By Kurt Maitland
The Teeling family has a long history in Irish Whiskey. Walter Teeling was the first to get into the Dublin whiskey business, by starting a distillery in 1782. The Cooley Distillery (home of Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara, the Tyrconnell, and 2 Gingers) was founded by John Teeling in 1987, when he converted an old potato alcohol plant into a whiskey distillery.
Beam bought Cooley from John Teeling in January 2012, before the company was in turn bought by Japan’s Suntory. Following the acquisition, John’s sons Jack (formerly Managing Director at Cooley) and Stephen decided to start their own brand, the Teeling Whiskey Company. This new Teeling whiskey enterprise started out as a sourced whiskey brand, but in June of last year it won the race to open the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin in modern times.
To mark St. Patrick’s Day 2016, Teeling Whiskey Company announced the release of a limited Single Barrel whiskey. This was drawn from a stock of single malt whiskey in a dozen ex-bourbon barrels, aged 12 years. This whiskey was then finished for a further year in Carcavelos White Port cask, and bottled at 55.7% (111.4 proof).
St. Patrick’s Day being first and foremost and Irish-American holiday, this release was aimed at the American market.
Color: Old Gold
Nose: Banana bread as perfume for powdered Sweet Tarts,
Taste: Cocoa Nibs and banana cream, with a hint of stone fruits and vanilla creme. There is also an almost white grape/Sauternes, cantaloupe-tinged sweet and sour funkiness lying deep in the cut of this whiskey. The texture starts semi-silky, then turning to a sweet hotness as the high proof of this release kicks in.
Water seems to make the mouthfeel a bit less silky, cuts down the sweetness, and consolidates the different flavors. The addition of water didn’t necessarily make this whiskey better, but didn’t hurt it either.
Finish: I come back to cantaloupe and hints of Sweet Tarts. I think this is the work of the Carcavelos cask. The finish actually reminds me of a better version of Teeling’s Single Grain release.
I like this single malt, single cask a lot. It doesn’t scream “Irish whiskey” at you, and it shows off some of the versatility that can be achieved in the Irish category when one becomes inventive with the finishing cask selection.
This (presumably) first Teeling Single Barrel was officially priced at $85, but I found it running between $75 to $80. At those prices I bought two, so I’m not complaining.