By Richard Thomas
Building on last year’s release of their 21 Year Old Silver Reserve single malt, Teeling Whiskey Company upped the ante by releasing a pair of even older Irish single malts this year, including the 26 Year Old Gold Reserve. That age would be make this a novel enough Irish whiskey, but the choice of wood for the whiskey’s marriage makes it doubly so.
Distilled in 1987, the same year the Teeling-founded Cooley Distillery opened, this whiskey was double distilled (not triple) and aged in ex-bourbon barrels. After the barrels were dumped and the whiskey married, it was transferred into old white burgundy barrels to finish. While plenty of whiskey-makers are experimenting with using wine casks for finishing, the norm is red and not white wine, so that is a particularly interesting twist and the first time white burgundy wood has ever been used in the Irish whiskey industry.
As one might expect for a 26 year old, the production run was small (1,000 bottles), and bottled at the customary mark of 46% abv.
In the glass, the Teeling 26 Year Old has a solid gold coloring. It’s that simple, the same coloring as a gold bar.
The nose is delightfully aromatic, with the white grape scent carrying out of the snifter and across the room. It’s a rich, nutty nose, and with that white grape and green apple current it’s clear the white burgundy wood has made a hefty imprint on the scent.
The flavor is not quite so dominated by the white wine side of the whiskey, showing an appropriate shift in balance. It’s a little woody and a little grassy, but the main notes are golden raisins until a dash of spiciness rises to the surface. The finish is moderately spicy and fruity, warm, and pleasantly long.
More than interesting enough to make for a fine sipper, but also sweet in the way that would make it an outstanding dessert single malt, this is a stand-out Irish whiskey. Oh were it not so painfully expensive!
Here we reach the only downside to the Teeling 26 Year Old. As one might expect, the price tag is hefty, with a recommended retail of £400, €475, and $600. With a price tag like that, few will be in the market for the Teeling 26 Year Old, but those that are should buy a bottle or two without delay.