Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

I’m all for independents in the whisky industry. I think the fresh perspectives and propensity towards innovation are healthy for the whole sector. I may have even teared up a little when I heard that independent Irish distilling company Cooley had sold out with all of its brands to liquor giant Beam Inc. (which later was acquired by the even-more-giant Suntory to form Beam-Suntory). Jack Teeling, son of Cooley founder John Teeling, has struck out on his own and formed the Teeling Whisky Company, with an eye towards replicating his father’s success. The company will build the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin, Ireland in 125 years. It is slated to open in 2015.

Until then the company is selling sourced and finished whiskies such as this one, a rum-finished Irish whiskey of unknown origin. It is a blend, with 35% malt and 65% grain aged somewhere between 4 and 7 years. The vatted blend is then finished for 4 to 6 months in Flor de CaƱa rum casks, an unusual touch. The whole is not chill-filtered and is packaged in a very attractive bottle at 46% ABV for under $40. The bottle I bought was filled in January 2014.

Nose: Rum for sure. Raw cane juice and golden rum dominate the aroma. Underneath, there is a very, very light Irish whiskey – passive and apologetic in nature. One could even be forgiven for guessing this was gold rum in a blind tasting.

Palate: Now the grain steps forward. Hay and oatmeal, lightly sweet. The burn is a bit intense for this low ABV. After, some coconut and vanilla emerge, and the cane juice reasserts itself.

Finish: Medium long. Caramel hard candies. Vanilla bean, and rum cake. Not bitter.

With Water: A few drops of water reveal something lightly floral. The tongue burn on the palate is lessened, and the body is a bit thicker. A few drops of water aren’t a bad idea with this one.

Overall: Huh. The nose is a disappointing takeover of rum, leaving little trace of whiskey. The palate is more in line with what I expected, but the lightness in flavor leads me to believe that the malt component of the blend is small, and the rum is meant to understudy in the role of flavor. The overall effect is of one of those flavored whiskeys hitting the market, where the transparent marketing leads us to believe that taking sub-par whiskey and flavoring it with something sugary is an acceptable business practice. This is a few steps above that, but I would have much preferred something with real Irish character. Here’s hoping that the Teeling Whiskey Company can stay afloat until it begins distilling something it can be proud of.

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
46% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $37 - $40
Acquired: (750ml bottle) K&L Wines and Spirits, Redwood City, CA, $37

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4 thoughts on “Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

  1. I just tried this—-the nose starts off well, but really falls short on the palette. A bit grainy and harsh. Unfortunately, I had this after trying a Redbreast…I almost spit this back out. Overall—not bad for the price ( I paid $35)—-but if I’m going to spend $35…I’d rather get something much better, like a Willett rye or Weller bourbon.

  2. As one who primarily drinks single malts, I was nicely surprised by this Irish whiskey. What initially appealed to me was the high ABV for an Irish blend – I’m convinced that ABV correlates with taste – and the low price here in SE Florida ($30). Not harsh at all to my palate, surprisingly light and rum sweetness apparent. Definitely a keeper and will pick up again.

  3. Upon opening i was sure i had mistakenly purchased a bottle of rum. Nice clarity upon inspection. Sweet forward taste followed by moderate to intense burn. Pleasant finish with sweet rum and slight floral accents. Add a cube to 3oz in a whiskey glass and it’s a hit, not a bad buy for only $35 in ny.

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