Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch

Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch
No, this isn’t Teeling whisky from Guadeloupe and it isn’t 8 years old. This is a NAS Irish whisky—it’s just that the sample is from avant garde mixed-media artist, Sku. You may think I’m making fun of him but consider the fact that this sample is of an Irish whiskey finished for 6 months in rum casks. Here’s the short version of the Teeling story: new distillery; hasn’t released any of its own aged spirit yet; in American style is selling purchased whiskey (from Cooley) under its own name; who the hell knows if what they are distilling themselves, once it’s ready to be bottled, will taste anything like the stuff they’re putting out now.

I gather they have more recently put out a single grain whiskey and a single malt whiskey; this one, however, is a blend and it was first released in the US about two years ago . Will it improve my sorry record with Irish whiskeys? I can only hope it will. Let’s see. 

Teeling Whiskey (46%; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: A little spirity at first but that burns off pretty quickly. Then a burst of bright citrus over a malty core. Gets grassier as it sits and also more nondescript still. A drop of water brightens it up again and brings out a dusty quality as well.

Palate: Sweet and indistinctly fruity at first but then grainy notes rise up from below, bringing some plasticky bite with them. On the second sip there’s some citrus but the plasticky note seems more pronounced. Not much change with time. A little less plasticky with water but no more interesting.

Finish: Medium. It’s the plasticky, metallic quality that lingers here. As on the palate with water.

Comments: I didn’t see any evidence of the rum cask finish. The nose was pleasant enough but the plastic/astringent quality that became dominant quickly on the palate is not my cup of tea (or whisky). There are far better mild whiskies, blend or otherwise, in this general category for my palate. I’m sorry, Irish whiskey, it’s not you, it’s me.

Rating: 76 points.

3 thoughts on “Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch

  1. Hi Mao, to add to the short version of the Teeling story: They aren’t just like many/most other American (or Irish) non-distilling producers, with a photogenic still, a pseudo-master distiller, and a white lie promise to sometime make their own whisky if they get tired of successfully selling someone else’s. The Teelings created, grew, and then recently sold Cooley distillery. Which means that they very likely have a solid contract in place with Cooley to provide them with whisky, and secondly, have the will and resources to succeed as distillers again. These people are poised to be at least the 4th-5th whisky power in Ireland, after Middleton (Jameson’s), Bushmills, Cooley, possibly Grant’s Tullamore Dew.

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    • I didn’t mean to imply that they were also Potemkin distillers in the American craft distillery mode—but thanks for clarifying that anyway. I only referred to the fact that one distillery’s name is on the bottles whereas another is currently making what’s inside them; and that the relationship between what is being sold now and will establish the new brand’s reputation and what they will make themselves is unknown. They’re closest to the KBD/Willett example in the US, I guess.

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  2. To further clarify (again, a bit like the Willett/KBD example you noted) Teeling has in fact now built their distillery (the first to open in Dublin in several decades, after the last active distillery in Dublin closed in the 70’s) and are now making their own whiskey. It will be some time before we see any whiskey of their own as it requires a bare minimum of three years of aging to bottle an Irish whiskey (and hopefully they will let some age longer than that!). The Cooley connection, as noted above, does indeed appear to be solid as that distillery was started by John Teeling, father of the current owners of Teeling Distillery (Jack and Stephen Teeling) and the Teeling family appears to have retained a lot of barrels as part of the sale of Cooley to Beam.

    The small batch is the weakest of the three main bottlings released so far in my opinion so perhaps you will find the grain (finished in wine casks and surprisingly good) and the single malt (finished in multiple casks) to be more to your liking. But the harder to find (and much more expensive) Teeling 21yo “Silver Reserve” single malt finished in Sauternes is my favorite release to date.

    Bushmills and Midleton (it is a single D) are the old guys on the scene although Midleton (more formally the Irish Distiller’s Group, currently owned by Pernod-Ricard) is a by product of the collapse of the Irish Whiskey industry that was formed in the 60’s by combining several venerable old Dublin distilleries like Jameson, Powers and Cork into a single distillery located in the town of Midleton which is several hours southwest of Dublin. They also produce Redbreast, the “Spots” and whiskey under the Midleton name among others.

    I know William Grant was building a new distillery in Tullamore but I don’t know what its status is. I think it is now open and making whiskey. But for now Tullamore D.E.W. is mostly made by Midleton.

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