Future Irish Distilleries. Part 1.

It’s not very often that an opportunity arises of being shown around a new, soon to be completed distillery in Dublin City by it’s esteemed master blender.

According to the websites of both Teeling Whiskey and Single Pot Still Whiskey it’s been 125 years since such an event occurred.

Trying to track down which actual distillery they are eluding to proved a little more difficult. Contenders are The Phoenix Park Distillery  which some have opening in 1900, but others in 1878, and The Dublin City Distillery of Great Brunswick Street which was formed in 1890, but it’s unclear if the distillery was situated at this spot or elsewhere, as the company was allied to a failing Banagher Distillery and the venture collapsed by 1905.

1890 wasn’t a great time to invest in whiskey as the boom years of the 1860’s to 1880’s were showing signs of faltering. The growing rise of blended whiskey, world war, independence, civil war, prohibition and economic isolation all led to the collapse of Irish Whiskey from being the Worlds Finest, to a mere footnote. By 1966 only 2 distilleries remained in Dublin, Powers and Jameson but with the formation of Irish Distillers and the merging of production to Midleton by the 1970’s there were none –  Dublin ceased to be the Whiskey Capital of the World.

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery (TWD) opening is therefore an historic and monumental occasion signifying the growing rebirth in Irish Whiskey.

Busy at work in Teeling Whiskey Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut
Busy at work in Teeling Whiskey Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut

I’m going to add a piece of music at this point – borrowed from a Teeling promo video – you can listen as you read. Everything about Teeling is Louder – Louder aroma – Louder taste and I’ll sing their praises – Louder!

TWD is situated in the former whiskey heartland of the Liberties and it’s not hard to miss the scaffolding, cranes, hard hats and hi-vis vests that currently (April 2014) obscure the view of the Kilkenny Marble and zinc sheeting facade that will be the visitors centre and pot still manufacturing distillery for Teeling.

Alex Chasko c/o Whiskey Nut
Alex Chasko c/o Whiskey Nut

Alex Chasko kindly took time out to show a bunch of Celtic Whiskey Club fans around his prized new facility. The front half of the building will hold the reception area, cafe, shop, tasting area and bars spread over 2 spacious floors.

The back part of the building houses the business end – the actual distillery – where the basic ingredients of barley, water and heat are combined in such a way to produce the raw spirit that is then aged in a variety of barrels to give us the marvelous drink that is whiskey.

A mezzanine walkway guides the visitor round an impressive array of wooden washbacks, shiny copper pot stills, complicated stainless steel pipework all infused with lovely aromas. The passion Alex has for his craft of distilling clearly shone through as he emphasised the finely controlled pot still heating system installed, the extra feints collector added to improve total control of the finished product – all experience gained whilst working at Cooley. In fact – most of Teelings main players learned their trade at Cooley so this distillery already has many years of knowledge that is being put to good use in the design of this facility.

Pot Stills and Still Safe c/o Whiskey Nut
Pot Stills and Still Safe c/o Whiskey Nut

Normally – visitors would proceed to the tasting area – crafted to look like the inside of a whiskey barrel at TWD – but as the workmen were still busily adding the finishing touches Alex led up to a balcony and out to the welcoming sunshine for a  very informative Q&A session helped along with a superb rum finished single bottled in 1999 and a 2004 burgundy finished single. Alex is going to be a very busy man indeed for the next few years. Not only does he have to oversee the opening, running and operation of the new distillery, he has to manage the old stocks secured from Cooley as well as marrying the new stock from TWD to continue the excellent range currently on offer and produce some new exciting expressions from the Dublin plant. I think he can’t wait to get stuck in! The innovative culture that Cooley created in launching new styles of Irish Whiskey to the market clearly forms a large part of the Teeling ethos.Based on their track record so far – and where they intend to go – the future of Irish Whiskey is very bright indeed with Teeling!

Teeling Whiskey samples c/o Whiskey Nut
Teeling Whiskey samples c/o Whiskey Nut

So – onto the current range.

Small Batch c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Small Batch c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Teeling Small Batch   A blended whiskey using grain (there will be no grain spirit produced at TWD – it’s envisaged that element will come from John Teeling’s new grain distillery venture The Great Northern Distillery at Dundalk) and malt, finished in rum casks to produce a full bodied taste. As far as I can tell – this is the 1st rum finished blend of Irish Whiskey on the market and very nice it is too.   B+

Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Single Grain c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Teeling Single Grain   Single Grain is a relatively rare beast for both Ireland and Scotland, but Teeling have pulled off a superb example of this style by finishing this expression in wine casks. It adds a lovely smooth and creamy taste to the dram. There’s no surprise this whiskey has won awards.  B+

Single Malt c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Single Malt c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Teeling Single Malt   Wow! I never got round to actually tasting this before as I just assumed (correctly) all Teeling expressions were great – but I didn’t realise just how great! Again – finishing in a variety of barrels adds so much aroma, taste and flavours  to this dram it’s simply stunning!   A+

These are the standard expressions – I haven’t tried the premium range of 21, 26 and 30 year olds – nor the Poitin – but I’m pretty sure they’ll all be stunning too.

Here’s hoping that Alex – and all the crew at TWD – continue to uphold the excellent releases mainly based on spirit laid down at Cooley/Kilbeggan. I certainly feel confident they will add yet more new and exciting releases to their portfolio when the spirit from Dublin matures.

If you haven’t tried a Teeling yet – now is the time – they are all a cut above the rest.

The future of Irish Whiskey is clear, the future is Teeling.

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