The story of the “Spots” – Blue, Green, Yellow and Red Spot single pot still Irish Whiskies – is another one of those truly charming “neighborhood grocer turned whiskey baron” tales that seemed to be common around the early 1800s in Ireland and Scotland.
Mitchell & Son in Dublin is where it all started, a grocer/baker that began self-maturing stock of Bow Street distilled whiskey and happened to hit on a number of well loved recipes using a variety of casks. Those casks were each marked with a spot of paint to indicate age – blue for 8 years, green for 10, 12 for yellow and 15 for red. Those recipes remained relatively untouched for two centuries, but as time marched on the range was culled and only Green Spot remained. Bow Street was merged into Midleton by Irish Distillers in the 70s, with Mitchell & Son retaining control of their whisky and formula. Recently – no doubt due to the sheer popularity (and accolades) of Green Spot – we have Yellow Spot back for good and even Red Spot receiving a re-release.
Although there’s no longer an age statement on the label, the company does claim elsewhere that Green Spot blends together whiskies “between 7 and 10 years old”, making this a decently matured whiskey nonetheless. Like its closes rival (and bunkmate) Redbreast 12, they use ex-bourbon and sherry casks in a mystery proportion.
Just the perfect nose on Green Spot – an iconic smell that both Irish whisky lovers and Scotch nerds would recognise a mile away. An incredible mix of “a little bit of everything”, without feeling like a hot mess.
You get fruit – lots of fruit, particularly apples. A little pineapple lurking around. Equal parts grassy and floral. Dew and leaves and woody smells, often ones I associate with pot still whiskey. A hint of dried fruits as well. Spices – tumeric, coriander, peppercorns. Sweet, like maple syrup, and a dash of vanilla for good measure.
Green Spot is at once both fresh and dry. A fantastic combination of foraged herbs with a thick, heavy earthiness.
The first few sips are spicier than they are fruity (a trait carried over into its much loved older brother Yellow Spot), and gradually this reverses as a little oxygen gets into the glass. Bay leaves, vanilla, smoked ribs. There’s a big wood, sawdust and musty taste midway through, with the darker red fruits, raisins and a little citrus at the end. Not an especially easy drink – there’s too much happening to make this a daily chugger – but a special, more brooding sort.
Dry, woody and musty. Long after the finish is over there’s a great smoky earthiness that persists.
When it comes to pot still, you’re either on team Redbreast or team Spot. I know where my loyalties lie 🙂
To me, Green Spot is simply the best Irish whiskey in its price category, and some of the best Irish whiskey money can buy, period. Where Jameson is the Johnnie Walker of Ireland, Green Spot is the Lagavulin. A little brooding, dense, complex – but thoroughly enjoyable and with an uncompromising pedigree.