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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Spotted! A New Irish Whiskey on the Radar

After the onslaught of peated (especially Islay) whiskies consumed by this website in the past few weeks, we felt a bit of subtlety was in order before our collective palates exploded under the volume of smoke we've ingested.  All this led us back to a tasting which occurred a month ago at one of our favourite hotel establishments in London, The Connaught - not the wonderful Coburg Bar, but the equally nice Connaught Bar at the back of the hotel. This is usually the domain of the louche, urbane sophisticat, there to sample many a classic from the bar's extensive menu of cocktails, which includes a Martini trolley, so that the unbridled freshness of citrus, botanical and chilled glass can be presented in perfect harmony.

But today, things were a little different.  I had been at a previous tasting (a sneak preview of a new Ardbeg) and was running a little late, so hot-footed it over to the bar mid-afternoon just as the assembled throng of drinks writers and bloggers were being assembled -  to taste something of a revelation.

Amongst the rabble, who usually just turn up for the free booze were several folks who didn't look familiar and who turned out to be none other than the custodians of Mitchell & Son, purveyor's of one of our very favourite Irish whiskies the wonderful Green Spot.  Now anyone who knows this whiskey will know that it is a very hard act to follow (possibly nailed by Redbreast 15yo) so to return back to the vaults of time and extract one of the other 'spots' from the original range could be somewhat remiss.

However, all is not lost.  The whiskey, as you've guessed is a cracker.  Matured for a full term in three types of cask (American Oak, sherry cask and Malaga wine casks) the marriage is sweeter than anything that could be mustered up by the glossy pages of Hello! magazine and we feel it's a welcome edition to the range.  We imagine that this is the first of several releases from the 'spot' range - Blue Spot (once bottled as a 7 year old) Red Spot (as a 15 year old) and maybe even Black Spot, although we made this one up... is there potential room for a peated expression? Who knows, but until then, we have Yellow Spot to look forward to.   It will be bottled at 46%, released in batches of 500 cases and priced at €65.  The price point made us think this could be a competitor to Redbreast 15 year old, but we'll let you decide whether you feel it's worth switching your Irish allegiance, after the review.

Yellow Spot -  Irish Whiskey - 12 Years Old -  46%

Nose: Initially buttery, with golden syrup and fudge notes, leading into some sweet, fruity wine and a hint of dryness.  With water, the dryness gives way to a perfumed note with ripe banana notes and woody spices.

Palate: Very sweet. Marzipan, some tropical fruit notes, mixed in with Pedro Ximinez sweet/musty rancio richness, with a thicker, darker bonfire toffee note emerging further into the flavour.  A dash of water brings liquorice and cream notes, with a return of the sweet wine from the nose.

Finish: Lingering, with green bananas and a woody spice note. 

Overall:  Very detailed, complex and developed.  It takes a step beyond the Green Spot and adds another dimension to an already great whiskey.  Whether we would prefer this over the magnificent Redbreast 15 year old is debatable, but it certainly has a place in the Irish whiskey canon, which is currently a rising star in the spirits world.