Blue Spot

Posted by Irish Whiskey USA on

Midleton Distillery is known for its outstanding single pot still Irish whiskey brands. The Redbreast range is world renowned and regarded as the epitome of the style. The Spot range has no shortage of diehard fans anxiously anticipating the next addition to the stable of single pot still whiskeys.  

The history of the spot range dates back to the early 1900's when Dublin city wine merchant Mitchell and Sons aged sourced whiskey from the Jameson Bow Street Distillery. The system utilized to maintain the maturation process was a simple dab of paint marking a "spot" on the outside of the different wine casks. The color red signified 15 years, yellow for 12 years, and green for 10 years. Prior to 2012, Green Spot was the lone expression that was still available.  

Over the past 10 years, Midleton has been reintroducing the extinct spot whiskeys, first with Yellow in 2012 followed by Red in 2018. In the intervening years, variations of the Green Spot expression finished in alternate wine collaborations were released. Throughout this time however one expression was missing and repeatedly inquired about, namely Blue Spot. 

The wait ended a couple of years ago as the spot family was fully restored with the reintroduction of Blue Spot. This release marked the culmination of a quest from single pot still whiskey fans since the last sighting of Blue Spot back in 1964. It also was the first of the range to be released at cask strength.  

Blue Spot is aged for 7 years in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-Portuguese Madeira wine casks. This spot iteration is both the youngest age statement of the range and the highest abv at 58.7%. Given the almost six decade drought since its last sighting, the Blue Spot release was a re-imagining based on records reviewed by Midleton archivists showing the use of Madeira wine barrels in the Mitchell and Sons shop. 

Blue Spot's release has added significance given its timing. As the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, first "cancelling" Saint Patrick's Day, then closing pubs and travel to Ireland, and culminating in the postponement of Whiskey Live Dublin in November, Irish whiskey fans were looking for a bright spot (pun intended). The announcement in November 2020 of Blue Spot coming to market was a needed respite to a difficult year. When it then hit US shelves in February 2021 it made for a wonderful treat ahead of Saint Patrick's Day. Since arriving it has had bouts of scarcity on liquor store shelves, often finding itself on the secondary market for vastly inflated prices. If you find it in stores it should retail for around $90.  

Madeira is a sweet fortified wine from a small island off of Portugal which has a unique fermentation process compared to other wines. Purposedly exposed to heat and oxygen during aging imparts a different flavor profile which can be polarizing. Most winemakers avoid heat and oxygen as this can make the whiskey go bad. Madeira's unique process replicates the original aging casks exposure to the elements during the ship's long voyage from island to mainland Portugal. This unusualness can make for a difficult but interesting whiskey finisher. There are four main types of Madeira wine which can impart different notes on the whiskey depending on the sourced cask. I've personally found the Madeira finished Bushmills 21yr single malt to be off-putting at times while a previous Teeling Single cask really hit the mark.   

Blue Spot nails it. The higher abv really adds complexity and a "chewiness" that cask strength die-hards will appreciate. Fruit and peppery spice on the nose expand on the palate. Slight nuttiness on the tongue accompany the creamy mouthfeel and pot still spices. Very well-balanced so the Madeira elements complement rather than overwhelm. A satisfying long finish with eventual fading spices enveloping into creamy dried fruits. A few drops of water temper the alcohol on the nose and palate and amplify the sweetness and nuttiness.  

Don't let the young-ish age statement bias your experience. Blue Spot punches above its weight. Experiment with and without water as well as letting it sit for awhile in your glass before drinking. Then see where it fits within the Spot range family for your personal preferences.




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