There’s been a slow yet steady and growing interest in Irish whiskey recently. Part of this is symptomatic of the boom whiskey continues to enjoy, but in the case of Ireland’s collective take on the “water of life,” this can likely be attributed to single pot still whiskey. This style is exclusive to Ireland, where a single distillery combines both malted and unmalted barley in a pot still, which allegedly gives the final product its unique texture. A number of common Irish blends make use of pot still whiskey, but the “single” identifier tends to be more coveted by the hobbyist crowd.
Redbreast has essentially become the poster child for single pot still whiskey, but other brands are making a splash, with Spot Whiskey (both it and Redbreast are distilled at the Midleton Distillery) being more sought after in some cases. Spot Whiskey’s name comes from the brand’s storied act of “marking barrels with spots of color” to indicate their age. The entry-level Green Spot can be found at many retailers, along with the next step up in the portfolio, Yellow Spot.
This entry in the Spot lineup is aged for 12 years in three casks: bourbon, sherry, and malaga, with the latter being a type of fortified dessert wine from Spain. The whiskey is also non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Sweet barley, lightly floral. Vanilla, honey, and orange blossom. Lavendar and apricot with hints of baked pear. Gradually get that soft shortbread note characteristic of single pot still whiskey, but it feels like the vessel for the other notes. Begin to get almond cake, white grapes, and banana as well.
Palate: Silky with a subtle spice. Plenty of layers unfold as the whiskey develops. Apples and honey lead the way before vanilla, butterscotch, and shortbread coat the mid-palate. Get a bit of almond and white chocolate candy on the back.
Finish: Just a touch short. Comes off slightly dry and tannic after the delicately sweet palate, almost like burnt toast. Hints of light brown sugar and vanilla before some caramel comes in. A lingering spice closes things out.
Yellow Spot is delicate, layered, and relatively complex. It’s also a sneakily challenging whiskey. By that I mean it offers plenty to digest and ruminate over, but not in a way that feels blatant. You need to meet the whiskey at its level. This is one of those pours you have under ideal conditions so you can fully appreciate it. In a way, having Yellow Spot reminds me of how some drams can (and even should) best be enjoyed: with little to no distractions.
All of this is to say I’d place Yellow Spot at the top of whiskeys I appreciate more than I outright enjoy. There’s a fine line between these two states, and with whiskey they can often overlap. Yellow Spot strongly leans towards one side for me. I’m happy to have my bottle and feel its $100 price tag, though steep, isn’t unwarranted. I just can’t say I’ll be itching to buy a replacement when the time comes.