Modern day drinkers of the Spot Whiskeys range out of Ireland likely don’t know much about the long tail history of this brand, particularly that of Red Spot. Once the top spot of this line up, the last bottles of Red Spot Irish whiskey were produced in the mid-1960s. It then drifted into whiskey history, now being brought back after a 50 year hiatus in a reimagined expression.
Red Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, according to those behind it, is said to be crafted from an old recipe handed down by the Mitchell & Son family of wine merchants, the creators of the original Spot Whiskeys range in the early 1900s (it is produced by Irish Distillers/Pernod Ricard). What one has here for this reincarnated version is a whiskey that’s done in the triple distilled, single pot still style and aged a minimum of 15 years in a combination of casks pre-seasoned with Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry and Marsala fortified wine.
Red Spot Irish Whiskey (image via Pernod Ricard)
Specifics of the aging process as indicated by Irish Distillers note the fact that the “Mitchell family worked closely with the craftsmen from Midleton Distillery throughout the collaboration. As part of the process, Marsala fortified wine casks were procured from Sicily in the early 2000s and then, in 2004, were filled with a five-year-old Bourbon matured single pot still Irish whiskey. The subtle contribution from the tight grain of the American oak was the ideal base for the heavy spice and ripe fruit flavours imparted through maturation in Marsala wine casks, which has been carefully blended with ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry whiskeys to achieve the perfect balance of flavour.”
“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with the Mitchell family on the reimagination of Red Spot and bring a piece of Dublin’s rich whiskey history back to life,” said Kevin O’Gorman, Master of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, in a prepared statement. “It has been 50 years since the world last saw Red Spot and whiskey enthusiasts have long awaited its return – this is a bold whiskey that packs a punch, has incredibly rich flavours and an extra-long infusion of fruits and spices on the finish that provides a truly unique and colourful ending. We’re delighted to be able to offer this lost, but not forgotten whiskey, once again, and look forward to one day completing the full Spot Whiskeys range.”
“It has been fascinating to work with Kevin O’Gorman and the craftsmen at Midleton Distillery to recreate Red Spot and a real journey into the rich history of our family and its role in Dublin’s whiskey bonding era,” added Jonathan Mitchell, Managing Director at Mitchell & Son. “Pouring over old recipe books, ledgers and archive material has provided us with the tools to tell the story of Red Spot in a new, yet authentic way – and at almost one hundred years since it was crafted for the first time, by my great-grandfather Robert Mitchell, this is a whiskey homecoming for the ages. Indeed, everyone at Mitchell & Son is thrilled to see the red daub adorning a bottle once more.”
Plans call for Red Spot to be bottled at 46% ABV and without chill-filtration. It will price around €115, or about $130 USD, and should start hitting different regional markets in the coming months. You’ll find some official tasting notes below, and for those who always wondered on the use of the word Spot, it is derived from the Mitchell’s practice of marking their maturing casks of whiskey with a daub of colored paint to determine the age potential of the whiskey; with a Blue Spot, Green Spot, Yellow Spot or Red Spot indicating 7, 10, 12 or 15 years respectively.
Aroma: Pot still spices with rich cooked fruit, baked apple, mango and black cherry. Hazelnut and a touch of new leather fused with toasted American oak
Taste: A mix of ripe fruit sweetness from the Marsala seasoned wine casks. While the fruit remains, sweet red pepper and cracked black pepper add some spiciness, finished by notes of American oak and barley
Finish: An extra long infusion of fruits and spices
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...