After Monday’s Game of Thrones Lagavulin 9 and yesterday’s not-very-sherried G&M Caol Ila 11, let’s make it three Diageo whiskies in a row. We go from the shores of Islay to the Highlands; from two iconic distilleries to one that is rather anonymous. Well, you might have said that about Glendullan as well, before Diageo made it part of the Singleton family and then assigned it to one of the Game of Thrones Houses (even if it’s only lame House Tully). No such recognition for Teaninich, who continue to produce large amounts of whisky for the group’s blends. As I say whenever I review a Teaninich, I have not had very much from this distillery. This is not the oldest Teaninich I’ve had (see this 39 yo bottled by Malts of Scotland); it is, however, the best Teaninich I’ve yet had. It was distilled a decade after that Malts of Scotland cask, in 1983, a year of major closures in the industry, and bottled three decades later by Signatory. My friend Pat brought this bottle to a tasting at our friend’s Rich’s place in St. Paul last November and it was a wonderful surprise. I can’t say how unlike other Teaninich of similar age and vintage it is but, thanks to Pat giving me a sample to take with me, I can tell you what it is like. Continue reading
Rounding out a week of reviews of bourbon cask whiskies from unheralded distilleries here is one not from the Speyside (like Monday’s Glentauchers and Tuesday’s Inchgower) but from the northern Highlands. Teaninich is another of Diageo’s workhorse distilleries, pumping out malt for the group’s blends. We drove by it on our way from the Speyside to Dornoch last June but as they’re not open to visitors there was no question of stopping. I don’t have much experience of their whisky either—I think the only official release is in the Flora & Fauna series; and you don’t see a whole lot of it from the independents either—not in the US at least, This 19 yo was another in Hunter Laing’s extensive release commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Old Malt Cask label and like many of the bottles in the series from non-name distilleries it is still available.. Will this be as good as the Inchgower or the Arran? Let’s see. Continue reading
I began the week with a very old Tomintoul. Let’s close it out as well with a very old whisky, albeit not quite as old. Like Tomintoul, Teaninich is not a storied distillery, which explains why this one was also quite reasonably priced on release. Of course, since this was bottled by the boutique Malts of Scotland it cost almost as much at 39 years old as that 45 year old from the far less-heralded Chester Whisky. It’s not just the marketers at the corporations that own distilleries that indulge in premiumization, you see.
Teaninich is a Diageo distillery. It’s not seen much official output: a few releases in the Rare Malts series, one Manager’s Choice and Manager’s Dram outing each and one Flora & Fauna and that’s it (as per Whiskybase anyway). Most of its output apparently goes into Johnnie Walker, and given how thirsty that blend monster is, not a whole lot of it even appears from the indies. Well, let’s see what this one is like. Continue reading
This is my second review of a G&M release of Teaninich. I thought the first, a 12 yo from 1994, was fine but somewhat pedestrian. This one, a 15 yo from 1995, is from a reference sample of a bottle I finished a while ago and I liked it a lot while it was on the go. I’m interested to see how it holds up. As always, even though this review is being posted a week or more after the first this was tasted alongside its younger sibling.
Teaninich 15, 1995 (46%; Gordon & Macphail; refill sherry cask; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Rich sherry and polished oak. Orange peel and raisins and light notes of chocolate. A little leatheriness here too but not bitter as in the 12 yo. With more time there’s some plum jam and a touch of lemon. The fruit intensifies with time. A drop of water ties everything together wonderfully and brings a nice earthiness to ground the fruit.
Palate: Very much as on the nose, but as with the 12 yo, there’s more bright citrus here. There’s wood here too but it’s not tannic or bitter at all. The secondary fruit here is more apricot than plum. A little more salt with time and the wood gets a little more pronounced too. Water makes it spicier (cloves).
Finish: Long. Bright and lemony, turning malty. Gets a little more bitter (cold black tea) as it goes. Water drives the bitterness away.
Comments: This was a rather active refill sherry cask. Now this one I would have liked to have tried at cask strength. Still, very good as is. And if Gordon & Macphail have casks this good lying around surely Diageo must have some too. I predict (not that this is particularly bold) that we will soon see a Teaninich in the annual releases.
Rating: 87 points. (A little lower without water.)
Teaninich is another of the many Scottish distilleries that produce malt largely for blends. Indeed, there are only 12 official releases listed on Whiskybase and most of those are from the extinct Rare Malts series. It’s not shown up yet in Diageo’s Annual Releases either. And so it is to the indies we must look yet again to find Teaninich, and who better than Gordon & Macphail who seem to have large stocks of everything. I will be reviewing another G&M Teaninich early next month.
Teaninich 12, 1994 (46%; Gordon & Macphail; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Malty, slightly spirity and generic but pleasant sherried notes: dusty caramel, light mocha. Toasted wood emerges as well, and it gets a little bit grassy with time. With more time and water there’s some citrus and honey and the wood gets a tad more polished than toasted. Faint hints of some musky fruit too (or am I imagining this?).
Palate: Very much as on the nose at first but then there’s a burst of citrus–orange peel at first but it gets brighter quite fast. Some salt and a little bit of woody bite (some cinnamon in there too). Somewhat thin mouthfeel. Gets quite salty on the second sip. With more sips there’s an increasing leafy quality and more leathery bitterness.
Finish: Medium. It’s the citrus, salt and wood, in order of increasing intensity that make the most impact at the end. Leaves a bitter taste on the sides of my tongue.
Water didn’t do much for/to the palate or finish.
Comments: Perfectly pleasant but completely undistinguished sherried whisky. But there’s nothing wrong with that–at the right price this would be good everyday whisky. Would it have been much better at cask strength? Maybe the citrus would have been more pronounced on the nose and richer on the palate, but then maybe the woody/leafy/bitter notes would have been far more pronounced too. As it is, even at 46% it’s better with water.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to bpbleus for the sample!