If you have ever shopped for Irish whiskey you may have noticed the term ‘Single Pot’ on some of the labels. Is single pot the same as single malt? Not exactly; single malt means all the liquid in the bottle was made from a single type of malted grain at the same distillery. Single pot is only legally produced in Ireland and is made with both malted and unmalted barley. The reason for this is the unmalted barley adds a unique character to the whiskey. The taste of a single pot has more distinct spiciness, more of a weighty, grainy texture and funky cereal flavour that isn’t as present in other types of Irish whiskeys. It has more depth.
To complicate matters further, up until 2011 single pot whiskeys were labeled as “Pure Pot Still.” If you find this description on a label you have come across a “vintage” bottle.
At present there are only a couple of brands out there making Single Pot Still Whiskey for commercial purposes. The category became less popular in the 20th century when Scotch began to dominate the marketplace. However, with the resurgence of classic drinking habits in the 2000s, it’s becoming more popular.
The more popular single pot whiskeys include:
- Redbreast 12 Year Old – It is a brilliant amber colour with complex aromas of floral, honey, sweet fruits and lime. It is full-bodied and robust with a creamy mouth-feel and flavours repeated from the nose followed by an enduring finish reminiscent of butterscotch.
- Green Spot – With clove, apricot and oak toast aromas and flavours of cedar, clove, apple and ginger. The long finish has spicy notes of clove, nutmeg and ginger.
- Yellow Spot – Matured in three types of oak casks, it has aromas and flavours of caramel, spice, honey and ripe tree fruit. Nutty, dried fruit and toasted oak notes linger on a long finish.
Irish whiskey single malts include:
- Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt – Aged ten years in used bourbon barrels, it has aromas of ripe pear, toasted oak, caramel, citrus peel and white pepper. On the palate it is warming with a light sweetness and medium body. Flavours of tree fruit, caramel, citrus and toasted almonds play on a long finish.
- Writers Tears Copper Pot – It is deep gold in colour with orange accents. There are aromas of citrus, honey, apple, vanilla and malt, as well as flavours of caramel and citrus peel along with oak and pepper. It is medium-bodied and fruity with a long-lasting finish.
- The Sexton Single Malt – It is bright golden in colour with warming aromas of toffee, marzipan, citrus, allspice and hints of dark chocolate. There are flavours of dried fruit and oak which is a result of ageing in Oloroso Sherry casks. The finish is smooth and supple with a kiss of sweetness.
- West Cork Single Malt – Matured in bourbon barrels and finished in calvados casks, it has notes of dried fruit, vanilla, pear, almonds and apple. A medium-bodied and fruity palate leads to a long finish.
- Teeling Single Malt – It is aged in five distinctive wine casks creating fruity aromas with hints of toffee, vanilla, herb and floral notes. It has flavours of caramel, spice and tropical fruit with a lengthy finish.
- The Temple Bar – It is distilled in copper pot stills and matured in American oak barrels resulting in a well-balanced dram. There are aromas and flavours of zesty citrus, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and vanilla. It is full-bodied and flavourful with a lengthy finish.
The descriptions of each of the whiskies were paraphrased from the LCBO website descriptions.
I have tried all 3 single pot whiskies and many of the single malts and my favourite is the Green Spot single pot. Unfortunately, it is only imported from Ireland once or twice a year so it is only available on a very limited basis.
Redbreast is produced by the same distillery that makes Jameson. When I visited the Jameson distillery in Dublin a few years ago I was told that Redbreast is created in the traditional style of Irish whiskey as it was made over a hundred years ago. It is said to be popular with Irish Whiskey traditionalists.