Proper 12 vs Jameson Irish Whiskey (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

You might know Proper 12 as UFC Lightweight Conor McGregor’s Irish whiskey brand. But how does it stack up against a renowned veteran in the ring?

In the blue corner, we have Proper 12. By the red, we have Jameson. Will Jameson successfully defend its reign, or will we have a new player? 

Comparing Jameson & Proper Twelve 

Jameson & Proper Twelve

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with Conor McGregor. After all, he’s one of the best UFC lightweight champions and is currently ranked at number nine overall. 

You probably also know about his plans to form his whiskey line

Here’s the thing: many celebrity endorsements are likely just a cash grab — nothing more. We don’t expect too much when it comes to quality (we’re looking at you, 818 Tequila [1] and Teslaquila [2]). 

All we know about Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve is that it’s an Irish whiskey brand. To put it to the test, we decided to compare it to one of the biggest players in the Irish whiskey game, Jameson. We’ll look at their base ingredients, how the spirit is produced, and their unique tasting notes to come up with a conclusive winner. 

Key Differences In Both Brands 

Key Differences In Both Brands 


John Jameson founded the brand in 1780 after dabbling in his wife’s family business. He married famous Scotch whisky distiller John Haig’s daughter and eventually became the most important distilling family in Ireland. 

Today, this Pernod Ricard brand is the best-selling Irish whiskey brand in the world, with close to a million cases sold just in 2019 alone. 

On the other hand, Proper Twelve doesn’t have that long history under its belt — it was only launched in 2018. The brand’s name is tied to the founder: Conor McGregor grew up in Crumlin 12, an area in Dublin. 

How It’s Made 

Whiskey Distillation Process

Conor McGregor partnered with Ken Austin and Master Distiller David Elder, who has worked with Guinness, to develop the blend for the brand. The drink is made from malt and grain whiskeys, triple-distilled to ensure a smooth spirit. 

But what makes it more special is where the whiskey itself is produced. The team scouted the entire country to locate the oldest whiskey distillery on the Isle of Ireland. The historic location is the best area for production due to the rich soil and pure spring water. 

Jameson whiskey is likewise triple-distilled. It is made from a blend of rich pot still (malted and unmalted barley) and grain whiskeys before being poured inside oak barrels for a minimum four-year aging period. 

Base Ingredients

Jameson uses a combination of pot still whiskey (malted and unmalted barley) and maize. It is blended with pure Irish water from the Dungourney River. The final drinking spirit has a full-bodied and thick character, with a hint of fruity spice. 

It took McGregor’s team to create nearly 100 blends to perfect the Proper Twelve formula. They settled on a blend of single malt and golden grains for a woodsy and complex spirit with soft notes of toasted wood. But is Jameson Irish whiskey really good?

Age Statement

Irish Whiskey Oak Barrels

Jameson is aged for a minimum of four years in oak casks. 

On the other hand, Proper 12 spends at least three years maturing inside ex-bourbon barrels. 

Alcohol Content 

Both brands are bottled at 40 percent ABV or 80 proof. 

Flavor Notes



Jameson is clear and pure, much like liquid gold. The whiskey has medium legs that cling to the sides of the glass upon swirling. 

On the other hand, Proper 12 resembles molten autumnal straw, with a slight greenish tint to the bottle. 


Proper Twelve is vanilla-heavy on the nose, laced with slight floral tones. 

Jameson is floral, much like the former, but a lot more cream-forward with burnt caramel notes. 


Proper Twelve

Proper 12’s mash bill lends a fruity and sweet flavor profile to the liquor. 

The creamy nose continues down to the palate with Jameson. This liquor has a caramel and vanilla flavor profile and a creamy mouthfeel. 


Proper 12 is a surprisingly smooth liquor, especially at its finish. We were expecting something rougher, considering the brand comes from McGregor himself! 

Jameson moves away from the creamy trend by being surprisingly spicy at its medium-length finish. This would taste exceptionally well in a cocktail with ginger ale or on the rocks. 

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Price Point

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Both spirits are at the same price point at less than $25 per 750ml bottle. You can get a Proper 12 bottle at $24.99, and Jameson costs just slightly cheaper at $22.99. But what’s the most expensive Irish Whiskey?


Which is smoother, Jameson or Proper 12?

While we have to give props to Proper 12 for being surprisingly smooth and mellow, this round goes to Jameson.

We think McGregor’s drink can do with a slightly longer aging period for a softer and smoother final product, which the older brand already does perfectly. But how do you drink Jameson Irish whiskey?

Which whiskey is more flavorful, Proper 12 or Jameson?

Jameson is more flavorful than Proper 12. You get the sweet creaminess from the vanilla and caramel and also plenty of spice at its finish. 

On the other hand, McGregor’s brand is decently fruity and sweet, but we found the sweet-on-sweet flavor profile a bit cloying, especially when drunk neat. It tasted fine in cocktails. 

Final Verdict 

Hands down, our final winner for this Irish whiskey showdown was Jameson. There’s a reason why this 200-year-old brand is the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world… it’s because the drinking experience is that good. Their proven and tested mash and familiar flavor profile leave nothing to be desired! 

Proper 12 had been a viable contender, but we strongly believe the whiskey could do better with a longer aging period inside the oak barrels. Who knows? They might adapt to our suggestion soon! 



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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