By Father John Rayls
In 2011, Jack and Stephen Teeling founded the Teeling Whiskey Company with the intent to build the first new Dublin distillery in over one hundred years. The first Teeling family distillery was founded in 1782 which provides a very interesting historical context for the current iteration. The first small offerings from Teeling Whiskey here in the States came about in 2014. It has exploded since then with some help from some serious corporate innovation. The current flagship product of the company is a perfect example. It is the Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch (Rum Cask Finished). This is a non-chill filtered, non-age statement whiskey, but is most likely between 4 and 7 years old. It’s finished with an additional 6 months of aging in former rum casks and then bottled at a much higher proof (92) than traditional Irish whiskey. In addition, the Small Batch is made with 35% malt whiskey (100% malted barley) and 65% grain whiskey (95% maize and 5% malted barley). This makes it very unique and innovative while it retains most of the 234 year old traditions of the family business. Teeling Whiskey Company had a goal of making this whiskey “an Irish whiskey of true character” and I believe they hit their mark.
The appearance of the bottle is black chrome with a beautiful label announcing the whiskey as “the Spirit of Dublin”. Of course, in a dark bottle the whiskey is impossible to see. However in the glass, it has some typical Irish whiskey coloring with a yellow/gold appearance, although, slightly darker than many in this genre. It has some nice legs even though they’re on the skinny side. The nose is subtle and you’ll need to work at it to pull out some of the aromas which want to play coy. The distillery believes it is “an inviting nose where vanilla and spice dances with bright sweet notes of Rum.” My experience would be a little short of that with vanilla, some slight rum, with some very light spices and even periodic notes of faint cereal. It’s a pleasant combination, but somewhat buried. However, even at the higher abv of 46% there isn’t any alcohol burn in the nose.
On the palate it is mostly an Irish whiskey profile of easy sipping goodness. The surprise is that the flavor is more forward than what is expected. It is creamy and lightly coats the mouth. From the first sip to the finish, most of the action is at mid-mouth. It’s described as a sweet and slightly woody taste. I would add some slight vanilla and very faint rum to the profile. The distillery also mentions that it “sparkles” on the tongue. I’ve never seen that before, but that is exactly what it does. The finish flavor is subtle, but the “sparkle” action lingers long after the flavor is finished. It’s an interesting experience.
You will find the Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch retailing between $35.00 and $50.00 here in the US. It’s pretty widely available and easy to pick up. If you already know that you enjoy Irish whiskey, then Teeling Small Batch is a no-brainer. However, this is also a very good whiskey to try if you’ve simply been curious about the Irish experience and were interested in giving it a try.