Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey – maker’s of 2019’s World’s Best Single Malt – have just released a trio of new expressions into the Australian market including one with a very special Australian twist to it.
Born from an idea hatched over a few drinks in a Hong Kong, the new Teeling 17 year old single malt has been finished in ex-Shiraz casks that previously housed one of Australia’s premier reds. The wine in question is Jim Barry’s ‘Armagh’ Shiraz from the Clare Valley in South Australia.
Teeling founder, Jack Teeling, tells us “The Barry’s have been creating world-class wine from the Clare Valley region for 60 years and we saw many synergies between ourselves and brothers Sam and Tom Barry. With their connection to Ireland, to running a successful family business, to perfecting their craft through the generations”.
Generally, I’m not the biggest fan of whisky that has been finished in wine-casks – especially red wine – and here’s why. I love the idea of it and the thought of the juicy red-berry wine notes integrating perfectly with the soft malty notes of a whisky. However, the reality is often quite different. More often than not I’ve found that red wine casks dominate too much, stripping away the sweet malty spirit character of a whisky, rather than integrating nicely with it. Confectionery sweetness or big earthy notes often spring to mind, before intense tannins take hold leading to a bone-dry finish. It’s a style that just doesn’t really do it for me.
I went into that level of detail because this whisky is an exception to all of the above. Just as Teeling have done with their Single Grain (reviewed here), to their credit they’ve masterfully finished this 17 year old whisky in red wine casks.
On the nose I get bubblegum, ripe tropical fruit, and summer-berry jam. There’s some tart kiwi fruit in there too, along with lolly bananas and cream.
On the palate it’s light to medium in weight, but with a sweet creamy chew to it. A great connection to the nose with tropical fruit, blueberries, kiwi, juicy acidic pineapple and buttery biscuit notes. Just think of a summer fruit flan topped with whipped cream.
It’s not cloying or sickly sweet, nor is it earthy or bone-dry. I don’t know how long this was finished in wine casks for, but from the nose and taste alone I would say it was just the right amount of time. Enough to add interest and another layer of complexity, without taking away from the spirit character. In short, I really like this.
I’ve got a lot of time for Teeling and have genuinely enjoyed much of what they’ve released in the short-time they’ve been around. As whisky from their new distillery starts to come of age and be bottled, I think they’ll be one to follow very closely.
The Teeling Whiskey 17 year old Jim Barry Shiraz Cask Collaboration is available now, exclusive to Australia with an RRP of $200. The latest version of their award-wining 24 year old single malt has also been released ($600) along with a Stout Cask Collaboration ($80) produced in partnership with Galway Bay Brewery.
Many thanks to Teeling for the sample reviewed here and the images.