This delightfully enjoyable blend almost passed me by.
Released under John Teeling’s tenure at Kilbeggan Distillery – it now seems to have slipped from the current line up of new owners Beam/Suntory.
For the greater part of it’s history the distillery at Kilbeggan went by various names. Originally called Brusna Distillery in 1757 – after the river the waterwheel still turns from to this day – then Locke’s Distillery – after the Locke family who effectively ran the operation from 1843 until closure in 1958.
The distillery licence never expired during the following years. In turn this was acquired by John Teeling’s Cooley Distillery which opened in 1987 and resurrected the Locke’s brand – along with a few others.
Locke’s Distillery only ever produced pot still whiskey – which is perhaps one of many reasons for it’s demise – so ironically this miniature is a blended whiskey – using both grain & malt whiskeys combined together.
The Irish Whiskey Industry were rather late in embracing blended whiskey – over 130 years later than their Scottish counterparts – which also partly explains it’s collapse by the 1960’s.
So in it’s own way – Locke’s Blended Irish Whiskey was part of the revival. I’m glad to have stumbled on this miniature at The Old Stand in Mullingar.
The colour is light straw – but added caramel cannot be ruled out for this entry level blend.
A lovely soft malt greeted me on nosing. Sweet with just a little hint of turf.
The palate was soft, sweet & very smooth. Eminently approachable. Yet there is a slight suggestion of peat at the end to give it a bit of bite & character.
A decent afterglow wrapped up this extremely enjoyable drinking experience.
Well worth getting hold of if you come across a bottle.
Unaware I’d just committed a crime against whiskey at Tigh Neachtain’s – I ambled up the High Street a short while to the lovely inviting entrance of Sonny Molloy’s.
The wooden snugs – lit up whiskey cabinets that encircled the bar and immediate seating area – friendly staff – together with my increasing mellowness brought on by the previous drams – endeared me to yet another special bar on the Galway Whiskey Trail.
An estimated 100 plus expressions on display made it a little difficult for me in my increasing alcoholic fuzz to pick out something I’d not tried before – but eventually a bottle of Tyrconnell Sherry was spotted.
Hailing from my local distillery in Westmeath – Kilbeggan – Tyrconnell is one of the old brands John Teeling revived back in the late 1980’s to build up his whiskey empire.
At 46% – as opposed to the mainly 40% drams I’d enjoyed earlier in the day – there is a much more noticeable spirity kick on the nose. This follows through to the taste before a warm sweet experience from the sherry influence is experienced which mellows the kick into a smooth and satisfying finish. The Sherry Finish is one of 4 Tyrconnell Single Malt releases available. There is the standard Single Malt itself bottled at 40% – and the 3 finishes of Port – Madeira and Sherry all bottled at 46%.
I’m currently working my way through them all and have to say the Port Finish sampled in Kilkenny is currently my favourite – but a blind tasting of all 4 back to back would certainly be an interesting experience if only to be able to discern the different barrel finishes have on the resulting whiskey. Mmm – must work on that one.
Sonny Molloy’s is another one of those establishments – like it’s sister pubs The Dail and Blake’s – that serves a comprehensive food menu and the early evening diners were beginning to come in after finishing their shopping. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and I began to relax knowing that I had enough time to complete my tour of the Galway Whiskey Trail – as well as feeling I wouldn’t keel over anytime soon!
The Saturday papers were scattered on the wooden shelves near the bar where I perched myself to enjoy the Tyrconnell so I fell in to reading them. An article on the reformation of LCD Soundsystem caught my eye. At one time I thought I was abreast of the music scene. Clearly I was now out of the loop as despite enjoying some of their tracks – I was unaware they had even split up in the first place! C’est la vie!
Thankfully I’m of an age the only drunk girls I need to worry about now are my rapidly maturing teenage grand daughters!
Sonny’s also had a fun and informative whiskey leaflet which could be stamped to say you’d raised a glass to Sonny Molloy. How could I resist?
A lovely little souvenir of my time on the trail!
I got chatting to the bar staff and it turns out the whiskey trail has brought a lot of tourists in – especially during summer. A further expansion of the whiskey display cabinets is envisaged to enhance this increased interest. They felt the trail has been a success in raising awareness of the fine whiskey bars present in Galway.
I would certainly concur with this sentiment.
A final sip of Tyrconnell was savoured before I thanked the staff for their time and hospitality – then I headed out for the remaining stops on the trail.
Freeney’s is another one of those lovely old bars that genuinely look like the modern world outside just passed them by. It didn’t pass The Jam by however.
The gently worn wooden panels along the bar have the imprint of many happy customers – the shelves gently sag with the weight of a wealth of whiskey – the open fire gently warms the lounge area – what is there not to like about the inside of this establishment?
As by now is a habit of mine – my original choice of whiskey was not available – well not in a glass anyway.
Michael Collins Single Malt is another one of those discontinued Cooley expressions that are out there. I previously polished off a bottle of the enjoyable Michael Collins Blend and was intrigued to find out if the single was equally as good.
Alas – they only sold it by the bottle.
Freeney’s doubles as an off-licence too – and despite being tempted – this expression is increasingly difficult to get hold of – I reminded myself there were another 4 pubs to visit on my Galway Whiskey Trail adventure and perhaps lugging around a full and fragile bottle of whiskey perhaps wasn’t the wisest thing to do considering my increasingly intoxicated state.
Again I scanned the shelves – trying to figure out which expressions were sold by the bottle and those by the glass – and spotted yet another Cooley brand – Irish Fiddler.
As the bottle looked half empty I was confident that a dram would soon be procured for my pleasure. Indeed it was – and in a Glencairn glass too – something which the more discerning whiskey bars provide and pleases me as well.
Irish Fiddler Whiskey turned out to be a fairly decent example of a soft – sweet Irish blended whiskey. The grain element wasn’t overpowering but then neither was the overall taste or finish. Another standard blend produced by Cooley for a third party – something the distillery excelled in under the tenure of John Teeling – just who is satisfying this market now?
The photos I fired off at this pub were a little off focus when I viewed them a few days later – obviously mirroring my deteriorating senses due to the lovely whiskeys I’d enjoyed.
Despite all that – Freeney’s is a bar I’ve visited before in my pre-whiskey love affair days – and is a bar I’ll certainly be going back to in the future.
Whiskey Live Dublin was held in the lovely premises of Dublin Castle Printworks. Whisky Live events are organised throughout the major cities of the world and bill themselves as;
The World’s Premier Whisky Tasting Show
After attending the Dublin show for the first time – I’d certainly recommend any budding whiskey fans to get down to a show wherever you are in the world. The amount of whiskey stands on display – let alone the range of expressions available – and many of the movers and shakers within the industry – are all there to sample – chat and entertain – it’s an event not to be missed.
I’d defy anyone to get round all the stands in one of the sessions allocated to guests – so much so that I met a few people who had booked for both the afternoon as well as evening session simply to ensure they visited every exhibitor!
After having read Whisky And Wisdom’s excellent blog to surviving a whiskey show – I felt ready to handle what Whiskey Live Dublin had to throw at me.
I had my target list,
I had my bottle of water,
I had my notebook – pen and camera and –
I had a suitable pre-event feed in a nearby cafe.
My plan was to walk round the displays without visiting any of them so I could ascertain where the ones I wanted to visit were – as well as seeing if there were any surprises I’d missed on the pre-publicity information.
This went well until I rounded the Celtic Whiskey Shop stand where one of the friendly staff that had been at the judging event of last month welcomed me over for a chat and before I could refuse – offered me a taster of a whisky that wasn’t even on my hit list! What else could I do?
Now Campbeltown whiskies are renowned for their peat – and as I’m not a massive peat fan I prefer a more balanced approach so the Longrow on offer was gently rebuffed. Springbank I’ve tried before and enjoyed – which left the Kilkerran Sherry Wood to duly sniff and slurp.
This proved to be a perfectly balanced mildly peated single malt of some distinction. My goodness – if his was an indication of quality of whisky at the show then it was very high indeed.
Heading on after gathering more info regards the history of Kilkerran I stumbled upon one of the food pairing stands. L Mulligan Grocers tempted me with a tasty morsel twinned with a smooth Glenmorangie. Lovely. But here I was 2 whiskies down and I’d not even started on my list!
Time to get a grip! Oh! What time is it? Time I was in that Powers Masterclass I’d booked for!
Ger Garland – Ambassador for Powers whiskey – guided us whiskey geeks through a history of Powers whiskey from it’s days in Dublin to the current location in Midleton. This led to a tasting of the 3 single pot still releases available under the newly repackaged Powers label namely – Three Swallow – Signature and John’s Lane releases.Sitting there being guided through the taste profiles of these fine whiskeys by Ger whilst gazing across to Dublin Castle outside the room certainly mellowed my initial rush so that I savoured the nuances of the expressions.
Suitably refocused I emerged from the masterclass to head for one of the new Irish distilleries opening up in Drogheda. Boann Distillery’s stills are enroute from Italy as I write this. I assumed they would be from Frilli but no – they hail from Green Engineering – a new name for me.Regardless of who manufactured the stills – as a taster of things to come they have The Whistler.
A rather unusual named blend from Boann but distilled elsewhere – this rather rich and heavy blend pleased me very much and I certainly wish all at Boann well with their venture. I for one will be eager to visit the combined distillery – brewery – eatery and visitors centre when it opens!
Mossfield Organic Cheese had a stall closeby and being a fan of their Slieve Bloom Cheddar I Paid them a visit to be rewarded by a sample of their tasty cheese paired with an equally tasty Machrie Moor Single Malt from the lovely Arran Distillery in Scotland.
Echlinville Distillery on the Ards Peninsula are currently laying down their own spirit for maturation and I was lucky to get a taster of a 2 yo new fill cask which despite it’s youth had some lovely flavours which will only grow with further ageing. Graeme Millar proved to be a very passionate distiller and ambassador for Echlinville as he guided me through the lovely award winning Dunville’s PX 10 yo Single malt – the surprisingly good Feckin Irish Whiskey blend and the unusual Feckin Spiced liqueur. I certainly think this is a distillery to look out for in the future given that passion combined with great tasting expressions!
Now the Hyde 10 yo single malt Oloroso release I bought when it first came out and I have to admit – it didn’t light my fire – unlike The Doors track – but I was intrigued to taste their No. 2 release finished in Rum casks.
I mentioned this to the rep and he proffered me a sample of both the releases. The first remained exactly as how I remembered it – lacking something – but the second made up for that with a healthy rum aroma and taste which to my mind gives the spirit a fuller – richer body with a more rounded – mellow – if sweeter taste. Much more to my liking! Perhaps I should have saved my cash for this expression!
Now I was on a roll!
I stopped at Jack Ryan’s stand for a brief chat to congratulate him on his excellent whiskey then moved over to The Palace Bar who also have a whiskey available at their premises – much like how all pubs would do in times gone by. The sample I had was simply – there is no other way to describe it – gorgeous!
John Teeling was engaged by a small crowd at his Great Northern Distillery stand so I got talking to a very informed engineer who had helped design and install all the pipework at the Dundalk plant. There were samples of clear white new spirit to try but at 80% proof and above I decided to let it mature a bit more before I’ll give it a go – at least for another 3 years!
Dingle Distillery will shortly be releasing their first whiskey expression. Exclusivity is the buzzword here. If you want a bottle – give them your details. They contact you and offer you a bottle from the first cask for 350 euro. They also offer personalised barrel options too. I think I’ll have to wait a bit before I can get a taster of this expression.
Nomad however were freely dispensing their lovey sherry cask finished blend created by the collaborative efforts of Richard Patterson and Gonzales Byass. It’s distilled in Scotland then shipped to Jerez for ageing so falls to be called a Scotch by the rules of definition.Breaking the rules never tasted so good in my book!
As the afternoon session was coming close to it’s finale – I tried Makers Mark from the Beam/Suntory range as I’d been informed this was a classic bourbon. Having yet to develop a taste for bourbon I thought I’d give this one a go. Sadly it didn’t do much for me.
A quick venison hot pot from Koh with another Dunville’s PX were my penultimate tasty pairing followed by an amiable chat with the Gaelic Whisky crew over the teaching methods of both Scotland and Ireland’s native language – led me to a taster of their rather fine Te Bheag blend.
I have a soft spot for Skye – where this tasty dram comes from – having cycled across the island back in the late 90’s. My grandfather also earned his living in a boat not dis-similar to the one used as a logo by the distillery. So sampling this fine blend and chatting to the lovely people behind it only warmed my affections even more.
So there you go.
What a lovely way to end my day at Whiskey Live Dublin.
Congratulations to Al Higgins and all the staff at the Celtic Whiskey Shop for arranging – promoting and organising this wonderful event. I’ll definitely be back next year!
Oh – I managed to get the train home OK and even bought my cup of tea with a snack before boarding to ensure I arrived home in a fit state – not parched dry like my last visit to Dublin!
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!
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.