Having had the privilege of already visiting the new Teeling Distillery before it was opened, sampling some of their excellent whiskeys and meeting some of the key players, Mondays are now Teelings Days to sit down with a dram of the best and enjoy The Whiskey Business documentary on TV3.
There is a view again facility available – but I’m not sure if it can be accessed outside of Ireland.
Give it a try – Teeling whiskeys are very good indeed!
Germany is not a country usually associated with whisky manufacture. They do love their whiskies however – and it is one of the top export countries for both Irish whiskey and Scottish whisky companies.
Germany also has a long tradition of distilling – mainly schnapps – but is increasingly turning to whisky.
Germany – shockingly – according to my research – has more whisky distilleries at 250 than Scotland with 115!
So when a friend invited us over to Berlin last weekend – I made it my goal to sample some of the expressions emanating from these German distilleries – I must say – I was very impressed!
My first port of call was to the very extensively stocked Wein Und Spirituosen Center at Tegel – a handy 5 minute walk from the marvelous public transport network Alt-Tegel U-bahn station.
Very friendly staff guided me through their German Whisky range which included tasting a few samples from bottles the shop already had opened for customers to try.
A glass of Glen Els Sherry Cask was tried. Now normally a sherry finish floats my boat – but I found this somewhat lacking – maybe not enough sherry for me?
Slyrs Single Malt provided a much more enjoyable experience. Aged in new American White Oak casks this 3 year old gave a lovely woody aroma with a pleasingly smooth taste for it’s youthfulness. No wonder it has gained awards!
An interesting bottle caught my eye so I requested another sample. The intriguingly named Sloupisti from Spreewalder proved to be an equally fine dram.
Loaded down with my booty I ambled down to Greenwich Parade where The Fisherman’s Restaurant have an outdoor picnic area. I indulged in Fish ‘n’ Chips delightfully overlooking the Tegeler See in the bright sunshine!
After meeting up with friends and been shown round the German Foreign Office enjoying fabulous views of Alexander Platz from the balcony – it was off to Berlins only whisky distillery.
Eshenbrau in Wedding was a fantastic place where many beer and whisky enthusiasts congregate in the outdoor beer garden set in the middle of a housing scheme to enjoy the beverages made only a stone’s throw away. They also served lovely flammkuchen to soak up the alcohol!
A fine range of beers are available all year round with seasonal brews regularly alternating on the menu. They have also started whisky production which I was eager to sample.
The three styles on offer were all a youthful 3 years old;
Pete – aged in American oak,
Charlie – aged in chardonnay casks and
Amber – aged in Spessart German oak for a truly home grown product.
All of them were pleasantly quaffable with a hint of youthfulness but the Amber finally came out tops with rich woody notes and a slightly smoother finish. As the only venue to buy this whisky is at the distillery I duly bought a bottle – as well as the lovely tasting glass.
The rest of my time in Berlin was taken up by the more normal tourist spots – but I was impressed by the range of Irish, Scottish and American whiskeys available in nearly all the restaurants and bars we entered. I took the opportunity to try out a Bulleit Rye whilst dining outside in the trendy Prenzlaur Berg area which despite being a little sweet in comparison to the German expressions – I enjoyed very much.
For whiskey fans Germany has much to offer. The sheer number of whiskey distilleries produce a vast array of styles, finishes and malts that match that of Scotland in terms of taste and quality – although volumes are small by comparison. Independently family owned or craft distilleries are the order of the day supplying local markets so expressions can be hard to track down – but from my experience well worth the effort.
Prior to the Beam/Suntory takeover of the Kilbeggan/Cooley distillery, it was the only independently owned distillery in Ireland. (This situation has altered again due to the many new entrants into the market). A number of brand names were dropped from the portfolio during the changing process which has led to exciting developments in the Irish Whiskey industry.
The 1st notable omission from the current line-up is Locke’s Single Malt.This is a fine example of a smooth tasting pot still Irish whiskey. The fact that the Locke’s family ran the Kilbeggan distillery for over 100 years through the ups and downs of the whiskey trade and that there name was synonymous with a good dram – it seems a startling miss out. For further reading there is a very informative book – “Locke’s Distillery, A History.” by Andrew Bielenberg, produced for the 250th anniversary of the distillery. Well worth getting hold off. I got my copy at the Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society shop in Tullamore.
The main beneficiaries of the sale to Beam were the Teeling family. Brothers Jack and Stephen wasted no time reinvesting their share in building the 1st new distillery to be opened in Dublin for 125 years. I’ve been lucky to have visited it already. It’s a grand building and will produce some very fine whiskeys indeed judging by the Teeling releases currently out there which are all presently spirit made at Kilbeggan/Cooley. There is a must see documentary called “The Whiskey Business” soon to be screened on Irish TV on June 5th which follows the boys making their dreams come true.
Father John is also building a grain distillery at Dundalk – no doubt to supply his sons (and others) with one of the main ingredients for blended whiskey.
There are a number of other clients who previously sourced their spirit at Kilbeggan/Cooley who have gone on to develop their own distilleries.
Lottery winner Peter Lavery previously released the Titanic and Danny Boy whiskey brands. He is now behind the release of McConnell’s Irish Whiskey prior to the development of Crumlin Gaol in Belfast as a whiskey distillery.
Meanwhile – a whiskey I have tasted and enjoyed – Michael Collins – is taking a rather different approach. The Sidney Frank Importing Co is suing Beam for the cessation of it’s whiskey stocks!
There is also the rather unknown quantity of “own label” brands – supermarket chains for example -that would have got their spirit from Kilbeggan/Cooley. This is a major business – but often hard to get information on. The requirement is only to state which country produced the whiskey – not the distillery – but Kilbeggan/Cooley under Teeling supplied this lucrative market.
One example is O’Reilly’s Irish Whiskey which is available in Tesco’s. It has the Cooley Business address on the back. It is still on the shelves at present so whether stocks have been secured post Beam – or pre Beam – I don’t know. I’ve aslo not tasted it. But it is an example of the many different labels a distilleries output can end up in!
The above are only a small sample of whiskeys manufactured at Kilbeggan/Cooley during the time John Teeling was at the helm – 1987 to 2012. Many are no more – but some may survive. I certainly enjoy hunting them down and experiencing the differing tastes and styles on display – marvelling that they were all produced at the same distillery!
And what are you having yourself to mark this occasion? Please comment me!
I originally thought I’d have a glass of a whisky truly of the world – a glass of Old Nobility – a blended whisky made with malts from – wait now – USA, Canada, Germany, India and of course Scotland – to lend it some credibility! It was available in France on my last visit – but as I already had 2 lovely French single malts from Guillon, the Spanish blend DYC, as well as my friends whisky cabinet to sample – Old Nobility will have to wait!
And wait is exactly what the whisky I’m having today did – for over 100 years!
Back in 1907 an order was placed with the Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness for 46 cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt. The cases were duly delivered – loaded onto a ship – travelled from the UK to Antarctica – and left under a hut.
In 2007 the surviving cases were discovered. A bottle made it’s way back to Scotland for analysis. A recreation of the whisky came into being and it is this whisky I’m choosing to drink today – and a damn fine dram it is too! A big A+
The story around this whisky was astounding – and thankfully the tasting experience is as well. I’m glad I took a punt when buying it unseen. I’d be happy to share this with any other whisky fans – as long as they bring along a bottle of their finest for me to try!
However – there is an Irish connection. Ernest Shackleton was born in County Kldare – Ireland. His parents were Irish. Like many others of their generation -and generations past and present – emigration was an economic reality so Ernest ended up in London where he joined the merchant navy – eventually joining the rush for Polar Expedition in the early 1900’s.
He led the 1907 expedition on which the whisky went – we can only hope it warmed him and his men as much as it warms me.
On another later trip to Antarctica – Ernest was joined by a fellow Irish man – Tom Crean from County Kerry. Together they overcame great difficulties after their ship was crushed in the ice and sank. A heroic 800 mile sea voyage and march across South Georgia eventually led to the rescue of all the men after two years down under!
Tom Crean also has a drink named in his honour – sadly only a lager – but as lagers go – not a bad one – and you can always enjoy a pint of his best in the pub he ran after his polar exploits – The South Pole Inn – well – what else would you call it? .
Now I’m not saying that drinking either of these beverages will make you as strong or heroic as the people they are associated with – but they are imbued with their spirit – and what better day to drink them than on World Whisky Day 2015!
Apart from the fact that Islay is visible from the Antrim coast – and depending on which way the wind blows – pleasant smells may also be experienced.
And in Connemara, Ireland has it’s own award winning peated whiskey to challenge those of Islay.
That was until now.
Would it excite you if I said the former CEO of Bruichladdich was opening a distillery in Waterford?
After Mark Reynier’s successful turn around in the fortunes of that Islay distillery – the sale of Bruichladdich to Remy Cointreau – and the continued rise of whisky sales – is it any wonder he was on the lookout for a new venture?
Following on from the Scottish acquisition of Tullamore DEW – Waterford now seems to be the happy recipient of the rise in Scottish whisky popularity.
Irish Single Grain Whiskey is a bit of a rare breed. Malted barley in pot stills is the norm and has been for centuries – even after fellow Irishman Aeneas Coffey invented his new continuous still around 1830 which sparked the rise of Scottish blended whisky. He did offer it to his fellow countrymen first – but so tied to their superior product they declined – so Aeneas went abroad and the rest is history.
Blended whiskey – a mixture of both malted pot still and grain continuous still spirits – accounts for about 90% of whisky sales worldwide – so is nothing to be scoffed.
Grain Whiskey is generally seen as the inferior spirit in a blend and only a few offerings are available in Ireland or even Scotland.
Ireland had to wait until the 1990’s before it’s first single grain offering was released from the Cooley Distillery in Louth when it opened in 1987.
Released as an 8 year old – Greenore Single Grain has recently been re-branded as Kilbeggan Single Grain by the current owners of Cooley, Beam/Suntory. Other age statements are available; 6, 10, 15, 18, 19 and 21 but may be hard to find and/or limited release.
Grain generally needs longer in the barrel to absorb the flavours than malt. Greenore reflects that by being a mild tasting approachable whiskey not unlike The Glenlivet but very enjoyable nonetheless. Bottled at 40% ,mainly made from maize. B
Teeling Single Grain follows on from Greenore in more ways than one. Also produced at Cooley by the former owners under John Teeling, many of the team at that plant are now the main force behind the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. Innovation is almost part of the Teeling culture and finishing this single grain in Californian Wine Casks certainly does that in raising the aroma and taste of this lovely smooth whiskey. Bottled at 46%, non-chill filtered, no age statement – it’s no surprise that World’s Best Single Grain 2104 went to this expression. B+
Glendalough Double Barrel is another new player in the Irish Whiskey market. They certainly hit the mark with this expression. As with many new entrants waiting for their spirit to mature – Glendalough has sourced this product from a third party. I originally thought Cooley – but with a malted barley and corn mash I’m not so certain. The malted barley certainly adds a bit more depth to the taste and the olorosso finish only adds to the experience. One to keep Teeling on their toes! Bottled at 42%, no age statement. B+
A delightful trio of Single Grain Whiskeys to tempt you with their individual take on the silent spirit. All very good whiskeys too for a gentle evening drink. I’m finding it hard to decide between the Teeling or Glendalough as my favorite but think the latter just wins out with the fuller body – probably imparted by the barley content.
If you haven’t tried a single grain yet – now is the time!
A couple of things prompted this tweet tasting post, firstly I was going through some old notes and found this one that I had not yet posted (the tasting was almost a year ago). Secondly Teeling Whiskey is now available in South Africa and exclusively at WhiskyBrother, though only the Small Batch is currently available. And thirdly the Teeling Single Grain Whiskey was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards for 2014.
This tweet tasting took place on 4th December 2013, and I was fortunate enough to do this tasting while on holiday on the South African south coast. This twitter tasting was put together and hosted by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and their main tweet tasting account @TweetTastings. Steve was joined by Stephen Teeling from the Teeling Whisky Company. Steve also musically paired the whiskies, so the sampling order…
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.
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 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.
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!
So – onto the current range.
Teeling Small BatchA 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+
Teeling Single GrainSingle Grainis 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+
Teeling Single MaltWow! 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.
Well, you have to start somewhere, so I’ll start with my nearest.
The Kilbeggan Distilling Company as it is currently known, is situated on the River Brosna in County Westmeath, Ireland. It has the distinction of being the oldest distillery in Ireland by having a continuous license to distill whiskey in the same building from 1757.
This is hotly contested by Bushmills who proclaim 1608 on their bottles. Alas that license does not pertain to the building that still produces spirit today so on a technicality, Kilbeggan wins!
Kilbeggan Distillery has a long history over it’s 250+ years and is presently owned by the Beam/Suntory Group. They currently concentrate on 3 to 4 core brands.
The original Kilbeggan blend is a pleasant smooth tasting introduction to Irish Whiskey. I took a bottle to France with me as a present and all at an outside dinner rated it very highly. B
There is a 21 year old blend available if you have the money. It’s a stunning drink. Smooth yet spicy with complex flavours. A
What used to be called the Greenore range (which is more appropriate as that is the town closest to the distillery at Cooley which makes the bulk of the spirit for Kilbeggan. Beam/Suntory actually got 2 facilities) has now been relabeled as Kilbeggan. They are a range of single grain whiskeys with the 8 year old being the flag bearer. B
Tyrconnel is a single malt offering. It too is lovely and smooth. It also comes in a range of finishes; Port, Sherry and Madeira which if done right add lovely flavours to the mix. I’ve yet to sample them so can only comment on the original single. B
Connemara is an award winningpeated single malt which comes in a variety of ages as well as peat content for those who like it. It’s not my thing so I’ve not rated it.
The final expression is only available in the US so if anyone is coming over I’d love to get a bottle!
2 Gingers is one that almost got away! Kieran Folliard arranged this blend with the distillery’s previous owners and it looked likely to be dropped (as others were) but his dynamic sales saved the day.
Kilbeggan Distillery is a wonderful place to visit with the museum showing original machinery from bygone days including a working water wheel and steam engine. There is also a well stocked shop , a boutique working distillery, the all important tasting bar and a lovely restaurant. It’s the public face of Kilbeggan Whiskey as opposed to the manufacturing plant at Cooley.
Get yourselves down there if you haven’t been already!
In a former life, I used to attend political meetings invariably held in rooms above pubs. A fellow comrade also came along but often refused to drink in the bar below afterwards as it wasn’t CAMRA approved. Oh how we laughed at his prescribed ways – and he back at us drinking our mass produced tasteless p**s water. When I eventually got to Belguim and sampled the outstanding array of fine beers on offer – I wanted to ring up this fore mentioned gentlemen and apologies to him.
Belgium does more beer than Scotland does whisky!
I was simply overwhelmed by the range on offer. A restaurant in Brugge I visited had a 2 page meal menu, and a 20 page beer menu! Where do you begin? On spotting a very strange glass being served to a fellow drinker – I thought I’d start there.
Wow! Kwak. A truly tasty dark beer with very strong flavours, a bit sweet, but lovely. The fact that all the beers are served in glasses unique to the brand only adds to the enjoyment. Kwak certainly has a glass to match it’s unusual taste!
Brugge also did a very fine – if not as strong brown beer in the oddly named Brugse Zot Brune – also served in an attractive glass.
3) The Whisky
What? Belgian Whisky?
Well up until the early 2000’s there wasn’t any – but now there’s around 3 whisky distillers making the aqua vitae. I managed to get a whisky mule to bring me back a bottle.
The Belgian Owl Single Malt is a very fine – if slightly unusual whisky – or at least I haven’t had something like this before. It has a fruity nose as well as taste to it. Extremely enjoyable and easy to drink even at 46%. Jim Murray rates it highly and many awards have already been won. This is certainly an A whisky for me!
There are other brands available that I haven’t managed to get hold of yet.
Goldlys and Carolus don’t have as great reviews but may be worth sampling. There might be other manufactures out there also trying to jump on the whisky band wagon. One thing is for sure however.