Green Spot Irish Whiskey is a surprising and fantastic addition to the LCBO’s shelves. This is a premium Irish whiskey*, and that's reflected in the price of $84.95.
It's the type of Irish whiskey that I like to see: one that fights the (incorrect) stereotype that Irish whiskey is only a cheap alternative to single malt Scotch. Irish whiskey has the reputation for being a cheaper alternative because of the grains they use. Single malt scotch is limited to malted barley by law, whereas Irish whiskey is typically a blend of malted barley and other grains. This makes it closer to blended Scotch over single malt Scotch. Just as there are fantastic blended scotches, there are also fantastic examples of Irish whiskey.
Due to the use of other grains, fatter and deeper stills, and a triple distilling process, Irish whiskeys tend to be softer and lighter to drink. This makes it a good alternative for spirit lovers who want flavour but find Scotch too harsh. Like Scotch, Irish whiskey is aged in previously used barrels, bringing out some similar flavours. In the case of Green Spot Irish Whiskey, the spirit was aged in American bourbon and sherry casks.
Green Spot is produced by Irish Distillers (the team behind such labels as Jameson). Production volumes are relatively small, and for much of its recent history its supply was limited to Ireland. We're fortunate to have some at the LCBO, though quantities are already limited.
On the nose this drink is surprisingly sweet. The sherry cask influence is definitely there, and so is the barley sweetness. Both of these characteristics are less common among Irish whiskeys. The sweetness that's present on the nose is there on first taste, but it is nicely balanced with this lighter, refreshing spice. You might get some green apples or citrus flavours. The finish is nice and soft, and not overly complex.
This is a very smooth drink with enough complexity to keep it interesting, and without the 'harshness' that non-Scotch drinkers typically find in single malts. What surprised me most is the heavy sherry influence on the nose, and the lighter bourbon influence when tasting. I definitely recommend having this on your shelf, and though I wish it were a little cheaper, I'm happy to pay the $85 for it.
*Canadian and Scottish whisky is spelled with no e, but Ireland and the rest of the world use the spelling whiskey. This is indeed a whiskey, and not a whisky, though I suppose it depends how culturally sensitive you are to the origins of the drink.
Note: Originally published on Spotlight Toronto