The first and only visit I've paid to Teeling Distillery was in March 2016, about a year after the first spirit came off their new stills in Dublin. It was a brief visit but the tour was good and the tasting at the end equally as informative.
Teeling's flagship whiskey is the Small Batch bottling. It's a blend of malt and grain whiskeys which have been matured separately in ex-bourbon casks for up to six years with the ratio of grain to malt at approximately three to one. The grain whiskey itself is from the Teelings' previous Cooley Distillery which it sold to Beam in 2011.
There are a few interesting points about this whiskey which initially catch the eye. Firstly, it's bottled at 46%. This is always nice to see as it means, and here's the second point, that the whiskey is non chill filtered. Thirdly, the malt and grain whiskeys are blended and then subsequently finished in Central American rum casks for anything up to twelve months. Finishing whisky or whiskey is not unusual and the cynics amongst us will debate the need to disguise flaws against the need for innovation and creativity, I'm sure. However, with the usual approach involving sherry or port casks, a rum cask finish does certainly pique your curiosity.
On the Teeling site, it's pointed out that the Small Batch has been made as a sipping whiskey and that it's strong enough to be drunk with ice or as a perfect ingredient in cocktails. I'll just go with the former and sip it...
Nose: damp grass initially followed by a hint of macadamia nuts; after a while, there are notes of tinned pears in chocolate sauce together with notes of Turkish Delight; there's a subtle hint of rum and raisin ice cream together with red apples.
Palate: a slightly oily but also slightly viscous texture; there's quite a spice kick at the start - fresh ginger and hints of cinnamon; Turkish Delight; there's dark chocolate which is slightly bitter; rum and raisin ice cream throughout; a hint of menthol appears into the finish which isn't overly long.
On the whole, this isn't an overly complex whiskey. The spice is a little too much for my palate and tends to overwhelm the other flavours. It does, however, make for a decent everyday sipper for the price.
If the Small Batch is the distillery's flagship bottling, the Teeling Brabazon Series 1 was the first in the limited edition Brabazon releases. Having no idea what or who Brabazon is, a quick google search tells me that the "Brabazon family presided over the Liberties area of Dublin City, when the Teeling distillery first started out way back in the 18th century, and this is their tribute to those important times." So there you go.This single malt whiskey has been matured in sherry casks - from six different casks covering different styles of sherry, in fact - and 12,500 bottles have been released.
I initially tried this during the Sherry Monsters tasting hosted by Master of Malt over on Instagram. At that time, I thought this was the weakest of the lineup and wouldn't have called this a sherry monster. For me, the sherry influence wasn't as great compared to the others (e.g Glengoyne 21 years, Glenfarclas 105) and therefore it didn't really hold its own on the night. With it being the fourth, penultimate dram of the evening, I felt that I could really taste the younger whiskey and there was a note of something synthetic on the nose.
Therefore, I guess it's important to try it again in isolation (rather than just self isolation) as it's sometimes amazing just how different a dram can be when you go back to it.
Nose: initial hint of red apple; those macadamia nuts are there again; after a while, the red apple note becomes more of a toffee apple note; there's a hint of burnt toast; this turns into marmalade on toast after a wee while.
Palate: thick, creamy texture; subtle oak spice which develops more into the finish; there's a bitter orange note; chocolate covered brazil nuts; the bitter orange note becomes unusually sweeter into the finish.
Overall, this fared much better following on from the Small Batch than in the line up of sherry bombs. There is a sherry sweetness but it is more subdued. The synthetic note I picked out on the evening of the tasting was still there but it didn't seem as prominent. A few drops of water improved this dram immensely and brought out more of the orange sweetness.
Many thanks to Ros from Atom Brands for the bottle of Small Batch and the Sherry Monsters tasting set.
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