The only way to move forward is to learn from the past. That’s what my old history teacher used to say (he had to say that kind of thing). I was thinking about this when I was learning about Yellow Spot, the new addition to the Midleton Single Pot Still Range. Yellow Spot was and is Green Spot’s older sibling. In the origin, Mitchell & Son (bottler of the Spots) would buy in Casks filled with Sherry, Port & Malaga wine, and after they had bottled the Sherry, Port and Malaga wine, they would send the casks to be filled with whiskey by the Midleton Distillery. That’s how things used to work. Now Malaga wine, Sherry and Port are bottled at source, so it doesn’t make as much sense, but back then it made perfect sense. Get your sherry delivered in barrels, sell the sherry, recycle the barrel by maturing whiskey in it, and sell the whiskey.
Another historical reference is the Malaga wine. Malaga wine casks are rarely if ever used anymore, and if it wasn’t for this historical recipe, they may have never been used again. They add a fruitiness and spice.
Just to say, the spots refer to age statements (spots were marked on the barrels to differentiate the barrels). Yellow Spot was the 12 year old, Green Spot the 8 as for the Red Spot and Blue Spot, well I’ll leave you guessing until they get released. The recipe and reference to Yellow Spot was actually found in Dublin City museum, and that was the inspiration for this whole project. When I heard about a new pot still whiskey, I suggested it may be comic book inspired, but they picked a far more sensible idea.
Apart from reinvigorating the different brands histories, Irish distillers are looking to the future. Irish whiskey has an exciting future, and with Pot Still Whiskey, Irish Distillers (Jameson/Pernod Ricard) are on to a winner. I haven’t tasted a bad one. I am a truly converted fan. The cask management at Jameson, as I have seen first-hand, is superb. The liquid is complex and overall, the range is fantastic.
I can’t emphasise enough how serious folks at Jameson take cask management. They pretty much talk to their cask suppliers every week, and they are visiting them constantly. They want the best liquid, seasoning the best casks before they pour their whiskey into it.
The Trip & The Notes
I went down to London to taste the Yellow Spot, and I had a lovely time. The temperature was about 28 degrees, the craic was grand and it was really great to meet Jonathan Mitchell and his son (Mitchell & Son), and some of the other folks involved in creating this whiskey.
But what did it taste like? Well, I decided to do things a little differently. I think this spirit is very flexible, so I thought I would taste it and then make an Old Fashioned out of it. The Old Fashioned is one, if not the oldest cocktails, so it relates to the history references at the beginning of the article. See, I do think about these things
Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
12 Years Old
Vatting of Sherry Casks, Malaga Casks and Ex Bourbon Casks
46% Abv. Soon to be available at Whisky Exchange for around 50 quid
Nose: Delicate. Biscuity, malty, apricots, lime. This dram definitely needs water. It’s too delicate otherwise. Marzipan.
I reckon I will have to pick light bitters when I make my Old fashioned.
With Water: Much better. Tangerines, Apricots. Lovely fruitiness and zestiness coming through. Water can be a good thing!
Palate: Zesty, smooth, tangerines again, blackcurrant, lemons, some more of that juicy blackcurrant fruit pastel thing coming through with water.
Finish: Zesty and orangey
Overall: It’s good, it provides a nice addition to the range, but it struggles against the giants that are Redbreast 12 & 15. I’m also loath to compare it to Green Spot, since it is really different, and I appreciate both (Green Spot is really grassy and fresh). This whiskey is much much better with water. It starts to really express its flavours. It is probably just a bit subtle for me to be classed as a mind blowing whiskey. It’s good, but not unbelievable.
Next, I will try to make a few cocktails with it. Post should be up on Monday (best laid plans)