Of the many styles of whisk(e)y in the world, single pot still Irish whiskey is not exactly the most well-known. Single pot still is a specific style of Irish whiskey made by a single distillery from a mixed mash of malted and unmalted barley and distilled in a pot still (the use of unmalted barley is what primarily differentiates it from single malt whisky). It is a singularly Irish style of whiskey. If you go to your local liquor store, you are not likely to find many choices of single pot still, as there are only a handful available on the market (Redbreast is probably the most common and popular).
Two of the available single pot still whiskeys are the “Spot” whiskeys—Green Spot and Yellow Spot—bonded whiskies produced by the Midleton Distillery (the producers of Jameson, Redbreast, and other Irish whiskeys) for Mitchell & Son, a wine merchant in Dublin. The Spot whiskeys have a long and interesting history, as they are the last remaining Irish whiskeys that are specifically produced for a wine merchant in Ireland, a practice that was once extremely common.
Green Spot has long been the most common of the Spot whiskies. In fact, for a long while it was the only one still available. At one point in time, there was also a Blue Spot and a Red Spot, but they have been off the market for a long time. Yellow Spot had also met its demise, but was resurrected just a few years ago, due in part to the resurgent popularity of Green Spot (and single pot still whiskey in general).
Green Spot is a “no-age statement” (NAS) whiskey reputed to be between 7-10 years of age. It is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and sherry casks and bottled at 40% ABV. Yellow Spot is 12 years old and aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, sherry, and Malaga wine casks. It is non chill-filtered and bottled a higher ABV of 46%.
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I decided it would be fun to do a quick comparison of these two interesting whiskies.
Type: Single Pot Still
The nose is sweet, with notes of cherry, cereal, and simple syrup. The taste is typical Irish pot still, with hints of barley, copper, sweet wine, and fruit syrup. It has an oily, but thin, mouthfeel. Like most Irish whiskey, it would benefit from being bottled at a higher ABV. The finish is fairly short, with some lingering sweetness.
Type: Single Pot Still
The nose is stronger and spicier than that of the Green Spot, with notes of spicy oak, sweet wine, and barley. The palate arrives sweet, with notes of sherry and barley sugar. As is often the case with Irish whiskey (especially single pot still), barley is quite prominent. Some spiciness (probably from the Malaga casks?) begins to emerge mid-palate, along with notes of oak and copper. The finish is a weakness in this one, as it’s a bit too bitter. Adding a drop or two of water improves it quite a bit. Along with the bitterness, there are notes of copper, oak, and sherry, and a hint of mint and cinnamon. In spite of the bitterness on the finish, this is still an enjoyable whiskey.
Between the two, the Yellow Spot is clearly the more interesting and enjoyable whiskey (of course, it’s also the more expensive of the two). The extra time in oak barrels, along with the addition of Malaga casks, is very noticeable when drinking them side by side.
If you’re a fan of Irish whiskey and want to try something that’s a step up from Jameson and other more common brands, I recommend giving the Spots a try.