Friday, March 13, 2015
Teeling Irish Whiskey: Dublin Rises Again
Ireland has a lengthy history of whiskey distillation and during the 19th century, Dublin was well known across the world for the quality of their whiskey. Unfortunately, in 1976, the last distillery in Dublin closed though that does not appear to be the end of the whiskey story in Dublin.
Back in 1782, there were over 37 distilleries in Dublin, including one, located on Marrowbone Lane, owned by Walter Teeling. Though the Teeling distillery no longer exists, the Teeling family is continuing the whiskey tradition, and there is even a Boston connection. John Teeling, an entrepreneur, once had a discussion in a Boston bar about opening an independent, Irish owned whiskey distillery and he eventually followed up on that idea, purchasing an industrial alcohol plant in 1985. The plant was located in Cooley, about sixty miles north of Dublin, and he transformed it into a whiskey distillery.
In a short time, the Cooley Distillery, though remaining relatively small, acquired an excellent reputation and it was eventually purchased, in 2011, by Beam Global. Teeling though still had a passion for whiskey and decided to start, in 2012, another distillery, the Teeling Whiskey Company. His brother, Stephen Teeling, became a co-owner and they initially started as independent bottlers as they put their plans into action.
The new distillery will be located in Newmarket Square in Dublin, being the first new distillery in Dublin in about 125 years, and the first distillery in the city in almost 40 years since the last one closed. Production should be starting very soon, with the hope they can barrel their first batch before St. Patrick's Day, and they also hope to open a visitor center in the second quarter of this year. The distillery should have an annual capacity of around half a million liters on a normal schedule.
At this time, they have bottled three whiskies, which were produced at the Cooley Distillery, including Teeling Small Batch, a blended whiskey that was matured in rum barrels, which is already available in the U.S. Later this year, they will release a Single Malt, which was aged in five different types of wine barrels.
The U.S. is the largest market for Irish whiskey, and the category has been seeing continued, and often significant, growth in recent years. I received a media sample of their latest offering, which is now available in Massachusetts, the Teeling Single Grain ($49.99). This whiskey is made from a mash of 95% corn, in column stills, and it is matured in used California Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. It is bottled at 46% AB without chill filtration. With a dark amber color, the whiskey presents spice and red berry flavors on the nose. On the palate, the whiskey is smooth and flavorful, with notes of caramel, red berries, spice and even a little chocolate. There is a slight sweetness, reminiscent of some bourbons, which is obviously due to all the corn.
This is a very good Irish whiskey, which should appeal to many people, and I very much look forward to seeing what the Teelings will do when their new distillery opens.