Cask strength and aged at least 7 years in bourbon barrels, sherry butts and madeira casks makes for an exhilarating and flavorful IrIsh whiskey release. I'm clearly not new to this bottle, if you notice the fill level on mine, so I'm well calibrated to what I think on this bottle already. Unfortunately the last time I sat down to do full tasting notes on this, my site host lost all the words I had drafted. I was too dejected that night to do everything over again, so I passed the buck for a full year to today!
The 'Spot' line is in reference to the paint spots that get placed on barrels to signify their age potential. There are currently 5 editions: Green Spot, Blue Spot, Gold Spot, Yellow Spot and Red Spot. Some of the colors also have unique finishes that highlight a great appetite for innovation within the brand. I for one have loved all of the Spots for very different reasons, but found Red to be my favorite thus far.
The Spot Whiskey website tells us a little backstory, saying:
Under the hustle and bustle of cobbled Dublin streets in the early 1900s, a rare whiskey was quietly making a name for itself. The simple act of marking barrels with spots of coloured paint would not only signify their age potential, but would become the namesake for this coveted whiskey, bonded and bottled by The Mitchells – a seventh generation family business.
If you're interested in learning more about the history of this brand, you can read more on their website here. Now let's dive in and get this Spot over with!
Company on Label: Mitchell & Son (Distilled at Midleton Distillery)
Whiskey Type: Finished Irish Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Malted and Unmalted Barley (being a single pot still Irish whiskey)
Age: 7 years
Further identification: This 2021 release is a rare example of cask strength Irish whiskey; it is finished in bourbon barrels, sherry butts and Portuguese madeira casks; it is non-chill filtered stated
Nose: Rich vanilla and marshmallow forward oak jump out at me upon first dipping my nose into the glass. I forgot this is bottled at cask strength and was immediately reminded at overstepping the nostril proximity limit of 117.4 proof. A more reasonable approach results in butterscotch, sugary plum skins and dark, earthy barrel funk. For an Irish whiskey, this sure smells an awful lot like a bourbon... Let's jump into a sip.
Notes of soft clay can be found in the glass after coming back from a sip. Big notes of black pepper, leather and more prevalent oak continue to add to the bourbon-y profile here. After a long rest in the glass more caramel builds like a creamy Werther's treat. Now more soft, the sugary notes are smoothed into a confectionary delight. After pulling off this soft blanket from the surface of the glass, the funky barrel tones return with a vengeance for being ignored. The empty glass smells of shiny copper, grape skins and dried blackberries.
Palate: Right away a zesty punch tingles on the tip of the tongue as lemon peel and nerds candy jump out front. In a swift 'swoosh' a creamy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream washes those flavors to the rear and replaces them with caramel, malt and buttercream frosting. The proof is quite imbalanced as I find most cask strength Irish whiskey releases to do. For whatever reason, Irish doesn't quite carry higher proofs as well as their bourbon, rye or American single malt counterparts do. Another sip builds in lovely red fruit very clearly from the madeira casks and sherry butts, but these tasty flavors are overshadowed again by ethanol. I do enjoy what can be found in between the waves of heat and pain as lemon pudding, cream-filled white chocolate and crystal sugar sticks elicit an Easter candy experience. Vanilla and sweet wine continue to dominate the palate as the glass weathers on. Late in the glass, the proof reaches a tumultuous crescendo as fire brews in the belly. The glass finishes an unapologetic mess, not worthy of a second glass to attempt to redeem itself. The barrel finishes clash in an eclectic potpourri blend of flavors that never quite tell a cohesive story. My last sip is a gratifying end to the pandemonium that is happening in my mouth. The mouth feel is quite thick and lingering with notes of raspberry, dark chocolate and dates.
I could easily see why this might do well in a blind head to head, but evaluated on its own, the flavor turned up to 11 experience is just too much for me. I really don't think Irish whiskey was meant to be drank up at these proofs. I'm sure some will still love this release, given the proof-hound bold-flavored-bourbon mentality that is prevalent today, but to me it's just not an exceptional Irish whiskey. Hope this review helps! Cheers.