There is a particular place in my heart, reserved for those whiskey moments and memories that I hold near and dear. In that small, sequestered place in my soul resides the Spot range of whiskeys.
Of course, the quality and character of these whiskeys needn’t be questioned, nor is that the reason for their place of reverence in my mind and heart. Rather, this distinction was earned when Yellow Spot transformed my wife from a “casual observer” of the whiskey world, into a full blown “whiskey drinker”. Tucked away in a corner of Dick Mack’s pub in Dingle, as we digested the day’s events, my wife took her first sip of Yellow Spot and thus completed her Baptism by whiskey. Our shared whiskey journey was now irreversibly linked.
Considering the foregoing, when the news of a new release in the Spot range began to leak, it was met with great excitement in our house.
On the heels of several high profile releases this year, Irish Distillers are preparing for another stunning surprise, arriving soon. Midleton’s Spot range of whiskeys is making room for a “new” addition to the family – Red Spot 15 Year Old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Earlier this month, rumors of the resurrection of the fabled Red Spot became reality with the approval of the bottle labels seen below. It now seems that the return of the long lost oldest sibling of the Spot range is near.
Historically, the Spot range consisted of four whiskeys of varying age: 7-year Blue Spot, 10-year Green Spot, 12-year Yellow Spot and the eldest, 15-year Red Spot. Originally bonded and sold by Mitchell & Sons Wine Merchants in Dublin, the range was eventually moved entirely in-house at Midleton with the formation of IDL and the subsequent cessation of providing whiskey to the bonding trade. However, IDL and Mitchell & Sons would maintain their relationship with Mitchell & Sons becoming, and remaining through today, the sole distributor of the Spot range in Ireland.
In IDL’s post-merger era, during Irish whiskey’s precipitous decline, the Spot range slowly waned until only Green Spot remained. During the late 20th century, Green Spot became the de facto unheralded ambassador of the Irish pot still whiskey style. Under the stewardship of IDL and Mitchell & Sons, Green Spot helped usher Irish pot still whiskey through the lean years and into the current style revival we are now witnessing.
Paying recognition and respect to the importance of Green Spot, Midleton expanded the portfolio in 2012 with the release of Yellow Spot – a 12 year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey that restored an age statement to the Spot line up and expanded the breadth of cask maturation being employed in the range.
Coming nearly full circle now (as I doubt we will ever see a revival of the 7-year Blue Spot), Midleton is poised to release the oldest age-stated whiskey in the Spot range when Red Spot hits shelves later this year. The whiskey itself is a 15-year pot still whiskey, matured in ex-bourbon, sherry & marsala wine casks, bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered as you’d expect.
What immediately jumps out are the official tasting notes, listed on the back label, which include such rarities in Irish whiskey as mango, hazelnut, sweet red pepper, and even cracked black pepper. Red Spot sounds poised to take its drinker through a full spectrum of flavors derived from the pot still distillate itself and the triple-cask maturation – particularly that marsala cask. As anyone who has enjoyed a measure or two of Green Spot and Yellow Spot can tell you, the Spot whiskeys are indeed completely different whiskeys, related in name only. It certainly sounds as if Red Spot stands to continue that tradition of forging its own path while remaining steadfastly loyal to the rich history between whiskey and wine that is the hallmark of the Spot range and the relationship between IDL and Mitchell & Sons.
While Midleton has not announced an official release date for Red Spot, current estimates (ok, ok “rumors”) suggest we will be seeing this hitting the shelves somewhere around October/November 2018. Be sure to clear a “spot” on your shelf for this bottle. I know we will.