Sonoma County Distilling, located in Rohnert Park, CA and opened in 2010, uses direct-fired copper alembic pot stills for its whiskies, which are twice-distilled (like most single-malt scotches, which are also distilled in pot stills). The 100% rye in the mashbill is a combination of unmalted Canadian rye and malted rye from the UK.
Author Fionnán O’Connor has assembled a beautiful coffee table style hardcover book entirely about the magic of Irish single pot still (previously called Pure Pot Still) whiskey. In the author’s own words, “It’s worth repeating that there aren’t really that many of them. What’s left from the past can be difficult to find and, although the future looks brighter than it has in a century, what’s bottled at present is still relatively slim. … that’s also why this book seemed worth writing in the first place and I can only hope that that same narrowness of scope might offer me a little more room to give each of these tipples the attention they deserve.”
In a refreshing departure from mainstream bourbon brands releasing LDI/MGP rye under their own labels and then claiming some kind of “heritage” of rye distillation, Brown Forman’s Woodford Reserve actually went out and – gasp! – made themselves a rye! … made from a combination of pot-still rye whiskey from the historic Woodford Reserve distillery and column-still rye whiskey from the Brown Forman distillery in Shively, KY.
…Green Spot isn’t cheap to start with. Nor, presumably, are empty grand cru Bordeaux barrels from Château Léoville-Barton. Midleton has taken the classic Green Spot and aged it for an additional 1 to 2 years in the French oak Bordeaux casks, before bottling at 46% ABV.
Way back in 2011 … I was called out in the comments by Woodford adherents that I was doing the whiskey a disservice by reviewing it based on the sample bottle. I had an opportunity to revisit Woodford Reserve recently – this time from a full 750ml bottle – and thought it would be appropriate to review it again for National Bourbon Heritage Month. Does my review from 4 years ago hold up?
Yellow Spot is Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey matured for 12 years in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-Malaga (a sweet Spanish fortified wine) casks. The vatted result is bottled without chill-filtration at 46% ABV.
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.
For the price, this is eminently drinkable straight. Certainly it’s not going to win any awards, but with a pleasant lemon nose, nutty/cereal on the palate, and no “cheap blended” aspect in the finish, this is an easy value.
At once hectic and well-packaged, it demonstrates the intense concentration of flavor possible at cask strength while also showcasing the finer notes of damn fine pot-still Irish whiskey.
I’ve complained (often) about the hated specter of GRAIN WHISKY and the ruinous effect that it has on our lovely, pure single malt when blended by greedy profit-seeking conglomerates in their quest to dull the palates and wash the brains of innocent bar-goers the world round. *cough* Turns out that’s only half-true.