John Jameson was born in 1740 in Alloa (county of Clackmannanshire in Scotland) into a seafaring family and served as Sheriff Clerk for Clackmannanshire. However, disappointed with his career as Sheriff Clerk, John Jameson moved with his family to Ireland.
Here he was appointed manager of one of several distilleries in the Dublin district of Smithfield, the land in question being owned by his relative by marriage, John Stein.
In 1805, his son John Jameson II joined the family business and continued to run it for the next 41 years before handing it over to his son John Jameson III in 1851.
John Jameson operated the Bow Street distillery to the highest standards, in keeping with the Dublin distilleries' outstanding reputation as purveyors of the finest "pure pot still" whiskey. His employees received above-average wages, and he bought only the best grain, sometimes paying farmers in advance to grow grain for him. He also followed all stages of the production process with great attention to detail.
For aging, John Jameson had cellars dug on the distillery grounds to create cool, moist conditions for optimal aging of his whiskey, and he had it aged in barrels much longer than many of his competitors to ensure the highest quality.
Jameson died on December 3, 1823, by which time the Jamesons were already firmly established as the country's leading whiskey family.