The color green is as synonymous with Ireland as shamrocks and Guiness. And making good marketing use of this fact is Green Spot, a popular Irish whiskey now available in the United States. Green Spot is a blended whiskey that has lasted the test of time and survived where its other colored-paint brethren have all been discontinued.
William Mitchell founded a bakery on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland in 1805. The business did well, and by 1887 they had expanded to include a wine and spirits shop at a nearby storefront. Just like their Scottish counterparts, it was common practice for merchants to open a spirits shop, import whiskey from various distilleries, blend and mature it, and sell it under a store brand. In fact, most of the famous scotch brands like Johnnie Walker started this exact same way.
Mitchell started by buying raw distilled spirits from the nearby Jameson distillery and aging it in a mixture of light and dark sherry casks for five years before blending and maturing for an additional five years in neutral oak casks. The business (now called Mitchell & Son’s, following the inclusion of his sons in the family business) marketed the whiskey as Pat Whisky, with a logo of a man on a round green background. In 1933 it was re-branded as “John Jameson & Son 10 Year Old Green Seal,” before eventually becoming known simply as Green Spot.
The original ‘Green Seal’ name comes from the fact that Mitchell produced a number of different blends of whiskey, and differentiated them with a spot of different colored paint. This variety was marked with green paint, and is the only “color spot” whiskey to be continuously produced.
The whiskey source was changed in 1977 when the Jameson distillery moved, and the new source became the Irish Distillers group (owned by Pernod Ricard). Despite using spirits from the large Pernod Ricard company, Mitchell & Son’s remains an independent company.
While the original Green Spot is a blend of a specific source of whiskey that has been aged in three different casks, the current Green Spot is a much different beast.
In this case, 100% of the whiskey comes from the Midleton Distillery. The whiskey starts as a mixture of malted and un-malted barley, which is a unique quirk in a grain bill that originated in Ireland. Once cooked and fermented, the whiskey is distilled three times in traditional copper pot stills (another technique that is traditional to Irish whiskey production). The copper content in the stills eliminates the sulfur compounds that could tarnish a good batch of whiskey.
Once the spirit is distilled, it is aged in a variety of casks including previously used sherry and bourbon casks and then once finished maturing, it is blended and bottled for shipment.
Just like with a good scotch whisky, this bottle comes in a cardboard sleeve. On the front of that sleeve is an image of a whiskey barrel sporting the historical “green spot” that indicated the contents, a well-done historical callback that isn’t too ostentatious.
As for the bottle itself, it’s a bit reminiscent of a wine bottle (as you might expect from a whisky started by a wine merchant). It’s round and traditionally shaped, capped off with a wood and cork stopper.
The labeling is clean and crisp — a white label with the branding information, and a green label with gold lettering below with the manufacturer’s information. If I have one complaint, it’s that the label is simply too big, covering up far too much of the whiskey and obscuring it from view behind a sea of nothing but white.
The whiskey is a beautiful golden amber color, nicely transparent (as opposed to some of the darker American bourbons). The aroma in the glass is just as pleasant, with some green apple fruity notes as well as some honey sweetness.
Taking a sip, you can see some of the influences from the maturation process. The spirit has a smooth malty quality, but there’s more than the usual flavors at play. There’s that green apple at first, but as you swirl the liquid around, other notes start to develop. There’s some caramel and vanilla from the bourbon barrels that makes an appearance next, some slight honey sweetness from the aroma, and a touch of peppery spice — a hallmark of the unique use of malted and un-malted barley.
In general, it’s a sweet and fruity experience with some hints of other complimentary flavors. It’s smooth throughout without any bitterness or bite.
As I always say, in pretty much every review (albeit, typically in a more long-winded manner): ice = water = diluted flavors. And once again, this is the case.
Pretty much everything except the green apple is gone. The ice and the added water has diluted the flavors a bit, and while it’s certainly not bad tasting at this point there’s just not that much complexity.
It’s still very much a sweet and delicious spirit… just not as interesting anymore.
As far as Irish whiskey goes, I like this a lot. It’s better than Jameson for sure, but that’s a low bar. I’d say that this is most similar to Glenmorangie with the fruity notes, but it lacks the same complexity that they achieve.
|Mitchell & Son Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey|
Produced By: Mitchell & SonProduction Location: Ireland
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $56.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 3/5
If you’re looking for a basic, solid Irish whiskey… this hits the spot.