As we get ready for St. Patrick’s Day, let’s pay attention to the history of John Jameson and his passion for Irish whiskey. I wrote about this years ago, but thought it was time to revisit this story as we get ready to enjoy ‘a wee bit of Irish.’ This is a story of tough times, tough people, and learning to become a tough entrepreneur.
On October 5, 1740 a legend was born and the history of whiskey making was changed forever. Let’s remember that John was not born in Ireland – he was born in Scotland, but he is more Irish than most who live on the emerald isle.
You all know my passion for Jack Daniels, and although it is the most sold whiskey in the world, Jameson is by far some of the best whiskey in the world.
A few years ago while on a trip to Ireland, I had so much fun visiting the home of John Jameson Irish Whiskey. But, what I really loved was the story. Their family motto is one I have adopted and live by daily; Sine Metu – Without Fear!
John's bravery of battling pirates on the high seas as he sailed to Ireland on his quest to make his mark on Irish whiskey was a test of strength. To leave your home - the home of Scotch, to go to another country and make whiskey was also brave.
Just like business today, the most important part of building and leading a successful business lies in the quality, the best ingredients, the best people and commitment. John worked with farmers to grow the finest barley and bought the finest wood barrels to mature his whiskey. As he was competing with Guinness who was also buying barley, John decided to purchase it in advance. He gave farmers the best seeds to grow the finest barley for him in order to beat Guinness to the harvest. This ensured he would not lose out to the big beer maker. Take this as a lesson to go against the norm. Fight the average, challenge the status quo and don’t worry about being popular – just win! Sine Metu!
John created all this in a single distillery on Bow Street in Dublin. He stored all the barley, triple distilled the whiskey and hosted all the best parties there, at the distillery. It was great to work for John Jameson. He paid the best wage for the best talent, gave them great working conditions and even sat down for a nice drink of whiskey at the end of the day with the employees. If you think about our world today, we have to watch reality television about under cover bosses or read books to learn about employee engagement. At the end of the day, if you treat your employee’s right, they will treat your customers and business better.
John Jameson was way ahead of his time. I am a firm believer that we can look at our history and learn how to create our future. My visit to the Brazen Head in Dublin (the oldest pub in Dublin) gave me another look at how smart John was. He would take his whiskey to the Brazen Head and ask customers to try it (the market research of yesterday). He would get feedback and then continue to perfect his whiskey. Success did not come easily but John and his sons kept the tradition of quality, commitment and loyalty alive just as “Glorious John Jameson” envisioned. Although there is more technology available today, much of how the original whiskey was made is still the same foundation for this distillery.
SO - what are you doing to do to drive success in your business? How do you engage with your employees and customers? Let’s raise a glass of Jameson on St. Patrick’s Day and say cheers to the man who paved the way for hard work, taking risks and becoming the best.