Green Spot (whiskey)
|Manufacturer||Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard)|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Introduced||Circa 1920: Bonded Merchant|
|Related products||Yellow Spot, Redbreast Pot Still|
Green Spot is a single pot still Irish whiskey, produced specifically for Mitchell & Son of Dublin by Irish Distillers at the Midleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland. Described by whiskey writer Jim Murray as "unquestionably one of the world's great whiskeys", Green Spot is one of the few remaining bonded Irish whiskeys. Along with Mitchell's older bottling, Yellow Spot, it is one of only two whiskeys specifically produced for and sold by an independent wine merchant in Ireland.
In 1805, William Mitchell established a bakery and confectionery business on Dublin's Grafton Street. In 1887, the business expanded into the wine and spirit trade at a location on nearby Kildare Street. At the time, it was common practice in Ireland for merchants to purchase distillate in bulk from whiskey distilleries and then mature it themselves in their own casks in bonded warehouses. The merchants had ample supplies of casks due to the importation of wine and fortified wines such as port and sherry. Therefore, it was a natural progression for Mitchell & Son to enter the bonded whiskey trade.
Using distillate obtained from Jameson's nearby Bow Street Distillery, Mitchell & Son matured whiskey in a mix of casks that had been used to hold both dark and light sherries in their cellars under Fitzwilliam Lane in Dublin. For the first five years of maturation, half of the whiskey was aged in casks that had previously held Oloroso and other darker sherries, with the other half aged in casks that had held lighter finos. This combination prevented the darker wines from overpowering the whiskey. After five years, whiskeys from the respective light and dark sherry casks were then vatted together and allowed to mature for an additional five years in neutral oak.
Mitchell & Son's whiskey was originally marketed as "Pat Whisky", with the labels featuring the logo of a man on a green background. However, in 1933, it was rebranded as "John Jameson & Son 10 Year Old Green Seal" and later became known simply as Green Spot.
Mitchell & Son sold a range of whiskeys under the "Spot" brand. The name itself originated from Mitchell's practice of marking casks of different ages with a spot of colored paint. There was a 7-year-old Blue Spot, a 12-year-old Yellow Spot, and a 15-year-old Red Spot. However, it was the 10-year-old Green Spot that emerged as the company's most popular whiskey, and it was the only Spot whiskey to remain in continuous production until the present. Although it relaunched in 2012, Yellow Spot ceased bottling for decades in the late 1950s. According to posts on the Irish Whiskey Club's Facebook page in August 2018, Red Spot is set to be relaunched, possibly in October 2018.
In 1971, Irish Distillers closed its Dublin distilleries (including Bow Street) and consolidated production in Midleton. As a result, the makeup of the whiskey was altered for the first time in known history. This change, coupled with low stocks of maturing whiskey, led Mitchell & Son to make an agreement with Irish Distillers to mature the whiskey onsite in Irish Distillers' own casks, with Mitchell & Son having sole rights to market, sell, and develop the whiskey.
Modern Green Spot is slightly younger than the original. Previously a 10-year-old whiskey, it is now a non-age statement whiskey, made from a blend of 7-10-year-old single pot still whiskeys that have matured in a combination of new and refill bourbon casks and sherry casks.
Because Green Spot is produced in limited quantities (only 12,000 bottles per year) and was historically mainly sold through Mitchell's & Son's Dublin shop, it was previously difficult to obtain outside of Ireland. However, in recent years, distribution of Green Spot has become more widespread. For instance, it was launched in the United States for the first time in 2014 and is now available in retailers across France.
In recent years, three special bottlings of Green Spot have been released:
- Green Spot 10 Year Old, 40% ABV, batch of 1,000 bottles released to celebrate Mitchell & Son's 200th year in existence
- Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, 46% ABV, regular Green Spot matured in sherry and bourbon casks but finished for up to 18 months in oaken Bordeaux wine casks from the Irish-owned Château Léoville-Barton
- Green Spot Château Montelena, 46% ABV, matured in traditional sherry and bourbon casks and then finished for 12 months in French Oak Zinfandel wine casks from Château Montelena in the Napa Valley
In May 2012, Mitchell & Son re-introduced the Yellow Spot variant based on information in company archives. Bottling of Yellow Spot had previously ceased in the 1950s, but information in original company journals and ledgers allowed Mitchell & Son to determine the original Yellow Spot was a blend of 12-year-old pot still whiskeys that were matured in a combination of Malaga wine casks (which impart a slightly sweet taste), bourbon barrels, and sherry butts.
Although Malaga-matured Irish pot still whiskey is a rarity in modern production, when Mitchell & Son checked Irish Distillers' inventory, it found a supply of 12-year-old Malaga-matured pot still whiskey. This allowed Mitchell & Son to re-launch Yellow Spot using the same style of whiskey that was contained in the original.
When Mitchell & Son initially relaunched Yellow Spot, the plan was to produce limited batches of 500 cases per annum.
Red Spot was re-introduced to the lineup in November of 2018, again based on old family recipes from before it was discontinued 50 years prior. This bottling is aged in bourbon barrels and sherry butts much like the other Spot Whiskeys, but with the addition of Marsala wine casks as well for a total of at least 15 years.
Green Spot has received high scores at several international spirit ratings competitions. For instance, Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, rated Green Spot as 94.5/100 in the 2014 edition of the Whisky Bible. In addition, Murray has stated that Green Spot is:
“...to the true Irish whiskey drinker what the Irish Round Tower is to the archaeologist...Unquestionably one of the world’s great whiskies.”
More recently, the Green Spot Château Léoville Barton was awarded "Best single pot still whiskey" at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards.
The "Spot" range of whiskeys are amongst a handful of single pot still whiskeys in existence today, with Green Spot being the only one to have remained in continuous production since the early 1900s (Redbreast, the other long established Irish single pot still whiskey, briefly ceased production in the 1980s). Although once the most popular style of whiskey consumed in the world, pot still whiskey fell out of favor in the 20th century, due in part to the rise of cheaper, less intense blended whiskeys. As a result of declining demand, most Irish whiskeys were either reformulated as blends or discontinued.
Single pot still whiskeys, which are historically unique to Ireland, are similar to single malts in that they are produced solely from pot still distillate. However, in contrast to malts that only use malted barley in the mash, single pot still whiskeys are produced from a mixed mash that contains both malted and unmalted barley.
- Olmsted, Larry (13 February 2014). "Two Deluxe Irish Whiskies Arrive in US". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 10 January 2017 – via Forbes.com.
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- Healy, Matt (5 August 2018). "Facebook - Irish Whiskey Club". Facebook. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- "Green Spot". www.nicolas.com. Nicolas. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Green Spot Whiskey 10 Year Old". mitchellandson.com/green-spot-whiskey-10-year-old.html. Mitchell & Son. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Green Spot Château Léoville Barton". mitchellandson.com. Mitchell & Son. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Green Spot Chateau Montelena". Jameson.com. Jameson Irish Whiskey. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- "Yellow Spot Makes a Comeback". drinksindustryireland.ie. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Irish Distillers takes top honours in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2014 - Irish Whiskey News". www.whiskyintelligence.com. WhiskeyIntelligence.com. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "World Whiskies Awards 2016 - Winners". www.worldwhiskiesawards.com. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
- O'Connor, Fionnán (2015). A Glass Apart: Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey. Images Publishing. ISBN 9781864705492.
- "Technical file setting out the specifications with which Irish Whiskey / Uisce Beatha Eireannach / Irish Whisky must comply" (PDF). www.agriculture.gov.ie. Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. October 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Mitchell & Son
- Green Spot - The Living Relic of the Days of the Whiskey Bonders, 4 July 2012 on YouTube; 5:20 minutes.
- Green Spot - Château Léoville Barton, 6 August 2015 on YouTube; 2:57 minutes.
- Yellow Spot - The Rebirth of a Revered Irish Brand, 4 July 2012 on YouTube; 5:41 minutes.