Teeling Whiskey Tasting Pack
Recently, one of our friends returned from a trip to Ireland and graciously brought us a three variety tasting box from Teeling Whiskey. We suddenly realized that we had not yet reviewed an Irish whiskey. This oversight is as much due to our lack of experience with Irish brands as anything else. Most of our knowledge of the category is limited to Jameson and a few notable single malts at large-scale whisky tastings. So we are excited to delve into a category that often goes overlooked in lieu of single malt Scotch.
Irish whiskey essentially follows similar rules to other whiskey categories. The mash bill can consist of different grains, and the resulting distillate aged in casks for at least three years. A couple of distinguishing characteristics of Irish whiskey are the use of pot stills in the production process and triple distillation, both responses to the evolving industry landscape. The category includes single grain and single malt sub-categories, making for a diverse range of products. Irish whiskey production grew as laws were reformed and legal distilleries consolidated and became massive.
During the 19th century, Irish distillers were producing industrial quantities of whiskey and shipping the product globally. However, war, increased competition, and Prohibition all put severe pressure on the industry. After a long century of decline, only a few large scale distilleries remained in Ireland. Nevertheless, Irish whiskey has seen a massive resurgence with dozens of new distilleries being established in the last 20 years.
Teeling Single Grain, Small Batch, and Single Malt Whiskeys
Teeling is one of the resurgent brands, and in 2015 the company became the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over a century. Similar to other younger distilleries such as Kilchoman, Teeling offers a wide range of whiskeys aged in all kinds of casks. The Small Batch whiskey is a blended Irish whiskey made from barley and corn and aged in bourbon and rum casks. The company’s Single Grain whiskey is almost all corn and is aged in Napa valley red wine barrels. Finally, the Single Malt whiskey is aged in a combination of 5 different types of casks.
Single Grain Whiskey
Eyes: The Single Grain has a rusty gold hue, perhaps due to the wine cask maturation. The dram has a lighter texture in the glass.
Nose: Sweet aromas of bubblegum and fruit candies, with a bit of fresh peach and nectarine.
Taste: The flavor is heavily influenced by the red wine casks--a mix of bread crust, honey and grapefruit.
Finish: The finish brings a wave of pepper spice and oak tannin.
Eyes: Translucent gold, like the color of a light beer. The texture is light, but not too thin.
Nose: The first aromas evoke the shore of a freshwater lake. Underneath are notes of fresh grapes and melons.
Taste: The Small Batch has a very smooth, very clean taste. Slightly sweet, a bit tannic, we found it hard to come up with specific flavor notes.
Finish: The finish offered a bit more oak tannins along with a sugar sweetness. Very smooth and easy drinking.
Eyes: Pale straw color with fairly rich texture that leaves longer legs in the glass.
Nose: We picked up aromas of strawberry preserves combined with scents that were more floral.
Taste: The flavor of the Single Malt was the most intriguing. Layers of a variety of fruit flavors, cereal grains, and sherry oak were mixed together.
And the Finish: The finish of the Single Malt moved towards dry and salty.
Each whiskey from Teeling provided a different experience. We were impressed by the company’s choice to experiment with different casks from the start. We have come across only a few other whiskey distillers that utilize Napa wine casks, and this oak seems to have had a strong impact on the Single Grain whiskey. Similarly, the five casks used for the Single Malt have given the whiskey a complexity that we might associate with a much older single malt from the Highlands or Speyside. We’re excited to try more brands emerging form the Irish distillery renaissance, as this is a category that deserves much more attention.