Like the phoenix, Teeling and Irish whiskey have been reborn

Since 1989, Irish whiskey production has soared, surpassing seven million cases in 2014 and expected to pass 12 million cases by 2018

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irish whiskeyPORTLAND, Ore. / Troy Media/ – The logo of the Teeling Whiskey Co. is a phoenix – the mythical bird that is consumed by fire only to be reborn from its ashes. It is a fitting symbol for Teeling Whiskey, the Teeling family and the revival of the Irish whiskey industry – an industry with which the family has had a long association.

The family has been distilling Irish whiskey since 1782, when Walter Teeling set up a distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin. This was the beginning of the first Irish whiskey boom. At its height, there were more than 37 independent distilleries in Dublin alone.

The industry peaked in 1900, when it produced around 12 million cases of Irish whiskey. The First World War, Prohibition in the United States, the Irish War of Independence and subsequent civil war, poor Irish government regulations, plus ongoing trade disputes with Great Britain, all combined to steadily erode the whiskey industry’s sales.

By the end of 1972, production had fallen to just under 500,000 cases and there were only two operating distilleries, Midleton and Bushmills, both owned by Irish Distillers Ltd. (IDL).

Two events marked the start of the Irish whiskey revival: the purchase of IDL by the French wine and spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard in 1988, and the founding of the Cooley Distillery in 1987 by John Teeling.

When it opened, Cooley was the first new whiskey distillery in Ireland in over a century. Beam Inc. purchased Cooley in 2012 and since named it Kilbeggan after its flagship brand. Suntory in turn purchased Beam in 2014.

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Since 1989, Irish whiskey production has soared. It surpassed seven million cases in 2014 and is expected to pass the old record of 12 million cases by 2018.

The Teeling Whiskey distillery was opened in 2013 and it’s only a short walk from where the original Teeling distillery was set up in 1782. It was the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years and the first to operate there since 1976. The company’s three copper stills pay tribute to the Dublin tradition of triple whiskey distillation, while continuing some of the innovative cask finishing techniques used by Cooley Distillery.

Teeling offers three categories of Irish whiskey.
The Teeling single malt range features whiskies finished in barrels that previously held sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy or Cabernet Sauvignon and which carry no age statement, and a range of specialty bottlings ranging in age from 13 to 30 years.

Also available is a Teeling Revival 13-year-old (YO) bottled at 46 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV). It has been finished for a year in a cask that previously held Calvados, an apple brandy from Normandy, and a 24 YO double-distilled single malt bottled at 48.3 per cent ABV. A 23 YO sherry cask finish expression, at 52.5 per cent ABV, is available only at the distillery as a custom bottling.

irish whiskey teeling

Teeling also offers a Single Grain Red Wine Cask Finished bottling, which is completely matured in Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels from California. The expression carries no age statement but is believed to be around five years old and is bottled at 46 per cent ABV. The grain whiskey is sourced from the Cooley Distillery. The mash bill is 95 per cent corn and five per cent malted barley.

Finally, the company has a Small Batch whiskey offering consisting of a blend of Irish grain (65 per cent) and malt whiskies (35 per cent) married in a Flor de Cana rum casks for six months and bottled at 46 per cent ABV. The expression carries no age statement but is believed to contain whiskies between four and seven years of age.

As the Teeling family enters its third century of whiskey distillation, its new namesake distillery is well poised to continue a long-standing tradition of producing superb, finely-crafted whiskies that bridge traditional Irish whiskey with contemporary production and finishing techniques. The Irish whiskey revival is still in its infancy. No doubt both it and Teeling whiskey have many more interesting and flavourful surprises in store for enthusiasts.

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Teeling Single Malt, No Age Statement, 46 per cent ABV, 70 cl:

The whiskey has a bright gold colour and consists of a blend of malt whiskies separately finished in casks that previously contained sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy or Cabernet Sauvignon. The vatted malt includes stocks up to 23 years old.

irish whiskey teeling

On the nose there is a pronounced ‘grapeiness,’ like grape jelly, followed by cereal notes, a hint of shortbread and some butterscotch. There are pronounced tropical fruit aromas of melon and fig, as well as ripe apple and some red fruits, sort of a fruit cocktail, followed by some citric orange notes and just a hint of chocolate.

On the palate, the tropical fruit flavours of mango, melon and pineapple are even more pronounced, especially with the addition of a little water. There are baking spice notes of cinnamon and cloves, as well as a bit of ginger pepperiness, followed by notes of chocolate, some orange marmalade and some vanilla. There is a hint of smoke in the background, more wood smoke than peat, and a bit of woodiness.

The finish is medium length, well balanced, featuring tropical fruits, spice and just a hint of bitterness. The tropical fruit notes tend to persist, giving the finish a slight sensation of sweetness.

This is an excellent whisky, offering a complex array of fruit and spice notes. It is well integrated, nicely balanced, with a satisfying finish.

Rating: Appearance: 8/10. Nose: 26/30. Palate: 27/30. Finish: 27/30. Overall: 88/100.

Joseph V. Micallef is an historian, best-selling author, keynote speaker and commentator on wine and spirits. Joe holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits and the Professional Certificate in Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (London). Bottoms Up is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.

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