Red Spot Whiskey Review

As you may have read, this week hailed the return of Red Spot Whiskey after over 50 years of slumber. If you missed our release on the night of the launch, you can read it here.

For me, the launch of Red Spot is one of the most exciting in recent years. It is not just a new whiskey being launched but it is an old whiskey being reborn into the whiskey revival. The history behind whiskey in this country is utterly fascinating and with this particular launch, history intertwined with every theme of the night. From a cocktail in the Shelbourne bar where Jonathan Mitchell gave use an account of the Mitchell’s company from founding to present day, to the cellars where Irish Distillers Archivist Carol Quinn introduced us to the history of the Whiskey Bonder. Jameson in Bow Street were the original distillers of the Spot range and it is well recorded that they had incredibly high standards when it came to their whiskey. Carol told us that they expected their whiskey to be the same quality when it reached the consumer as it was when it left the distillery and that’s why they rarely allowed a third party to “finish” their whiskey. And why would they…..they considered it perfect as most crafts people would of their works. With the Mitchell family however, they found kindred spirits. A firm with the same high standards as Jameson and from there a partnership was formed.

Panorama of the Mitchell cellar

Mitchells only imported the finest of wines and their casks were considered to be of a very high quality. They had their own bonded warehouse where they could store their whiskey in quiet cellars below the busy bustling Dublin streets, an area I had passed hundreds of times and never realised what history lay below my feet! With Jameson’s approval and in bond, they could legally mature whiskey and finish it to give it a distinct flavour and taste and as some will know, the spirit was selected to be aged for four set periods of time. 7, 10, 12 and 15 years were the ages and this was recorded in the simplest of ways. A spot of paint on the cask end. And so, the Spot range was born with Blue, Green, Yellow and Red representing the years.

Master of Maturation Kevin O Gorman with Carol Quinn in the Mitchell’s Cellar. Note the painted spots on the casks

In the 1970’s bonding had all but ceased in Ireland and as a result, Mitchells made an agreement with Irish Distillers to have them age and release Green Spot, while they retained its distribution and development rights. All that remained was Green Spot in a non age statement form due to its popularity. That was until Yellow Spot returned into the lime light in 2012 to much fanfare. It was inevitable that another spot would return due to the increasing popularity of the brand and its story. With this weeks launch, a traffic light range of whiskeys are available from the Spot brand!

So lets look at the juice itself. Bottled at 46% and non chill filtered, it has a beautiful deep golden colour. There is caramel colouring added but like all IDL products that use it, it is just used for colour consistency and not to darken it.

The Traffic Lights

Nose – Instantly you can tell this is a complex whiskey. The nose is wonderous. It’s one of those whiskeys whose nose evolves each time you go back. Stewed apples were to the fore for me. A slight caramel sweetness giving way to creamy vanilla with an almost bourbonesque oakiness.

Palate – An explosion of fruit….tropical fruit making a decent charge in there. Mango maybe and some pink lady apples. Black pepper spice along with some Christmas spices and cloves that you expect from an aged single pot still.

Finish – Nice long spice that produces a surprising honey and strawberry note! (Yes strawberry…….credit to Peter White for picking that out as I scratched my head trying to work it out!)

Overall – An exceptionally well balanced whiskey that has a completely different character than any other single pot still whiskey on the market. Totally different from the Green and Yellow spots, this will be hard to beat and has gone to become my second favorite whiskey this year. This is not only a must try… is also a must buy.


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