Kicking off a small Irish whiskey series here on AdventuresInWhiskey.com, we take a look at the trinity of releases from Teeling Whiskey Co. Owners Stephen and Jack Teeling not only have Irish whiskey running through their veins, it flows through their family blood line. See, back in the late 1700s, a Teeling was distilling whiskey in Dublin.
In recent times, John Teeling, Stephen and Jack’s father, founded the Cooley distillery in the 1980s. The brothers learned all they could about the whiskey business. However, when the distillery was purchased by Beam in 2012, Stephen and Jack sold their Cooley shares and used the money to start an independent distilling company – the first new Dublin distillery in a very long time. That company was given the family name – Teeling Whiskey Co.
The brothers brought in distiller and micro-brewer Alex Chasko from Oregon to help with distillation. While the company is currently distilling whiskey, it’s not mature enough to actually be called Irish whiskey. Like Scotch, Irish whiskey must age a minimum of three years and a day to carry the name.
In the meantime, Teeling has sourced some whiskey from a distillery they know well – the Cooley distillery. Though the company sells other expressions, their core range is built upon three whiskies: a Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt. Let’s take a look.
Teeling Small Batch
A blend of malt and grain whiskey, Teeling Small Batch comes non-chill filtered and bottled at 46%. The primary maturation takes place in ex-bourbon casks. The blend is then finished in ex-rum casks for six months.
The nose starts off slightly harsh and rum-sweet. After a few moments, the alcohol vapors disappear and make room for sweet grain, clove honey and spiced vanilla. On entry, lovely vanilla ice cream mingles with malted grain and a touch of oak. A bit of baking spice shows up towards the end and well into the sweet finish.
Teeling Small Batch is a great blended Irish whiskey. I like the subtle touch the rum cask finishing adds. This is a solid blend that has a great mouthfeel and is flatout fun to drink. Pour a glass and enjoy.
Teeling Single Grain
Single grain whiskey means there is an absence of malted barley in the mash bill. In the case of this Teeling Single Grain, the majority is made of corn. Grain whiskey is usually lighter in style when compared to malt whiskey. This expression is finished in California Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels for an unknown period of time. Like other Teeling whiskies, this one is un-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.
The nose is sweet and fruity thanks to the predominately corn makeup and wine finish. Taste-wise, the wine finish is apparent. This whiskey is full of big fruity red wine notes. There’s a bit of spicy oak underneath, adding a little balance to the fruit flavors. The finish is shorter and drier than the Small Batch. It features a nice spiciness I wish were in the palate.
Grain whiskey is very delicate, and a cask finish can quickly overpower the whiskey’s character. I think that’s what has happened here. The wine cask finish has overtaken any whiskey notes instead of complimenting them. This whiskey has very nice flavors, but I wished the wine notes would take a back seat to the whiskey. That said, the wine finish does add richness to what might have been a bland grain whiskey. If you go into this whiskey knowing that, you’ll enjoy this expression.
Teeling Single Malt
Here’s something you don’t see everyday. Teeling Single Malt is a blend of malt whiskies aged in five types of wine casks: Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s no age statement here, but for what it’s worth this expression contains whiskey aged up to 23 years.
The nose for Teeling Single Malt is sweet and fruity, just not as much as their Single Grain release. There’s a nice combination of candied berries and dried fruit alongside cereal grains, creamy toffee and some vanilla. A bit of bright citrus pops up as well. The full-bodied palate is similar to the nose, with malt, dried fruit and lemon rind proving to be the dominant flavors. Honey adds some sweetness. Astringent oak lurks in the background, as it adds to the layers here instead of overpowering them. The finish is the longest of the three, carrying a honeyed fruit sweetness.
Teeling Single Malt is my favorite of the three expressions. It’s the most complex and palate-pleasing to me. The malted barley really holds up well to the wine barrel maturation. Very nice.