Monday, November 16, 2020

Review - Blue Spot 7 years old Cask Strength

This whiskey marks the completion of re-establishing the Spot Whiskey range to its former glory by Irish Distillers in collaboration with Mitchell & Son. It joins the other members of its historical family - Green Spot, Yellow Spot 12 years old and Red Spot 15 years old. The new version of Blue Spot is bottled at 7 years of age and is bottled at the natural cask strength of 58.7% ABV - this is similar in strength to the original Blue Spot, which disappeared from market in the mid-20th century. It is a marriage of single pot still whiskeys that have been matured in ex-bourbon, ex-Madeira wine and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, and features whiskeys aged between seven and 20 years of age. 

The first batch consists of just over 20,000 bottles and the launch marks the first time the four expressions in the Spot Whiskeys range have been together since the 1960s. Green Spot was the only one that has been on sale during that period, and this was joined by the Yellow Spot 12 years old in 2012 and the Red Spot 15 years old in 2018. The names refer to the coloured spots that were painted on maturing barrels in the Mitchell & Son bonded warehouse in Dublin, with each colour signifying a different age of whiskey.

Blue Spot 7 years old Cask Strength is non chill-filtered and will be available in selected international markets including Canada, France, Ireland and the UK. The USA will follow in Spring 2021. A bottle will cost €80/ £72/ $95 US.

Our tasting notes

The colour is golden yellow and the nose has an immediate sweetness and nuttiness to it. Aromas of butterscotch and toffee mingle with walnut and hazelnut praline. Then come further aromas of stewed apple, coconut, vanilla, espresso coffee and burnt caramel. These are backed up by increasing spice - think of white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of cocoa powder.

On the palate this whiskey has an initial pepper spice and mouth watering quality. The white pepper and baking spices (especially the cinnamon) from the nose are to the fore and give an earthy, dusty and almost savoury feel. The whiskey is rich, dense and heavy with milk chocolate the first other note to come through the spiciness. Then comes a wave of tropical fruit - think of caramelised pineapple, mango, peach, dried fig and a twist of orange peel. Further notes of bitterscotch, toffee and milky coffee develop late on.

With water the whiskey becomes creamy, luscious and velvety. The spices are knocked back significantly and this allows the fruity elements to come through. This is especially true of the tropical fruits, but also a lovely green apple note that was barely detectable before the dilution with water.

What's the verdict?

The Blue Spot is a lovely whiskey and one that shows off how good single pot still Irish whiskeys can be when presented at a higher ABV strength. There are not too many out on the market, so £70-ish for this seems reasonable and you get plenty for your money. It is big, bold and rich with a lovely mouth feel and plenty of fruit and spice.

Each expression uses the base of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry cask matured pot still whiskeys, but each of the newer re-introductions to the range then use a different third cask in addition to that. In the case of Blue Spot it is ex-Madeira wine. For Yellow Spot it is ex-Malaga wine, while Red Spot uses ex-Marsala wine casks. All are delicious whiskeys and they sit together wonderfully as a set. 

Well done to Irish Distillers and Mitchell & Son for bringing the family back together.

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