An Irishman, an American and a Frenchman walk into a bar. How do you stop a brawl breaking out? Whip out a phenomenal Irish whisky that’s distilled in Dublin, aged in American Oak and finished in French wine casks… Enter Mitchell and Son’s Green Spot, Leoville Barton Edition!
Mitchell and Sons produce a line of whisky’s, known as the ‘Spot Range.’ The regular iteration of the Green Spot is already a top-quality Irish whisky. It is a Single Pot whisky, meaning it is made from a single grain at a single distillery. You can only legally call something Single Pot if it was produced in Ireland, and what differentiates a Single Pot from a Single Malt whisky is that it’s made with a blend of malted and unmalted barley, giving it a unique spiciness and weighty, grainy texture. What makes the Leoville Barton edition particularly unique, is that it is finished in ex-Bordeaux wine casks. Crisp woodland notes make that Influence known immediately. Those Bordeaux casks are still having their say all the way to the finish, but let’s save that for the finish, as right now, let’s rewind to the Spot range’s origin story. Mitchell and Son have been Dublin wine merchants since the early 1800s, but they started producing whisky in 1887. They put a blue spot on a barrel to signal it had been aged for 7 years, a green spot 10 years, a yellow spot 12 years, red spot 15 years…500 points to anyone who can figure out how this whisky got its name!
Now, returning to the present day. To our coveted Green Spot whisky, hanging out in a Bordeaux Wine cask. Well, where are Mitchell and Son sourcing these wine casks, I hear you ask? Excellent question, young malted-barley Padawan! In 2015 they partnered with Chateau Leoville Barton, a 2nd Grand Cru Classe growth, which lies in the terroir of St. Julien in Medoc. This house was started by Hugh Barton in 1826, who was a member of a group informally known as the ‘Wine Geese.’ No, Hugh had not joined a bird watching club with a penchant for a quality tipple. If not that, then what were they? In 1691, a group of Catholic Irish landed elites fled English and Protestant oppression. The group was nicknamed ‘The Wild Geese.’ Some went to the continent and launched a new career, making wine…. ‘Wine Geese’ – I’ll let you do the rest.
One of the major destinations for these Wine Geese was the port city of Bordeaux. This is where Hugh landed, acquired some land and began to ply his trade. An exiled Irish family, producing wine in France, partnering with a Dublin distillery to supply the barrels to enhance the rich landscape of Irish whisky… Could it come more romantically full circle? Not in my opinion, and without a doubt my opinion’s one of the top 63 most sought after in East Finchley on the topic.
Enough history and back to the tasting notes, we’re all aware what you really want to know you hedonistic heathens - how this bad boy drinks! As soon as you open the bottle, you’ll smell sumptuous orchard fruit, with the Bordeaux cask adding a delicate touch of floral perfume and ripe red berry. At first sip, on top of those woodland notes you’ll taste ginger, oatmeal cookie, honey, vanilla and unripe pear. Then comes that sumptuous oily, buttery and creamy mouthfeel we love so much in a quality Irish whiskey. Think pear, honey, vanilla in toffee sauce and coated ginger cake. On to that finish I promised you I’d let you know about. This is where that time spent in Bordeaux casks really pays off. You are left with a raw ginger tannic heat and that deep, dark, sumptuous fruit that we all know and love from a good quality bottle of Bordeaux.
Whereas the original Green Spot smacks you in the face, the Leoville Barton strokes it. The time in Leoville Barton casks creates a subtle, delicate balance. Each time you pick up a punchy note, beneath that you’ll discover a rich orchestra of complementary notes at play.
The next time you want to rebel against the status quo and forge a new, less trodden path, or you simply enjoy a delicious Single Pot whisky – give the Green Spot Leoville Barton edition a try!
By Gabriel Freilich