Green Spot (whiskey)
|Manufacturer||Irish Distillers (Pernod Ricard)|
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Introduced||Circa 1920: Bonded Merchant|
|Discontinued||Blue Spot, Red Spot,|
|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, 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, and along with Mitchell's older bottling, Yellow Spot, 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 premises on nearby Kildare Street. At the time, it was common practice in Ireland for merchants to purchase distillate in bulk from whiskey distilleries, and to mature it themselves in their own casks in bonded warehouses. The merchants having ample supply of casks through the importation of wine, and fortified wines such as port and sherry. Therefore, it was natural that Mitchell & Son, would enter the bonded whiskey trade.
Using distillate obtained from Jameson's nearby Bow Street Distillery, Mitchell & Son matured whiskey in a mix of casks which had been used to hold both dark and light sherries in their cellars under Fitzwilliam Lane, Dublin. For the first five years of maturation, half of the whiskey was aged in casks which had previously held Oloroso and other darker sherries, with the other half aged in casks 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 mature for a further five years in neutral oak.
Mitchell & Son's whiskey was originally marketed as "Pat Whisky", with the labels carrying the logo of a man on a green background. However, in 1933, this was rebranded as "John Jameson & Son 10 Year Old Green Seal", later becoming known as simply, Green Spot.
Mitchell & Son sold a range of whiskeys under the ‘Spot’ brand. The name having originated from Mitchell's practice of marking casks of different ages with a daub or spot of coloured 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 their most popular whiskey, and it was the only of the Spot whiskeys to remain in continuous production until the present day. Yellow Spot although relaunched in 2012, ceased bottling in the late 1950s.
In 1971, Irish Distillers shut their Dublin distilleries (including Bow Street), and consolidated production in Midleton. As a result, the make up of the whiskey was altered for the first time in living memory. This change, coupled with low stocks of maturing whiskey, led Mitchell & Son into an agreement with Irish Distillers whereby the whiskey would be matured on-site by Irish Distillers in the distillery's own casks, with Mitchell & Sons having sole rights to market, sell and develop the whiskey.
Current day production
Modern Green Spot is slightly younger than the original. Previously a ten-year old, it is now a non-age statement whiskey, made from a blend of 7-10 year old single pot still whiskeys, which have matured in a combination of new and re-fill bourbon casks, and sherry casks.
As 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, it has become somewhat more widespread. For instance, it was launched in the United States for the first time in 2014, and is also now available in retailers across France.
In recent years, two special bottlings have been released:
- Green Spot 10 year old, 40% ABV, a 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.
In May 2012, Mitchell & Son re-introduced the Yellow Spot variant based on information in their company archives.
Although bottling of Yellow Spot had ceased in the 1950s, by using information in original company journals and ledgers, Mitchell & Son's were able to determine that the original Yellow Spot was a blend of 12-year old pot still whiskeys which had been 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 the modern era, when Mitchell's checked Irish Distillers inventories, they found that serendipitously there were some supplies of 12-year old Malaga-matured pot still available. Therefore, Mitchell's were able to re-launch Yellow Spot using the same style of whiskeys as contained in the original.
When initially launched, Mitchell's & Son planned to produce Yellow Spot in limited batches of 500 cases per annum.
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.
Both Green Spot and Yellow Spot 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 favour in the 20th century, in part due to the rise of cheaper, less intense blended whiskeys. Therefore, as a result of falling 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 which only use malted barley in the mash, single pot still whiskeys are produced from a mixed mash which 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.
- McNamara, Stuart. "Mitchell's Green Spot Bordeaux Finish Irish Whiskey Review". irishwhiskey.com. IrishWhiskey.com. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Spot Whiskey". www.singlepotstill.com. www.singlepotstill.com/. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "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.
- "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.
- "Green Spot Château Léoville Barton". www.worldwhiskiesawards.com. WorldWhiskiesAwards.com. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- 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.