Irish Distillers’ new Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is a fitting celebration to mark 135 years since the Mitchell family, legendary Dublin bonders, created the hugely popular Spot family of whiskeys.
It was in 1887 that Mitchell & Son – Ireland’s oldest wine merchant and family-owned to this day – began blending and bottling their own Irish whiskeys, which would eventually become known as Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Blue Spot and Red Spot, and are now famed the world over.
Gold Spot, a limited edition whiskey unveiled on June 10th 2022 at Whiskey Live Dublin, commemorates this rich heritage with a unique blend that represents a first for the Spot family.
It is an intricate combination of whiskeys matured in no fewer than four different cask types: ex-Sherry, ex-Bourbon and, in homage to the barrels traditionally used by the Mitchell family, Bordeaux red wine casks and Port pipes. The inclusion of Port pipes from the Douro Valley, is a first for a modern iteration of a Spot whiskey, inspired by the archive documents dating back to the late 1800s showing that significant quantities of port casks were once used to mature whiskey.
Rooted in history, always pioneering
Mitchell & Son began its life in 1805 as a confectioner and tea house at 10 Grafton Street, Dublin, swiftly becoming a fashionable fixture of Dublin society. Soon it also began importing casks of the finest wines, Ports, Sherries and Madeiras.
By 1886, Mitchell & Son had moved to a new address at 21 Kildare Street – where it remained for more than a century – and, soon afterwards, Robert Mitchell added a new strand to the family business: whiskey bonding.
Once the Mitchells’ casks of wine, Port and Sherry were empty, they were sent across the city to the Jameson Distillery in Bow Street, to be filled with Dublin’s finest freshly distilled single pot still spirit for maturation. Then back they came, to slumber in Mitchell & Son’s extensive cellars at Fitzwilliam Lane until they were ready for bottling.
Aided by Jameson’s distillers, Robert Mitchell would regularly taste the maturing whiskeys, assessing their ageing potential and marking this with a daub of paint on each cask: a blue spot for one destined to be a 7-year-old whiskey, green for 10, yellow for 12 and red for 15. And so, the Spot family of whiskeys was born.
These days, while Mitchell & Son remains closely associated with the Spot family, the whiskeys are created by Irish Distillers at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork. In the case of Gold Spot, the blending responsibilities fell to talented distiller Katherine Condon.
Gold Spot, reinterpreting a legacy
Katherine’s task was to celebrate the long history of the Mitchell family while remaining true to the Spot family’s contemporary signature style: a medium style of single pot still whiskey, matured in a mix of ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks.
‘We cherish the opportunities to collaborate with the Mitchell family and this project gave us a fascinating insight into our rich whiskey-making heritage. We really wanted to do that justice in the make-up of the whiskey, so we examined our own cask inventory and looked at the Mitchell ledgers to see what they were filling all those years ago,” Katherine explains.
“We decided to create a wine-driven whiskey inspired by all the casks the Mitchells were importing from across the world back in the day. We opted for a medium-style distillate to allow the wine casks to shine through and the resulting whiskey treads a beautiful balance of tradition and innovation.”
Gold Spot is a 9-year-old whiskey – referring to the youngest spirit in the blend – but the wine cask-matured whiskeys have aged for up to 16 years. Even the bottling strength of 51.4% ABV is a nod to history: equivalent to ‘10 under proof’ according to the system used in Mitchell & Son’s old price lists – another factor that makes Gold Spot a thoroughly modern Irish whiskey, but one with its roots buried deep in the heritage of whiskey, wine and the Mitchell family.
Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey will be available from this month with an RRP of €120/£105 in Ireland, France, the UK and Global Travel Retail, and in the USA from mid-July with an RRP of $120.
Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey: tasting notes
A brimming basket of fresh fruit on the nose: apple, pear and hints of richer, tropical fruit too. Soon some Sherried elements emerge, including raisins, dark fudge and nutmeg. The wine casks really come into their own on the palate, balancing the slightly drying influence of oak tannins with the return of those sweetly luscious fruits alongside some pot still spice. Water teases out more of that tropical fruit element – pineapple, kiwi – and the overall impression is of an opulent, harmonious whiskey that carries its extra strength beautifully.