Revisiting: Blue Spot Irish Whiskey – still worth it?

standard release (2022)

MASH BILL – Undisclosed mash of malted and unmalted barley

PROOF – 117.8

AGE – 7 years

DISTILLERY – Mitchell & Sons (Midleton Distillery)

PRICE – $33 (That’s right. Now it’s $150 on a good day, so, I’ll explain…)

WORTH BUYING? – At $33? Duh! At msrp, most likely not. At secondary, never.

The late-2022 price hike around Irish whiskeys was a big ol’ bummer. But that’s how prices go. Up. Never down.

The idea that there was a time one could get a cup of coffee for a nickel? Or the fact that a shot of whiskey is called “a shot” because in the 1800s one could belly up to a bar and pay with a bullet? And today people might pay even $100+ for a single ounce of Pappy Van Winkle…?

It would seem this what goes up must go up further aspect of capitalism should clue more of us in to that system’s ultimate flaw and failure. But I guess we’ll deal with that in some significant way when the world we’ve built fully collapses and Mad Max is rendered a documentary.

In the meantime, let’s drink. Before it’s too late!

First, I’ll explain how I paid only $33 for this. I’ve relayed this story once before. But here it is again in its proper context:

Walking home one evening back in 2022, I passed by a corner store and through their open door my eye caught the recognizable sight of E.H. Taylor, six bottles still in their beige tubes and high up on the top shelf. I stepped inside to see which variation of the brand they were…

It was the standard Small Batch release. Right next to them stood one each of the Blue, Yellow, and Red Spot Irish Whiskeys. I’m not a big E.H. Taylor fan, but I was curious to see a full case there. And I do love me some Blue Spot. The following dialogue transpired:

ME: Hello. How much is the E.H. Taylor and the Blue Spot up there?

[CLERK gets a ladder and climbs to the top shelf.]

CLERK: E.H. Taylor is… $149.99. And the Blue Spot is… $29.99.

ME: [short pause] …And the Yellow Spot next to it?

CLERK: That is… $34.99.

ME: And the Red Spot?

CLERK: Red Spot is… $49.99. Wait, no. It says $499.99. That’s strange. Let me check these.

[CLERK descends the ladder with each of the four bottles and goes to the register to scan them.]

CLERK: So E.H. Taylor… [scanner beeps] yes, $149.99. Blue Spot… [beep] $29.99. Yellow… [beep] $34.99. And the Red… [beep] $49.99. So, the sticker is off on this one…?

[CLERK stares at all four bottles with a furrowed brow.]

ME: I’ll take the Blue and Yellow Spot. 

CLERK: Okay. I will have to check on this one. $499.99 seems like a lot.

ME: It does. Although you can buy a bourbon for $1000 these days if you’d like.

[CLERK smiles, brow still furrowed, snaps a photo of each tube’s price tagthen rings me up for the Blue and Yellow Spots.]

CLERK: Receipt?

ME: Yes please.

CLERK: Here you are. Have a good night.

ME: Thank you, you too.

[I leave.]

Given the E.H. Taylor Small Batch was priced at three-times the usual cost, it’s very likely the Red Spot was indeed intended to be priced at $499.99—roughly four times msrp in 2022. That makes it very possible the Yellow Spot was intended to cost $349.99 and the Blue Spot $299.99.

I cannot work out how these errors made it onto the shelf. How could whomever was looking at the invoice enter into their P.O.S. system and tag prices that were easily less than what they themselves paid for the bottles?

I’ll never know. But one thing is certain: Gouge, and thou shalt in time by thine own rod be gouged.

So here we are, nearing six weeks after uncorking and almost halfway into the bottle. These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.

COLOR – brassy and honeyed ambers

NOSE – vanilla caramel, white pepper, copper pot zing, peach, fluffy pastry dough, crème brûlée

TASTE – creamy, a more metalic copper pot zing than on the nose, oak tannin, baked peach and papaya

FINISH – tropical fruits like pineapple and papaya, copper zing, a toothy peppery prickle, cream

OVERALL – a pretty good Midleton Distillery outing, leaning a bit more metallic and tannic than I’d prefer

Despite sharing virtually identical specs, this 2022 Blue Spot doesn’t achieve quite the impact on me that the excellent 2021 release did. It’s that extra metallic and tannic edge in the 2022 that holds it back for me. The other notes, the candy and fruit and cream, are all as delightful as I’ve come to expect from the best of Midleton’s efforts.

In spring 2022 I picked up this bottle at $33, and another at the then best-possible scenario of $110. This allows me to think of these two bottles as $70 whiskeys on average, though that’s pure mind trickery. Now, a year later, the best possible price is around $150, save another corner store clerk’s error. But as I can’t depend on such errors, I suspect my time with Blue Spot is limited.

If you’ve already read my recent post on Redbreast 15 Year then you know of my general feeling about Irish whiskey. In short, I enjoy it thoroughly. But I find that one bottle and brand tastes enough like another that I can count on the genre to deliver expectations and not surprises. For that reason, I do not feel compelled to pay three digits for Irish whiskey. I would rather save that kind of splurge for something that has better odds of throwing me for an interesting loop. But when I’m ready for a lively good time with no curveballs? I know Irish whiskey will generally deliver.


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