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Drink Review: Yellow Spot 12 Year Old

A second entry into the ‘Spot’ range, aged for 12 years and made up in part from spirit matured in Malaga casks for a sweet and moreish dram.

Yellow Spot 12 Year Old Review:

It’s always good to have a solid everyday whiskey that you can enjoy every time. We have many whiskys which can fill that role, but since a number of reviews have come in for it in the last few weeks, my interest was piqued again about the Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey 12 Year Old and so I dug it out of the back of the cupboard to give it another go.

Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t sat outside the whiskey genre with this Irish Whiskey at all. I’d tasted it a couple of times, mainly at house parties where it was left out for guests, but had never really noticed it on offer in a bar or dedicated whiskey bar & spent some time with it.

This is a good whiskey to have close to hand, as a cheap and cheerful bottle for lunchtime drinking, or background storage for parties and entertaining. It’s easy drinking, a great conversation piece and an economical buy for lovers of whiskey.

While we approach the whiskey fondness, the history is quite interesting. This is something that would take weeks to research, sift through and write-up, but the website specifies that this whiskey was produced at: Cooley Distillery in Co Louth to the west of the Irish capital, Dublin. In Cooley they worked hard to achieve a succession of awards and accolades, a fact only amplified by the opening of their first distillery in generations in 1987, alongside Dublin Airport. Within three years they received a Gold and Silver medals at the International Spirits Challenge, a competition held every year in London, and followed this in 1990 with an “International Whiskey” Award. In the same year, they also won a prize at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.

As we know, the 1990s were a quiet time in Ireland for whiskey sales, a fact that peaked with the closure of the Kilbeggan distillery in 1996 following a long and unsuccessful period of decline. But the downfall was not only due to declining sales figures. In that same year the biggest and most ruthless independent bottler in the whole of Ireland came into being.

The Quiet Man [official site] was founded by the uncle of Aidan Murphy in 1987, shortly after Murphy & Sons opened a bottling plant in Dublin. They’d grown as a side-line of the sales of Cooley Whiskies. In 1996, the popular Irish Whiskey Distillery Co. (Cooley) was going through the proverbial lean times and were in need of cash. Murphy’s were interested in acquiring this working distillery and bottling it themselves under the Yellow Spot brand.

The Deal was done.

The brand and label of Yellow Spot had been created by Cooley as the top whiskey in their range, a showcase and much prized part of their extensive stock. Murphy’s bought the label and bottling rights, along with a quantity of Cooley whiskey in casks that were nearing the end of their twelve year maturation. And so it was that, after some additional maturing, the oldest whiskey in the Yellow Spot range today is nearly aged twelve.

I have read online that the flavor profile of the Yellow Spot is a mix of: vanilla, cinnamon and caramel. That seems to be the standard which seeps from every review I could find.

For me, I got a lot of oak. The kind of flavor that gives you that dry, woody, old pub feel, but in a good way. It has a fantastic mouth feel, it’s rings across the fingertips, and slides down the back of the throat easily. I would associate it with a darker spirit, bourbon in my experience, and it’s not too dissimilar to that. It has a taste that is also a little like baked apples, bananas, and lotus roots. Surprisingly for an Irish Whiskey, a common thread I noticed was a traditional sweetness at the finish. It doesn’t have a very long finish at all, but it does have that honeyed, mildly bitter aftertaste that you get after chewing on an apple. There are also some subtle floral notes, but nothing abrasive or spicy at all.

Written by Mark Adams

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