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.


Josh Feldman said...

Fascinating tasting notes. I appreciate your endorsement of the Green Spot over the Yellow - as it contradicts much of the press and received wisdom. Lord knows I take your tasting notes seriously. FYI - Yellow spot and Green Spot are available in the US, but solely at Park Avenue Liquors. I just checked their web site and neither are listed, but last month I discussed Yellow Spot with a gentleman from Minnesota as he purchased a bottle and sipped Brenne with the lovely Allison Patel.

sku said...

Thanks for your comments Josh; I had no idea it was available in the US.

And yes, my views are definitely in the minority in liking Green better than Yellow. John Hansell and Tim Read, to name just a few I've seen, both were quite enamoured of the Yellow. To each their own.

Josh Feldman said...

Park Ave. Liquors is an unusual liquor store in that it arranges its own custom single cask offerings from European distilleries and custom imports otherwise unavailable popular whiskies from Scotland and Ireland from time to time.

Kind of like a smaller, less price competitive K&L. PAL is dear to my heart because it is literally 3 blocks from my office and they have regular tasting events (packed into the the crowded main aisle) on Thursday & Friday afternoons!

Greg said...

Steve - great review. I've been anxious to get my hands on a Yellow Spot. I have a couple bottles of Green in the bunker and love the stuff. I'll still track down a bottle but your review will be an interesting data point when I eventually do have a chance to try it.

tanstaafl2 said...

Always good to have another opinion to consider. That said, I hope if you get access to a second bottle of Yellow Spot that you will try it again. I don't get any of that from the Yellow Spot and like it better than the Green Spot although they are both delightful in their own way. Although I would still reach for my bottle of Powers John's Lane over either of them as I find it to be heavier, more flavorful and more balanced than either of the "Spots"!