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 Caña 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.