Monday 11 February 2013

Teeling Whiskey

The Teeling Whiskey Company is setting the pace these days, with a third release in only four months. This one is just called "Teeling Whiskey" so I think we can reasonably suppose it represents the company's house style and aspirations.

There are lots of hints from the bottle that Teeling is setting its roots deep in Dublin distilling history. "Since 1782" flanks what I take to be a phoenix rising from the heat of a pot still. This refers to the recorded involvement of the Teeling family in whiskey manufacture way back then. There has been no distilling in Dublin since the 1970s so this is a marker that Jack Teeling intends to revive it. The "Spirit of Dublin" above the name underscores that intention.

The overall effect of the label recalls the era when the front page of a newspaper was an image-free jumble of typefaces and styles. That and the black bottle (actually dark green) recall the 1890s when the Dublin distillers were riding high and had yet to succumb to the fashion for blends.

For now, this is all aspirational. The new Teeling Whiskey is a blend of components supplied by Cooley/Beam and therefore made in Louth, not Dublin. It's going to be some years before we taste a Dublin whiskey again so let's drag our minds back to the present and inspect what's inside the bottle.

It's a combination of malt and grain whiskey, with a higher than normal composition of first fill bourbon barrels and a higher than usual ratio of malt to grain. The casks were hand-picked by TWC.

Through a friend of the company, whiskey consultant Dr James Swan, rum casks were sourced directly from the Flor de CaƱa rum distillery in Nicaragua. The blend was married in these rum casks for four months. It was then bottled unchill-filtered at 46%, to preserve mouth feel and flavour.

On the tongue, it's quite a "hot", spicy whiskey. Some whiskeys survive ice better than others and, in this case, ice tones down the heat without killing the flavour. It would be a good pub whiskey, I reckon.

The label ascribes an extra sweet and smooth characteristic to the influence of the rum casks. I can certainly detect a light finish of barley sugar and strawberry jam but that slight Cooley blend bitterness survives too.

It will cost a very reasonable €30 or so a bottle with availability initially in Ireland (via the Celtic Whiskey Shop and Dublin Airport) but the hope is to get it to other markets soon.