Teeling Whiskey Distillery 26th and 27th July 2016
Recently I was very lucky to be invited on a trip to Dublin to visit the Teeling Whiskey Distillery with Marussia Beverages UK (Teeling’s UK agents). I have been selling Teeling Irish Whiskey at Fareham Wine Cellar since it launched in the UK and, of course, I jumped at the chance to learn more.
A Little History
Teeling Distillery is the first new Irish Whiskey Distillery to be opened in the city of Dublin for over 125 years. It is located in an ancient market square, not far from the city centre, called Newmarket, in an area called The Liberties. The Liberties is an historic neighbourhood in the southwest of the inner city that, at one point, was home to 37 whiskey distilleries. It was known as The Golden Triangle, a hub of distilling, milling, malting and brewing. In the 1800s famous names like Guinness, Powers, Jameson and Millar could all be found there within a 1 mile radius.
Teeling is a family-owned distillery. The family have been involved in Irish Whiskey production twice through the years and claim that Irish Whiskey has always been in their genes. Walter Teeling started a small craft distillery in The Liberties in 1782, which was handed to his son John in 1791 and remained in the family until it was taken over by The Marrowbone Lane Distillery, one of the largest and most famous 19th century distilleries. After a break from the whiskey business for many years, the family returned to Irish Whiskey in 1985 when John Teeling bought a former state potato schnapps distillery. By 1987 John Teeling had converted the distillery to have two column stills and the Cooley Distillery was born. As owners of the Cooley Distillery the Teeling family were responsible for such Irish Whiskey brands as Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore. The Cooley Distillery was immensely successful and was eventually sold to the spirits giant Jim Beam Inc. in 2012. The proceeds of this sale (and a supply of Irish whiskey) allowed the family to start again under the Teeling Whiskey name and John Teeling’s sons, the latest generation, Jack and Stephen, now run the family business.
Teeling Whiskey Distillery
The new, state of the art distillery was completed in 2015 and the first spirit to be distilled in Dublin since 1976 came off the stills in March / April 2015. The distillery has 4 giant grain silos, 6 fermenters (4 stainless steel and 2 wooden) and 3 copper pot stills. The three stills are made by Frilli from near Siena in Italy. There is a 15,000 litre wash still, a 10,000 litre intermediate still and a 9,000 litre spirit still which are named Alison, Natalie and Rebecca respectively. Like most Irish Whiskey, all Teeling Whiskey is triple distilled. It is bottled at 46% and non-chill filtered. Perhaps where Teeling are at their most innovative, however, is with their choice of barrels for finishing (a bit like their stablemates at Marussia Beverages UK, Compass Box Whisky and Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Selection Rums). More of that below.
Teeling’s barrel ageing warehouse is located an hour and a half’s drive away at Greenore in County Louth not far from the mouth of Carlingford Lough. When the whisky is put into barrel at the distillery it is let down (it comes off the stills at about 82 to 83% ABV) to 66% ABV with water drawn from Teeling’s own well which is on site at the distillery. It was the quality of the water from the aquifer under The Golden Triangle that drew many distilleries, as well as breweries, to the area all those years ago. The water is considered, by Teeling, to be superior to any other water in the region. One thing I did not find out, was where the whiskey from the Dublin stills will ultimately be bottled, but I guess Teeling have a couple of years to sort that out – the minimum ageing for Irish Whiskey is three years in oak barrels. So for now future bottlings of the first batches of Dublin whiskey are quietly ageing away at the warehouse where the “Angel’s Share” (the amount of alcohol which evaporates from the casks during maturation) is about 5% in the first year and 1 to 2% in subsequent years.
The current Teeling Whiskies (which are sourced from various distilleries including stock from the Cooley deal) are finished in various different barrels, their Single Grain is finished in red wine casks, their Blend in rum casks and their Single Malt in a mixture of casks. As well as the recently released Revival that was finished in Calvados cask, they have also been experimenting with White Port, Madeira, Stout, Amarone, Merlot, Chateauneuf du Pape and Sauternes finishes.
Teeling Whiskey Tasting
The Alchemy Room at Teeling Distillery, 26th July 2016
With Alex Chasko – Master Distiller, Blender and Pot Still Enthusiast – and Jack Teeling.
Teeling The Spirit of Dublin Poitin 52.5%
This replaces the old bottling of Teeling Poitin that we currently sell in the UK. It is quite an historic spirit, the first spirit to be distilled in Dublin for 40 years. Made from 50% malted and 50% unmalted barley.
It is a bright and clear spirit. The nose is grainy with a touch of citrus fruit and plenty of cereal notes. There are aromas of cream, corn barley and a touch of red berry fruit. The palate shows flavours of red berries and red apples with a hint of spiciness. There is not too much burn, instead it has a pretty clean, warming finish. Best served neat, over ice or as a long drink with tonic and ice and a citrus (maybe apple) garnish.
This is bottled at around 6 years old and the spirit came from a Coffey still at the Cooley Distillery (it will be a few years before Teeling have their own whiskey distilled in Dublin). This batch was aged in ex California Cabernet Sauvignon cask which add red berry fruits to the natural sweeter grain whiskey.
This has a good golden colour with red / brown tinge. There are aromas of cherry, red berry fruits and baking spices. The palate is woody with hints of toffee, fudge, spices (cinnamon) and a touch of tannin. Soft and dry finish with a touch of warmth. Someone else in the group described this as an Irish Bourbon!
This is blended from a small selection of whiskey that has been finished in rum barrels for 4 to 6 months. The barrels are sourced from Peru, Central America and Canada and Teeling look for casks that have held fruitier, more floral styles of rums. This is a blend of grain and malt whiskey, the malt included 2006 and 1999 vintages.
It has a golden, amber colour. The nose was a little dumb but opened up with a dash of water. There are aromas of rum and raisin, hints of spice, tropical fruit notes and a hint of banana. The palate is soft and round with hints of rum, more raisin, a touch of sweetness and a hint of spice and coconut.
This is a single malt whiskey with some of the whiskies up to 16 or 18 years old. It is finished in a selection of 5 different casks: White Burgundy, Port, Madeira, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon and Sherry. Characters from all these can be detected in the whiskey. It has won world’s best Irish Whiskey “2 or 3 times”.
It is a good, dark golden colour. The nose has hints of tropical fruit and marmalade with melon and lychee aromas (White Burgundy influence). There are also aromas of wood, Christmas spices, toffee and a touch of red fruit. The palate has flavours of raisin, toffee and caramel although the finish is quite drying.
Teeling Revival 2nd Edition 46%
This is part of the limited edition Revival range. It is a 13 Year Old Single Malt aged for 18 months in ex-Calvados cask. Apparently Calvados casks are very hard to get hold of.
This is a dark golden colour. The nose has aromas of apples and fresh lifted aromas. There are also hints of caramel, tarte tatin, foral notes and a hint of banana. The palate is soft and mellow with baked apples, red apples, cinnamon and pasty flavours. I would only recommend this if you like Calvados. The Calvados influence is very strong in this, it is almost like a Calvados / Whiskey cross.
Teeling 24 Year Old Single Malt Whiskey 46%
This was distilled in September 1991 and given a 3 and a half year Sauternes cask finish. Released in September 2016.
This was a good, golden colour. There is a faint hint of peatiness (around 5ppm phenols) with some sherry, yeasty character. The is a slight hint of oily / diesel character and hints of fruit, particularly apricot. The palate is very soft, smooth and mellow with a hint of smoke and confit apricots. Very big finish.
Teeling 26 Year Old Rum Cask 57%
Just a single cask bottled, aged in rum cask for 25 years and only available at the distillery. From a very well-known Irish Whiskey distiller.
This has a lovely, dark golden colour. The nose has aromas of sweet, spicy sherry notes with dried fruit, leather and rancio notes reminiscent of an old Armagnac or Cognac. The palate is powerful and sweet. There is a lot of rum character, honey, raisin and baking spices. A really big and powerful whiskey with an excellent long and lingering finish. Superb.
A big thank you to our hosts, the Teeling Family, Kevin Hurley and Feargal McGuinness from Teeling who shepherded us around, fed and watered us continuously for two days. It is fantastic to see a new distillery, with a new outlook and I am sure they are only going to grow from strength to strength from here as more of their own whiskey bottling come online. It was also great to meet up with other merchants, bar owners and restaurateurs, it was diverse group and a lot of fun. It was also good put some face to names: Gordon Hughes, Chris Pollard, Craig MacDonald and Rachel McLaren of Marussia Beverages UK. Thanks to my Scott Paine of Marussia for my invitation.
In case you are wondering what the DUWK is doing in the photographs below, we did a tour of Dublin wearing viking helmets in it on the second day! There are pictures somewhere.