The remarkable revival of Irish whiskey – once the globally dominant style – continues with a limited-edition release celebrating a remarkable 135-year tradition.
Traditionally, Irish retailers sold their own distinctive blend of whiskey from casks purchased from a local distiller. But as the Irish industry was rationalised (aka closed down) these idiosyncratic one-offs were tragically killed off. Eventually only Mitchell’s, a long-established Dublin wine-and-spirit merchant, kept going with their wonderful Green Spot, but it remained pretty obscure, unloved by all but the truly enlightened (who included the playwright Samuel Beckett, who had his friends bring him supplies to his home in France. Until recently so little was made that it was simply dying, quietly and largely un-mourned.
But then Irish whiskey started a welcome recovery, and some marketing genius in Pernod’s Irish Distillers finally recognised the jewel that they had ignored for so long. Since Green Spot’s relaunch over a decade ago now, it’s been joined by two Green Spot wine finishes, Yellow Spot (a tasty 12 years old), Red Spot (15 years old) and the mighty Blue Spot, a seven year old single pot still Irish whiskey, made from a combination of bourbon, sherry and Madeira casks, bottled at cask strength (58.7 percent).
I could recommend all of these fine creations, but now they’ve been joined – for a limited period, depending on stocks – by a vibrant new celebratory Spot release, Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, which commemorates the 135-year relationship of Mitchell & Son with whisky blending.
Matured for a minimum of nine years, the expression builds on the foundation of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, typical of the Spot whiskey style, and is married together with a unique proportion of hand selected Bordeaux wine casks and port pipes. The inclusion of port casks – sourced from Irish Distillers’ long-established partners in Portugal’s Douro Valley – is a first for a modern iteration of Spot whiskey, though based on archive documents from the late 1800s.
At 51.4 percent ABV, Gold Spot takes no prisoners but is notable for its fruit-forward nose and opening palate, followed by delicate oak tannins and wood spices, with the port wine-driven cask inclusion adding an additional layer of complexity and character.
Available now in Ireland, Gold Spot (€120, or just over £100) will launch in France, the UK and the US from mid-July. It’s a rich, complex and satisfying whiskey that nods to a long and storied history.
Definitely one for the aficionado.