As usual, I’m on Filipino time… which means I’m never on time.
This is my very late celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on Malt. The Philippine’s whisk(e)y scene is also on Filipino time, since almost all new releases – especially from the big brands – only become locally and officially available after at least a year following their release. A couple of examples would be the Red and Blue Spot Irish whiskies.
Pernod Ricard’s local team recently did an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by hosting an online tasting of their Spot whiskeys. They sold sample bottles of the Green, Yellow, Red, and Blue Spots. I already reviewed the Green and Yellow, along with a Jameson Black Barrel last year. But since there are factors such as batch variation and the possible changing of one’s palate to consider, I’ll re-review the Green and Yellow Spot.
2018 was the first time for the Red Spot to re-appear in the market since the 1960s. The whisky is bottled at 46% and aged for at least 15 years in ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry, and ex-Marsala casks. If you’re not sure what Marsala is, it’s a type of fortified wine from Italy.
The Blue Spot was reintroduced to the market in late 2020. Like the Red Spot, it was previously gone since the 1960s. What makes this unique is that it’s the only Spot that’s bottled at cask strength and has a single digit age statement. It’s aged in ex-Bourbon, ex-Sherry and ex-Madeira casks. The ABV varies by batch. So far, the lowest has been 56%-ish and the highest has been 58%-ish. Note that the Green Spot may be an NAS, but Irish Distillers say it’s a blend of at least seven to 10 year old whiskey. Like all the Spots, this one is also non-chill filtered.
Do check out Mark’s earlier post on Blue Spot if you want something with more history on the range, details, and an Irish perspective.
I guess we have the rising popularity of Irish whiskey to thank for the return of these old blends. We have to note that while Pernod Ricard (through Irish Distillers) may be the ones currently producing the Spot range, they didn’t create it. It’s a brand and blend created by the Mitchell family.
Green Spot – Review
On the nose: There are mostly light fruity aromas. I immediately smell Granny Smith apples, limoncello, papayas, dried apricots, Mandarin oranges, and honey.
In the mouth: That lovely round single pot still texture is instantly felt. It’s followed by a bit of pepperiness. Then I get light tastes of honey, apples, toffee, butterscotch, honeydew melon, cantaloupes and limoncello. The toffee and butterscotch linger.
The Green Spot doesn’t seem as complex to me this time. I didn’t get as much variety of fruits this time, but I think that allowed the toffee and butterscotch to be more pronounced. It goes well with the rounded texture I get in a single pot still whiskey.
Could this be due to batch variation? The brand says the recipe is the same every time, but I think they make blending sound easy… which it really is not. Maybe my palate has changed? I’ve been eating food with more spices lately. Perhaps that’s a factor?
Regardless, this is still a good whiskey. It just doesn’t taste as good as when first reviewed it.
Score: 5/10 (at The Whisky Exchange and Total Wine prices; 4/10 at my local price)
Yellow Spot – Review
On the nose: Hot and peppery upon nosing, but it quickly dies down. I get a very tight and medium aroma of sweet and sour grapes. For some reason it makes me think of roasted grapes I had in a French restaurant before. After that are light and quick aromas of yellow kiwi fruit, tepache, espresso brewed with an orange peel (I think this is called a Cubano), dates and orange-flavored vitamin C syrup.
In the mouth: The greeting isn’t as hot as on the nose. I get light to medium peppery tastes of grapes, roasted grapes, yellow kiwi fruit, tepache, dehydrated lemon peel, orange-flavored vitamin c syrup, coffee, and chocolate.
This doesn’t seem to be as expressive as the previous sample of Yellow Spot I tried. It’s like every flavor is shy and clumped up. I know it’s not about oxidation since I let the whiskey sit in the glass for close to 15 minutes.
I know it’s not me, since I had some glasses of other spirits I was familiar with. They were their usual selves. The shyness is most likely the result of batch variation.
Red Spot – Review
On the nose: Fruity and peppery. I get light to medium aromas of roasted grapes, mint, baked apples, Granny Smith apples, sultanas, lemon peel, caramel and cereals. The aromas are quick to come and go.
In the mouth: Grape-forward. I get medium tastes of Thompson grapes, grape skin, roasted grapes, sultanas, baked apples coated in caramel and nuts, lemon peel oil, pink grapefruit, and cereals.
This is much more expressive compared to the Green and Yellow. I like the complexity on the nose. Sadly, every aroma is quick to come and go. If the aromas stuck around longer, this would greatly improve the experience of drinking this.
Tasting this offers a better experience. The different tastes last longer. Being full bodied and full of different grape flavors, I think, solidifies its identity, and also makes this more memorable.
There’s this persistent grape skin note that keeps coming and going in the mouth. I like it, but it covers up the round texture that I always look forward to in the Spot range. I’d liken this to drinking a worm tub-condensed whisky with a semi-round texture, if there’s whisky like that.
(at Master of Malt and Total Wine prices; 6/10 at local price)
Blue Spot – Review
On the nose: Hot and fruity. Behind the ethanol heat are medium aromas of chocolate, Madeira, dates, muscovado sugar, Portuguese egg tarts, pears, ginger syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon syrup. These are fairly short, but they’re more expressive and coherent compared to the Green and Yellow Spot. There are also hints of peaches and apples hiding in-between as well.
In the mouth: Hot and fruity with a much rounder texture. I get medium and more lasting tastes of Madeira, toffee, raisins, caramel, New Orleans chicory coffee, Portuguese egg tarts, and nutmeg. The end is as peppery as the start.
I think the distillery DNA mixed well with the ex-Madeira cask influence; giving this whiskey a very uncommon but delicious profile. Because I’m a fan of Madeira and whiskey with round textures, this ended up being my favorite among the four.
While different from the Red Spot, I think these two are just as good. Whether which you think is better will just depend on your preference. In the online tasting, more folks preferred the Red Spot. Expectedly so because of the age statement and the less harsh abv.
I’ll give this a higher score though, because it’s much cheaper than the Red Spot.
(7/10 if price isn’t counted).
All images are courtesy of Spotwhisky.com