Luck of the Irish? More like skill of the Irish.
A nice little care package (complete with a tweed peaked flat cap) recently arrived from the generous folks at the Teeling Whiskey Company.
Whilst the Teeling family name is steeped in Irish whiskey making tradition as far back as 1782, these whiskeys hail from the current generation of Teelings who are in the process of setting up their very own distillery. When they run their stills for the first time in the next week or two, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery will be the first new distillery to operate in Dublin in more than 125 years.
Teeling Small Batch
The first of the two whiskeys is the flagship Teeling Small Batch, a blend of malt and grain whiskies that are aged for a minimum of seven and four years respectively. Selected casks are then vatted together and finished for a further six months in Flor De Cana rum barrels to give the Small Batch an extra layer of complexity.
On the nose it’s unmistakably rummy (and Irish). Breaking that down, I got notes of sweet green apple, orange concentrate and a soft malty sweetness that reminded me of sponge cake in quality. The nose was soft, round, mellow and completely approachable.
I found the palate immediately oily and tongue coating, but not thick or cloying. The mouthfeel gives way to the lightest tingle of spice followed by a sweet malty biscuit quality (almost pastry like), with syrup and a hint of citrus. A vanilla-rum sweetness hangs around on the finish.
Teeling Single Grain
The second of the two is the new (to Australia) Teeling Single Grain whiskey, made from corn (maize) and distilled in column stills, as opposed to the traditional copper pot still. The interesting thing about this one is that it’s been fully matured in American Oak ex-Californian Cabernet Sauvignon wine casks for around five to six years, giving it that alluring coppery-red hue.
On the nose I found this fairly recognizable as a grain whiskey and initially a little thin and muted. Letting it open up for a few minutes though I found some lovely sweet jam notes, brown sugar, new fresh oak casks (the smell of walking into a winery cellar – perhaps suggestive of the cask influence on this one as well)
As with the Small Batch, the mouthfeel is oily and tongue coating, opening up with a burst of vanilla and berry jam. The fresh young oak taste translates as well and it finishes quite dry and short.
This one is super easy to get along with and given its price point (around the AU$65 mark), I can understand how this won World’s Best Grain at the World Whisky Awards last year.
Some other thoughts
Whilst carrying the ‘Teeling Whiskey’ name, both of these were actually distilled at the Cooley Distillery, which also happened to be established by the Teeling family back in 1987.
I find rather interesting that Teeling have played around with cask finishing on these two, something you see a lot with Scotch whisky, but not quite as much of in the Irish whiskey world. I think they’ve been really clever here and it’s helped them release some young, but super enjoyable and characterful whiskey.
Another thing that really works in their favour is that both of these are bottled at 46% ABV and they’re both non chill-filtered. If that doesn’t mean much to you, have a read of this. Essentially though, it helps give both of these whiskeys a lovely oily character that’s full of flavour and I can’t imagine anyone not getting along nicely with these two.
The Teeling Small Batch and Single Grain are both available in Australia for around the $55 and $65 mark respectively and later this year they will also be joined by the new Teeling Single Malt expression!