Even before Teeling Whiskey Distillery opened in 2015, I eagerly attended a guided tour of the nascent facility by none other than master distiller & blender Alex Chasko himself.
I’ve been avidly watching the rebuilding of Irish Whiskey – especially the role Teeling plays in that growth – ever since.
Teeling’s 5th Anniversary took place during COVID – and like many events – moved online.
So instead of a lavish party inside the fabulous distillery itself – it was me, my computer & 5 samples of Teeling Whiskey made in that very distillery.
Alex Chasko was again present – along with brand ambassador Robert Caldwell – to regale us with tales of those 5 years. From a dream to reality, a building site to a fully functioning whiskey distillery and from brewing beer in Oregon to distilling whiskey in Dublin.
To date most of the Teeling bottles on the shelves are sourced product – and very good they are too!
Alex is responsible for maturing that stock, choosing the casks, finishing, blending and releasing a wide variety of styles & flavours.
Now before me are 5 differing samples drawn from casks distilled at Teeling’s Distillery in Dublin itself.
This is the dawning of a new age in Irish Whiskey.
So what does it taste like?
A trio of Single Pot Stills started the show. All triple distilled using a 50/50 malted/unmalted mashbill presented at 46%, non chill filtered & natural colour.
SPS Bourbon Cask
The combination of rich vanillas, bourbon sweetness with a joyful youthfulness followed by an attractive prickly spice just won me over.
SPS Virgin Cask
A more tannic, sawdusty element with a sharper spice came through. Still enjoyable – if less balanced.
SPS Sherry Cask
Milder, mellower & more subtle & sweeter than the other 2. Not my favourite.
The 3 casks demonstrate the influence wood has on the whiskey. They also show the building blocks Alex uses to blend together to achieve a relatively consistent product for the Single Pot Still release which can iron out any excesses within the individual components.
A wonderful insight into the world of the blender.
Next came a duo of single malts – Crystal & Peated – which demonstrate the role raw ingredients play in developing flavour.
Crystal Single Malt
Crystal malt is commonly used in craft beer circles to boost flavour, depth & colour. A throwback to Alex’s brewing days.
Crystal malt has been roasted for longer – allowing richer, darker flavours to come through.
I found a farmhousey saison type of nose, rich vanilla on the palate with a gorgeous spice on the finish.
Peated Single Malt
Well anything with peat in it is a winner for me – and Teeling’s didn’t disappoint!
Very well balanced from start to finish.
A sheer delight!
A wonderful way to celebrate Teeling’s 5th Anniversary with such delicious whiskeys.
Having followed their growth along every step of the way it reassures me no end – the quality & diversity of whiskey being produced at Newmarket is a joy to experience.
Hats off to Teeling Whiskey – and all the team involved – Happy 5th Anniversary!
My second visit to the Teeling Whiskey Distillery happened to take place on Valentine’s Day.
Herself had decided we’d stay with old friends in Dublin and all 4 of us would go out for a joint meal together on the 13th. It was further decreed the ‘ladies’ would visit the National Botanical Gardens on the 14th – allowing the ‘men’ to visit the now fully opened award winning distillery located in Newmarket Square in the historic Liberties area of Dublin.
Now my first visit to this fine establishment included a guided tour by none other than the master distiller Alex Chasko who exuded much glee at soon being able to produce the first distillate for many a year within the city confines.
As the building wasn’t yet complete the dress of choice was hi-vis vests and hard hats – complete with the sounds of powered tools and much shouting.
As a paying customer this time round – it would be very interesting to compare my experiences.
Gone were the scaffolding – cranes -hoardings and ant like workers busily adding the final touches.
In was a nice clean facade aided by the cycle park outside the main entrance which enhanced the view. Instead of dirty workers there was a gathering of visitors who were as much excited by the short heavy hail shower that greeted our arrival as the golden liquid inside.
Instead of Alex – Conor – one of the friendly and helpful Teeling branded staff was to be our guide today.
The ground floor contained a large cafe area serving delicious hot and cold foods along with teas – coffees and soft drinks for the kids. There were sofas and chairs to lounge in with large windows looking out into the square where many folks came to visit the neighbouring farmers market and food stalls which are a regular event.
Having been tagged at reception for the type of tasting experience you wished at the end of the tour – guests then entered a photographic display area along with whiskey memorabilia and associated artefacts whilst waiting for the tour to begin.
As is customary – a short video introduces the visitor to Irish Whiskey and Teeling Whiskey Distillery in particular before we are led into the main event – the working distillery itself!
The first thing that struck me upon entering the working distillery was the strong smell – and heat – of the malt in the mash tun. Such a warming and welcoming entrance to the building site I previously enjoyed.
The attention to detail was evident with the inclusion of a strategically based light above the inspection window to allow visitors – and staff – to see inside the large vessel.
The trio of copper stills had been cleaned up and were not only shining – but had been given names too!
And most importantly of all – the spirit safe had a steady flow of new spirit during the entire duration of our visit.
Conor gently informed us of the whole whiskey making process – from the delivery of malted and unmalted barley – to the mash tun and copper stills – to the spirit safe and on to the maturation period.
One thing I hadn’t previously thought about was that after the 1875 Liberties Whiskey Fire – the maturation of whiskey was banned from within the city and so to this day – all whiskey – including that made in Teeling’s – has to be transported out of Dublin to complete the minimum 3 years in a barrel before being able to call itself whiskey.
Teeling matures many of it’s expressions for a lot longer than that minimum requirement.
In fact at present – with the exception of Teeling Poitin – all Teeling expressions were distilled at the Cooley Distillery but have been matured to their own style by the master blender Alex Chasko.
We had the opportunity to taste some of these marvellous creations at the Bang Bang Bar after our tour.
I’d opted for the Teeling Master Class tasting – sure why else would you visit the distillery than to try out the best they had to offer?
My trio consisted of;
Teeling Single Malt
Part of the standard Teeling Trinity made up of the Small Batch and Single Grain releases – Single Malt is a lovely smooth yet sweet offering which belies it’s 46% non chill filtered strength.
Teeling 15 Year Old Revival
A recent offering matured and finished in rum casks. A far more fuller bodied expression with a hefty dose of rum throughout the nose and taste. I thoroughly enjoyed this dram.
Teeling 23 Year Old Sherry Cask
A beautifully dark liquid with distinctive sherry nose. The whiskey slips down so smoothly you’re unaware of it’s 52.5% ABV until a rich – softly spicy tingle reminds you of it’s true strength on the long and satisfying finish. A masterpiece!
This dram is definitely Louder – cue Kid Karate! An equally new – as Teeling – young upcoming band from Dublin.
This superb 23 yo expression is only available at the distillery which features the novel and exciting experience of bottling your own whiskey.
I was mindful the ‘ladies’ would be meeting us shortly in the cafe downstairs so a purchase of this magnitude for myself probably would’t be wise given the day that’s in it. An 11 yo crystal malt sherry cask is also offered for filling which is again a distillery exclusive.
Along with the usual array of branded clothes – glasses and bottles available to purchase in the roomy shop area there were a fine collection of books pertaining to both whiskey and Dublin too. I spotted Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible and after all the fuss made about his winning dram – I couldn’t resist buying a copy.
It pleased me very much that to date – Jim hadn’t yet rated the fabulous 23 yo Teeling – nor for that matter the fabulous Eschenbrenner Spessart Amber I’d purchased in Berlin!
I may be short of the 4000 plus samples he’s tasted but at least I’ve had a few he hasn’t!
I don’t know if Jim has visited Teeling’s yet. He won’t be disappointed when he does – and neither will you.
The staff are very friendly and informative. The food is great. The building has modern clean lines and the whiskeys are divine!
A working distillery in the heart of Dublin. There hasn’t been one for over 40 years.