Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Green Spot is one of the few surviving “bonded” Irish whiskeys – made by the ubiquitous Irish Distillers Limited (originally at the Jameson Bow Street Distillery, and now at the larger facility in Midleton, where all IDL whiskeys are made) – but sold by the wine merchants Mitchell & Son of Dublin, Ireland. Originating sometime after Mitchell & Son began selling whiskey in 1887, ‘Green Spot’ refers to the family tradition of marking barrels of maturing whisky with a daub of paint to indicate their age – originally the shop sold Green, Yellow, Red, and Blue Spot whiskeys, most aged in the shop’s excess fortified wine barrels.

Today, only the green one remains of the line (although a 12 year-old Yellow Spot, aged in three types of casks, has recently returned to the European market). Green Spot is a single pot still Irish whiskey, meaning a combination of malted and unmalted barley is distilled together (triple-distlled, in this case) in a copper pot still, like Redbreast which is also produced at the Midleton distillery by IDL. Unlike most Irish Whiskeys, single pot still whiskies do not contain any column-still grain whiskey, making this style analogous to (but not the same as) single-malt. Green Spot is then aged in 75% American oak ex-bourbon barrels and 25% in sherry casks for 8-9 years, although it bears no age statement. It is likely caramel colored, chill-filtered, and bottled at 40% ABV.

It was re-packaged circa 2011 when IDL acquired the license to distribute Green Spot outside of Ireland (although IDL has not yet announced plans to ship to the United States, there are rumblings). Despite IDL’s claims that only the packaging has changed and not the whiskey, consensus online is that the newer one is lighter in style and could be younger than the “old” bottling. Without a sample of old Green Spot to compare, I cannot comment. Below are notes from my tasting of the “new” repackaged Green Spot from a 700ml bottle that I bought online via UK retailer Master of Malt.

Nose: Clearly sherried. Orange peel and candied ginger. Tangy and somewhat herbal. Green pear and cotton candy. Honey-lemon throat lozenges. After a rest in the glass, there is a fibrous fruitiness, like the skin of a red delicious apple. Even further in is a faint whiff of the nutty coconut I associate with bourbon-matured pot still whiskey.

Palate: Unctuous body – mouth coating. Minimal burn. Spicy ginger, apple cider, and nondescript grain.

Finish: Medium length, the honey and lemon lozenge remains behind as the spicy notes fade. No trace of bitterness. Simple and refreshing.

With Water: A splash of water reveals bright, fresh green banana on the nose, really washes out the palate, and adds a little peanut butter note to the finish. I wouldn’t recommend the water for how it affects the body. At 40% ABV, it hardly needs further dilution.

Overall: While it has the same mouth-filling unctuousness as Redbreast, the sherry notes seem to cover up the nutty/oily notes I associate with single pot still whiskey. There seems to be a lot of depth here, but it’s hidden by a layer of simplicity. One must really search for the complexity. Still, it is tasty and unique: nobody else makes a sherry-matured Irish single pot still.

With Redbreast’s popularity and the distinct lack of competition in the market for single pot still Irish whiskey, I imagine that IDL is looking very hard at ramping production and distribution of Green Spot, and that they intend to address the US market at some point. With its lighter style (closer, in fact, to the very popular Jameson) and the surge of interest in single pot still, I think this would be a killer product in the US right now.

Note: I don’t usually do this, but I feel that Green Spot warrants a second look. I feel there is more to discover, so I will be updating these tasting notes and possibly my conclusion sometime this week – watch this space.

Green Spot Irish Whiskey
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $50 - $60
Acquired: 700ml bottle purchased at Master of Malt, $55
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , ,
6 Comments

6 Responses to Green Spot Irish Whiskey

  1. Peter t says:

    Hey Noob. Good pick to review. This whiskey has been getting a lot of good press lately. I haven’t tried it yet but I almost bought a bottle at berry bros and rudd in London on a recent trip. I decided to get the blue hanger 6th release instead…glad I did too. The fellow there did mention that green spot should be available in the US later this year…hopefully. He also said the blue hanger will be headed to the US within a few years too. Is this Green Spot similar to the red breast? And how is the master of malt service? I like there website.

    • Hi Peter,

      Redbreast has a lot more oiliness (a good thing) and gives an impression of weight. It also has the most delectable coconut notes. The Green Spot, while fruitier (from the partial sherry maturation) is far lighter and simpler in flavor and aroma. I would say the comparison is similar to a Springbank (minus the peat) against a Balvenie. I’ve used MoM twice and been impressed with their service, prices, and shipping polices both times. Also, their sample program (drinks by the dram) is unique – just realize the samples are only 30ml if you try it.

      • Peter t says:

        Yah. I really like red breast. I think you’re right about the coconut aroma…I couldn’t quite pin down what it was but that makes sense, I love coconut too. I think Irish pot still whiskies are probably going to reawaken the world to some great Irish whiskies.

        Are the Irish the only ones using the pot still method? Also, does pot still refer to the actual form of distillation or just the mash (being a combo of malted and unmalted barler)? Cheers.

        • Hi Peter,
          The term ‘single pot still’ refers to the uniquely Irish tradition of combining malted and unmalted barley in the same mash, and distilling that in a traditional copper pot still (the same kind of still used to make single-malt scotch). As far as I know, only Midleton distillery (IDL) and Cooley use this method now, although Cooley’s is not aged, and is therefore not whiskey.

  2. Frank W. says:

    Just found and tried this from Fairview Heights, IL. Way to mild and pretty much tasteless for my untrained palate. I like The Hakushu 12 from Suntory a lot better when I am looking for something lighter and they run about the same price here ($55-65).

  3. Dave Z says:

    I have to agree with Frank W. I was lucky to find this locally (Oregon’s state liquor buyer got 250 cases) and I was underwhelmed. Had a tasting tonight vs Bushmills Black and Powers. Green Spot had a bit of grain and toffee and a nice mouth feel but not much else going on. Quality of the casks must have dropped, I did not get the sherry (while you can taste that in the Black Bush). The finish was quite quick, just the barest hint of oak and it was gone. For the price, not worth it ($50 here in OR). While the Bushmills aren’t the most complex drams around they at least have that unique Bushmills taste, and the Black offers a slight oak on the finish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>