Oh my god, it’s December already… The whisky season is in full swing, and as every Autumn/Winter, delicious malted samples are piling up on my shelves waiting to be reviewed. I’ve then decided to do what basically all whisky bloggers do in December, a “12 drams of Xmas” series, highlighting a new whisky every 2 day around here until Christmas Day! Oh, and this series is also my global answer to all of you asking me what they should buy for Christmas this year 😉
Without further ado, let’s start this christmassy series with the new Green Spot expression, Château Montelena, because why not going to Ireland first ?
Green Spot Chateau Montelena has been initially matured in American Bourbon and sherry casks and then finished for one year in casks previously filled with Zinfandel wine from the famed Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley.
Green Spot Chateau Montelena also represents the coming together of two stories of Irish endeavour and enterprise. The Mitchells, who bottled and sold the original Green Spot under bond until 1968 and Jim Barrett, who restored the California-based Chateau Montelena to its former glory in 1972. Son of John Barrett, a Waterford man who emigrated to the USA after World War I, Jim Barrett followed in a long list of Wine Geese – Irish migrants that established leading wineries around the world. Today, the time-honoured traditions of Chateau Montelena are upheld by Jim’s son, Bo Barrett.
Crafted at the Midleton Distillery by Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation and long-serving Head Blender, Billy Leighton, Green Spot Chateau Montelena is the second edition in the Wine Geese series following the launch of Green Spot Château Léoville Barton in 2015. Bottled at 46% ABV and without chill-filtration, Green Spot Chateau Montelena will be available in limited quantities each year in the USA, Canada and Ireland (including Ireland Travel Retail).
Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, explains: “Green SpotChateau Montelena is the celebration of three famous Irish institutions – Midleton Distillery, Mitchell and Son and Chateau Montelena – working in harmony to craft a new and innovative Irish whiskey that will appeal to whiskey and wine drinkers alike.
“Exploring the influence of these prized wine casks on Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey was our inspiration. We found that the black-skinned Zinfandel grapes are full of ripe, spicy berry flavours, which imparts a distinctive and refined fruitiness to the wine and also the casks in which they matured. Working closely with Billy Leighton, we monitored the finishing process over the course of one year until we reached the perfect balance of flavours – the result is a rich pot still whiskey with classic Green Spot red apples, pears, vanilla and liquorice complemented by the dry and fruity Zinfandel wine.”
Bo Barrett, Chief Executive Officer at Chateau Montelena added, “It has been a pleasure to work with Billy Leighton, Kevin O’Gorman and the whole production team at Midleton Distillery on this exciting project. We were brought together by a shared heritage and common respect for excellence in craft that has been wholly realised in Green Spot Chateau Montelena. I hope consumers will enjoy the Zinfandel twist to the classic Green Spot single pot still flavour.”
Nose: Sweet and zesty with cupcake icing, vanilla cream, lemon meringue, grenadine, juicy orchard fruits, red berries and punchy apples. There’s also some underlying oaky notes, all wrapped up in yummy Pot-still-y spiciness.
Palate: Easy-drinking and gourmet but drier than I would have expected from the nose, at least the influence of the wine cask definitely shows (especially tasted face-to-face with the classic Green Spot, which I would highly encourage you to try!) on the palate with notes of apple crumble, raspberry jam, sangria, almonds, toasted brioche, citrus and spices.
Finish: Medium and dry with pepper and wine tannins.
Overall, a very nice twist on the Green Spot, combining the sweetness, spiciness and fruitiness of the classic Green Spot with the red berries and dry profile of the wine cask in a richer, more complex dram.