Friday, May 27, 2016

A Taste Of Teeling

The Teeling range, about to be sampled.
Bottles of Ireland's Teeling whisky have been well received at the club over the past couple of years, so we were delighted this month to host an evening dedicated to the stuff, courtesy of Craig from Eaux de Vie.

The Poitin!
Before opening the first bottle, Craig filled us in on the story of Irish whiskey and how Teeling fits into that. Ireland had once been a far larger player in the world whiskey market than it is today, but its share was devastated by the twin issues of prohibition in the US, and trade restrictions in the UK related to the fallout from Irish independence.

At one stage, Irish whiskey was down to the merged Irish Distillers and that was about it. But, things are looking up, with Craig telling us that sales of Irish whiskey are now going up at the rate of about 20% each year, impressive growth albeit from a low base.

Teeling Small Batch
We didn't get straight into the whiskey. Instead, the first drink of the night was Teeling's poitin, a drink usually known here in its anglicised form as pocheen. It's basically very strong Irish moonshine, and a few club members had hazy memories of having some in the past. Teeling's poitin is not as powerful as some, but at 61.4% it still packs a significant punch alongside a pleasant sweetness reminiscent of pear drops. Not one for a session, but as Craig suggested, a drink to have a bit of fun with from time to time. It retails for £30.

On we went to the first of the four whiskies. The Teeling family has a long history in distilling, going right back to 1782. The modern Teeling company was founded in 2012 by Jack Teeling, who left his job running the Cooley Distillery when it was sold to Jim Beam, but struck a deal to keep 16,000 barrels to get him started with his new venture.

Teeling Single Grain
And the first drop of that we got to taste was the Teeling Small Batch. Finished for six months in old rum casks, it again had a sweetness about it, although at 46% it was a lot lighter than the Poitin. This got an enthusiastic reception from virtually everyone. Available at £33 from Master of Malt, it's good value, too.

This was surpassed by the next dram, though, the Teeling Single Grain, fully matured in Californian red Cabernet Sauvignon casks. If we'd had pear drops earlier, this was a move further into the sweet shop to the toffee jar. As Craig noted, another lighter drop, particularly good for enjoying at this time of year. And again super value, at about the £35 mark.

At the half time break, Craig generously offered the bottle around again and there were several enthusiastic takers!

Teeling Single Malt
The fourth drink of the evening was Teeling's vatted Single Malt, and what a mixed bag it was. The bottle features whiskies aged up to 23 years, matured in a real range of wine casks: sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon.

While another enjoyable drop, there was a general feeling in the room that all those influences meant there was just a bit too much going on here. It possibly suffered slightly having come after the outstanding Single Grain, but "it just needs a bit more knitting together" was one comment echoed by a few of the members. It's a little more expensive than the others, but can still be found for less than £40.

Teeling Revival
Craig finished off the evening with Teeling's 15yo Revival, aged in rum casks and produced in honour of the fact Teeling's is the first new distillery to open in Dublin for 125 years. This was another light and very enjoyable whisky with a bit of sweetness, clearly hallmarks of Teeling's range in general.

This turned into a strong contender for the dram of the night, but coming in at over £80, the value offered by the Single Grain perhaps allowed it to edge ahead as our favourite of the evening.

Thanks once again to Craig for a great tasting, and to the team at the Briton's Protection for looking after us as always. Thanks also go to the folks at Aston's of Manchester, who have generously offered club members a discount on these Teeling bottles when we produce our tickets on our next visit.

Craig in full flow.

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