lemon helps a helluva lot as well. Doing that brings us into Manhattan territory and a tolerable drink.

The Decision: First, we decide that 2 Gingers needs a better mixologist to recommend drink recipes for their website. Second, we found a designer cocktail that is able to showcase 2 Ginger’s qualities rendering this happy judgment:  it is possible to find cocktail recipes that would specifically call for 2 Gingers instead of Jameson.

Verdict: our verdicts always come down to a very simple question: would you cough up money, ask for it at a bar, or otherwise go out of your way to obtain 2 Gingers instead of something you’re more familiar with? We say: “kinda.” We did enjoy it on the rocks… we found it potentially showing well in different cocktails… but it’s a finicky whiskey that demands a careful and considered touch. This makes us deem it as an upscale boutique whiskey bar selection rather than a home selection but for the connoisseur who enjoys different whiskey brands and profiles, though we recognize these elite often want a few more years of aging (and a few more tens of dollars on the price tag). Nonetheless, these elite would regard 2 Gingers as a challenge to their ability to find the perfect cocktail and would end up pleased with the result.

[Disclosures: we were provided a bottle of 2 Gingers Irish whiskey free of charge. We purchased all other spirits and mixers on our own.]

Published by Proof66.com