Teeling Vintage Reserve Collection 24 year old, 46%
Irish | $499
Wow—the nose is spellbinding. An exuberant mix of heavy fruit and deep sweetness: crème brûlée, vanilla pod, fruit syrups, sticky jam tarts, and apricot stone. Silken mouthfeel, with orange flan and brown sugar, growing increasingly tangy, with peppery spice rippling over the tongue and hints of smoke at the end. Oak char and marzipan fruits on the finish. The bar has been set high for Irish whiskey this year. (5,000 bottles)
Teeling Vintage Reserve Collection 37 year old, 41.3%
Irish Single Malt | $8530
Distilled in 1983, the nose emanates lemon peel, blooming gorse, gooseberry, mint imperials, butter biscuits, sanded oak, florist shop, salted caramel, and violins lying in red velvet cases. Nimble and juicy on the palate, it’s an odyssey through lemon, lychee, and tangy peels, with the acidity of gooseberry riffing off caramels before honeydew, vanilla, and buttery fresh banana mingle in its final throes while it evanesces from the palate.€7,000
After marrying in sauternes casks for many years, this bourbon-matured 1991
distillate has become epic stuff. Aromas of dried apricot, cooked apple, roasted
aromatic spices, red grape, candied peel, dried fig, smoked butter, and singed
fruitcake. The palate purrs like a contented cat. It’s dark and syrupy, with treacle,
cooked plum, a touch of peppery spice, and a medicinal finish of cough drops and
aniseed. (4,000 bottles) €500
Teeling Vintage Reserve 29 year old Single Malt PX Finish, 46%
Irish Single Malt | $2,500
Lean green fruits and dry spices, with fresh Comice pear, honeydew melon, lychee, toasted sesame, cardamom, banoffee pie, creamy vanilla, and delicate, perfumed florals. The PX has framed this beautifully with flavors of sultana, shortbread, apple, pear, clove, and black pepper, with the orchard fruits and spices fading into the finish. This has aged gracefully and shows the great potential for long-aged Irish whiskeys. (100 bottles, U.S. exclusive)
Teeling 34 year old Vintage Reserve Single Malt, 40.9%
Irish Single Malt | $5,000
Sheer nectar, dripping with honeyed delights: baklava, maple syrup, syropiasta, vanilla spun sugar, malt wrapped in gentle oak, and a notion of Szechuan pepper. The mouthfeel is flowing and silken, radiating flavors of golden syrup, tangerine, peppercorn, vanilla, light oak, and nougat. As the flavor crests, the sweetness is evocative of Château D’Yquem. This decadent piece of Irish history originated as a Teeling family cask distilled in 1983. (U.S. exclusive, 43 bottles)
This commendable Irish peated malt has a nose of apple, clove, bonfire smoke, pepper, thick butterscotch sauce, panna cotta, and sweet floral notes. The smoke settles down to a glowing log fire, with a fine layer of spice and a twist of citrus peel oils. Sauternes influence cultivates an exemplary combination of sweetness and spice, yielding a mouth-drenching combination of red apple, tangy orange marmalade, peppery spices, and brown sugar. (6,000 bottles for U.S.)
A wonderful balance of red wine and malt notes on this Australian shiraz finish: black currant, cooked apple, blackberry, After Eight mints, black tea, chocolate praline, cherry compote, and dark toffee. Malty, with soft fruits and strawberry jam flavors, then cinnamon, blackberry, dark toffee, clove, pepper, and oak char, with the brighter red summer fruits kept in reserve until the final stages. (9,000 bottles)€140
Teeling Chestnut Cask-Finished Single Cask (No. 29555), 55.1%
Irish Single Malt | $100
Teeling has cleverly exploited Ireland’s whiskey regulations that specify maturation in wooden casks, not just oak, to release the first chestnut-cask Irish whiskey in the U.S. Crushed cloves, wet rocks, mint chocolate, vanilla seeds, dark roast coffee beans, Brazil nut, and antique leather on the nose. Partaking unshackles gingerbread, treacle, clove, black coffee, black fruits, and plain chocolate. Dark, gothic whiskey from a shadowy part of the warehouse to devour at midnight. (846 bottles for U.S.)
William Brabazon, 3rd Earl of Meath, once presided over Newmarket, the area of Dublin the Teeling Distillery now calls home. Clean lemon-ozone character, with peach, apricot, and melon, the sherry finessing the distillery character. There’s further fruitiness apparent on the palate; oaky chardonnay notes, more melon, and warm orange, though the strength burns through. Grapefruit and gooseberry sharpness keeps this zingy and fresh above a sweet toffee base. €78
Soft berry fruits and roasted spices, draped in the wine flavors of the California Cabernet Sauvignon barrique. The flavors start softly, with rhubarb, apple, blackberry fruit, and Brazil nut before a spice steamroller rattles through, jettisoning licorice and star anise over cooked fruits. The reverberations of the spices continue through a dry finish. With the grain as a canvas, the wine’s colors work particularly well here.
With a delicacy often missing from single pot still, this shows melon fruitiness, white grape, and rose water, with spice markets, cinnamon breakfast cereals, and wafting barbecue scents. Apple, pear, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and ground almond mingle with velvety smooth caramels. An impressive Dublin-distilled pot still debut from Teeling, with its diverse cask mix for the 1:1 ratio of unmalted and malted barley to develop texture and complexity. (6,000 bottles for U.S.)
Whoosh! Jack Teeling’s first golden arrow is this weird and wacky whiskey. Have you ever heard Jane's Addiction? This is to conventional whiskey what that band was to conventional rock. Finished in Sauternes casks, it's like nothing you've tasted from Ireland. All the Irish characteristics are there, but they're bent and twisted and put together in a new and exhilarating order. I wasn't sure at first. Now I'm begging for a refill just to make sure it all really happened.
Very limited and therefore at the top end of the price range. Distiller Alex Chasko says that every time he tastes it he's taken back in time to R.E.M.'s “Green” tour, so what's not to love? Dried apple dustiness gives way to pineapple, melon, and kiwifruit. It's all very sweet until late on, when spice cuts in.
Sourcing Pedro Ximénez casks used since 1918 at a bodega in Jerez, Teeling left this
whiskey to finish for 3 years. A bouquet of sweet red apple, black grape, dried fruits,
and blueberry, with sweet roasted cashews, dry spices, and a slight herbal edge. Blue
fruits, plum, cinnamon, and bitter chocolate are harried ferociously by spicy
peppercorn, leaving a finish of bruised orchard fruit. Add water and the fruit really
shines. (10,000 bottles) €95
Part of a series of innovative wine finishes marking the revival of distilling in Dublin. The fourth release spent a year finishing in sweet, aromatic Muscat casks, imparting the bouquet of a rose garden, with ripe peach, satsuma peel, peppercorn, and black cardamom. Syrupy sweet wine notes, canned peach slices, vanilla cream, ginger root, and pepper make this attractive and unique among Irish whiskeys. (12,500 bottles) €120
The first conventional release from this fledgling company. Irish whiskey's equivalent to a seemingly frothy sweet pop song, which on closer inspection has barbed and cutting lyrics. It's a sweet Irish blend and seems like it. But it has a high malt content, is packed with flavor, and it easily justifies its price. It's creamy and rich with toffee notes, there's some tropical fruit and delicious rum-and-raisin milk chocolate. Not too cloying despite the sweetness, either.
A new multi-vintage core expression of independent Irish single malt compiled from a vatting of whiskey finished variously in port, sherry, white burgundy, cabernet sauvignon, and Madeira. The nose suggests honey, baked lemons, ground almonds, desiccated coconut, white pepper, and soft toffee. A fabulously thick texture; thank goodness for their insistence on non-chill filtering. It’s fruity with twinkling spice, pepper, root ginger, and vanilla orbiting around a fudge-like core. The oak is present on the dry finish.
Teeling Vintage Reserve Silver Bottling 21 year old, 46%
Irish | $220
This promises to be a bumper year for older Irish whiskey. This example from Cooley distillery is a 1991 distillation matured in bourbon casks, then finished in a Sauternes cask.Temptations exude from the glass with apricot frangipane, whole almond, and cloved orange. After a vinous opening, it evolves through a complex palate of white chocolate, honey, cocktail grapefruit, and dried banana chips. Plum skin and cinnamon spice seem in conflict with the sweetness, and somewhat disturb the harmony. £130
Cooley produced some great Irish single malt whiskeys and this is no slouch, either. It pulls off the trick of being both very Irish, with sweet, lush pear, fermenting apple, and yellow fruit notes; and of being distinctively a single malt, mainly because the barley is held in check by just enough influence of tannin and spice. It's a bit like a fruit cordial, and the oak doesn't overstay its welcome. A nice pepper flourish in the finish.
The Teelings were responsible for giving us the quite wonderful Greenore, which moved up the gears until it hit stunning at 15 years old. This, I suspect, is back to the start and is a work in progress. But it has all the right parts even if it isn't firing quite yet. Its nose is industrial and a tad sappy, but the taste makes up for it: sweet, light, with smoky ashtrays and almond pulp.
Proof there is life after Cooley. Jack Teeling and whiskey innovator Alex Chasko kept the independent flame alive by moving on. This whisky isn't a revolution: it's a mix of Irish (Cooley) and scotch (Bruichladdich). That's not a new idea, and it does what you might predict. It starts with a sweet, fruity Irishness, then earthier, spicier Scottish notes kick in. It works fine, but this is a placeholder whisky. Expect a lot more in the coming months.
I'm really excited that new world whiskey makers and independents are challenging the way we think about whiskey. But there are concerns, too, such as flavored whiskeys, and white spirit sold as the finished article. Poitín is an Irish pauper's spirit made illegally, so legal definitions are patchy. It is normally made with potatoes. This is a mix of new make Irish single malt and new make Irish grain. It tastes like new make Irish whiskey. End of story.