Class: Irish Blended Whiskey
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
While Teeling Whiskey Co. is relatively new to the Irish whiskey scene, the men behind the brand are not. In 1989, John Teeling started the Cooley Distillery and employed his sons, Jack and Stephen. In 2011, the distillery was sold to what is now Beam-Suntory, and as part of the sales agreement, the Teelings retained 16,000 casks of aging Cooley whiskey. The Teeling sons then created the Teeling Whiskey Co. in 2012 and acted as a non-distilling producer, bottling the Cooley casks under the Teeling label. They opened a fully operational distillery in Dublin in 2015, but continue to bottle the sourced casks while their spirit comes of age.
Bucking the trend that has long defined the Irish whiskey industry, Teeling operates with a high degree of transparency about their bottlings and processes, and bottles everything with no chill filtering, no coloring added, and minimally at 46% ABV rather than the legal minimum of 40%. The small batch is part of a core range that also contains a single malt whiskey and a single single grain whiskey.
- No age statement, but at least 5 years old.
- Aged initially in ex-bourbon casks and "finished" up to 6 months in ex-rum casks.
- Blend of 35% single malt and 65% single grain whiskey.
- Bottled at 46% ABV.
- Non-chill filtered, natural color.
Nose: Initially, a healthy dose of ethanol mixed with raw cane sugar waft out of the glass. Underneath are notes of creamy vanilla, banana, cinnamon, and oatmeal (grain). After a rest, a nutty note appears.
Palate: Silky and creamy body. Vanilla frosting, vegetal (bitter) green sugarcane, coconut cream, ripe bananas and an underlying pervasive malty sweetness. Very sweet and dessert-like, with the bitter vegetals acting as a great contrasting agent. As the whiskey sits in the glass, the coconut cream note really becomes pronounced.
Finish: Heavy and lingering with sweet and creamy whipping cream and sweetened coconut milk, alongside a fading vegetal green note. Medium-long.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now! Teeling Small Batch blows away any other sub-$30 Irish whiskey I've tasted, and frankly, pretty much any other sub-$30 whiskey, period. Heavy with creamy dessert flavors but balanced, and elevated by a great heavy mouth feel, this showcases what quality Irish blended whiskey can be. Added into my decision to consider this a must-buy is the fact that those old Cooley casks will eventually run out. That's not to say that Teeling's own distillate won't hold its own, but for $26, this is special stuff. Next time you're in the Irish aisle, skip the standard Redbreast, and grab this for half the price.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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