Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Single Pot Still Hits the Spot: Green and Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey
Green Spot is a well loved single pot still (formerly known as "pure pot still") Irish Whiskey made by the Midleton Distillery for the Mitchell & Son spirit shop. For years, it and Redbreast were the only single pot still whiskeys available, but unlike Redbreast, Green Spot was only available in Ireland. In its effort to expand its single pot still offerings, Midleton has refurbished and expanded Green Spot and brought back an older offering, Yellow Spot, a 12 year old single pot still, made up of whiskeys aged in a variety of casks, including malaga dessert wine casks from Spain. (While I know that Yellow Spot is an old brand, I couldn't shake the thought that it connotes either a part of the snow that you wouldn't want to eat or something you should call your physician about.)
I've long been a fan of Green Spot, but haven't had it in a while, so I was excited to try it again and compare to the new Yellow Spot. The Spots are not yet available in the US.
Green Spot Irish Whiskey, 40% abv ($55)
I love the Green Spot nose. It's just pure and malty with fresh grass and hay; it's like everything you want Irish Whiskey to be. The palate follows up nicely with those pure malt notes, a bit of sweetness and a slight fruitiness in the late palate. The finish is mostly malty. I've always preferred Green Spot to almost any other Irish, even the acclaimed Redbreast. It just shows so much lovely malt, nicely balanced with some sweetness; straightforward, perhaps, but very well done.
Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey, 12yo, 46% abv ($98)
Surprisingly, the Yellow Spot nose is much lighter than the Green Spot; it has a grainy, almost bourbon like quality to it. The palate is also very grainy with a very alcoholic type flavor. Tasting blind, I think I would guess that it was a single grain whiskey. The initial grainy note then leads to some bitterness and some soapiness, and a bit of sourness which could be the wine influence. Some floral notes emerge in the finish, followed by bitterness. This one is a bit all over the place. The flavors don't come together well, and there are a number of off notes and clashing flavors. It's as if it can't decide if it wants to be grainy or sweet, so it settled on bitter.
For me this comparison was no contest. The pure simplicity of Green Spot easily wins out against the muddled flavor profile of Yellow Spot.
See the LA Whiskey Society reviews of Green Spot and Yellow Spot.