Without Fear: Life According to Jameson Whiskey

There is no good news in fear. There is no love in fear. In fact, it’s been said that perfect love drives out fear.

Blake Nail / 2.4.21

Since the quarantine began, consumer alcohol sales have skyrocketed twenty-four percent. And hard liquor sales have risen even faster (a twenty-seven percent increase over last year). It’s safe to assume it isn’t because everyone is stocking up on wine and partaking in the Eucharist inside their homes. No, this is because of the high stress and boredom that comes from being stuck indoors. Having something to take the edge off of Covid life seems to be an essential service. I myself have personally enjoyed my fair share of whiskey while relaxing and sitting back on the couch. A classic favorite of mine is the deliciously triple distilled Jameson Irish Whiskey. But the reason I love Jameson goes deeper than just taste. Deeper into the roots of the company. Into the roots of “Sine Metu.”

The company is known for the quality of their product but also the care they show their employees. It’s a known fact that workers of the distillery were allowed a drink on the house after their shift and if they had what was considered a ‘dirty’ job were allotted two drinks. They are also known to hire people for a lifetime, with a low turnover rate. We might even look at the unique way Jameson distills and produces their exquisite product, but perhaps that’s best saved for a Google search before you begin thinking you’ve been bamboozled into reading an ad.

Instead, I’d like to hone in on a specific aspect of Jameson that sticks with me even when I choose to betray my first love and sip on some rye. The company and family has a motto printed on every single bottle: “Sine Metu.”

Without fear.

It’s a motto that has shaped both the Jameson family and the history of their company. They’ve fought through fear as they created something that not only impacted Dublin but has drastically impacted the world. They battled famines, civil wars, closures, and American prohibition and still prevailed. Through it all, they’ve clung to their motto, fighting without fear. (There I go again, they aren’t sponsoring me I promise.)

Fear is something that eats at everyone. The whiskey drinker, the wine connoisseur, the Bud Light binger, and even the abstaining. Fear is a universal foe for everyone and anyone. But for religious people, fear has an acute profile. Fear feasts on those that feel inadequately enlightened, sufficiently depraved, and altogether disgraceful. It devours those who are haughty and proud while enjoying the lowly and shameful for dessert. Some work and work to get God’s approval only to go to bed at night with the aching fear that it just wasn’t enough. Others wake up in the morning with fear like an anchor in their chest knowing they are going to be buried by the weight of God’s crushing index finger by breakfast.

I’ve witnessed firsthand someone overtaken by a panic attack at the thought of not doing enough for God. Whether it’s pastors weaponizing the infamous Matthew 7 passage of “I never knew you” or an unfortunate theology that proclaims that being frightened of God is where true righteousness lives, it’s quite problematic. There is no good news in fear. There is no love in fear. In fact, it’s been said that perfect love drives out fear.

But it isn’t just the religious. Fear holds no prejudices. As recent months have shown, fear resides in the political realm, the socioeconomic system, and seems to almost run social media. Even in the day-to-day, there’s fear hiding behind the question of if we’ve done enough to get the performance review we’ve been striving for. If we helped out around the house enough or if the children have been shown the proper ways to be successful in life. If we’ve found the perfect recipe for the family gathering or said the correct thing in the text message that hasn’t been responded to yet. Fear hides around every corner, knees bent, ready to pounce at any moment.

Having “Sine Metu” as your life motto doesn’t stop the attacks. Life still comes at you in full force, even when living under the banner of fearlessness. The Jameson family still saw difficult times and trying moments, likely thinking the jig was up. But they still kept going, having a passion and love for their product. For their customers. (Okay, you caught me. They’re sending me a free bottle for writing this.) It may not have been a perfect love, but it was most definitely a strong one to say the least.

A perfect love is a rare find, but thankfully it seeks you and not the other way around. For God tells us of a perfect love that he has for us. One that takes our fear of whether we’ve prayed enough, obeyed enough, gave enough or praised enough and nails it to a wooden cross. One which opens pierced palms and welcomes the sinner with their long list of deeds deemed unworthy of forgiveness. One which declares fear homeless. This love God has bottled up himself, filled to the brim with his sweet, good grace and triple-distilled mercy, ready for us to partake in. Maybe it’s time we set aside the things done and undone and pour ourselves a glass, if you will. Sit back in the recliner, turn the fireplace on, and enjoy ourselves two to three fingers of the Most High’s very own batch bearing the familiar motto, “Sine Metu.”