Friday, June 16, 2017

Tasting: Teeling Single Grain



Teeling
Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Distillery: Sourced: Cooley
Age: 5 years
Proof/ABV: 46%
Average US Price: $50 USD
Release: Ongoing
Mashbill: 95% Corn 5% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-California Cabernet Wine Barrels
Non Chill-Filtered

Points: 88/100





The Teeling connection with Irish Whiskey dates back to 1782, when Walter Teeling began distilling in Dublin, Ireland. Industry consolidation and economic difficulties ultimately resulted in the sale to William Jameson & Co. and in 1923, the Teeling Distillery was closed.

The Teeling’s modern entry into distilling began in 1985, when John Teeling, a descendent of Walter Teeling, bought an old, potato alcohol plant in County Louth, Ireland and by 1987, transformed it into the Cooley Distillery, producing whiskies under the Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyconnell and Greenore labels.

In December of 2011, Cooley was purchased by Beam Inc., with an agreement that provided the Teeling family with some 16,000 casks of aged whiskey. No doubt, John Teeling wasn’t ready to leave the whiskey business and with two sons having worked with him at the Cooley Distillery, he had plans for those casks.

A short year after having sold the Cooley Distillery, John’s son Jack, launched Teeling Whiskey. Jack was later joined by his brother, Stephen and in 2015, Teeling Distillery opened its doors as the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years.

As I write this, it’s 94 degrees in the shade and summer is peeking around the corner. Perfect weather for a Single Grain Whiskey.


The subject of this review is Teeling’s Single Grain Irish Whiskey.


Color: Golden Amber
  
Nose: Sweet. Vanilla-Caramel-Toffee, Alfalfa Hay, Leather, Oak

Palate: Huge Vanilla-Caramel, Nice Viscosity, Wine Fruits, Grape Licorice, Banana, Butterscotch, Leather, Jalapeno Pepper

Finish: Long, Lingering Jalapeno Pepper, Molasses, Sugar Cane, Oak. Leaning to mild dryness.

The taste of this whiskey follows the nose quite predictably until the complexity of the wine barrels begin to develop on the palate. The more I sipped, the more I noticed. This is a sweet whiskey that enters softly and builds in complexity. It needs the complexity to balance the sweetness and I recommend chewing this one to draw it out. You’ll be rewarded with a swelling pepper, a distinct rum-like sweetness and a very welcome oakiness. Having the Jalapeno note firmly attached in my gums is the way I most enjoyed this one.

At only five years of age, this one really impressed me at how well the wine influences work. But, I think it dances a very thin line between being balanced and being too sweet. Chew it to keep it going in the right direction and get the long finish.


Additional Review Background:


Before reviewing this whiskey, I made note of the information contained on the bottle label that stated, in part, “Aged For 5 Years in Ex-Wine Casks.” In addition, the label also states, “This Small Batch Bottling Consists of Hand Selected Casks Which Are Given a Further 6 Months Maturation in Ex-Rum Barrels Imparting an Extra Sweet and Smooth Flavor…”.

Finding this whiskey to be indeed, very sweet, with a healthy dose of complexity,  I easily presumed the labeling to be correct. However, while my tasting notes refer to molasses and sugar sweet notes, I found it necessary to lightly edit, but never-the-less remove possible attribution to any rum finishing as a possible contributor. I made these notations within the review and included them at the bottom of this page. I think my letter to Teeling and their response will clarify why I found this necessary.

After  having written my review of this whiskey and after having submitted it to SOWC, I became increasingly curious as to why the Teeling website information on this whiskey failed to make note of the additional “rum finish” with the Single Grain while clearly mentioning it with the Small Batch offering. I asked SOWC to hold off publishing the review.

Uncomfortable with the notion of speculating as to whether or not this whiskey was actually finished in ex-rum casks, the decision was made to reach out to Teelinig for clarification. I have included my correspondence with Jack Teeling of Teeling Whiskey Co., as part of this review. I would also make note that Teeling responded to my enquiry very quickly.

Cheers!


Review & Photos By: Monty Whisenhunt

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Teeling Whiskey Co.,

I’m in the process of reviewing your Single Grain Irish Whiskey for the Son of Winston Churchill Blog.

While researching this Whiskey, I note that your website doesn’t mention the “Rum Finishing” in reference to the Single Grain, but does make note of the rum finish in your Small Batch offering.

The Single Grain bottle states that it has been additionally finished in rum casks for 6 months and as my tasting coincides with rum notes on the finish, I believe that to be the case.

Would I be correct to assume that the Single Grain is considered to be part of your Small Batch offerings and that at some point in its evolution, Teeling transitioned from an exclusive wine cask maturation to include the additional 6 month maturation in rum casks for your Single Grain as well as your Small Batch offering?

Any clarification you could offer would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

Monty Whisenhunt
Son of Winston Churchill Blog


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Monty,

Thank you for your email and you have gotten your hands on a rogue labelled bottle.

We had a batch of labels on some of our Single Grain (which by the way is 100% fully matured in ex-Californian Cabernet Sauvignon red wine barrels) that had some descriptive copy from our Small Batch produced by mistake by our label producer.

I apologise for the confusion that this may have caused but I can guarantee that the liquid is as it is clearly stated on the main items of the label where “Maturation” is indicated i.e. from the red wine casks.

 As the original mash bill used for this is made up of 95% corn/maize there is an underlying sweetness as a result thus I can see where the molasses style of influence of rum could be potentially picked up.

It is this combination of underlying natural sweetness and clean spirit which due to at least five years full maturation in the French oak ex-Californian wine casks that imparts a delicate red berry fruit flavour and French oak influenced spice along with the combined tannic influence that produces the unique sweet, fruit, spice taste and dry finish. Also by bottling it at 46% with no chill filtration allows you to capture all the true natural.

I hope you enjoyed our Single Grain and if there is anything else I can help you clarify on let me know?

Thanks again,

Jack Teeling
Teeling Whiskey Company