Thursday, November 22, 2018

Review - Red Spot 15 years old

The Spot Family from Irish Distillers has a new member with the launch of the Red Spot 15 years old. The whiskey, which has not been on the market since the mid-1960s, joins the Green Spot and Yellow Spot as a permanent addition to the range, along with the two small batch Green Spot expressions - the Château Léoville Barton and Château Montelena. The new version of Red Spot is a re-working of the classic whiskey which is again created for Mitchell & Son in Dublin by the Midleton distillery in Co. Cork.

The project, which has been 20 years in the making, has seen whiskeys matured in ex-bourbon, ex-Oloroso sherry and ex-Marsala fortified wine casks sourced from the Florio winery in Sicily combined. It continues the Mitchell's tradition of using ex-wine casks within their whiskey maturation processes. All casks involved were made from American oak.

"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. It has been 50 years since the world last saw Red Spot and whiskey enthusiasts have long awaited its return."
Kevin O'Gorman - Master of Maturation at Midleton.

The Red Spot 15 years old is bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered. It will be available initially in Ireland only and then in specialist retailers in France, the UK, the USA and global travel retailers from January 2019. The price will be €115 (£102/ $130 US).

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is packed with expressive aromas. First come wonderful aromas of toffee and caramel, followed by intense dried fruits (especially sultanas and raisins). These are backed up by further aromas of toasted oak and vanilla, plus some earthy and dusty spices such as cinnamon, all-spice and white pepper.

On the palate this whiskey has an immediate silky and viscous feel. There is an instant richness and this is again led by notes of toffee and caramel, with a hint of brown sugar and golden syrup this time. Then come the fruitier notes - there are plenty of dried fruits as on the nose (think of raisins, sultanas with some apricot and candied orange) but also some stewed fruit characteristics develop (imagine cooked apples and strawberries in particular).

With time the earthy and dusty spices come through and become more influential. Cinnamon and nutmeg are particularly evident, along with hints of all-spice, mace and cloves. A late hit of sweetness rounds things off in the form of a hint of marzipan and marshmallow.

The finish is extremely long and becomes increasingly dry and spicy with time. The sweeter and fruity elements begin to fade slowly to leave the earthy/dusty notes to stand alone. The journey is very pleasant and the balance is great.

What's the verdict?
The Red Spot had hard acts to follow in the Green and Yellow Spots. Both present something different and do it very well. But this project has been 20 years in the making and Irish Distillers do not do things by halves. They have created an exceptionally good whiskey that is a fine example of Irish single pot still whiskey carrying a decent age.

At the launch event in Dublin, it was alluded to that there would be further additions to the Spot Family in time. Given the quality of the range to date, then we look forward to seeing what directions those further additions may go in. For now, we will enjoy our sample of Red Spot - it will be perfect for the Christmas period.

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